ATOMIC ENERGY: A NEW START by David E. Lilienthal


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David Lilienthal is right in believing his ideas ""will not satisfy the fierce partisans on either side of the nuclear argument."" The first Atomic Energy Commission chairman and an early proponent of ""peaceful atomic energy,"" he also has credentials as a herald of the dangers of nuclear power and chief opponent of a proposed plant in New York City. Here he plants himself firmly in the middle of the road: we need nuclear power, but we also need better safety precautions and different technology. According to Lilienthal, we cannot use more coal because it poisons the air; solar energy is for the future; and conservation is a temporary solution because the world's growing population constantly increases the need for energy. Lilienthal wants a ""new start"" on nuclear energy, with a quasi-public corporation accountable to the President researching new technology so we can scrap the present ""light water reactor""--whose dangers, he says, have been ""grossly misunderstood and underestimated."" Other than this, Lilienthal covers familiar ground, blaming the media for scaring the public about radiation dangers; noting that despite the problems nobody died at Three Mile Island; praising TVA's ""atomic power management""; urging indefinite storage of spent reactor fuel at plant sites until a permanent solution is found; and calling for control and elimination of nuclear weapons. Nothing too provocative here, just assorted opinions from an acknowledged expert.

Pub Date: June 25th, 1980
Publisher: Harper & Row