In the July 2004 issue of this newsletter, we published an article, “Purex and Pyro are not the same”, by William H. Hannum, Gerald E. Marsh, and George S. Stanford concerning reprocessing methods for nuclear waste materials and their relationships to energy production and to vulnerability to terrorism. In this issue, we provide a response by Richard Garwin to that article. We also requested, received, and herewith publish, a response by Hannum et al to Garwin’s response, as well as Garwin’s response to the latter. In other words, we present you here with a full-fledged written conversation, in a point/counter-point format, on some important issues surrounding electricity generation from nuclear fission. One of us (JJM) wishes to express many thanks to Drs. Hannum, Garwin, Marsh, and Stanford for making this conversation possible. In addition, we present a contribution on the same topic by Robert Albrecht and David Bodansky in their article “Oil, CO2, and the Potential of Nuclear Energy”. With these papers, P&S is very pleased to present its readers with a veritable feast on a subject that looms large as crude oil prices hover around $50/barrel and as reports from Asia continue to emphasize the growing appetite for petroleum there.
As a continuation of our multi-issue series of articles concerning the dangers of nuclear weapons after the Cold War (the idea for which series was hatched by Wolfgang Panofsky in May 2003 during a conversation with JJM), we are very fortunate to have an article by Dr. Lynn Eden, of Stanford University’s Center for International Security and Cooperation (CISAC), on the subject of mass fires following nuclear detonations in a wartime environment. In this editor’s (JJM) opinion, one of the most salient pieces of information in Dr. Eden’s paper is that mass fire, and not blast, is expected to contribute to the great majority of destruction and killing from nuclear detonations in urban and sub-urban areas. Dr. Eden’s article is based on her book, published this year by Cornell University Press, entitled Whole World on Fire: Organizations, Knowledge, & Nuclear Weapons Devastation. Recall that the worldwide debate on “nuclear winter” during the 1980’s was based on simulations of the consequences of fire, not blast or nuclear radiation.
We thank our editorial staff for news on the Forum and the book reviews.