Environment News Service

NUCLEAR ACTIVISTS QUESTION "JUNK" SCIENCE GRANTS

WASHINGTON, DC, September 29, 1999 (ENS) - A nuclear watchdog group says nuclear energy research proposals funded by the Department of Energy (DOE) should be reviewed to make sure they are not "junk science." After the DOE canceled a $100,000 award to a University of Illinois researcher, who claimed he could transmute radioactive elements into less harmful substances in his laboratory, the Washington, DC based Nuclear Control Institute (NCI) called for the formation of an independent panel to review the DOE’s other 44 Nuclear Energy Research Initiative (NERI) projects. The group says the panel is needed to ensure that all projects funded by DOE's Office of Nuclear Energy, Science and Technology are based on sound science and engineering principles. As reported in "Science" magazine, the grant awarded in May was withdrawn on the unanimous recommendation of a second peer review panel. DOE's decision to reconsider the grant became public after NCI wrote to DOE in early July that the science underlying the proposal sounded like the discredited cold fusion theory. "The fact that DOE granted an award for ‘cold fusion’ research in the first place clearly indicates that its peer review process, not to mention its basic scientific judgment, is seriously flawed," said Dr. Edwin Lyman, NCI's scientific director. "The entire $55 million NERI program needs to be opened up to independent scrutiny. The public has a right to know how many more of its tax dollars are being squandered on half baked junk science and junk engineering projects."

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