Book Review


Environmentalists for Nuclear Energy, by B. Comby

English edition, 2001, 345 pp. (soft cover), 38 Euros

TNR Editions, 266 avenue Daumesnil, 75012 Paris, France;

ISBN 2-914190-02-6


 Reproduced from the journal Health Physics with permission from the Health Physics Society.

AT A TIME when most of the media and politicians seem to be brainwashed by antinuclear cults, it is refreshing to encounter a book that presents the issues regarding nuclear energy in a clear and dispassionate manner. In plain non-technical language, the author, a French environmentalist trained as a nuclear engineer, presents a primer, in large letters, of the essential facts regarding all the major aeas of controversy about nuclear power.

The first half of the book, titled "The Atomic Paradox," describes in layman's language the risks of nuclear power, its environmental impact, quality and safety standards, waste management, why a power reactor is not a bomb, energy alternatives, nuclear weapons, and other major global and environmnetal problems. In each case the major conclusions are framed for greater emphasis. Although examples are taken from the French nuclear power program, the conclusions are equally valid elsewhere.

The second half of the book is titled "Information on Nuclear Energy and the Environment" and briefly provides a historical survey, an explanation of the different types of radiation, radioactivity, dose effects of radiation, Chernobyl, medical uses of radiation, accident precautions, as well as a glossary of terms and abbreviations and a bibliography (…)

Its simple language makes the book suitable as a primer for high-school classes, teacher training courses, or environmental discussion groups.

Despite the slightly provocative title, it is a well-balanced if unapologetic exposition of the competitive advantages and disadvantages of nuclear energy as a power source. It should appeal to all readers with an interest in the subject who have not already closed their minds.

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The opinions expressed in this section are those of the authors and do not represent the official position of the Journal, the Health Physics Society, or the authors' institutions.