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Yesterday's Fear, Tomorrow's Power

Film emphasizes both potential and safety aspects of nuclear energy.

Ralph Nader and Jane Fonda may have to rethink their opposition to nuclear power. Which would they prefer: nuclear generated electric power or global warming?

Robert Tinker, a 2002 graduate of West Potomac High School and 2006 graduate of Oberlin College in Ohio with a degree in political science, makes a strong case for "The Nuclear Option" — the title of his 81 minute film documentary.

"I made the movie for people who are not aware of the benefits of nuclear power. I consider myself an environmentalist and nuclear power does not cause global warming because it doesn't release carbon dioxide," Tinker said.

On Feb. 23 and 24 his work was shown to audiences at Mount Vernon Unitarian Church and Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington. The response was "very good," according to Tinker.

"We had about 50 people at the Mount Vernon site but only about a dozen at Arlington. However, at both, we had a very good discussion after the showing," he said.

THE FILM explores the potential for nuclear energy to provide sustainable, non-greenhouse gas-emitting energy for our society in the future, according to Tinker.

It takes an in-depth look at the following aspects of "The Nuclear Option": Fission and How Nuclear Power Works; the Three-Mile Island and Davis-Besse Accidents; Nuclear Safety; Waste Transportation; Yucca Mountain; Recycling/Reprocessing Nuclear Fuel; Breeder Reactors; Sustainability; and the Potential of Fusion Energy.

As noted by William Evans, a wind energy consultant and one of those interviewed for the film, "Green energy may only be able to supply five to 15 percent of the energy needed in the future. Nuclear energy may have to be looked at as a viable option."

Robert Goldston, Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, summarized the option in one simple statement: "We are going to need more energy in the future. Not less."

"The film was shown at Oberlin on Feb. 8 and received a great response. I hope to send it to Al Gore for his reaction," Tinker said.

Some of the experts giving their views in the film on not only the nuclear option but also future energy needs and considerations include: John Pasacantando, executive director, GreenPeace, USA; David Lockbaum, Union of Concerned Scientists; Alan Bunner, NASA; and Phillip Finck, Nuclear Program, Idaho National Laboratory.

ALTHOUGH TINKER, 23 and a resident of Hollin Hills in Mount Vernon District, graduated with a degree in political science, he got the inspiration for his documentary from his physics professor, Dr. John Scofield. It was developed as his Senior Independent Project.

"I concentrated on energy policy in political science. I am thinking about going to law school and focusing on energy issues," he said.

Next Tinker hopes to enter his film in the Toronto Film Festival for documentaries. "The deadline for entering is late April and I still have some copyright details to get accomplished," Tinker said.