The Nuclear Gang Regroups


As the disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant complex continued to unfold, the nuclear gang?principals of the nuclear industry and pro-nuclear members of the U.S. Congress and the Obama administration?held a two-day “summit” in Washington, D.C. last week on pushing for new nuclear plant construction.

The conclusion about the impacts of Fukushima on their drive for a “renaissance” of nuclear power: it will be only a “speed bump,” as participants put it at the Special Summit on New Nuclear Energy.

“The momentum of the renaissance has hit a speed bump,” Ganpat Mani, president and CEO of ConverDyn which produces uranium hexafluoride which is used to produce fuel for nuclear power plants. ConverDyn is a partnership between Honeywell and General Atomics.

Llewelyn King, who hosts “White House Chronicle” on PBS television, and was the summit’s moderator, asked a panel titled “Lessons from Fukushima” whether its four members considered “Fukushima a speed bump, Armageddon or something in between” for the nuclear industry.

The consensus was that it is a speed bump. William Tucker, author of Terrestrial Energy stressed that nuclear power is needed to provide carbon-free energy to counter global warming, and thus despite the Fukushima situation will do well.

A featured speaker at the event held June 21 and 22 was William D. Magwood IV, a
member of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Although the commission is supposed to regulate the industry without a pro-nuclear bias, Magwood is a staunch advocate of nuclear power. Indeed, at a similar but pre-Fukushima nuclear summit at Idaho National Laboratory in December, Magwood, then head of the Office of Nuclear Energy in the U.S. Department of Energy, bemoaned that “we in the United States have not seen?a new successful nuclear power plant project, since 1973 and our research, industrial and educational bases have eroded dramatically in the last decade.”

He praised the “new general nuclear technology”?much of which is being developed at the DOE’s Idaho National Laboratory?at that December 7 meeting called the New Millennium Nuclear Energy Summit.

At last week’s Washington affair, Magwood spoke of the reaction at the NRC as “we watched” the television images of Fukishima coming out of Japan. It was hoped that “this would only be an incident” and it would be gotten “under control,” he said.

“We knew the Japanese were prepared for earthquakes,” he said.

But as it became clear that this was going to be “more” in terms of the gravity of the situation: “At the NRC it was like a friend had died,” said Magwood.

The Special Summit on New Nuclear Energy was organized by the U.S. Nuclear Infrastructure Council. Council members include General Electric, the manufacturer of the Fukushima nuclear power plants and, since 2006, in partnership in its nuclear plant business with the Japanese corporation Hitachi.

Other members of the council include the nuclear industry trade group Nuclear Energy Institute;  Babcock & Wilcox, manufacturer of the Three Mile Island nuclear plant that  underwent a partial meltdown in 1979; Duke Energy, a U.S. utility long a booster of nuclear power; the Tennessee Valley Authority, a U.S. government-created public power company heavily committed to nuclear power; Uranium Producers of America; and AREVA, the French government-financed nuclear power company that has been moving to expand into the U.S. and worldwide.

A running point at the summit was the need to “educate the public” about the benefits of nuclear power despite Fukushima.

There was also much complaining about a series of Associated Press articles on nuclear power by investigative reporter Jeff Dunn that started running a day before the summit began. On June 20, the AP series of expose’s launched with an article about how “federal regulators have been working closely with the nuclear power industry to keep the nation’s aging reactors operating within safety standards by repeatedly weakening those standards, or simply failing to enforce them.” On June 21, the article was on how “the number and severity of the leaks” of radioactive tritium from U.S. nuclear plants “has been escalating, even as federal regulators extend the licenses of more and more reactors across the nation.”

Other speakers at the summit included: John Kelly, an Obama administration Department of Energy deputy assistant for nuclear reactor technologies; Matthew Milazzo representing an entity called the Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future set up by the Obama administration; and Congressman Ed Whitfield of Kentucky, chairman of the House Energy & Power Subcommittee, a leading nuclear power backer in Congress.

In addition to “Lessons from Fukushima,” there were panels on “China, India & Emerging Global Nuclear Markets,” “Advancing Nuclear Technology” and “State of the Renaissance,”

The gathering was held at the National Guard Association Hall of States.

Karl Grossman, professor of journalism at the State University of New York/College at Old Westbury, is the author of Cover Up: What You Are Not Supposed to Know About Nuclear Power and the host of the nationally-aired TV program Enviro Close-Up (www.envirovideo.com).


Weekend Edition
November 27-29, 2015
Andrew Levine
The Real Trouble With Bernie
Gary Leupp
Ben Carson, Joseph in Egypt, and the Attack on Rational Thought
John Whitbeck
Who’s Afraid of ISIS?
Michael Brenner
Europe’s Crisis: Terror, Refugees and Impotence
Ramzy Baroud
Forget ISIS: Humanity is at Stake
Pepe Escobar
Will Chess, Not Battleship, Be the Game of the Future in Eurasia?
Vijay Prashad
Showdown on the Syrian Border
Dave Lindorff
Gen. John Campbell, Commander in Afghanistan and Serial Liar
Colin Todhunter
Class, War and David Cameron
Jean Bricmont
The Ideology of Humanitarian Imperialism
Dan Glazebrook
Deadliest Terror in the World: the West’s Latest Gift to Africa
Mark Hand
Escape From New York: the Emancipation of Activist Cecily McMillan
Karl Grossman
Our Solar Bonanza!
Mats Svensson
Madness in Hebron: Hashem Had No Enemies, Yet Hashem Was Hated
Walter Brasch
Terrorism on American Soil
Louisa Willcox
Grizzly Bears, Dreaming and the Frontier of Wonder
Michael Welton
Yahweh is Not Exactly Politically Correct
Joseph Natoli
A Politics of Stupid and How to Leave It Behind
John Cox
You Should Fear Racism and Xenophobia, Not Syrian Refugees or Muslims
Barrie Gilbert
Sacrificing the Grizzlies of Katmai: the Plan to Turn Brooks Camp Into a Theme
Rev. William Alberts
The Church of “Something Else” in “an Ecclesiastical Desert”
Andrew Gavin Marshall
Bank Crimes Pay
Elliot Murphy
Cameron’s Syrian Strategy
Gareth Porter
How Terror in Paris Calls for Revising US Syria Policy
Thomas S. Harrington
Jeff Jacoby of the Boston Globe and the Death of Ezra Schwartz
Michael Perino
The Arc of Instability
Yves Engler
Justin Trudeau and Canada’s Mining Industry
Tom H. Hastings
ISIS and Changing the Game
Lars Jørgensen
Vive la Résistance
John Halle
A Yale Education as a Tool of Power and Privilege
Norman Pollack
Syrian “Civil War”?: No, A Proxy War of Global Confrontation
Sheldon Richman
Let the Refugees In
James Anderson
Reframing Black Friday: an Imperative for Déclassé Intellectuals
Simon Bowring
UN Climate Talks 2009: a Merger of Interest and Indifference
Ron Jacobs
Rosa Luxemburg–From Street Organizer to Street Name
Aidan O'Brien
Same-Sex Sellout in Ireland
David Stocker
Report from the Frontline of Resistance in America
Patrick Bond
China Sucked Deeper Into World Financial Vortex and Vice Versa, as BRICS Sink Fast
Majd Isreb
America’s Spirit, Syrian Connection
James A Haught
The Values of Jesus
Binoy Kampmark
British Austerity: Cutting One’s Own Backyard
Ed Rampell
45 Years: A Rumination on Aging
Charles R. Larson
Chronicle of Sex Reassignment Surgery: Juliet Jacques’s “Trans: a Memoir”
Jeffrey St. Clair - Alexander Cockburn
CounterPunch’s Favorite Films
November 26, 2015
Ashley Nicole McCray – Lawrence Ware
Decolonizing the History of Thanksgiving