Skip to main content

Calling Greenpeace and NIRS to Account

A story that ran yesterday on the AP wire regarding the resurgence of interest in nuclear energy in the U.S. certainly attracted a lot of attention, especially on a Summer afternoon. If you take a look at Digg, you'll see that almost 600 of its users "dugg" the story -- which may be the reason why it came to the attention of the folks at the Knight Science Journalism Tracker:
It is disappointing that (AP's Jay) Lindsay went to Greenpeace and an anti-nuclear outfit called the Nuclear Information and Resource Service for technical remarks. On the political side, such groups are serious, important actors. But to let stand without comment or counter a quote that labels nuclear plants “predeployed nuclear weapons” is a disservice.
No kidding.


Alex Brown said…
It is amazing to me that the people consulted for these stories are on both sides political groups and not nescecarrily experts on the subject. For example the continuous statements regarding the high capital costs of nuclear plants over coal plants. This must be based or the prices of coal plants built historically and not forward looking estimates. Any new coal plant will be just as big a capitol project as a new nuclear unit. New coal plants have to spend hudreds of millions of dollars on new scrubbers that were not previously required, and its likely they will face as bad a NIMBY factor as new nuclear units. Every estimate I see for a new coal units is between 2000$-3000$ per killowatt, which is about the same as the estimates for nuclear capacity (and by estimates I mean actual estimates by utilites, not vendors or lobbyists who try to make both nucelar and coal plants look much cheaper than they really will be to build).
Anonymous said…
I'm encouraged to see continuing evidence of independent thought within the environmental movement. The currency of the anti-nuclear movement has always been unreasoned FEAR. Seems like everyone is getting numb to the Chicken Little approach.

The real "disservice" has been to their own credibility.

Bill V.
Anonymous said…
Speaking of digg, you guys should add a digg button for the blog entries
gunter said…
Like the National Academy of Sciences and the 9/11 Commission or the Massachusetts and New Jersey Office of Attorneys General are fear mongers? These prestigious bodies have recognized that the large radioactive inventories in these facilities is being targeted for adversaries of the United States.

>>These prestigious bodies have recognized that the large radioactive inventories in these facilities is being targeted for adversaries of the United States.

Which is of course the fault of the operators of the facilities.
Ian said…
They are not rational targets. Bridges, transmission lines, food supply, etc. are far better and less secured.
Anonymous said…
If you and your friends agree with these "prestigious bodies" that "the large radioactive inventories" at these facilities are a threat, then why are the anti-nuke kooks so irrationally opposed to and united in their hatred of the Yucca Mountain project? Why do you insist on operators keeping their used fuel on site instead of moving it to a facility that is secure, isolated, 2000 feet down in volcanic tuff, and therefore less of a "target"? If you want us to think that you're serious and telling the truth, you should be out there agitating in favor of getting the national repository operating as quickly as possible, instead of opposing it at every turn, and whining in here about how bad the nuclear industry is for producing this "waste". The fact that you aren't indicates that you're either a hypocrite or a liar.

Furthermore, you should not oppose fuel reprocessing, which when combined with actinide recycle reduces waste volume by 99.999999999999999999999% and burns out the plutonium in the process. Why did your friends agitate and browbeat the DOE and NRC into forcing research reactors to convert to LEU fuel, and are now hemmering them because their LEU fuel produces more "waste" products than HEU, making them more of a target? Seems like you're talking out of both sides of your mouth. Typical.
Anonymous said…
I think we can all agree that there are groups out there that use FEAR in an attempt to change the behavior of civilized society. These groups want society to conform to their irrational and detrimental beliefs. Fear IS a powerful motivator.

Paul, could you please explain your group's ridiculous statement about nuclear plants being synonymous with predeployed nuclear weapons?

My 30 years working at nuclear plants tells me otherwise. This is a safe and secure industry, and is expanding worldwide for those reasons. I personally choose not to live my life in unreasoned fear, and I applaud those in the environmental movement who share these same sentiments. I just think the fear tactic is becoming ineffective. Do you have any others?

Bill V.
gunter said…

Why oppose Yucca Mt?

Well how about because both the site characterization process and the only site under "characterization" fail the straight face test.

One site under "scientific characterization" by the DOE:
duh... I wonder what the result will be? This is the unscientific product of the Screw Nevada Bill of 1987. A genuinely scientific process would be looking at multiple sites for comparative values. Of course, being squatted over by a nuclear industry that really needs to take a dump somewhere is not very popular.

Then the geologic repository concept has to demonstrate a site with geologic integrity. Yucca Mt. is crisscrossed with active earthquake faults and surrounded by volcano fields. How's that for a start to burying 70,000 metric tons of hot radioactive used reactor fuel, forever?

Reprocessing does not reduce nuclear waste volume. To the contrary it increases volume.
And in the process among other things creates highly corrosive liquid high-level radioactive waste.

So where do we get the idea that reactors are "predeployed weapons of mass destruction." Rather than conjuring up "unreasoned fear," as I have said, here's some suggested reading:

1) 9/11 Commission Report/ two US reactors targeted for original al Qaeda attack plan;

2) National Academy of Science;
identifies vulnerability of high density storage rack systems of HLRW in on-site pools; of which more than 1/3 US reactors have densely configured hot assemblies in pools elevated to upper portion of reactor builidings outside primary containment;

3) The 1982 Argonne National Lab report nuclear power and aircraft crash hazards: The nuke generation you worked was never designed, constructed, licensed or evaluated for an inadvertent aircraft crash, let alone a deliberate attack. And aircraft would not even have to target containment for high core damage frequency. All first gen units were eventually licensed on the low probability of inadverent crash. 9/11 has changed that.

Should I post the NUREG for you guys somewhere? Because you won't find it on the NRC anymore or on the NEI website. Or you could go to one of the old local public document rooms and find it.

A broad public interest community is in support of Hardened Onsite Storage (HOSS) or robust on-site storage of fuel. How about you?
Qualified (demonstrated) dry casks that are individually bunkered, dispersed around the site and more security.

So why does the industry resist such a federally policy shift and instead still insist on openly congregated dry casks in direct line of site that have trouble with their QA/QC? Some of these ISFSIs' even are surrounded by dense tree lines and sit below elevated ridge lines.

As for what you refer to as the "fear tactic," as I said, the fact that two Offices of Attorney General (NJ & MA) have so far taken Exelon, Entergy and NRC into federal court speaks for itself.
It was the public and academic investigations that preceded these states' legal action.

Anonymous said…
The NRC has just completed evaluating the “environmental affects” of terrorism at the Diablo Canyon ISFSI. They conclude “< 5 Rem or none at all…” to the nearest individual from airplane impacts.

Society needs to compare that hypothetical to normally functioning coal plants.

Come on Paul, the prestigious bodies you mentioned did not characterize nuclear plants as “Predeployed Nuclear Weapons”, YOU did. I still smell fear mongering.

Bill V.

Popular posts from this blog

How Nanomaterials Can Make Nuclear Reactors Safer and More Efficient

The following is a guest post from Matt Wald, senior communications advisor at NEI. Follow Matt on Twitter at @MattLWald.

From the batteries in our cell phones to the clothes on our backs, "nanomaterials" that are designed molecule by molecule are working their way into our economy and our lives. Now there’s some promising work on new materials for nuclear reactors.

Reactors are a tough environment. The sub atomic particles that sustain the chain reaction, neutrons, are great for splitting additional uranium atoms, but not all of them hit a uranium atom; some of them end up in various metal components of the reactor. The metal is usually a crystalline structure, meaning it is as orderly as a ladder or a sheet of graph paper, but the neutrons rearrange the atoms, leaving some infinitesimal voids in the structure and some areas of extra density. The components literally grow, getting longer and thicker. The phenomenon is well understood and designers compensate for it with a …

Missing the Point about Pennsylvania’s Nuclear Plants

A group that includes oil and gas companies in Pennsylvania released a study on Monday that argues that twenty years ago, planners underestimated the value of nuclear plants in the electricity market. According to the group, that means the state should now let the plants close.


The question confronting the state now isn’t what the companies that owned the reactors at the time of de-regulation got or didn’t get. It’s not a question of whether they were profitable in the '80s, '90s and '00s. It’s about now. Business works by looking at the present and making projections about the future.

Is losing the nuclear plants what’s best for the state going forward?

Pennsylvania needs clean air. It needs jobs. And it needs protection against over-reliance on a single fuel source.

What the reactors need is recognition of all the value they provide. The electricity market is depressed, and if electricity is treated as a simple commodity, with no regard for its benefit to clean air o…

Why Nuclear Plant Closures Are a Crisis for Small Town USA

Nuclear plants occupy an unusual spot in the towns where they operate: integral but so much in the background that they may seem almost invisible. But when they close, it can be like the earth shifting underfoot., the Gannett newspaper that covers the Lower Hudson Valley in New York, took a look around at the experience of towns where reactors have closed, because the Indian Point reactors in Buchanan are scheduled to be shut down under an agreement with Gov. Mario Cuomo.

From sea to shining sea, it was dismal. It wasn’t just the plant employees who were hurt. The losses of hundreds of jobs, tens of millions of dollars in payrolls and millions in property taxes depressed whole towns and surrounding areas. For example:

Vernon, Vermont, home to Vermont Yankee for more than 40 years, had to cut its municipal budget in half. The town closed its police department and let the county take over; the youth sports teams lost their volunteer coaches, and Vernon Elementary School lost th…