Monday, November 01, 2010

The Global Nuclear Conspiracy Unmasked

Helen Caldicott In the United States, nuclear energy plants are inspected by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. In other parts of the world, local authorities handle inspections or arrange for the International Atomic Energy Agency to do so. There’s really no need for the IAEA to spend much time at U.S. plants and it doesn’t – unless, of course, it’s invited to do so:

The delegation of 14 experts from around the world, three observers and three agency staff members was invited to size up how well the American authorities monitor civilian power plants, including plant operations, and how the agency communicates internally.

That might be a little nervous-making, but by and large, the IAEA folks seem pretty pleased:

The group will not present its report for several months. In a preliminary statement, it said that the United States had “a transparent licensing process that accepts input from public citizens and environmental reviews, and ensures that key documents are publicly available.”

And there’s no point in showing up without a few suggestions:

The group also said the commission should consider “increasing its effort to use I.A.E.A. safety standards in its own regulations’’ but was not specific about the differences.

Or maybe IAEA could use some of the American safety standards. Whatever works. In any event, the group’s report in a few months will make for interesting reading.

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A little international action:

Vietnam:

Vietnam has selected Japan to supply its second nuclear power plant and the deal can go through as soon as the parliament in Tokyo approves an atomic cooperation treaty, Japanese officials said Monday.

Singapore:

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said Monday that nuclear power is a viable, clean source of energy that produces low carbon emissions, and the island state "cannot afford to dismiss the option of nuclear energy altogether."

Loong also said he expects to see a plant operational in his lifetime. We’ll assume he means in the next 25 or so years – though even that guess feels a little ghoulish.

Turkey:

Turkish Energy and Natural Resources Minister Taner Yildiz said Monday negotiations with Korea over the construction of a nuclear power plant planned to be built in Sinop was not yet concluded as parties disagreed over certain issues.

Well, it can’t be all good news all the time. The real story here will be when the negotiations conclude one way or another.

If you talk to anyone in the middle of negotiations, they always say everything’s gone to hell – it gets the other side moving (hopefully) and signals your toughness – there’s no downside unless the other side gets annoyed and leaves. No sign of that from South Korea, so it’s a wait-and-see.

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Be afraid:

A huge conspiracy of silence has been perpetrated by the global nuclear industry in its quest to build hundreds more nuclear reactors around the world as a solution to global warming.

Be very afraid:

Aside from the fact that the generation of atomic electricity adds substantially to global warming, an alarming recent publication by the New York Academy of Sciences titled "Chernobyl, the Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment" documented that the accident in 1986 has so far killed over 985,000 people from cancer in all nations affected by the radioactive fallout.

Uh-oh. The conspiracy had better swing into action:

Are people aware that the Academy of Sciences only printed 700 copies in 2010 of this outstanding scientific publication for which they charge $150 and they are reluctant to print more? Why?

Well, you can buy it at Amazon at a slight discount.

All this comes courtesy of old friend Dr. Helen Caldicott. While you may be inclined to think that this study reflects work done by the Academy of Sciences, it isn’t so:

The references are largely in Slavic languages and represent only a fraction of the material that is available worldwide. This volume presents the authors’ reaction to reports, such as those from the Chernobyl Forum …, that have not shown the full scale of negative impacts that have resulted from the Chernobyl accident.

That is, the Chernobyl Forum vastly understated the impacts. That’s the premise, though ignoring sources outside Eastern Europe and Russia might seem a little too provincial. But there are bigger problems with the work:

The inconsistent use of scientific units, the grouping of data collected with variable time and geographic scales, the lack of essential background information, and the consistent exclusion of scientific research that reported lesser or no negative impacts leave objective readers with very limited means for forming their own judgments without doing their own additional extensive research.

And even the Academy has been standoffish:

The Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences issue “Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment”, therefore, does not present new, unpublished work, nor is it a work commissioned by the New York Academy of Sciences. The expressed views of the authors, or by advocacy groups or individuals with specific opinions about the Annals Chernobyl volume, are their own.

In other words, a book with an agenda. Let’s not make the mistake of saying that Chernobyl was insignificant – of course it was significant – but this book seems a slender peg on which to hang a global conspiracy.

Now, back to scheming.

Dr. Helen Caldicott. I admire Dr. Caldicott, although I agree with almost nothing she says. She’s been at this for some 30 years now and has never veered from her course.She has always been encouraged – there’s a lot of honorary degrees on her wall and The Smithsonian Institution called her one of the most influential women of the 20th century – so dismissing her as an anti-nuclear fanatic or some such is needlessly reductive. History has produced many such figures and will produce many more – admirable and honorable people who see acceptance of their views rise and fall like a tide, in some cases swept totally out to sea.

5 comments:

Charles Barton said...

It should be noted that there are, as of this morning, only 3 comments on Helen Caldicott's latest Huffington Post essay. That suggests a moderation standard that amounts to little more than censorship. This is Par for the corse for Helen, who is notorious for her refusals to answer her critics because, she claims, they are bad people. But it is notorious that the devil quotes scripture when it support his case. Thus being bad is not insurance that the devil is wrong. Censorship, especially when it is systematic, does, however, raise questions about credibility.

crf said...

Charles, Huff Po is a hugely trafficked site. It's not surprising that their moderation policy is severe, or that their censors have quick delete buttons.

At any rate, credibility of the post cannot really be largely affected by whatever the comment policy is. This is more about medium is the message, and all that ;-).

And if people have something interesting to say about it, they can put in their own blogs, usually be more amenable for discussions.

Anonymous said...

CB, with regard to Caldicott's article: I'd guess that the small number of comments is more to do with lack of interest at HuffPo, combined with an extremely poor choice of title: "The Election". I do know of one comment that has been deleted but I doubt the total number of attempted comments is greatly higher than visible.

gmax137 said...

I don't know anything about their comment policy & deletions, but the (now) four comments there are three rational viewpoints opposing Caldicotts piece, and the fourth is off on a tangent (distributed grid). Doesn't look like she's censoring the comments.

Luke said...

While we're on the subject of Caldicott, there was a piece posted at The Huffington a month or so ago, titled "On Nuclear Power and 'Hating' America".

It's well worth reading.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jennifer-schneider/on-hating-america_b_711067.html