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What's the point in writing a history book that only your family members could read? Not much. Yet that's the degree of visibility that Savannah River Site's most recent historical markers will get.

The markers, citing the vital role the "P" and "R" reactors played in winning the Cold War, won't be visible to the general public, because they're located in a protected area where only SRS workers can go.

Where's the sense in that? Presumably the site's workers already know about the reactors' history. It's the public and tourists who would be interested in learning about the reactors, built in the early 1950s, that for decades produced plutonium and tritium, elements critical to making the nuclear weapons which ensured that the Cold War never turned hot.

In the past, markers were placed along the nearest state highway, even if the highway was some distance from the site itself. More recently, markers have been erected at the site, and at least they are where visitors can see them, not fenced off like the "P" and "R" markers.

"We take care to preserve our history for future generations," says Elizabeth Johnson of the South Carolina Historic Preservation Office, "because what's been done here is important." We agree, and it also should be important enough to place the markers where the public can see and appreciate them.

We also agree with the recent letter to the editor penned by former longtime SRS employee Paul L. Cook, calling attention to the heroic patriotism of the thousands of workers who built and maintained what was then known as the Savannah River Plant at a time when the nuclear industry was in its infancy.

As Cook points out, in the early days "there were no 'cookbook recipes' for performing those dangerous and delicate tasks." Indeed, those workers were pioneers who wrote the first chapters in the industry's still-developing recipes of safety protocols.

Surely, markers should be erected in their honor, too -- at a place where people can see them.

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patriciathomas 03/25/08 - 08:03 am
This is an odd article that

This is an odd article that seems to have no direction. What is the point trying to be made? Why is it in the editorial section?

Cordie 03/25/08 - 08:07 am
I would like to see the

I would like to see the markers. Since I live in Florida has a book been published or any other printed material available to former employees/

fd1962 03/25/08 - 08:51 am
You have finally begun to

You have finally begun to catch on to the essence of the Chronicle, Patricia: 'No Child Left Behind Journalism.' Watch for tomorrow's editorial proof of the existence of Santa.

HillGuy 03/25/08 - 02:48 pm
Is the editorial board trying

Is the editorial board trying to suggest that SRS is a tourist attraction? Please! Most of SRS is completely off limits to the general public, what is there to see anyway? Maybe the history of SRS could be better told in an exhibit at the Aiken County museum.

SCEagle Eye
SCEagle Eye 03/27/08 - 08:14 am
The P & R reactors produced

The P & R reactors produced much nuclear waste at the hands of SRP employees. That waste is still be dealing with and still costing huge sums of tax payer money. Can we thus assume that the patriotism of the original reactor operators has morphed into another type of lasting legacy that might not be so noble? Or, does the Chronicle believe that nuclear waste at SRS is by definition patriotic?

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