Nats 1510 Lecture 7 The Rise and Fall of a Science Based Technology

Download 13.56 Kb.
Size13.56 Kb.
NATS 1510 - Lecture 7 - The Rise and Fall of a Science Based Technology

  • Automobile - mass-manufactured, factory based technology, economic success

  • Nuclear power - large-scale, complex, science based technology, economic failure

  • Nuclear power and the nuclear bomb

  • Wartime justification for bomb, post-war regrets, spread of technology

  • “Cold war”, standoff between US and Russia, escalation of bomb construction

  • Nuclear power countering harm of bomb

  • Risk, safety issues, public perception, meltdowns, leaks, accidents, nuclear waste

  • Economic challenges to nuclear power

Nuclear Expansion

  • Ideology, state support, “official technology” status

  • Ideological factors, cold war beliefs, public trust in business and government, consumerism, faith in science, optimism towards risk

  • Cold war and national security, 1950’s anti-American criticism

  • Confidence in government and business, large scale projects accepted

  • Complex safety systems, larger scale facilities, economies of scale

  • Greater than 500% real cost price increase in expected nuclear construction costs from 1963 to 1983

  • Government support, minimized public resistance, subsidies, legislation, risk evaluations, military and economic problems

The Disestablishment of Nuclear Power as An Official Technology

  • 1967 estimate of 1000 nuclear plants by 2000, from 1967-1974 utilities ordered 196 new plants, over 2/3 of plants ordered after 1970 cancelled

  • Nuclear power declined from 1960’s, failed to capture the international energy market, cost overruns, loss of “official technology” status

  • Influence of the anti-nuclear movement

  • Factors supporting anti-nuclear movement:

    • Professional managerial class (PMC) initiatives

    • openness of US political system to citizen initiatives

    • growth of environmental movement

    • left social critics gained influence, military-corporate planners lost credibility after Vietnam and Watergate

    • Free market ideology worked against nuclear

    • OPEC embargo, financing difficulties in the utilities

    • nuclear power seen as dangerous

    • weapons proliferation and foreign nuclear competition

    • availability of other energy options

  • Pro and anti nuclear movement ideologies:

    • Pro-nuclear ideology: faith in science, pessimism about economics of non-nuclear options, cold war sentiments, trust in government and business, consumerist values, laissez faire economics

    • Anti-nuclear ideology: anti-corporate and anti-centralization, concern about social limits to growth, selective faith in technologies, conservative attitude towards ecological issues, greater concern for social aspects of economic decisions

  • The professional managerial class: nuclear scientists, engineers, administrators, economists, journalists, lawyers, etc.

  • PMC and complex technologies

  • Access to information, public participation, 1960’s and 1970’s, greater influence by PMC’s

  • National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) over 20,000 local environmental organizations, legal intervention in licencing

  • Environmentalist framework for criticizing nuclear industry

  • Post-Vietnam legislation facilitated public access to information, legal action, public representation

  • Freedom of Information Act, Federal Advisory Commission Act (1972), Government in the Sunshine Act (1976), the Public Utilities Regulatory Policies Act (1978) and the NEPA

  • Electricity demand sensitive to rising prices, dropped after decades of 7% increase

  • OPEC oil embargo, US energy dependency, nuclear plant costs, long lead times

  • Legislative changes, supported by environmental and anti-nuclear movements:

    • Reorganization of AEC, safety and nuclear hazard research and evaluation

    • 1974, splitting AEC’s regulatory and promotional functions

    • Shift of authority from AEC to EPA, input from nuclear sceptics

    • Increased public access to AEC materials

    • Including conservation and non-nuclear options

  • Network of contacts to disseminate information, send to press

  • Protest related regulatory costs responsible for half 3 billion dollar increase in reactor construction costs after 1984

  • Loss of “official technology” status: higher risk premiums in capital markets, reduced government subsidies and increased support for non-nuclear technologies

Download 13.56 Kb.

Share with your friends:

The database is protected by copyright © 2023
send message

    Main page