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The following essay by Malcolm Wells was originally published in Energy Essays, Edmund Scientific Co., and reprinted in Notes from the Energy Underground, 1980, Van Nostrand Reinhold.

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Washington, D.C.—(UPA)—1980. According to high administration sources, the President's move to demonstrate nuclear power-plant safety b) offering to build a full-size atomic reactor inside the dome of the Capitol has left other world leaders years behind in the energy race. The proposal is expected to give a long-delayed boost to the nuclear power movement, and has, at least temporarily, stunned into silence congressional and environmental critics alike.

By 1981, the thousand-megawatt reactor inside the Capitol will contain the radioactive inventory of over a hundred Hiroshimas. When asked by reporters about the frightening possibilities of disastrous accidents-explosion, sabotage, vessel rupture, meltdown, earthquake, or the leakage of radioactive materials—a White House spokesman pooh-poohed such worries and called for a greater measure of faith in the judgment of our political leaders. His appeal was followed by a sharp jump in the stock prices of the energy companies involved in nuclear power.

Not to be outdone by the President, the governors of more than 40 states have by now declared intentions to build similar reactors inside their own capitol buildings. "Nuclear reactors have always before been built far away from population centers because accidents out there would kill only a few farmers and cattle," said one governor, "but now all that has changed." Later, his press secretary issued a clarification, stating that the governor had nothing but he highest respect for farmers and livestock, and that nuclear power was now 100% safe, just like air travel.

Most recent of those boarding the nuclear bandwagon is the mayor of a large suburb, who announced late today at a hastily called press conference that he planned to go even further than the President and the governors by accepting bids for a nuclear power plant to be build tin his very own basement. Noting that "in this age of infallible computers, 'lemons' have become things of the past," the feisty mayor closed his statement by calling his decision "one small step for me; one giant leap for mankind."

As a further show of confidence, he encouraged trucks carrying supertoxic plutonium wastes to pass freely through his town. "Let other towns ban the transport of nuclear wastes;' you won't be banned from ours. Come on down," he said. "We don't believe all the danger-talk." (The mayor was referring to recent scientific evidence that as little as one-millionth part of an ounce of plutonium can cause an incurable type of lung cancer.—Ed.)

Industry observers, noting the public's placid acceptance of these developments, predict that fission reactors will soon be used in the most densely populated parts of all major cities, making the energy crisis a thing of the past, and paving the way for a nuclear boom beyond our wildest dreams.

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