Clinton Bastin, 86: Nuclear scientist promoted healthy energy use

Clinton Bastin was born with an insatiable thirst for knowledge. He was undoubtedly brilliant, Even at the age of 5, his brilliance showed, boosted by a strong desire to learn as much as he could about everything.

“From the time he was very young, he exhibited the fact that he was very bright,” said his wife of 57 years, Barbara Bastin of Decatur. “He had an IQ of around 150 and he was just a very brilliant man.”

Bastin earned a degree in chemical engineering from Georgia Tech in 1950 after serving in the Marine Corps in World War II. He went to work for the Atomic Energy Commission, where he concentrated on reprocessing spent nuclear waste so it could be recycled and reused as energy. He always believed there was another use for nuclear power, said his daughter, Anna McKee of Seattle.

“Because he was so involved with nuclear power, he wanted to see nuclear energy not being used for bombs,” she said. “He wanted to see it used for peaceful means as well.”

Clinton B. Bastin, of Decatur, died Monday from complications of a chronic illness at Budd Terrace Nursing Home at Wesley Woods. He was 86.

A visitation is scheduled for 2 p.m. on Saturday and a memorial service will follow at 3 p.m. at the chapel of A.S. Turner & Sons Funeral Home in Decatur, which was in charge of cremation arrangements.

Bastin worked in the nuclear science and chemical engineering field for nearly 42 years. During that time, he served as manager of several nuclear programs and was also the chairman of the Georgia Section of the American Nuclear Society. He served as the local president of the National Treasury Employees Union, where he was in charge of overseeing its nuclear programs.

In 1996, the union invited him to speak on its behalf at the International Nuclear Conference in Russia, which commemorated the 10th anniversary of the Chernobyl accident, something he “was very passionate about,” his wife said.

Bastin retired in the late 1990s, but his devotion to promote the use of healthy nuclear energy never faltered. He continuously wrote letters, many of which were published, to the editors of newspapers such as The New York Times and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, promoting the “use of nuclear technology for energy production,” said his daughter, Nancy Perry of Yorktown, Va.

According to those who knew him, Bastin’s intense and tenacious personality fueled his passion for the safe use of nuclear energy. It was what he dedicated his life to and his thirst for knowledge was constantly triggering new curiosities, McKee said.

“He was so curious,” she said. “He really liked to tinker and he liked to figure out how things work. He just had a very scientific mind.”

In addition to his wife and daughters, Bastin is survived by two sons, Clint Bastin of Novato, Calif., and Herb Bastin of Decatur; two brothers, Al Bastin of Decatur and Ken Bastin of Chicopee, Mass.; and four grandchildren.