One of the more powerful concepts that I studied in college was called “groupthink.” The curriculum developers in the history department at the US Naval Academy thought it was important for people in training to become leaders in the US Navy learn to seek counsel and advice from as broad a range of sources as possible.
We were taught how to avoid the kind of bad decision making that can result by surrounding oneself with yes-men or fellow travelers. The case study I remember most was the ill fated Bay of Pigs invasion where virtually the entire Kennedy Administration cabinet thought that it would be a cakewalk.
Aside: Don’t we live in an amazing world? I just typed “Bay of Pigs groupthink” into my browser search box and instantly hit on exactly the link I needed to support the statement above. It even cites the book we used when I was a plebe in 1977, more than 33 years ago. End Aside.
Not everyone, however, has the benefit of early leadership lessons about the danger of believing that a small group of likeminded people can provide actionable advice. Some of the people who are most likely to be victims of groupthink are those who adamantly oppose the continued safe operation of emission-free nuclear power plants. The writers who exclusively quote members of that tiny community have also fallen into the groupthink trap.
On October 8, 2011, the Berkeley Patch, a New Jersey based journal that regularly posts negative stories about Oyster Creek, featured an article titled Petitioners to NRC: Shut Down All Fukushima-Like Nuclear Plants. Here is a snapshot of the masthead, the headline and the lede.
The article is a diatribe that quotes people on the short list of frequently quoted antinuclear activists including Paul Gunter, Michael Mariotte, Kevin Kamps, Deb Katz and Dale Bridenbaugh. The author faithfully reproduces some of their best attempts to spread fear, uncertainty and doubt using untruths about the actual events at Fukushima. For example, the article uses the following example of how antinuclear activists are still trying to spread the myth that the used fuel pools at Fukushima caught fire.
Oyster Creek – the oldest nuclear plant in the United States – has generated over 700 tons of high-level radioactive waste, Kevin Kamps of Beyond Nuclear said.
“Granted that some of that has been moved into dry cast storage, but the pool remains full to its capacity,” Kamps said. “And this was a re-rack capacity. Much later in terms of quantity of high level radioactive waste than it was originally designed for.”
This represents 125 million curies of radioactive cesium-137 and the NRC has reported that up to 100 percent of the hazardous material could be released from a pool fire, Kamps said.
“I would like to point out that Fukushima Daiichi units one, two, three and four combined in terms of the inventory of high level radioactive waste in their storage pools does not match some of these reactors I mentioned in terms of how much waste is in these pools,” Kamps said. “So the risks are greater here for boil downs and the consequences of a radioactive fire in these pools.”
Fortunately, the people who are not a part of the antinuclear community are finally beginning to recognize their own strength and to realize that they do not have to remain silent while the lies are being spread. Here is how a knowledgable commenter responded to the above segment of the article:
If Patricia Miller had bothered to do the fact-checking required by journalistic integrity she would have come across this video showing 30 feet of water above the fuel at Fukushima with all of the fuel bundles exactly where they’re supposed to be.
NOTHING happend to the fuel in the pools at Fukushima. I would like to see some evidence other than the word of an activist who frightens kids for a living to support Gunter’s rant about peices of fuel being ejected miles away. From the looks of that video, the fuel didn’t move an inch.
There is also a poll associated with the article. The poll discloses that it is completely unscientific, since it allows anyone to vote and is not based on randomly selected participants. However, I think that the results as of 0315 this morning are pretty amusing since the antinuclear opinion piece has been posted for nearly a week.
Perhaps this October 12, 2011 post titled Oyster Creek Response that was published on Clean Energy Insight has something to do with the way the results are shaping up with 1029 out of 1080 respondents (95.3%) saying that Oyster Creek should not stop operating.
Here is one more example of how inbred the group of antinuclear activists has become. I am talking here about the people who are so adamantly opposed to using nuclear energy that they do not even want existing nuclear plants to keep on producing clean, emission free, low cost electricity. Michael Mariotte of NIRS makes the following extraordinary claim:
Ninety-five percent of the people in the world know about Fukushima, Michael Mariotte of the Nuclear Information and Resource Service said.
“It took a really extraordinary event for 95 percent of the people in the world to know about it,” he said. “If they know about Fukushima, they know about Mark 1 reactors exploding in the air and releasing toxic radiation across the world and they know that’s not a good thing. Something has to be done to make sure that never happens again.”
I could not let that one pass without a comment; I am quite sure that Mariotte has once again fallen victim to the fact that he surrounds himself with people who echo his own prejudices. Here is my response.
Marriotte makes an interesting statement by he claiming that “95% of the people in the world” know about Fukushima. That statement might be true about the people in the United States, where advertiser-supported television news programs covered the events with breathless hype for several months.
I am pretty sure that you would have a difficult time finding anyone in China, central Africa, the Asian subcontinent, South America or the Middle East who can even pronounce Fukushima, much less know anything about GE Mark 1 containments. Most of them would not even know that they should be worried about radiation because they have never been taught to be afraid of something that they cannot smell, feel, taste, or hear especially when it occurs at levels that have no chance of making them sick within their expected lifetime.
Mariotte, Gunter, Kamps, Katz and Bridenbaugh are all members of a vocal, but tiny group of people who have been carrying the water of the fossil fuel industry for decades by opposing nuclear energy, the only real competitor it has. They are victims of groupthink who believe that their neighbors in Takoma Park are representative of the whole world.
Just before making this comment, I voted in the unscientific poll associated with the article. 95% say that Oyster Creek should keep on powering New Jersey homes and businesses. They are not impressed by the Beyond Nuclear FUD; they like clean electricity.
Rod Adams, Publisher, Atomic Insights