Seabrook Station: Citizen Politics and Nuclear Power

Seabrook Station: Citizen Politics and Nuclear Power

Seabrook Station: Citizen Politics and Nuclear Power

Seabrook Station: Citizen Politics and Nuclear Power

Synopsis

The 1972 decision of the Public Service Company of New Hampshire to build twin nuclear reactors in a salt marsh in Seabrook, New Hampshire, set off a prolonged, expensive, and bitter battle, from which few emerged with honor and none with victory. This book provides a lucid and detailed account of that struggle.

Excerpt

"The reactor is critical."

This is a book about people.

It is also about power, and not just about the power nuclear fission produces at an electrical generating station. It is about political power as well and the power derived from status and access and information and money.

And it is about fear. Fear of radiation and accidental catastrophe, of course. But also fear of losing an opportunity, a job, a reputation, an investment; of losing a struggle of such duration that the rivalry itself sometimes obscured its causes; of losing the amenities of a pleasant and familiar environment; of losing control of communities, neighborhoods, and lives.

To stake too pretentious a claim, it is also about the United States in the last third of the twentieth century, as revealed in the effort to construct, license, and operate a nuclear power plant at Seabrook, New Hampshire. That prolonged, expensive, sometimes bitter battle was an epic from which few emerged with honor and none with victory. Management performed ineptly every managerial task; government could not furnish prompt or persuasive resolutions of disputes and therefore governed badly; opponents could not prevent results they predicted would be disastrous. For the uninvolved public, it was a tale of unrelieved incompetence.

Unskilled management, bad government, failed grass-roots initiatives, an apathetic public, and pervasive incompetence were not unique to coastal New Hampshire or to the nuclear industry in these years. in some respects, the unfinished and rusting second Seabrook reactor, an appropriate symbol of the nation's nuclear policy, might have represented other blighted national aspirations equally well: the balanced . . .

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