LIGHT WATER: How the Nuclear Dream Dissolved by Irvin C. & Jean-Claude Derian Bupp
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LIGHT WATER: How the Nuclear Dream Dissolved

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Systematic confusion of expectation with fact, of hope with reality, has been the most characteristic feature of the entire 30-year effort to develop nuclear power,"" the authors conclude in this incisive analysis of a failed, or at least a stalemated, technology. Beginning with the post-WW II glow of success which generated ""The Peaceful Atom,"" the authors recount the steady erosion of belief--in engineering and technical competence, in fuel economies, in commercial gain, in consumer acceptance. Only the threat to the U.S. and European economies following the OPEC control of oil revived the hope that nuclear power could save the West, and at a price that would compare favorably with now high-priced coal or oil. Like tragedians unfolding a doomed tale, Bupp and Derian maintain a detached perspective, criticizing--not righteously attacking--the scientists for wanting to pursue ever-new technologies, the manufacturers for the naive belief they were on to something profitable, the power companies for wanting it all to come true, the politicians and government agencies for mishandling information or an easy complacence. The nuclear critics' role as contributing to the stalemate is also assessed objectively, with revealing comparison between the opposition in America and in Europe. Indeed, among the most interesting parts of the book are the analyses of events in Western Europe which abandoned its own nuclear technologies and joined the bandwagon for American-produced light water (as opposed to heavy water) enriched-uranium reactors. Not much is offered in the way of solution save political compromise, yet the book pleases. It can be savored for the quality of the writing, its political acumen, and its perceptions of fundamental forces for change in industrial society.

Pub Date: June 10th, 1978
Publisher: Basic Books