Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Please Support CounterPunch’s Annual Fund Drive
We don’t run corporate ads. We don’t shake our readers down for money every month or every quarter like some other sites out there. We only ask you once a year, but when we ask we mean it. So, please, help as much as you can. We provide our site for free to all, but the bandwidth we pay to do so doesn’t come cheap. All contributions are tax-deductible.
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

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).

 

More articles by:

Karl Grossman, professor of journalism at State University of New York/College at Old Westbury, and is the author of the book, The Wrong Stuff: The Space’s Program’s Nuclear Threat to Our Planet. Grossman is an associate of the media watch group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR). He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion.

October 16, 2018
Gregory Elich
Diplomatic Deadlock: Can U.S.-North Korea Diplomacy Survive Maximum Pressure?
Rob Seimetz
Talking About Death While In Decadence
Kent Paterson
Fifty Years of Mexican October
Robert Fantina
Trump, Iran and Sanctions
Greg Macdougall
Indigenous Suicide in Canada
Kenneth Surin
On Reading the Diaries of Tony Benn, Britain’s Greatest Labour Politician
Thomas Knapp
Facebook Meddles in the 2018 Midterm Elections
Muhammad Othman
Khashoggi and Demetracopoulos
Gerry Brown
Lies, Damn Lies & Statistics: How the US Weaponizes Them to Accuse  China of Debt Trap Diplomacy
Christian Ingo Lenz Dunker – Peter Lehman
The Brazilian Presidential Elections and “The Rules of The Game”
Robert Fisk
What a Forgotten Shipwreck in the Irish Sea Can Tell Us About Brexit
Martin Billheimer
Here Cochise Everywhere
David Swanson
Humanitarian Bombs
Dean Baker
The Federal Reserve is Not a Church
October 15, 2018
Rob Urie
Climate Crisis is Upon Us
Conn Hallinan
Syria’s Chessboard
Patrick Cockburn
The Saudi Atrocities in Yemen are a Worse Story Than the Disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi
Sheldon Richman
Trump’s Middle East Delusions Persist
Justin T. McPhee
Uberrima Fides? Witness K, East Timor and the Economy of Espionage
Tom Gill
Spain’s Left Turn?
Jeff Cohen
Few Democrats Offer Alternatives to War-Weary Voters
Dean Baker
Corporate Debt Scares
Gary Leupp
The Khashoggi Affair and and the Anti-Iran Axis
Russell Mokhiber
Sarah Chayes Calls on West Virginians to Write In No More Manchins
Clark T. Scott
Acclimated Behaviorisms
Kary Love
Evolution of Religion
Colin Todhunter
From GM Potatoes to Glyphosate: Regulatory Delinquency and Toxic Agriculture
Binoy Kampmark
Evacuating Nauru: Médecins Sans Frontières and Australia’s Refugee Dilemma
Marvin Kitman
The Kitman Plan for Peace in the Middle East: Two Proposals
Weekend Edition
October 12, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Becky Grant
My History with Alexander Cockburn and The Financial Future of CounterPunch
Paul Street
For Popular Sovereignty, Beyond Absurdity
Nick Pemberton
The Colonial Pantsuit: What We Didn’t Want to Know About Africa
Jeffrey St. Clair
The Summer of No Return
Jeff Halper
Choices Made: From Zionist Settler Colonialism to Decolonization
Gary Leupp
The Khashoggi Incident: Trump’s Special Relationship With the Saudi Monarchy
Andrew Levine
Democrats: Boost, Knock, Enthuse
Barbara Kantz
The Deportation Crisis: Report From Long Island
Doug Johnson
Nate Silver and 538’s Measurable 3.5% Democratic Bias and the 2018 House Race
Gwen Carr
This Stops Today: Seeking Justice for My Son Eric Garner
Robert Hunziker
Peak Carbon Emissions By 2020, or Else!
Arshad Khan
Is There Hope on a World Warming at 1.5 Degrees Celsius?
David Rosen
Packing the Supreme Court in the 21stCentury
Brian Cloughley
Trump’s Threats of Death and Destruction
Joel A. Harrison
The Case for a Non-Profit Single-Payer Healthcare System
Ramzy Baroud
That Single Line of Blood: Nassir al-Mosabeh and Mohammed al-Durrah
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail