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Or, How Reporters Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Nuclear Front Groups
Diane Farsetta, Common Dreams
“We just find it maddening that Hill & Knowlton, which has an $8 million account with the nuclear industry, should have such an easy time working the press,” concluded the Columbia Journalism Review in an editorial in its July / August 2006 issue.
The magazine was rightly bemoaning the tendency of news outlets to present former Greenpeace activist Patrick Moore and former EPA chief Christine Todd Whitman as environmentalists who support nuclear power, without noting that both are paid spokespeople for a group bankrolled by the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI). NEI represents nuclear power plant operators, plant designers, fuel suppliers and other sectors of the nuclear power industry. Hill & Knowlton is NEI’s public relations firm, though it’s not the only firm working to build support for nuclear power.
Thanks in part to an ongoing, multifaceted PR push — along with very real concerns about energy prices, rising energy demand, aging infrastructure, sustainability and global warming — nuclear power is attracting serious attention from reporters and policymakers alike. The question is whether a vital public debate over energy choices is being skewed by deep-pocketed interests with a dog in the fight.
Both NEI and Moore decline to say how much he’s paid; Whitman won’t answer that question either. Presumably, the nuclear industry feels it’s getting its money’s worth. A Nexis news database search on March 1, 2007 identified 302 news items about nuclear power that cite Moore, since April 2006. Only 37 of those pieces — 12 percent of the total — mention his financial relationship with NEI.
(16 Mar 2007)
Detailed article lays out how much press and influence US$20 million+ can buy, no wonder nuclear power is back on the table.-LJ
A case study in how the press and public opinion is manipulated. -BA
Russia to build 3 nuclear plants each year from 2016
Russia will be laying the foundation of three nuclear power plant units per year starting from 2016, and four starting from 2018-2020, head of Federal Atomic Energy Agency Sergei Kiriyenko said on Friday.
“Starting from 2016 we will be annually laying the foundation of three units, and we will think about the fourth starting from 2018-2020,” Kiriyenko was quoted by the Itar-Tass news agency as saying after a Friday meeting of the agency board chaired by First Vice-Premier Sergei Ivanov.
The industry will speed up the construction of nuclear power plants without governmental funding, Kiriyenko said. “We plan to enlarge the construction of nuclear power plant units at our own expense,” he said, referring to the related program.
The Russian atomic energy industry will become self-supporting and build new units with its own funds by 2015, Ivanov said. The government will allocate 674 billion rubles (26 billion U.S. dollars) from the federal budget for the industry before 2015, which will make it self-supporting, he said.
(17 Mar 2007)
Alarms rang ‘nonstop’ during 1999 nuclear accident at Shika plant
Staff, The Yomiuri Shimbun Japan
Alarms sounded 12 times in 15 minutes in the central control room of a nuclear reactor in Ishikawa Prefecture when sensors detected an abnormal situation during the criticality accident of June 1999, according to the reactor’s system records.
The original records have been lost, according to Hokuriku Electric, but The Yomiuri Shimbun obtained a copy that had been kept by an anonymous official. Hokuriku Electric did not release the records Thursday when the company admitted it had covered up the accident. ..
Meanwhile, workers at the Shika power station who were present at the time of the nuclear criticality accident, concealed the accident from their colleagues who came in to take over operations for the next shift and made no entry about the accident in a logbook, it has been learned. ..
(19 Mar 2007)
See also More Japanese utilities admit nuclear incidents.
Thousands in 5 French cities protest new nuclear reactors
RENNES, France – Tens of thousands of people filled the streets of five French cities Saturday to protest plans to build the next generation of nuclear reactors.
The simultaneous protests organized by Get Out Of Nuclear, a collective made up of hundreds of associations, was intended to raise the prominence of the issue in the run-up to April-May presidential elections. Smaller-party candidates resolutely opposed to the construction of new facilities called European pressurized-water reactors joined the protesters.
The nation must “get out of the nuclear business” and “invest in renewable energies like solar energy or wind power,” said Olivier Besancenot of the Radical Communist League, marching with protesters in the western city of Rennes. Organizers claimed the number of protesters in Rennes was 30,000 to 40,000. Police estimated the crowd at 10,000. ..
(17 Mar 2007)
Yucca Mountain waste dump estimates at $26.9 billion
Erica Werner, Associated Press via Wilmington Star
It will cost $26.9 billion to build and operate the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste dump through 2023, the Energy Department said Friday in a new cost calculation.
The department did not release a new figure for the total life-cycle cost of the Nevada project, estimated several years ago at $58 billion. The department plans to recalculate that figure in May and it almost certainly will rise, said Edward F. “Ward” Sproat, director of the Energy Department’s Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management.
The $26.9 billion figure, about in line with recent estimates, assumes that the department meets its goal of opening the repository in March 2017, Sproat told reporters on a conference call. ..
(17 Mar 2007)