In his July 21 letter Nuclear article misleading, Mark Forssell pointed out a technical error in Linda Sicklers June 30 story Report warns of danger in the resurgence of the nuclear power industry. The error was in the use of the words hydrogen bomb when referring to the 1979 Three Mile Island nuclear accident.
The worry about TMI Unit 2 was not that it would explode like a nuclear weapon, which it could not do, but that the increasing oxygen and hydrogen levels could lead to a conventional explosion. Such an explosion could have blown the top off of the reactor. Had that happened, circumstances different from those surrounding the Chernobyl accident would have yielded the same result.
I do not believe that Ms. Sickler was deliberately trying to mislead readers with this error. However, I do think that Mr. Forssell is misleading with other claims in his letter. When he mentioned the declining costs of nuclear power, did he consider that subsidies skew those costs? Speaking of subsidies, isnt their purpose supposed to be getting new technologies off and running instead of propping up one that has been around for half a century?
Mr. Forssells most misleading claim is that nuclear power keeps the environment clean. There are, obviously, the unique problems associated with nuclear waste. Also, a nuclear plant may not produce greenhouse gases but they are produced at each step in the nuclear fuel cycle, which is also an energy and resource intensive process.
If Mr. Forssell is concerned about the debate over our energy future being clouded by misleading information, he need not look beyond his own smoke signals.