The Nuclear Energy Option: An Alternative for the 90's

By Bernard L. Cohen | Go to book overview

Chapter 6

/ THE FEARSOME
REACTOR MELTDOWN
ACCIDENT

Technologies are normally developed by entrepreneurs whose primary goal is making money. If the technology is successful, the entrepreneurs prosper as a new industry develops and thrives. In the process, the environmental impacts of this new technology are the least of their concerns. Only after the public revolts against the pollution inflicted upon it does the issue of the environment come into the picture. At that point an adversarial relationship may develop, with the government serving to protect the public at the expense of the industry. Coal-burning technologies have been an excellent example of this development process.

With nuclear energy, everything was to be entirely different. It was conceived and brought into being by the world's greatest scientists. They banded together to obtain government support; the highly publicized letter from Albert Einstein to President Roosevelt in 1941 was a key element in that process. Their motivation was entirely idealistic. None of them thought about making money, and there was no mechanism for them to do so. Their

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