Wednesday, February 06, 2008

The Hoax of Eco-Friendly Nuclear Energy

by Karl Grossman
FAIR Extra!
January/February 2008 issue

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.
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.

As Michel Lee, chair of the Council on Intelligent Energy & Conservation Policy, wrote in an (unpublished) letter to the Times, the
dirty secret is that nuclear power makes a substantial contribution to global warming. Nuclear power is actually a chain of highly energy-intensive industrial processes. These include uranium mining, conversion, enrichment and fabrication of nuclear fuel; construction and deconstruction of the massive nuclear facility structures; and the disposition of high-level nuclear waste.
She included information on “independent studies that document in detail the extent to which the entire nuclear cycle generates greenhouse emissions.”

Separately, Lee wrote to a Times journalist stating that the “fiction” that nuclear power does not contribute to global warming “has been a prime feature of the nuclear industry’s and Bush administration’s PR campaign” that “unfortunately . . . has been swallowed by a number of New York Times reporters, op-ed columnists and editors.”

Click here to read the rest of the story.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

1 Comments:

Blogger David Bradish said...

If you would like to read a critique of FAIR's piece, click here.

Saturday, February 16, 2008 3:03:00 PM  

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