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PERILS OF THE PEACEFUL ATOM by Richard & Elizabeth Hogan Curtis



Pub Date: July 18th, 1969
Publisher: Doubleday

Some say the world will end in fire, including the authors of this expose, who scan the threat posed by the expansion of nuclear power plants. In opposition, they present many of the same arguments offered in Sheldon Novick's recent The Careless Atom (1968, p. 1417), referring to such potential hazards as accidental blasts, accumulated radioactive wastes, and thermal pollution of waters used to cool reactors (overheated rivers have already ""cooked"" fish and grown new parasites; hotting up the seas may make minerals and plankton unobtainable for future use). Attacking not only the safety but also the much-touted economy of the heavily subsidized nuclear plants, the authors sharply criticize such ""watchdogs"" as the Atomic Energy Commission, Congress, and the press for complacently promoting the splendors of the ""peaceful atom."" Their own solution: scrap the reactors and work on cleaning up fossil fuels. Few will argue with their critique of the AEC, or with their assessment of thermal pollution, a real peril which also derives from other sources. But some may feel that the authors--journalists, not scientists--have exaggerated the risks of ""runaway chain reactions,"" while underplaying the health hazards of using our present--and admittedly limited--fossil fuel supply. The writers present their case without footnotes or bibliography, which also renders it less convincing. Nervous readers will hence do better to consult the more authoritative Novick book.