NS Book Review: NUCLEAR ENERGY NOW: WHY THE TIME HAS COME FOR THE WORLD’S MOST MISUNDERSTOOD ENERGY SOURCE

NUCLEAR ENERGY NOW:  WHY THE TIME HAS COME FOR THE WORLD’S MOST MISUNDERSTOOD ENERGY SOURCE

 - A Nuclear Street Book Review by Randy Brich -

If you want an international perspective on nuclear energy but have time to read only one book, invest in NUCLEAR ENERGY NOW:  WHY THE TIME HAS COME FOR THE WORLD’S MOST MISUNDERSTOOD ENERGY SOURCE by expert energy analysts Alan M. Herbst and George W. Hopley.  Not only will your eyes be opened widely, but you will also be given the complete status of global nuclear power, now and in the foreseeable future. 

After briefly dispelling the usual myths regarding nuclear power – harmful to the environment, too expensive, not safe, vulnerable to attack, waste problem, public opinion firmly against, nuclear power hasn’t evolved – Herbst and Hopley get down to business with exacting narrative bolstered by irrefutable facts, figures, graphs and tables chronicling nuclear energy’s story.  And, what a story it is.

The U.S. remained paralyzed by fear following Three Mile Island, effectively stagnating the domestic nuclear energy industry, while other countries forged ahead, developing clean, efficient, safe, reliable and inexpensive nuclear energy.  For example, when faced with the 1970’s oil embargo France decided to go nuclear emphasizing, “We have no oil, no coal, but, we have ideas.”  Enjoying national support, France generates nearly 80% of its electricity today using nuclear power, including reprocessing of the used nuclear fuel, which reduces high level waste volume significantly, recycling unused uranium and recovering fissionable plutonium. 

In contrast, the U.S. has outlawed reprocessing and remains moribund with 20% of its electrical generation provided by nuclear.  Although some progress is slowly being made (ground was recently broke for two new reactors - http://nuclearstreet.com/blogs/idaho_samizdat_nuke_notes/archive/2009/04/11/southern-breaks-ground-at-vogtle.aspx), the U.S. could be doing so much more.
 
Herbst and Hopley reveal that science and engineering professions are highly respected in France and most of the members of the French Parliament possess technical degrees.  Understandably, the French Government strongly supports nuclear power as does the French public.  In comparison, most congressmen in the U.S. are lawyers.  Regrettably, the U.S. government does not openly support nuclear energy and, though a majority of the American public accepts nuclear power, they prefer that plants be built outside their neighborhoods.  The recent unilateral decision by the Obama Administration to defund Yucca Mountain http://nuclearstreet.com/blogs/nuclear_power_news/archive/2009/03/02/president-obama-all-but-abandons-yucca-mountain.aspx is but one more example of the perils of governing by scientifically illiterates. 

Summarizing the U.S. situation, Herbst and Hopley note

While the United States has stood relatively still, other nations, both industrialized and developing, have and plan to utilize greater amounts of nuclear power to help meet their electricity needs.  The French in particular have achieved considerable success with their nuclear industry and are now less dependent on imported oil than are other western European nations and the United States.  Both China and India are aggressively pursuing all forms of energy to supply their growing economies and are putting considerable resources toward expanding their nuclear power generation.

In the wake of these commercial nuclear developments and increasing global competition over tightening supplies of fossil fuels, the United States must adopt fuel storage and processing innovations and learn operational lessons to greatly enhance its efforts to expand its fleet of commercial nuclear reactors.  This fleet of reactors will play a critical role in producing significant amounts of relatively inexpensive and environmentally friendly electricity.

With 49 Figures, 30 Tables and 8 Appendixes, NUCLEAR ENERGY NOW provides a comprehensive story of the entire uranium fuel cycle – listing by country everything from uranium ore reserves to commercial nuclear reactor output – in a timely and eminently readable manner.  No technical person should be without this book – it is that good.

Alan M. Herbst and George W. Hopley
NUCLEAR ENERGY NOW:  WHY THE TIME HAS COME FOR THE WORLD’S MOST MISUNDERSTOOD ENERGY SOURCE
230 pp. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. (Hardcover) $27.95 USA/$33.99 CAN/ £18.99 UK (2007)
978-0-470-05136-8

Randy BrichAbout Randy Brich
Randy graduated from South Dakota State University in 1978 with a M.S. in Biology.  After developing the State of South Dakota’s environmental radiological monitoring program, he became a Health Physicist with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, eventually transferring to the Department of Energy where he specialized in environmental monitoring, worker protection, waste cleanup and systems biology.  Later in his career he published a multi-sport adventure guide book and became a regular contributor to The Entertainer Newspaper’s Great Outdoor section. 

Since then he has retired from the federal government and, after taking time out to build an energy efficient house near the Missouri River, has formed Diamond B Communications LLC.  Diamond B Communications LLC uses a multimedia approach to explain complex energy resource issues to technical and non-technical audiences.  He also guides for Dakota Bike Tours, the Relaxed Adventure Company, offering tours of the Badlands National Park, the Black Hills and Devils Tower National Monument.

If you have questions, comments, or know of a book that you think Randy should review Email Randy Brich>> randy@nuclearstreet.com

Anonymous comments will be moderated. Join for free and post now!