THE SILENT BOMB: A Guide to the Nuclear Energy Controversy by Peter T. Faulkner

THE SILENT BOMB: A Guide to the Nuclear Energy Controversy

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Silent is not the word for Friends of the Earth, the conservationist organization that sponsored this strong polemic against the ""atomic industrial complex."" The articles, public records, and testimony compiled here, along with fresh material and running commentary by Faulkner, F.O.E.'s nuclear consultant, mount an impressive attack. The message is that nuclear power presents a present and future danger. Plants are designed with a ""Let's build it first and see what happens"" attitude. There are minimal ""quality assurances"" (controls) at every step from the mining of uranium ore to the disposal of radioactive waste. While there have been no major disasters among the 55-odd nuclear plants now in operation in the US, there have been enough close calls to make even Edward Teller say, ""sooner or later a fool will prove greater than the proof even in a foolproof system"" . . .or a saboteur. If the health and safety arguments are not enough, the clincher may be economic: scarcity of uranium fuel, hints of cartel-controlled prices ($40 a pound for uranium now), great cost of construction, and failure to operate up to design capacity may price the industry out of the market. As good as the book is, it would have been better without its florid beginning: two gaudy accounts, one of the mysteries surrounding the death of nuclear employee Karen Silkwood on her way to meet a New York Times reporter, the other about the candle-set fire at the Brown's Ferry plant. The simple presentation of facts--of corruption, collusion, and carelessness--speaks eloquently. Interestingly, the Silent Bomb does not say that safe and economically feasible nuclear plants cannot be built. What it ably demonstrates is that we are nowhere near fulfilling either criterion now.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1977
Publisher: Random House