The city of Takoma Park, Maryland granted a waiver to its strict Nuclear-Free Zone Act this week in order to use Hewlett-Packard computers in its city library. The city of Takoma Park has been nuclear-free since 1983, meaning that the city is prohibited from supporting companies that work with US nuclear weapons production. HP is on this list of prohibited contractors, so when librarians received the shipment of new hardware for the library's computer learning center, they packed them away and awaited the Nuclear-Free Takoma Park Commitee's decision on the matter. The Committee denied the waiver for the equipment, but was overridden for the first time ever in a vote by city officials.
Mayor Bruce Williams (D) supported the waiver, saying that "it would have taken too much time and money to find an alternative to the computer system" The Washington Post reports. Some citizens disagree with the decision to use the HP computers, citing concerns that the city is relaxing its stance on keeping Takoma Park nuclear-free, but city officials think that the Nuclear-Free Zone Act itself needs to be reevaluated because of enforcement concerns. Post-September 11th security makes it difficult to discern which contractors work on nuclear weapons projects, and the Committee's list of prohibited companies hasn't been updated in about a decade. Going forward, Takoma Park may see a flood of new technologies if the act is, in fact, altered.