Paul Wilson & Bret Bennington vs Arnie Gundersen & Heidi Hutner on Nuclear Sustainability

On Nov 20, 2014, Hofstra University hosted its annual Pride and Purpose Debate. This year’s proposition was the following – “Should nuclear energy be expanded to help create a more sustainable future?”

The debate included the following panelists:

For – J Bret Bennington, professor of geology, Department of Geology, Environment and Sustainability at Hofstra University.
Against – Arnie Gundersen, a member of the Board of Directors for Fairewinds Energy Education.
Against – Heidi Hutner, director of sustainability studies and associate professor of sustainability and english at Stony Brook University.
For – Paul Wilson, spokesperson for the American Nuclear Society and professor of nuclear engineering, Department of Engineering Physics and faculty director of the advanced computing initiative at University of Wisconsin-Madison

There are several Gundersen whoppers including a claim that solar power in New York City costs 4 cents per kilowatt hour and a statement that off-shore wind will meaningfully contribute to powering the entire state of New York. He also stated that Arjun Makhijani has doubled down on his claim that it is possible to have a carbon-free, nuclear-free power system by moving his transition completion target date back from 2050 to 2035.

At the very end, Gundersen explains why he soured on the nuclear industry in 1990, 19 years after he earned his MS in Nuclear Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

There’s nothing like carrying a personal grudge for nearly a quarter of a century against an industry made up of more than 100,000 people based on a conflict with an employer.

I’ve admired Paul Wilson (@gonuke) for many years. He is an extremely knowledgable teacher and an effective public speaker. Gundersen had no answers when Paul asked how he could consider off-shore wind to be a “distributed power source” or how many zeros were behind the number of wind turbines and solar panels that needed to be installed each week to match his sides claim that making a significant dent in CO2 emissions with nuclear would require completing one plant every week somewhere around the world from now until 2050.

There was no vote taken at the end of this debate, but there is little doubt who provided the most effective and thought provoking points for his side of the proposition.

Atomic Show #224 – Dr. John Boice NCRP

From front page of June 13, 1956 New York Times. Right column headline.

On November 11, 2014, I had the pleasure of speaking with Dr. John Boice, the President of the National Council on Radiation Protection. Dr. Boice has had a long and distinguished career in radiation protection and is currently leading a multi-decade effort known as the Million Worker Study to investigate the evidence that has been […]

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Corvallis to Richland and back

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After an informative tour of the NuScale facilities in Corvallis, OR on October 20, I continued my quick visit to the Pacific Northwest. I had originally arranged my travel plans to fly into Portland, OR instead Richland, WA — which was my ultimate destination — for a variety of reasons. It enabled the visit to […]

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Atomic Show #221 – Acting Locally

On August 25, 2014, a group of atomic energy advocates gathered to share experiences and advice about how nuclear energy advocates can more effectively act locally. We discussed ways to find people who are interested in atomic energy, ways to develop social interaction, ways to show our humanity, and ways to make it fun to […]

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Discussing nuclear energy in Australia

On August 5, 2014, Professor Barry Brook, Ian Hore-Lacy and Professor Ken Balwin chatted with ABC [Australian Broadcast Corporation] 666 morning host Genevieve Jacobs about nuclear energy. Each member of the panel provided a brief statement and then there was a lengthy question and answer period lasting nearly an hour. You really should watch the […]

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Atomic Show #215 – Armond Cohen, CATF, describes need for nuclear

Armond Cohen is the Executive Director of the Clean Air Task Force. We spoke in January 2008 on episode #78 of the Atomic Show. At that time, Armond and his organization did not take a position on nuclear energy. On March 28 of this year, I heard Armond give a talk at the commemoration of […]

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Some lessons were learned from TMI. Others were not.

Three Mile Island from the air

On March 28, 1979, a little more than thirty-five years ago, a nuclear reactor located on an island in the Susquehanna River near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, suffered a partial core melt. On some levels, the accident that became known as TMI (Three Mile Island) was a wake-up call and an expensive learning opportunity for both the […]

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Vogtle Construction Update Video

This video provides an encouraging view of the positive impact that the Vogtle expansion project is having on the local community. It’s 4,000 – 5,000 construction jobs is just one part of the economic impact; that $23 million dollar property tax check shown during the video is another part that apparently brings smiles to the […]

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Event at WIPP is newsworthy but not dangerous

It has been almost two weeks since a continuous air monitor alarmed at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP). Though no one was hurt and no one is likely to be harmed in the future, an irregular drip of information interrupted by periods of silence has gradually painted a picture of a serious event worthy […]

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WIPP and Carlsbad residents will talk

On Monday, February 24, representatives of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP), the Carlsbad Environmental Monitoring and Research Center (CEMRC), and local officials will meet with the public. The planned purpose of the meeting is to provide a status report and answer questions about the airborne contamination detected in the facility and the trace contaminants […]

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Response to contamination: WIPP and New Mexico should practice communication skills

Recent events at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) provide an opportunity to reinforce the need to practice good communication skills in order to improve the future response to a contamination event. Though there is no public hazard associated with airborne contamination levels of 0.64 Bq of Am-241 and 0.046 Bq of Pu-239/240, the New […]

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