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Nuclear Power

June 7, 2010 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 88, Issue 23

It isn’t clear why Warren Reynolds chose C&EN to comment on nuclear power. His letter to the editor does not explain the specific relevance of his statements to the field of chemistry (C&EN, May 3, page 4).

More troublesome is the letter’s lack of factual accuracy. As scientists we are aware of how publicly available information can be used to support a certain school of thought. Also, as technical professionals, we are trained to use such information in a conscientious manner.

Certainly, Reynolds stretches credibility with his statement that “even France has switched to solar energy.” By simply Googling “Nuclear Power Plants in Europe” (a publication by the European Nuclear Society) he could have accessed the following information: France currently operates 58 nuclear power plants and has one under construction. Altogether, Europe has 195 operating plants and 16 additional plants under construction.

One wonders, too, about the stated cost for nuclear-generated electricity of 15 cents per kWh. Comparative data developed by the Organization for Economic Cooperation & Development place the 2007 nuclear electricity cost between 3.7 and 5.4 cents per kWh. Another (2010) OECD study states the projected costs for U.S. nuclear electricity at 7.7 cents per kWh.

“Nuclear Power Dead on Arrival”? Reynolds’ statements come over as a very biased view.

Heinz Trebitz
Thetford Center, Vt.


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