Resisting Atomic Energy
The atomic energy industry was a dangerous one. From mining uranium ore to manipulating isotopes, working with radioactive substances was inherently hazardous. As the number of radiation laboratories and reactors increased, so did the number of scientists and workers exposed to radiation. Inventions like the Geiger-Müller tube (the key component of Geiger counters) and film strip radiation detectors were used as safety precautions as early as the 1930s.1 And with the expansion of the atomic industry, radiation detectors like the film badge dosimeter became a standardized part of the industry.2
Countries with developing atomic energy industries also created organizations for monitoring safety precautions. The Atomic Energy Commission took on this responsibility in the United States while the British Health and Safety Executive (established in 1974) was responsible for nuclear safety in the United Kingdom. Organizations of this type played a major role in establishing safety standards and were responsible for monitoring various construction and maintenance regulations including radiation shielding, pile control measures, and even zoning restrictions.
In 1975, President Richard Nixon announced "Project Independence," a plan to build one thousand nuclear power plants across the United States by the end of the millennium. Seen as wildly increasing the likelihood of a nuclear accident, Nixon's plan received heavy criticism from the scientific and anti-nuclear communities.
In response to the dangers of nuclear energy, organizations formed to protest reactor construction. The Clamshell Alliance, a New England anti-nuclear group, became famous in 1977 with the occupation of the Seabrook Nuclear Power Plant site.3 As a result of the occupation, nearly two-thirds of the 2,000 protesters were jailed with the help of the National Guard, putting the Alliance and anti-nuclear protesters on the front page of newspapers all over the country.
- 2326. Curtiss, Leon F. The Geiger-Mueller Counter. Washington, D.C.: NBS, January 23, 1950. Return to text ↑
- 2304. British Standard Institution. Specifications for Film Badges for Personnel Radiation Monitoring. London: BSI, 1963. Return to text ↑
- 2312. Clamshell Alliance, The. For Our Children's Future, Stop the Seabrook Nuke! Action Guide. The Clamshell Alliance, October 14, 1989. Return to text ↑