Nuclear Energy

(Adopted by Council on November 21, 1993)

The American Physical Society has a long-standing interest in the establishment of a technically sound national energy policy. Such a policy must include steps to decrease the heavy dependence of the United States on fossil fuels. Their use entails significant environmental costs, including possibly substantial changes in global climate with uncertain consequences for human well being. Moreover, since resources of oil and, less immediately, natural gas are limited, U.S. reliance on foreign sources creates economic burdens and military dangers. We therefore endorse increases in federal funding and general support for programs in conservation and in the development of renewable energy sources.

A balanced energy policy, however, also requires that the Department of Energy have strong programs to keep the nuclear energy option open, through: (a) the continued development of nuclear reactors which can be built, operated, and eventually decommissioned in a manner which is simple, safe, environmentally sound and cost-effective; (b) the development and implementation of programs for the safe disposal of spent fuel and radioactive wastes; and (c) the development of an effective public education program to allow a more informed debate on the strengths and weaknesses of nuclear power. The American Physical Society is deeply concerned that the current progress in these areas is inadequate.