Is Nuclear Energy Safe? April 8, 1979

Prof. Norman Rasmussen vs. Prof. Henry Kendall, April 8. 1979

Prof. Rasmussen (head of MIT’s Dept. of Nuclear Engineering):

“ Despite the nuclear accident at Three Mile Island, nuclear power is the cleanest and most efficient form of energy available and should remain a key component of the U.S. energy picture.

“No new energy discovery will result in a sudden solution to the electricity supply problem. Even with a full commitment to alternative energy sources like solar, geothermal, and nuclear fusion, the implementation and commercial use of these technologies is 25 years away. The safety record of the nuclear industry is outstanding, and industry can learn from Three Mile Island and prevent similar incidents in the future. With the myriad different uses and demands for energy today, it is unrealistic to expect the United States could get along with less power in the future than in currently consumes. Forcing industries to curtail its consumption of power could cause more unemployment and an adverse ripple effect on the economy. If we wait for a no-risk solution to the energy problem we’ll surely get no solution at all.”

Prof. Henry Kendall:

“Industry and government are recklessly promoting nuclear growth at the expense of safety and, unless this course is reversed, nuclear accidents like Three Mile Island will occur every year or two.

“Three Mile Island was a near brush with catastrophe. The risks of nuclear power are unacceptable. Government and industry have concealed and misrepresented the risk of nuclear power and delayed the implementation of safety programs. The government has violated the public trust in the question of nuclear power.

“We need nuclear programs that are above suspicion; all nuclear plants around the country should be reinspected and, in some cases, shut down in order to be retrofitted for safety.”

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