During the past few weeks, there has been a flurry of writing, revising and reviewing among a senior and accomplished group of people who believe that the United States needs all of the benefits that rapidly growing use of nuclear energy can provide.
The final product of the effort is a letter to Dr. John Holdren, Director, Office of Science & Technology Policy, Executive Office of the President. Here is the letter’s introduction:
John A. Shanahan, Corresponding Author
(Contact information removed)
Dr. John P. Holdren
Director, Office of Science & Technology Policy, Executive Office of the President Washington, D.C.
We met in Palo Alto, California in 1970, while you were working on your doctorate at Stanford University and I was starting an engineering career in nuclear power. You visited my family in Switzerland in the 1980s, where I was working on Nuclear Power Plant Leibstadt. You have also answered questions over the years on applications of Einstein‘s equations that is much appreciated.
Nearly 40 years have passed. We are both still working to make genuine contributions through science and engineering for the lasting benefit of society and the planet.
Please hear our statement and pass it on to the President.
Peace on earth and preservation of the marvels of nature will not be achieved without a sound energy policy. This policy must include well-managed and well-governed slow- and fast-neutron nuclear power, recycling spent fuels and depleted uranium and possibly thorium. This was the goal of the founding scientists in the 1940s and still is the best way to a reliable and secure energy future.
But the world is leaving us behind. At present, 58 new nuclear plants (including two fast reactors, one in Russia and one in India) are under construction in 14 countries. Of these, 20 are in China, 9 in Russia, 6 each in India and South Korea. Only one is in North America, and that is resumed work on a plant that was mothballed in 1988 when it was 80% finished. France has just announced a $7 billion commitment for a “sustainable development” program that includes promotion of fourth-generation nuclear reactors — (three of which being fast neutron reactors) a technology in which the United States was once the world leader.
Our nation needs to proceed quickly — not twenty or fifty years from now — while the people who pioneered this science and engineering can still provide guidance to a new generation of scientists and engineers. There is no political, economic or technical justification for delaying the benefits that nuclear power will bring to the United States, while the rest of the world forges ahead.
The letter continues and then includes an impressive list of signatories. Please go and read the letter. Then spread the word and let’s begin an open dialog. I am sure that there will be people who disagree with parts of the letter and others that disagree with it in its entirety. However, I think there will be others that will read it, agree that there is some real value there, and point it out to their elected officials.