THE NUCLEAR QUESTION by Ann E. Weiss

THE NUCLEAR QUESTION

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KIRKUS REVIEW

If nothing else, Weiss makes nuclear safety issues concrete and easy to understand. Technical background is minimal, but sufficient for the purpose. As the Three Mile Island investigation revealed, it's not nuclear technology that is unreliable but the people who make, own, operate, and regulate it. Careful to present the arguments on both sides, Weiss considers the possibility of risk to workers and public at various stages of the nuclear power cycle: uranium mining and milling, power plant leaks, disposal of spent fuel rods, reprocessing, transport of wastes, etc. A separate chapter deals with the reliability of back-up systems in the case of loss-of-coolant accidents. Not until half way through the book, when she takes on the ""human problems"" of lax security, careless installation, overlooked violations, government coverups, and the financial burden on taxpayers and consumers (an arrangement that ""encourages [industrial] responsibility""), does Weiss reveal her own anti-industry colors. Finally, she counters some of the claims of pro-nuclear advertising and public relations and argues for giving soft-energy sources a chance. No doubt pro-nukers would deem her method sneaky; unlike Pringle in Nuclear Power (1979), Weiss doesn't declare straight off that ""this book is not objective."" But then, neither do the far more powerful, sophisticated, heavily subsidized, and cleverly sneaky nuclear ads--which Weiss and Pringle together can only do their bit to balance.

Pub Date: June 19th, 1981
Publisher: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich