Published on 11-Aug-2023

Golden Egg Or Poisoned Chalice? The Story Of Nuclear Power In The UK

Golden Egg Or Poisoned Chalice? The Story Of Nuclear Power In The UK

The British Institute of Non-Destructive Testing (BINDT) recently published ‘Golden Egg or Poisoned Chalice?: The Story of Nuclear Power in the UK’, by Tony Wooldridge and Stephen Druce. The book covers the civil nuclear programme from the early post-war years to the present day. The authors, who have both held senior roles in the nuclear industry, have lifted the lid on the factors that influenced policy decisions with the help of new evidence made available under the 30-year rule and freedom of information requests.

The book outlines how the UK – the first country to develop civil nuclear power – failed in its ambition to become a global leader in the industry through a series of poor decisions. The authors, who stress they are neither lobbying for or against nuclear power, identify a number of key lessons.

Professor The Lord Hennessy of Nympsfield says of the book: “In this timely and fascinating study, Tony Wooldridge and Stephen Druce trace with clarity and care the triumphs and tragedies of the UK’s civil nuclear history. It needs to be read by everyone involved in the latest wave of civil nuclear procurements.”

Whether one is enthusiastic or sceptical about nuclear power, this book provides an objective review of past policies and decisions and provides an essential background for all those interested in the future of the industry, both members of the public and those more directly involved.

Although this is not a book about non-destructive testing (NDT), the nuclear industry relies heavily on high-quality NDT, so much so that one of the major policy decisions in the UK – the adoption of the pressurised water reactor (PWR)– would not have been possible without the demonstrable improvements in ultrasonic inspection that made the UK a world leader in this area.

The book is available to buy in hardback from the BINDT website at: 

Notes for editors


The British Institute of Non-Destructive Testing (BINDT) is a UK-based professional engineering institutionworking to promote the advancement ofthe science and practice of non-destructive testing (NDT), condition monitoring (CM), diagnostic engineering and all other materials and quality testing disciplines. Internationally recognised, it is concerned withthe education, training and certification of its members and all those engaged in NDT and CM and through its publications and annual conferences and eventsit disseminates news of the latest advances in the science and practice of the subjects.For further information about the Institute and its activities, visit 

What are NDT and CM?

Non-destructive testing is the branch of engineering concerned with all methods of detecting and evaluating flaws in materials. Flaws can affect the serviceability of a material or structure, so NDT is important in guaranteeing safe operation as well as in quality control and assessing plant life. The flaws may be cracks or inclusions in welds and castings or variations in structural properties, which can lead to a loss of strength or failure in service. The essential feature of NDT is that the test process itself produces no deleterious effects on the material or structure under test. The subject of NDT has no clearly defined boundaries; it ranges from simple techniques such as the visual examination of surfaces, through the well-established methods of radiography, ultrasonic testing and magnetic particle crack detection, to new and very specialised methods such as the measurement of Barkhausen noise and positron annihilation spectroscopy.

Condition monitoring (CM) aims to ensure plant efficiency, productivity and reliability by monitoring and analysing the wear of operating machinery and components to provide an early warning of impending failure, thereby reducing costly plant shutdown. Condition monitoring originally used mainly vibration and tribology analysis techniques but now encompasses new fields such as thermal imaging, acoustic emission and other non-destructive techniques. The diagnostic and prognostic elements, in addition to increasingly sophisticated signal processing, is using trends from repeated measurements in time intervals of days and weeks.

Contact for press enquiries and image requests:

Sharon Creed

Marketing & PR Manager

The British Institute of Non-Destructive Testing

Midsummer House, Riverside Way, Bedford Road

Northampton NN1 5NX, UK

Tel: +44 (0)1604 438300

Fax: +44 (0)1604 438301



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