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May 11, 1986|Steven Aftergood

THE NUCLEAR WASTE PRIMER: A HANDBOOK FOR CITIZENS by The League of Women Voters Education Fund (Shocken: $11.95, hardcover; $5.95, paperback). Public participation in nuclear waste policy decisions "is essential in order to promote public confidence in the safety of disposal of such waste," declared Congress in the landmark Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982. "The Nuclear Waste Primer" aims to encourage that participation by providing readers with sufficient information on the science and politics of radioactive waste. With admirable conciseness, this brief work introduces the types of nuclear waste, the nature of radiation hazards, the troubled history of waste management, and options for the future, including a discussion of avenues for public input.

In an attempt to offer an unbiased analysis, the authors do not advocate any particular policy choices, nor do they consistently adopt a pro- or anti-nuclear viewpoint. Instead, they present a potpourri of criticisms and defenses of nuclear waste policies. This makes for some uneven reading, though it also gives the reader an accurate sense of the character and extent of the debate over nuclear waste. The book concludes with a fine bibliography and a helpful list of contacts, including government agencies and nuclear industry associations, as well as some of the most capable critics of nuclear power.

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