About the Book

Rad Decision tells the story of the people and machinery that make up a nuclear power plant, and the dark tale of a man who believes it is his destiny to destroy it. Written by an engineer with over twenty years experience in the American nuclear industry, the novel includes an overview of how electricity is made and a step-by-step, inside look at how a nuclear plant operates - - from its equipment to its people to the politics and money behind it. Chernobyl, TMI and the wonderful world of radiation are also discussed. Armed with this background, the reader plunges into a nuclear accident in the making.

Here’s a way to learn about energy issues in general -- and nuclear power in particular -- and be entertained at the same time.

The intended audience for Rad Decision is the lay reader who is concerned about nuclear energy. The more technically-inclined will also find plenty of satisfying detail. Beyond the nuclear information, the author has spent a great deal of time ensuring that Rad Decision is, first and foremost, an enjoyable thriller.

No nuclear insider has ever told this story before - - there is simply no book on the market like Rad Decision.



Rad Decision is presented here in 37 episodes, each representing 8 - 12 pages of typical hardcover text. (About 15 minutes reading time each).

There will be three postings a week, beginning in late August 2005.

A few figures have been provided on the home page, and a few more are sprinkled through the text. Figures can be expanded to fill up more of the screen as needed. The story itself was written assuming there would be no figures.

For those who prefer reading on paper, a PDF file with the text through the current episode will be provided at episodes 7, 13, 19, 25, 31 and 38.

There is a COMMENTS section provided at the end of each chapter. SPEAK UP! The cream of the comments will make it to the Best Comments display on the front page.

From time to time, within the COMMENTS, the author will provide his own insights on a particular episode.



Rad Decision covers items such as how electricity is mass-produced, nuclear reactor operation and safety, the health effects of radiation, and the extent of public evacuation plans. Famous and not-so-famous nuclear events are also discussed, with a special emphasis on the Chernobyl disaster. The novel also provides an unprecedented insider’s view of the regulatory politics that play a crucial role in nuclear plant operation in the United States. And, of course, there’s mayhem and crisis at the nuclear plant.

Rad Decision has no heavy science and no equations. Any adult reader who understands that water is wet and steam is hot will be able to enjoy Rad Decision.

Why Read Rad Decision?

* It’s entertaining.

* Even the most thoughtful, well-read citizens know little about nuclear energy -- and most of what they know is wrong or misleading. It’s clear to those in the industry that even the “experts” debating the issue at the national level have only a limited understanding of how these machines are really operated. Like every energy source, nuclear reactors have both their good points and bad points. Both are plainly discussed in Rad Decision. Since it is the voter and consumer who will have the ultimate say in our energy future, its important that we all understand the reality behind our nation’s energy sources.

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Why a novel? Well, because it’s more fun to read (and write). Also, fiction can be a great learning tool.

Why is the novel not set in the present or the near future? Given the plot structure needed, it was much easier to set the story in the recent past. The reasons for the particular time frame chosen become evident as the plot unfolds. All of the nuclear power plants operating in the U.S. today were designed in roughly the same time period - - the 1960’s and 1970’s - - and while there have been some modifications, a nuclear power story set fifteen or twenty years ago can address the same key points as a tale set in today’s world. Not much has changed. (For items that have changed, see the comments provided by the author throughout the serialization and particularly those after the last episode is posted. Plant security has increased, of course, but it is not the subject of this book and is only addressed in passing.)

Disclosures and Similar Stuff: There is no information in Rad Decision that would be of aid to terrorists. Nothing in Rad Decision is meant to imply specific individuals, companies or organizations have violated any laws or ethical standards or produced inferior products or knowingly placed a member of the public in danger.

Bias Alert: The author has worked in the nuclear energy field for over twenty years, and plans to continue doing so. Therefore, this fictional work clearly does not have the intent of demonstrating the evil of nuclear power and the necessity of shutting down all nuclear plants. On the other hand, the author does not believe that nuclear energy is necessarily the best or only solution to our nation’s energy problems. The truth, as usual, lies somewhere in the middle. Those of a strong mindset for or against nuclear power will not be swayed by the Rad Decision story. But perhaps each side will come away with things to think about, and a more accurate grasp of the American nuclear power industry today.

There is simply no book on the market like Rad Decision.


The author would like to extend his gratitude to the many nuclear workers who over the years have provided him with insights reflected in Rad Decision, as well as the writing professionals, academics and scientists who have shown an interest in this novel and given encouragement.

Also, a big tip o’the cap to Ms. Pothandle for her patience during the long process of bringing this work to fruition, and to the Hoosker Dude for his efforts in a number of areas, including this blog.

Characters Considered But Rejected for Rad Decision:

  • A giant mutant groundhog with a lust for human blood

  • “Greasy George,” the unpleasant mechanic

  • “Helen,” the reactor engineer with a touch of nymphomania

  • “Geralda,” a crusading journalist and/or annoying spectacle

  • “Big Daddy McTaggart,” the County Sheriff with a secret.

  • “Ugo,” a loveable but tick-ridden supervisor.

  • “MacGyver”

  • “Jimmy Aach,” the stunningly handsome, brilliant engineer