Jack Anderson writes that the nuclear power industry is getting a boost from people in positions of power in Washington {"Nuclear Power's Entrenched Advocates," Style, Nov. 13}. Anderson focuses critically on operational safety issues. But because the purpose of nuclear power is to obtain energy, it would also be appropriate to address whether nuclear power can produce more energy than it ultimately will consume.

When a total energy cost accounting is performed (using not dollars but a convenient energy unit, such as kilowatt-hours) it should include not only the energy expenditures required to construct, operate and maintain the plants and to mine and process the uranium fuel, but also, and most significant, it should include the energy costs of siting, designing and preparing waste repositories, safely transporting wastes and thoroughly sealing and securing the wastes and plants for several thousand years. For example, the legal and technical battles over the use of Nevada's Yucca Mountain as a permanent burial ground for high-level commercial radioactive wastes suggest that waste-disposal costs actually will make nuclear energy generation an energy sink in the long run.

Taking a lesson from Benjamin Franklin, and using his phrase, a complete accounting of nuclear power likely will show that we have "paid too much for the whistle." DAN GARTNER Gaithersburg