SEABROOK STATION: Citizen Politics and Nuclear Power by Henry F. Bedford

SEABROOK STATION: Citizen Politics and Nuclear Power

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KIRKUS REVIEW

First considered in the 1960's, and started through application procedures in 1972, the nuclear power plant at Seabrook, N.H., got as far as low power testing in the late 1980's and now appears headed for federal courts, where, Bedford says, opponents' chances are slim. About three quarters of the delay, according to the power company's own estimates, have been due to weather, construction and supplier problems, poor management, engineering flaws, and so on, and not to the controversies that stretched out the regulatory process. But it is the regulatory controversies that have been widely blamed, and it is these controversies that chiefly interest Bedford, who has pieced together from public documents--and set down in even tones and an evenhanded manner--a story of confusion, public frustration, bureaucratic bias, and interference from state governors (the latest of them Sununu, now advising the President) and from Washington. And more: of suppression of insiders' misgivings, reliance on bought experts' theories about local people who know the facts, disregard for inconvenient evidence, and, in short, procedures rigged from the start because of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's essential function as a permitting agency established to encourage private development of nuclear power. Subjects of contention included protecting the chosen site's salt marsh from pipes and coolants, the adequacy of evacuation plans, and the relevance of the financial qualifications of the utility company, which went bankrupt during the course of these events. An instructive case study--illustrative of a nuclear agenda that Bedford says must be addressed by Congress, and high in recognition for any citizen activists who've been up against the alliance of developers and their regulators.

Pub Date: July 1st, 1990
Publisher: Univ. of Massachusetts Press