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Saying No To Nuclear

May 30, 2011 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 89, Issue 22

As much as I agree with Rudy Baum on so many issues, his knee-jerk defense of nuclear safety requires a reply from me (C&EN, March 21, page 5). The reaction to this massive accident was not hysteria but a reasoned reaction by nonscientists who realize that they have been conned.

As for safety and cost, just look at the third law of thermodynamics. A simplified version is that it becomes more and more difficult the closer you come to perfection. In effect, reasonable safety can be achieved only at exorbitant cost. The insurance industry knows this, in their way, in that they would never have given construction loans nor will they now without the Price-Anderson Act, which limits their liability to $375 million. Consider this amount a mere pittance for any of the known spills.

I could give examples of half-lives of the deadliest isotopes or compare what this means for cleanup of contaminated land, but suffice it to say that every study has shown that there are other ways of addressing global warming more cheaply and, most important, faster than nuclear energy.

Emil Lawton
Sherman Oaks, Calif.


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