Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Another Environmentalist for Nuclear Energy

Over at Atomic Insights, Rod Adams reviews The Power to Save the World: The Truth About Nuclear Energy. What's interesting about the book is that its author, Gwyneth Cravens, is a former anti-nuke who was part of the opposition to the Shoreham Nuclear Power Plant on Long Island. But after spending decades talking to people working in the nuclear industry, she's changed her mind:

[A]s a native of Albuquerque, NM, she had the opportunity to develop a social acquaintance with Rip Anderson, one of the leading researchers and practitioners of probabilistic risk assessment of nuclear facilities.

Her occasional discussions with Dr. Anderson began to disturb her previously firm belief that nuclear power represented an unreasonably risky endeavor that should not be allowed to flourish. Eventually, she decided that she needed to learn more - I love people like that! Through her connection with Dr. Anderson, she set up visits to mines, a uranium mill, waste storage facilities in Idaho, a coal fired steam plant, a nuclear power plant, the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, Yucca Mountain, and probably some other sites that I have overlooked in the list.

At each site she met with people who patiently - most of the time - explained their jobs, shared personal stories about why they think they those jobs are important and discussed why they disagree with the common perceptions about nuclear energy. She saw with her own eyes the contrast between a nuclear plant where one of the workers stated "you can eat off of the floor" and a coal plant where such a comment would be ridiculous. She saw how waste is handled in both the nuclear world and the fossil fuel world. In short, she had a journey of discovery that resulted in a complete shift of view.
It sounds like a very interesting story. I'll be sure to pick it up myself and add it to the library here at NEI.

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