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FAIR's "Hoax of Eco-Friendly Nuclear Energy"

In the January/February 2008 edition of Extra, Karl Grossman at Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting wrote a disingenuous, inaccurate piece against nuclear energy. The whole premise of his article is that the mainstream media doesn't question the nuclear advocates in the industry and government. We know this is false, though, as evidenced by AP's one-sided piece on the nuclear industry's water issues.

Lifecycle Emissions
Grossman's first claim begins with how the biased media doesn't question NEI's clean air ads.
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.
According to his source, there are:
independent studies that document in detail the extent to which the entire nuclear cycle generates greenhouse emissions.
This lifecycle emissions claim is actually from one source, not from "independent studies." Regardless, there are at least five independent sources which have concluded that nuclear's lifecycle emissions "are comparable to renewable forms of generation, such as wind and hydropower." Even the Union of Concerned Scientists (a strong critic of the nuclear industry) knows the anti's lifecycle emissions claim is bogus (see page 11 of "Nuclear Power in a Warming World").

Whitman and Moore
After Grossman finished with the lifecycle emissions claim, he went on to vilify CASE Energy's Christine Todd Whitman and Patrick Moore.
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.


Wasserman went on to cite an actual founder of the organization, Bob Hunter, describing Moore as “the Judas of the ecology movement.”
Being a paid spokesperson for an industry is not a reason to be discredited. If we were to go with the antis' logic here, we then couldn't trust doctors, electricians, economists or any representative from any industry. The merits of nuclear energy are won or lost on facts and peer-review, not who says what.

Uranium Supply
The uranium from which fuel used in nuclear power plants is made—so-called “high-grade” ore containing substantial amounts of fissionable uranium-235—is, in fact, not “abundant.” As Andrew Simms of the New Economics Foundation told BBC News (11/29/05), another “dirty little secret” of nuclear power is that “startlingly, there’s only a few decades left of the proven high-grade uranium ore it needs for fuel.”
The claim that high-grade uranium ore will run out in a few decades is meaningless. What matters is how much uranium can be mined (low or high grade) at a reasonable cost. From the WNA (bold is mine):
Current [world uranium] usage is about 66,500 tU/yr. Thus the world's present measured resources of uranium (4.7 Mt) in the cost category somewhat above present spot prices and used only in conventional reactors, are enough to last for some 70 years. This represents a higher level of assured resources than is normal for most minerals. Further exploration and higher prices will certainly, on the basis of present geological knowledge, yield further resources as present ones are used up.
Calculation of Reactor Accident Consequences 2
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.
Most comprehensive? How about outdated? CRAC-2 is so old the NRC had to issue a disclaimer for the study (bold is mine):
The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has devoted considerable research resources, both in the past and currently, to evaluating accidents and the possible public consequences of severe reactor accidents. The NRC's most recent studies have confirmed that early research into the topic led to extremely conservative consequence analyses that generate invalid results for attempting to quantify the possible effects of very unlikely severe accidents.
Nine years after CRAC-2 was published, the NRC published a new study, NUREG-1150 "Severe Accident Risks: An Assessment for Five U.S. Nuclear Power Plants", which according to the EPA website:
was a significant turning point in the use of risk-based concepts in the regulatory process and enabled the Commission to greatly improve its methods for assessing containment performance after core damage and accident progression.
The NUREG-1150 study is also outdated and the NRC issued the same disclaimer as CRAC-2. The NRC now
is currently pursuing a new, state-of-the-art assessment of possible severe accidents and their consequences.
How can Grossman complain of a biased media when the antis provide them with outdated information?

Radioactive effluents
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.”
Permissible does mean safe because the effluents from a nuclear reactor have the same level of radioactivity as a banana.

National Public Radio
FAIR recently exposed ... how National Public Radio, which broadcasts many pro-nuclear pieces, has received hundreds of thousands of dollars from “nuclear operator Sempra Energy” and Constellation Energy, “which belongs to Nustart Energy, a 10-company consortium pushing for new nuclear power plant construction.”
First, Sempra Energy is not a nuclear operator. They are a 20% owner of the San Onofre nuclear plant in California. According to Global Energy Decisions' database, Sempra owns 3,200 MW of gas and 460 MW of nuclear.

Second, Constellation owns a diverse portfolio of electric capacity: 43% nuclear, 31% coal, 14% petroleum, 6% gas and 5% renewables and hydro (source: Global Energy Decisions).

Third, Constellation and Sempra are only two companies of 143 corporations and associations who donated to NPR in 2005 (PDF, p. 18 and 19). I'm not even going to count up the number of foundations and individuals who contributed to the NPR fund. Boy, FAIR really dug up a bias here.

Punch line from Grossman
The only thing green about nuclear power is the nuclear establishment’s dollars.
Oooh, good one ...


Rod Adams said…
I wonder how much NPR has received from fossil fuel interests? I know that many of its key programs are funded by groups like the Pew Charitable Trusts (founded by the family of Sun Oil Company founder Joseph N. Pew - History of the Pew Charitable Trusts), the Rockefeller Foundation (founded by oil monopolist John D. Rockefeller) and Chevron.
TJ Morton said…
Perhaps I am being nitpicky, but you would think that an organization devoted to accuracy in reporting would do some basic fact-checking before putting an article on the web. This article quotes an earlier "Action Alert" by saying that, "...$250,000 and $500,000 from Constellation Energy, which belongs to Nustart Energy, a 10-company consortium pushing for new nuclear power plant construction." A simple visit to Nustart's website reveals that Constellation is not one of the 10 members and in fact, that none of it's members 'belong' to Nustart. Again, I know it's nitpicky, but those sorts of things erode their credibility in my opinion.
Stephen said…
What the hell is this bull about "Received money from a nuclear company." Jeez you would think that they're suggesting it's bad for companies to donate money anyway. And anything touched by a for-profit company that makes reactors must be "EVIL EVIL EVIL" "Oh my god don't listen to NEI. They get funding from the Industry"

So? What's the problem. All other industries are allowed to donate money and do public outreach but not nuclear energy?

Question: If GE makes a grant is that good or bad? I mean they make coal burning plants and wind mills and nuclear reactors too, right?

This is more of the same name-calling bull that you get from those who don't actually have a leg to stand on.
hitchiker123 said…
The most recent calculation of reactor accident consequences is the SOARCA report by NRC Staff
(still in progress)
Among the doozys in this baby is
the statement : 1 accident every
1 000 000 reactor hours.That's 114years. Yeah well we've had 4 partial meltdowns in the USA since the 1950's and none of those plants were running more than 15 years. Another doozy is the premise :an estimated 71 000 people evacuated in 6 hours. They consider that a success. Well under intense radioactive conditions it would be anything but
successful. Hey without nuclear the NRC would be out of a job. That's why the SOARCA is a major puff piece for the nuclear industry. As they say you need a lot of lipstick for that pig.
Anonymous said…
Not alot of comments for the past two years. As far as the radiation from a banana being equal to that of a nuclear power plant Here are two newspaper articles to consider : Jan.6th 1993 North Adams Transcript : 6 children born with Downs syndrome within 3 miles of each other in the Deerfield river valley in proximity of Yankee Rowe Atomic reactor.
July 2nd 2009 Brattleboro Reformer:
Slightly higher incidence of Leukemia in the 6 towns surounding Vermont Yankee. Some Banana Huh ?

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