Before and After Sentence Outline on Nuclear Power Policy
My comments on the original sentence outline are in green. Note how dramatically the sentence outline is revised.
Original sentence outline
Original Title: The Case Against Commercial Nuclear Power
ABSTRACT:While nuclear power has proven fairly safe in the
United States, it presents a danger that is not economically nor
ecologically justified. Nuclear plants stay in operation only because
of government subsidies, at the expense of developing new technologies,
and their operation creates hazardous nuclear wastes which must be
stored for several generations. The United States should revert to
traditional power sources and develop new sources such as solar on
- The potentially large energy output of a nuclear reactor cannot be
achieved because of engineering and safety reasons.
Is this an argument that safe plants would
be too small to be economically viable? Perhaps you should look at the
Swedish example; see web reference for several
aspects of the Swedish experience: www.uilondon.org/uiabs96/hedvl.html
- The safe power rate is not high enough to make the plant
This seems related to first paragraph. Is
this a new point?
- This poor performance must be balanced against the potential danger
of a catastrophic reactor failure
"Balance" seems a strange word choice
since both aspects seem negative in your presentation.
- Other dangers are less spectacular, but more intrinsic to operation.
I am not sure what you mean. Have you
looked at NRC web page www.nrc.gov/NRC/textmenu.html for information on
- Spent fuel rods contain plutonium which can be used in nuclear
Is the equivalent of saying selling guns
"causes" (versus allows) people to shoot each other?
- Daily operation creates a daily stream of low level nuclear waste
which must be stored for until it is no longer radioactive.
Have you looked at
- When nuclear plants are decommissioned, the entire structure is high
level nuclear waste, and must be stored as such.
Look at schedule for
- The half lifes of some of the wastes require storage for several
I have downloaded DOE document on this and
put in your mail box.
- Both the plants and the waste disposal sites require high security
for the entire time of operation.
If you had done your homework, you could
have a much stronger argument on nuclear stewardship.
- Government subsidies would be better spent on developing less
costly methods of energy production.
Let me be very specific about my confusion. Rightly or wrongly, the USA
ha gotten out of the business of doing research on nuclear reactors.
The last facilities in Idaho are being closed down now. So there is
essentially no subsidy for developing nuclear power. AS these costs
have decreased, the government has not spent more on other sources.
If you want to get some idea of how little political support there is
see the following web pages: www.eren.doe.gov for an overview and
www.eren.doe.gov/ee.html for what the DOE is doing.
- Solar and wind plants have already proven successful and more cost
efficient in limited trails.
- The United States should not commission any further nuclear plants
and should divert the subsidy money, as it becomes available, to
research into better production methods.
The paper only makes sense if you are looking at the global situation
and I encourage you to so broaden your paper. But in that context you
have to explain why your arguments are not so persuasive abroad. Your
central thesis seems to be that rational arguments are involved. The
contrast between US and elsewhere may persuade you that political
arguments are strongly involved. While I would not for one second
defend the AEC/ERDA/DOE political handling of nuclear power, the
arguments against share a lot of the intellectual content with EMF
worriers. Your article has to face that.
Final sentence outline
Revised Title: The Future of Nuclear Power Policy
Sound decisions on nuclear policy require an understanding of
the physical principles governing their operation, and realistic
evaluations of the risks they pose. Contrary to popular belief, nuclear
power reactors cannot harbor a nuclear explosion. Since both reasonable
and unreasonable fears exist about the safety of reactors and of the
potential dangers caused by accidents, it is useful to consider the two
most serious nuclear power accidents to date, Three Mile Island and
Chernobyl. Modern plant designs make such accidents unlikely to occur
again. The Chernobyl plant actually had ties to nuclear weapon
production, which is a fundamental concern with nuclear power, as is the
disposal of nuclear wastes. Both of these issues will be discussed in
the context of fuel recycling. From this it will be clear that nuclear
power plants are safe enough for commercial use should stay in operation
as means of reducing bomb grade materials.
- By utilizing developed, but unimplemented technology, and by
educating the general public about the realities of nuclear power, the
United States can lead the way to cleaner power while, at the same
time, constructively using much of what is now deemed nuclear waste
- The fuel in a nuclear reactor does not contain enough fissionable
uranium to explode.
- The potential dangers of a meltdown, while unpleasant, are not as
severe as those of a nuclear explosion.
- A realistic and productive review of nuclear power
must, however, balance the potential dangers against the likelihood of
occurrence. [in particular the serious release of radiation]
- In contrast to these unlikely dangers, nuclear
release fewer pollutants and so have less impact on general health and
- The Three Mile Island and Chernobyl incidents illustrate the
what problems must be resolved for nuclear power to continue to be used.
[My sentence, not the authors.]
- Despite the impression that the people of Middletown, PA were
irrevocably damaged by the radiation released at Three Mile Island, the
exposure was small compared to the exposure from natural radiation.
- The 1986 explosion and fire at Chernobyl in the then-Soviet Union
was much worse than the Three Mile Island accident, but could not occur
in a United States reactor.
- While the core did not explode, as it cannot, the heat produced was
sufficient to ignite surrounding materials.
- It is important to recognize, however, the gross incompetence
required for this disaster to occur.
- Even more importantly, reactors in the United States do not have
the design flaws inherent in the Chernobyl design.
- Plants, including Three Mile Island and Chernobyl, had sensible
regulations to prevent such disasters; the problem was that the
procedures were broken. [better word than `broken' is `ignored.']
- ... re-processing of spent fuel significantly reduces the nuclear
waste problem, and does not contribute to, and may even work against,
- Much of the dangerous, long-lived nuclear waste that the country is
now scrambling to store are not actually wastes, but fuels that we are
choosing not to utilize.
- The United States does not recycle fuel because of misconceived
concerns about contributing to nuclear proliferation.
- While not contributing to nuclear proliferation, reactors designed
to burn reprocessed fuel could be used to burn the surplus of weapons
- While nuclear power production does require careful
safety measures, it is a viable technology.
- Although there have been two notable accidents, the
Three Mile Island incident was not as damaging as is generally
believed, and the Chernobyl accident was caused by deliberate
- Finally, the United States should reprocess spent fuel
both to conserve resources and to lighten the nuclear waste burden.
Your comments and
suggestions are appreciated.
[Writing Course Home Page]
Edited by: email@example.com [August 1997]