Nuclear Benefits

The nuclear industry is hung up on obsolete justifications for nuclear power (ENR 4/12 p. 13). Nuclear offers a lot more than zero emissions and slightly lower energy costs.

We need to end oil dependence, especially on OPEC oil, by switching to a hydrogen economy. Huge quantities of hydrogen need electrical conversion of water to hydrogen. Despite denials by our uninformed populace, the only energy sources to produce an adequate amount of electrical power are fossil fuels and nuclear.

Mega nuclear plants are unnecessarily expensive for numerous reasons including minimal standardization and public demands to assure radiation safety against everything from earthquakes to sabotage. Why not stay with a standardized commercial version of the military plants used to power Navy ships? These plants could be supported on earthquake-safe floats and located close to where power is to be consumed to reduce transmission losses.

Technology exists to build non-proliferation nuclear plants incapable of producing weapons-grade by-products. The remaining radiation risk is trivial compared to risk of a nuclear terrorist attack.

Battery-powered autos are not practical and probably never will be. Fuel cell power is the only promising substitute for gasoline and diesel. The extra costs are small compared to the cost of waging wars to maintain our oil supply.
Gasoline prices are rising in proportion to the devaluating dollar because OPEC needs more dollars to maintain traditional purchasing power. Moreover, some of their purchases are to support attacks against U.S. interests. In effect, we are paying for our own demise.

On 9/12/01 our first order of business should have been to seek a mandate for a 10-year plan to switch America to a hydrogen economy. That need still exists. The public must either accept nuclear power or continue to accept the negatives associated with fossil fuel power.

Casper, Phillips and Associates
Tacoma, Wash.

Sticking Around

I have just read with great interest your article, “Spanning Centuries” (ENR 3/29 p. 36). Having been associated with one of the firms on your list “Born Before 1900,” I well appreciate the tremendous achievement of their having survived depressions, recessions, civil war, two world wars, not to mention the business climate of two centuries.

I would feel remiss if I did not say that many readers are equally proud of their firms that have provided technology through building materials and building systems, which fueled much of the success of our construction industry. One such firm (founded by Elijah Otis in 1853) provided the impetus for high-rise construction through his invention of the elevator safety device. I am sure several volumes could be written concerning similar inventions and systems for other building products within the subcontractor community that have survived the test of time.