Future Benefits of Funding Nuclear Research

The editorial "Keep Funds for Nuclear Research," April 1, highlights the dilemma of budget cutting with respect to high payoff technologies. While nuclear power research should not be exempt from budget cuts, it is disappointing that President Clinton would single it out as an example of a program no longer needed.

Nuclear power is a vital contributor to our energy supply, second only to coal in producing electricity.

In addition, commercial United States nuclear technology exports brought in more than $1.7 billion in 1992. The nuclear industry has realized the importance of research and has shared in its cost. It is seen in today's "First-of-a-Kind Engineering" program, which is a joint effort between the industry and the Department of Energy. Each provides $100 million to support the development of evolutionary nuclear designs.

The federal government has the responsibility to help the industry bring along the next generation of nuclear plants, as well as to make the long-term investments that industry is unable to do. In the necessary budget trimming, we should remember the substantial payback we have gotten from nuclear power and not cut so deeply as to lose its future benefits. Kent F. Hansen,,Cambridge, Mass. Professor of Nuclear Engineering Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Letters are welcome. Only a selection can be published, subject to condensation, and none acknowledged. Please fax letters to (617) 450-2317 or address them to "Readers Write," One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115.

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