Money Is the Real Green Power:

Money Is the Real Green Power: The hoax of eco-friendly nuclear energy

SPINWATCH  Karl Grossman, January/February 2008, FAIR

Nuclear advocates in government and the nuclear industry are engaged in a massive, heavily financed drive to revive atomic power in the United States—with most of the mainstream media either not questioning or actually assisting in the promotion.

“With a very few notable exceptions, such as the Los Angeles Times, the U.S. media have turned the same sort of blind, uncritical eye on the nuclear industry’s claims that led an earlier generation of Americans to believe atomic energy would be too cheap to meter,” comments Michael Mariotte, executive director of the Nuclear Information and Resource Service. “The nuclear industry’s public relations effort has improved over the past 50 years, while the natural skepticism of reporters toward corporate claims seems to have disappeared.
The New York Times continues to be, as it was a half-century ago when nuclear technology was first advanced, a media leader in pushing the technology, which collapsed in the U.S. with the 1979 Three Mile Island and 1986 Chernobyl nuclear plant accidents. The Times has showered readers with a variety of pieces advocating a nuclear revival, all marbled with omissions and untruths. A lead editorial headlined “The Greening of Nuclear Power” (5/13/06) opened:

Not so many years ago, nuclear energy was a hobgoblin to environmentalists, who feared the potential for catastrophic accidents and long-term radiation contamination. . . . But this is a new era, dominated by fears of tight energy supplies and global warming. Suddenly nuclear power is looking better.

Nukes add to greenhouse

Parroting a central atomic industry theme these days, the Times editors declared, “Nuclear energy can replace fossil-fuel power plants for generating electricity, reducing the carbon dioxide emissions that contribute heavily to global warming.” As a TV commercial frequently aired by the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI), the nuclear industry trade group, states: “Nuclear power plants don’t emit greenhouses gases, so they protect our environment.”

What is left unmentioned by the NEI, the Times and other mainstream media making this claim is that the overall “nuclear cycle”—which includes uranium mining and milling, enrichment, fuel fabrication and disposal of radioactive waste—has significant greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming………………..
Greens for hire

In “The Greening of Nuclear Power,” the Times, like other mainstream media touting a nuclear restart, also spoke of environmentalists changing their stance on nuclear power. “Two new leaders” have emerged “to encourage the building of new nuclear reactors,” according to the editorial. They happen to be Christine Todd Whitman, George W. Bush’s first Environmental Protection Agency administrator, and Patrick Moore, “a co-founder of Greenpeace.” The Times heralded this as “the latest sign that nuclear power is getting a more welcome reception from some environmentalists.”

However, “both Whitman and Moore . . . are being paid to do so by the Nuclear Energy Institute,” noted the Center for Media and Democracy’s Diane Farsetta (, 3/14/07). In her piece “Moore Spin: Or, How Reporters Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Nuclear Front Groups,” Farsetta also reported:

A Nexis news database search on March 1, 2007 identified 302 news items about nuclear power that cite Moore since April 2006. Only 37 of those pieces—12 percent of the total—mention his financial relationship with NEI.
Whitman and Moore were hired as part of NEI’s “Clean and Safe Energy Coalition” in 2006, which is “fully funded” by the institute, Farsetta noted. As for Moore and Greenpeace, his “association . . . ended in 1986,” and he “has now spent more time working as a PR consultant to the logging, mining, biotech, nuclear and other industries . . . than he did as an environmental activist.”

According to Harvey Wasserman, senior advisor to Greenpeace USA and co-author of Killing Our Own: The Disaster of America’s Experience With Atomic Radiation (Brattleboro Reformer, 2/24/07), “Moore sailed on the first Greenpeace campaign, but he did not actually found the organization.” Wasserman went on to cite an actual founder of the organization, Bob Hunter, describing Moore as “the Judas of the ecology movement.”……………….

Other revivalists

Other media promoting a nuclear revival—their words prominently featured on NEI’s website—include USA Today (3/5/06): “The facts are straightforward: Nuclear power . . . creates virtually none of the pollution that causes climate change and delivers electricity cheaper than other forms of generation do.” And the Augusta Chronicle (8/21/06): “Nuclear power—for decades perceived as an environmental scourge—is emerging as the cleanest and most cost-efficient source of energy available, a fact conceded even by environmentalists.” And Investor’s Business Daily (12/1/06): “We can worry about imaginary threats of nuclear energy or the real dangers of fossil fuel pollution.”

Glenn Beck of CNN Headline News also joined the chorus of support (5/2/07): “Look, America should embrace nuclear power, even if it’s [just] to get off the foreign oil bandwagon.” This is also common nuclear disinformation, that nuclear power is needed to displace foreign oil. The only energy produced by nuclear power is electricity—and only 3 percent of electricity in the U.S. is generated with oil.
There are a few exceptions in the mainstream media, notably the other Times, the Los Angeles Times……

………Staggering numbers

As to the risks, the mainstream media’s handling—or non-handling—of the U.S. government’s most comprehensive study on the consequences of a nuclear plant accident is instructive. Calculation of Reactor Accident Consequences 2 (known as CRAC-2) was done by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in the 1980s. Bill Smirnow, an anti-nuclear activist, has tried for years to interest media in reporting on it—sending out information about it continually.
The study estimates the impacts from a meltdown at each nuclear plant in the U.S. in categories of “peak early fatalities,” “peak early injuries,” “peak cancer deaths” and “costs [in] billions.” (“Peak” refers to the highest calculated value—not a “worst case scenario,” as worse assumptions could have been chosen.) For the Indian Point 3 plant north of New York City, for example, the projection is that a meltdown would cause 50,000 “peak early fatalities,” 141,000 “peak early injuries,” 13,000 “peak cancer deaths,” and $314 billion in property damage—and that’s based on the dollar’s value in 1980, so the cost today would be nearly $1 trillion. For the Salem 2 nuclear plant in New Jersey, the study projects 100,000 “peak early fatalities,” 70,000 “peak early injuries,” 40,000 “peak cancer deaths,” and $155 billion in property damage. The study provides similarly staggering numbers across the country.

“I’ve sent the CRAC-2 material out for years to media and have never heard a thing,” Smirnow told Extra!:

Not anyone in the media ever even asked me a question. There’s no excuse for this media inattention to such an important subject, and it shows how they’re falling flat on their faces in not performing their purported mission of educating and informing the public. Whatever their reason or reasons for not informing their readers and listeners, the effect is one of helping the nuclear power industry and hurting the public. If the public was informed, this new big pro-nuke push would never happen.

Also in the way of sins of omission is the media silence on “routine emissions”—the amount of radioactivity the U.S. government allows to be routinely released by nuclear plants. “It doesn’t take an accident for a nuclear power plant to release radioactivity into our air, water and soil,” says Kay Drey of Beyond Nuclear at the Nuclear Policy Research Institute. “All it takes is the plant’s everyday routine operation, and federal regulations permit these radioactive releases. Rarely, if ever, is this reported by media.” The radioactive substances regularly emitted include tritium, krypton and xenon. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission sets a “permissible” level for these “routine emissions,” but, as Drey states, “permissible does not mean safe.”………………
Hidden subsidies …..In reporting on the economics of nuclear power, mainstream media virtually never mention the many government subsidies for it, while continuing to claim that it’s “cost-effective” (Augusta Chronicle, 8/21/06). One such giveaway is the Price-Anderson Act, which shields the nuclear industry from liability for catastrophic accidents. Price-Anderson, supposed to be temporary when first enacted in 1957, has been extended repeatedly and now limits liability in the event of an accident to $10 billion, despite CRAC-2’s projections of consequences far worse than that…………………..

gnored alternatives

Yet another claim by mainstream media in pushing for a nuclear revival is the “success” of the French nuclear program. 60 Minutes (4/8/07) did it in a segment called “Vive Les Nukes.” (See FAIR Action Alert, 4/18/07.) Correspondent Steve Kroft started with the nuclear-power-doesn’t-contribute-to-global-warming myth:

With power demands rising and concerns over global warming increasing, what the world needs now is an efficient means of producing carbon-free energy. And one of the few available options is nuclear, a technology whose time seemed to come and go, and may now be coming again. . . . With zero greenhouse gas emissions, the U.S. government, public utilities and even some environmental groups are taking a second look at nuclear power, and one of the first places they’re looking to is France, where it’s been a resounding success.

Though she was totally ignored, Linda Gunter of Beyond Nuclear told 60 Minutes of radioactive contamination in the marine life off Normandy where the French reprocessing center sits, leukemia clusters in people living along that coast, and massive demonstrations in French cities earlier in the year protesting construction of new nuclear power plants.
The Union of Concerned Scientists was upset by 60 Minutes’ downplaying of alternative energy technologies such as wind and solar. UCS’s Alden Meyer wrote to 60 Minutes:

In fact, wind power could supply more energy to the U.S. grid than nuclear does today, and when combined with a mix of energy efficiency and other renewable energy sources, could provide a continuous energy supply that would help us make dramatic reductions in global warming.

Dismissal of renewable energy forms is another major facet of mainstream media’s drive for a nuclear power revival. As the St. Petersburg Times put it (12/08/06), “While renewable sources of energy such as solar power are still in the developmental stage, nuclear is the new green.

Money Is the Real Green Power: The hoax of eco-friendly nuclear energy

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: