NUCLEAR ENERGY AT THE CROSSROADS by Irene Kiefer

NUCLEAR ENERGY AT THE CROSSROADS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

In the vein of Kiefer's Energy for America and Poisoned Land, this contains a good deal of technical description broken by assurances that the risks and benefits of nuclear energy are comparable to those of other technologies we accept (""About 50,000 Americans die of automobile accidents every year, yet no one suggests banning cars"") and that US safety standards are the strictest anywhere. Once more it is the anti-nuke arguments that are heard first and the supporters of nuclear power who ""point out"" in reply. On Three Mile Island, Kiefer cites the President's Commission's conclusion that the problem is ""related to people, not equipment""--a matter, as she rephrases it, of overconfidence ""after years of operation of nuclear plants with no evidence of harm to workers or the public."" Inadequate training of workers, since corrected, was another aspect of the people problem. Like Pringle in Nuclear Power, Kiefer recognizes a political dimension to the controversy--but she sees the political aspects solely as government regulation and popular fears. The NRC is cited as a guarantee of safety, never mentioned as a ""people problem"" or a political element in itself. Finally, a long technical discussion of waste disposal proposals concludes that the problems are not technical factors but ""political realities""--the unwillingness of citizens who enjoy the benefits of nuclear power to bear responsibility for the wastes. (Environmental activist opposition groups have been successful because ""It is easier to frighten people than to reassure them."") For a guide to the politics behind the official positions, stick with Pringle. As to the technical questions, whatever the risks or merits of nuclear power, they cannot be assessed by summaries at this level. See rather Ford, and Kaku-and-Trainer, below.

Pub Date: Oct. 22nd, 1982
Publisher: Atheneum