NUCLEAR POWER by Laurence Pringle


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As Three Mile Island has demonstrated, the nuclear safety issue is too important to be left to the experts. It is also next to impossible for a non-expert, of twelve or forty, to assess the situation at a technical level. That being the case, Pringle doesn't try to snow readers with complicated technical background which wouldn't equip them to judge for themselves anyway. Instead, he attempts to guide them through the controversy over pushing on with nuclear power. Rising cost is one consideration--possibly the one that will ultimately slow or stop development--but the predominant issues relate to safety: the possibility of catastrophic accident, the unsolved problem of radioactive waste disposal, the unanswered question of how much low-level radiation is ""safe,"" the danger of ""breeding nuclear weapons"" posed by plutonium breeders. Acknowledging that ""this book is not objective,"" Pringle cites case after case of cover-up and backing down by interested agencies, especially the AEC which was handed the two contradictory jobs of promotion and regulation. (""Promotion won out."") And since its establishment in 1975, the AEC's regulatory offspring the NRC has been as lenient with violations and quick to issue licenses for new operations. There are experts on both sides of the controversy, notes Pringle, but perhaps the antis, who jeopardize (or resign) their jobs in speaking out (one called Indian Point ""an accident waiting to happen""), rate more credence than the pros protecting their stake. Three Mile Island aroused a public that was already withdrawing support despite ""thirty years of industry and government propaganda."" To this thirty-year campaign, Pringle offers a valuable corrective.

Pub Date: Oct. 29th, 1979
Publisher: Macmillan