Walt Patterson On Energy

Nuclear power: Articles

'Radioactive Waste: Odourless, Tasteless and Dangerous' carried my first published byline. I was stunned to realize recently that I had mentioned fossil fuels 'disturbing the carbon dioxide balance' in 1970. In 1973 the Ecologist published my article 'Nuclear power', and Environment 'The British Atom'. In 1975 I wrote a Friends of the Earth tabloid whose front page asked 'Is fission worth it?' and 'Windscale to be world capital for radioactive waste?'. In 1976 the Observer described 'Plutonium: Our Fearful Option'. In 1979 I was invited to contribute to the twentieth anniversary issue of the Journal of the Institute of Nuclear Engineering, on '"Environmental" Involvement in British Civil Nuclear Policy'. I wrote for the Guardian, New Scientist, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, the much-missed Vole magazine and other periodicals. The entire archive of the Bulletin is now available on Google. Links to my Bulletin articles are here.

The year 2020 is the 75th anniversary of the atomic bomb that destroyed Hiroshima. Forty-five years ago, in 1975, I was an invited guest at the ceremonies in Hiroshima, commemorating the 30th anniversary. On my return the New Scientist published my article 'Hiroshima pilgrimage'.

In 1984 Hongkong Friends of the Earth commissioned me to write a report on the nuclear plant that China proposed to build at Daya Bay, less than 100km upwind from Hongkong. On 14- 17 March 1984 the South China Morning Post published the complete report. Now, thanks to the good offices of SCMP staff, you can download my report here. More than 30 years later the questions it raises still require answers.

In 2006, in The World Today, I was bemused by Nuclear amnesia. In October 2007, in Nature, I reflected on the fiftieth anniversary of the Windscale fire. In March 2011 I wrote a comment for Chatham House on Japan's nuclear crisis.

The latest inexplicable resurgence of enthusiasm for fast breeder reactors has prompted me to dust off a report I wrote in 1984, entitled 'Super-Phenix: Ashes To Ashes?'.

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© Walt Patterson 2024