American Women Debate Safety of Nuclear Power via Voice of America

Kristin Zaitz believes that her nuclear power plant is safe.

Zaitz is an engineering manager at Diablo Canyon Power Plant, California’s only working nuclear power center. She believes it is so safe that she worked there during both of her pregnancies. She has also gone diving in waters off the California coast to inspect the plant.

Zaitz wears jewelry with a small piece of uranium inside, something that often leads to questions about nuclear power.


Together, Zaitz and her coworker Heather Matteson, a reactor operator, started a non-profit group called Mothers for Nuclear. The group hopes to prove to Americans that nuclear power is better for the environment than some alternative energysources.

Matteson says, when she took the job at Diablo Canyon, she was afraid of nuclear.

“And it took me six to seven years to really feel like, okay this is something good for the environment. I don’t want other people to take six years making that decision, and we don’t have that long.”

Like Zaitz, Matteson also wears uranium jewelry in hopes of speaking with others about nuclear energy. “Nuclear is fun,” she said. She said her jewelry produces less radiation than a banana.


Nuclear industry experts say that women in the industry can be powerful voices for nuclear. They say these women can help influence other women about the value of nuclear energy.

At the recent U.S. Women in Nuclear conference in San Francisco, women working in the industry talked about how to demonstrate the value of nuclear power.


But critics of nuclear energy say it doesn’t matter who is expressing support for it.

Kendra Klein is a scientist with Friends of the Earth, an environmental group.

“Using mothers’ voices to argue for a technology that is fundamentally dangerous and that has been demonstrated by disasters like Fukushima to be not safe for the communities that surround nuclear power plants or even cities that are hundreds of miles away is disingenuous.”



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