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Tim Boxer: Weizmann Head Doesn't Fear Nuclear Power
Special to the Jewish Week
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There is nothing to fear from nuclear energy. That's the assessment of the president of the Weizmann Institute of Science.

Comparing the disasters in Japan, Prof. Daniel Zajfman said we're focusing on the wrong tragedy. Some 20,000 people perished in the tsunami. A train was swept away and hundreds died. But at the nuclear power plant meltdown, not one person died.

Zajfman spoke at the recent American Committee for Weizmann gala at Chelsea Pier 60 in New York. Chairman Lawrence S. Blumberg introduced former CBS News president Andrew Heyward to moderate a discussion with Zajfman.

Zajfman, Weizmann's youngest president, said he got interested in science while growing up in Brussels. At eight years old, he and a friend would get together to study science on their own.

"We would mix chemicals at home. Of course our parents weren't there."

Zajfman made aliya at age 20 in 1979, and now heads the science institute in Rehovot. And his friend? "My friend grew up to become a businessman. He's making more money than I am."

Zajfman envisioned a bright future for science in Israel. In fact, he said, Israel is enjoying a brain gain. In years past students would go abroad for advanced study and stay there.

"Now," he said, "the scientists are coming back to Weizmann. They want to live in Israel. We provide them with the means to go ahead with their dreams."

As time goes on, we live longer. A hundred years ago people lived 45 years. Today we live an average of 80 years. That's double the life expectancy every century. "Half the babies born today will live for 100 years," he said.

We live in amazing times, he said. We have changed our environment to make life easier. "We are changing the world with the power of the gods. Question is, will we have the wisdom of Solomon?"

Last Update:

10/27/2011 - 19:03
nuclear power, Weizman Institute
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I agree with the professor. Nature has thrown its worst at four reactors, and the result is only expense and inconvenience. No China Syndrome, and it's right near China. There are, of course, lessons to be learned. Local storage of radioactive waste needs much more secure cooling. Not insurmountable. And for goodness sake, if you have power lines going out to the grid, why don't you also have power coming in from the grid for emergency. Just a few wires and power switches would have prevented the whole disaster, the loss of cooling pumps when the diesels were drowned.

I find Prof. Zajfman's comments regarding not to fear nuclear power to show how his arrogance has clouded his thinking and perspective.
I have been a piping designer at four nuclear power plants and many other facilities and have witnessed sabotage of critical piping at the containment at a nuclear power plant similar to the ones in Japan.
I find it disconcerting that the professor has not taken into account the lethality of the nuclear waste. Not knowing that I was living near a high level nuclear dump I was exposed to nuclear radiation for nine months.
Will the professor explain how to feel "safe" while being exposed.
For a reference I would like to have him comment about this picture of an 8" hole in the reactor head on a plant outside of Cleveland, Ohio and not to fear nuclear power.
I would entreate his comments with skepticism until he can comment otherwise.
Thank you

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