Thursday, January 12, 2012

Enlightenment and Renaissance: Which Should Come First for Nuclear

Several months ago I blogged about an engineering presentation at Dartmouth. Dr. Swartz presented a talk with the provocative title: If Vermont Yankee Had an Accident Like Fukushima.

Swartz concluded that the "worried well" would be the major problem after any type of nuclear accident. Civilians would not receive radiation at a dose that would measurably increase their chances of getting cancer or limit their life-expectancy. They would also not believe any official assurances that this was the case. Dr. Swartz said it is up to the scientific community to explain the facts to people, and to reduce the health effects of widespread fear and anxiety.

In other words, we need education about radiation. We need widespread enlightenment about its effects.

Llewellyn King and Nuclear

Nuclear Townhall is sponsoring a set of videos about nuclear energy. In the short video below, Llewellyn King explains why the Enlightenment (education) has to come before the Renaissance (new plants) in this country. In history, the Renaissance came far earlier than the Enlightenment. So the nuclear industry has its work cut out for it!

Llewellyn King is an iconic figure in energy information, having founded Energy Daily about forty years ago. I remember Energy Daily from my days at EPRI. Copies were passed around among relatively low-level technical employees like myself and other project managers. Division heads received their own copies. Everyone read it every day, because it was the best source of insights for the energy industry. I do mean that everyone at EPRI read it. If a nuclear research manager had lunch in the cafeteria with a coal research manager, they would have a common point of conversation: the articles in Energy Daily.

King recently wrote a splendid op-ed about nuclear power: Sound the Trumpets for Nuclear Power. It's not particularly politically correct for this state. For example, his editorial praises the role of the U S Nuclear Navy in keeping the peace. Still, every now and again, I like to share the words of someone who speaks the truth, even if it is impolitic.

It makes a refreshing change from watching the Vermont legislature in action.

Update: I am pleased that this post is now featured on the Energy Collective.

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