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Posted by Michele Boyd on June 16, 2011

Welcome to The Nuclear Reaction, the new blog by Physicians for Social Responsibility’s Safe Energy Program.  The Safe Energy Program was established in 2008 to protect public health, taxpayers, and national security by preventing the construction of expensive, polluting, and dangerous new nuclear reactors. 

Since the early 2000s, there has been a lot of hoopla about a “nuclear renaissance” in the United States.  But reality on the ground has shown this to be hype: new reactors are too expensive and the ongoing Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan has reminded the public about the serious safety problems.  

Just three years ago there were over 30 proposed new reactors in the United States.


While there are lots of good public interest energy blogs, few are devoted exclusively to the topic of nuclear power. In this blog, we will discuss economic and public health issues related to nuclear power, with a particular focus on international, national and local policies – and politics – that impact decisions about whether to construct new reactors.

The primary bloggers will be Safe Energy Program Director Michele Boyd and Program Manager Morgan Pinnell.  Michele has been working on nuclear weapons and power issues for over decade. Morgan has worked in progressive politics for over 5 years.

We want to hear from you!  You can post your comments below.  In order to promote a respective and focused conversation, we will be moderating comments using the following basic guidelines:

  • Comments must comply with U.S. law, including copyright law and regulations pertaining to intellectual property;
  • Comments must refrain from personal attacks, hate speech, speech that advocates or supports violence, racism, sexism, homophobia, anti-Semitism, or other inappropriate comments; and
  • Comments must be on-topic and must not be trolling.



Daniel Kerlinsky MD said ..

There is no way to separate nuclear power technology from nuclear weapons development. Look at what has happened with Pakistan, Iraq and Iran. The cost of the nuclear arms race moving into the world of Islam is incalculable.

June 24, 2011
Daniel Kerlinsky MD said ..

Nuclear core meltdown at all three Fukushima reactors that were online at the time of the tsunami and PSR doesn't have a word about it? It is core-on-the-floor and melt-through of the reactor containment vessels.

June 24, 2011
Roy Thatcher, Ph.D, said ..

I see our current policies toward nuclear reactors as leading to a disaster rivaling the current one in Japan. The basic type of reactor in use in Japan and throughout the USA is fundamentally unsafe and creates massive amounts of dangerous radioactive materials that will remain unsafe for longer than human civilization has existed on the planet. If we are going to using nuclear reactors, the only kind that looks relatively safe is the Fast kind. As is well known, this type of reactor creates byproducts that could be used to create dirty bombs. The use of the materials to create such bombs do not appear to be be as dangerous as the Japanese disaster but would need to be extremely carefully protected. I personally am not sure that we could protect adequately against some terrorist attack that could produce a serious event although it looks to me to be much safer than what we are doing with the fuel from our "old" reactors.

June 22, 2011
Rod Coenen said ..

I see little or no consideration by PSR for Gen. IV nuclear.  Energy economists tell us wind/solar/bio and efficiency/conservation cannot provide energy density sufficient to avert catastrophic sea rise.   Global energy demand exceeds green energy supply in every scenario not containing a major nuclear component. Nuclear can deliver, but not with Light Water Reactors.  LWRs remain too expensive, risky as to security, safety, health, investment and proliferation, and face entrenched resistance that can sabotage needed advanced nuclear.   To reduce atmospheric carbon, a strong timely Gen IV nuclear energy component is essential. Safe Energy Program ought to consider a search for what works and the art of the possible.   The pragmatic choice for nuclear is Gen. IV molten salt reactors.  Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors can garner support that LWRs have never enjoyed.   LFTRs are safe, non proliferating, scalable, exportable, cheaper, are readily fueled, consume existing radioactive waste - - -  you know the list.    LFTRs additionally are far more efficient than LWR for high temperature electrolysis hydrogen production, a growing and certain component in a future energy universe. With LFTRs once proven and available, resistance to mandated carbon reduction will fade. Public money is not available today to incentivize commercial LFTR development.   Private venture capital is just beginning to shift into Thorium technology.  India, Norway/Sweden and China are creating energy policy in support of Thorium. Congress, DOE and EPA could develope policy favoring LFTRs over LWRs.  In spite of remaining development needed on design, policy that enables LFTRs will produce more generating capacity on a global basis in a shorter time frame than is possible with any other non-carbon sustainable green energy.  In America, Gen IV nuclear is the least partisan and least geographically dependent of any green energy initiative.  Of all federal green energy initiatives, support for Gen. IV nuclear will in the long view provide the greatest benefit.  I urge PSR and Safe Energy Program to consider Gen IV Thorium advanced nuclear as both what works and what is possible.  

June 22, 2011
Mike Carey said ..

Every YEAR twenty THOUSAND more people DIE prematurely from the toxic effects of fossil fuel power plants. Another twenty THOUSAND people will DIE for every YEAR that irrational opposition delays a transition to safer, cleaner, cheaper nuclear technology for a world hungry for more energy. The power companies love the delay - it is one less year of competition and one more year of record profits and bonuses. http://www.thoriumenergyalliance.com/

June 22, 2011
John Runkle said ..

"Citing More Design Mistakes and Omissions, Public Interest Groups Call for Nuclear Regulators to Halt the AP1000 Reactor Approval Process" Friends of the Earth, NC WARN and AP1000 Oversight Group question the process used by the NRC to attempt to certify the Westinghouse-Toshiba reactor design. Press release and petition are at: http://www.ncwarn.org/2011/06/legal-motion-on-ap1000-press-release-by-friends-of-the-earth-nc-warn-others/

June 16, 2011

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