Skip to main content

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
Grossman:
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
Grossman:
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
Grossman:
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
Grossman:
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 ...

Comments

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 ?

Popular posts from this blog

Making Clouds for a Living

Donell Banks works at Southern Nuclear’s Plant Vogtle units 3 and 4 as a shift supervisor in Operations, but is in the process of transitioning to his newly appointed role as the daily work controls manager. He has been in the nuclear energy industry for about 11 years.

I love what I do because I have the unique opportunity to help shape the direction and influence the culture for the future of nuclear power in the United States. Every single day presents a new challenge, but I wouldn't have it any other way. As a shift supervisor, I was primarily responsible for managing the development of procedures and programs to support operation of the first new nuclear units in the United States in more than 30 years. As the daily work controls manager, I will be responsible for oversight of the execution and scheduling of daily work to ensure organizational readiness to operate the new units.

I envision a nuclear energy industry that leverages the technology of today to improve efficiency…

Nuclear: Energy for All Political Seasons

The electoral college will soon confirm a surprise election result, Donald Trump. However, in the electricity world, there are fewer surprises – physics and economics will continue to apply, and Republicans and Democrats are going to find a lot to like about nuclear energy over the next four years.

In a Trump administration, the carbon conversation is going to be less prominent. But the nuclear value proposition is still there. We bring steady jobs to rural areas, including in the Rust Belt, which put Donald Trump in office. Nuclear plants keep the surrounding communities vibrant.

We hold down electricity costs for the whole economy. We provide energy diversity, reducing the risk of disruption. We are a critical part of America’s industrial infrastructure, and the importance of infrastructure is something that President-Elect Trump has stressed.

One of our infrastructure challenges is natural gas pipelines, which have gotten more congested as extremely low gas prices have pulled m…

Nuclear Is a Long-Term Investment for Ohio that Will Pay Big

With 50 different state legislative calendars, more than half of them adjourn by June, and those still in session throughout the year usually take a recess in the summer. So springtime is prime time for state legislative activity. In the next few weeks, legislatures are hosting hearings and calling for votes on bills that have been battered back and forth in the capital halls.

On Tuesday, The Ohio Public Utilities Committee hosted its third round of hearings on the Zero Emissions Nuclear Resources Program, House Bill 178, and NEI’s Maria Korsnick testified before a jam-packed room of legislators.


Washingtonians parachuting into state debates can be a tricky platform, but in this case, Maria’s remarks provided national perspective that put the Ohio conundrum into context. At the heart of this debate is the impact nuclear plants have on local jobs and the local economy, and that nuclear assets should be viewed as “long-term investments” for the state. Of course, clean air and electrons …