An article titled Fukushima inspires safety features for Georgia nuclear reactors is a recent addition to CNN’s Powering the Planet series. It is packed full of misinformation about nuclear energy along with subtle and not so subtle promotion of natural gas, one of nuclear energy’s strongest competitors.
The most important misinformation in the article is the notion that the design features of the AP1000 were inspired by Fukushima. The truth is that the nuclear energy industry has been working on improved reactors that are less dependent on external power sources for several decades.
Designers have been tasked for years with the mission of creating passively safe systems that can withstand a complete station blackout without resulting in a release of radioactive fission products to the environment. The AP1000 design concepts can be traced to the AP600, which was conceived in the 1980s and received a design certification in 1999.
After damning nuclear energy with faint praise, the article moves on to its apparent mission of promoting natural gas as a better alternative that is supposedly safer and cheaper than that scary nuclear stuff. (I wrote that with my tongue planted firmly in my cheek.)
Here is an example quote from the promotional section:
According to Mike Altizer, Southern’s nuclear engineering programs manager, tests involving floods, earthquakes, fires and tsunamis were conducted in hopes of ensuring a natural disaster wouldn’t affect the reactors.
Yet while Southern moves forward, last year’s disaster has soured the prospects for nuclear energy in some European nations, while critics ask why more isn’t being done to tap safer energy such as natural gas.
Here is another one:
Along with the safety concerns, critics have other questions about the reactors.
For one: Why build new reactors when there are cheaper energy sources, namely natural gas?
Lyman is one of those critics, and he points to the $14 billion price tag for the two reactors, which some estimates indicate may be $1 billion short of the actual cost.
“The enormous price tag of new nuclear power projects, such as Vogtle 3 and 4, means that nuclear power is not cost-effective, especially given the low price of natural gas,” Lyman said.
It is probably just a coincidence that Ted Turner, CNN’s founder, is heavily involved in the natural gas industry. He has been working with T. Boone Pickens to promote its use as a bridge fuel to an alternative energy utopia. He is not just a promoter, his property hosts in excess of 10,000 natural gas wells. Turner, of course, gets lauded for his green activities in the media that he partially created, even when those activities include promotion of a fuel source that produces at least 50% of CO2 released by burning coal.
As one of the largest land owners in the United States. Turner also stands to profit from any effort to move towards increased use of wind and solar energy. Building the alternative energy utopia that he promotes would require that someone purchase or lease large tracts of land to host the required collecting systems.
Like many other famous “Environmentalists” who fight both coal and nuclear energy production, Turner has serious financial interests in energy sources that benefit from reduced competition and alternative energy subsidies. The tie between CNN and Turner, even though it is less direct than it was when he was actively involved in running the network, is what qualifies this post as a smoking gun.
Here is a comment that I left in response to the article on the CNN web site. It might not make it through moderation.
Wonder how much ExxonMobil, Chevron, Shell, and the American Natural Gas Alliance have paid CNN to run advertisements over the years? Is this article a “make good” or just a freebie in return for all of that exceptional business from loyal customers?
Natural gas is not “safer” than nuclear energy. In just the past month, we’ve seen houses explode in Indianapolis, IN (killing 2), a gentleman’s club in Springfield, MA blow up (fortunately after evacuation so only first responders were hurt), and a small factory in German explode and burn (killing 14 workers) all because of natural gas related actions.
In contrast, no one was even injured by the radiation released by melting three operating reactor cores when the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power station’s back up power systems were inundated with the largest tsunami recorded in the past 1,000 years.
Why doesn’t CNN mention the fact that there were at least 10 more reactors hit by the same wave that survived with little damage.
One more thing – why does CNN allow the Union of Concerned Scientists to portray itself as neither for nor against new nuclear power stations? The organization has been fighting against the use of nuclear energy since the mid 1970s. Even in the context of fighting global climate change, the UCS says a lot of very negative things about the prospects for nuclear energy, while apparently accepting a power source that routinely kills people with explosions and that produces about 500 grams of CO2 for every kilowatt-hour produced – even using the most modern systems available.
UCS Position Statement on Nuclear Power and Global Warming
Publisher, Atomic Insights
Proud to be a nuclear energy professional
This is crazy! Is there ANY way I/we can corral pro-nuclear blogs to issue a mass counterweight by email or interview requests to CNN or whoever? CNN (and PBS/NPR) slyly know that the damage to nuclear energy’s image is set and done in favor their coy anti-nuclear leanings in assertions like this, even if they deign for a shallow correction, much less retraction because they’re smug of zero-retaliation. This wasn’t any “misinformation” but a deliberate slur on nuclear energy. It just seems like the whole nuclear industry and nuclear professional organizations are gelded up the navel when it comes to the moxie and guts to swing back at the media and anti-nuke groups! Trying to say a ten person outfit like “Puppy Rescue” can afford all those cable PSAs in metro-NYC for their cause but the prestige and coffers of nuclear industry/professional groups can’t even match them squat for public nuclear education? The other side must lol’ing themselves into hernias. I just can’t blame Arnie and Helen and CNN & Co. for mugging their way over nuclear energy like this totally unrebuffed because this is truly a case of one’s efforts getting all the public respect and support it deserves.
It appears that CNN, like the New York Times, employes the heavy hand of censorship in the comments on their website. Doesn’t look like your comment is going to make it through, Rod. Too bad.
Eh … CNN has sucked for years. All of their real talent left long ago for better pastures; although some of the fake-talent rejects — e.g., Christiane Amanpour — have since returned.
The remaining group of amateurs left at the network spends too much of their time trying to be P.C. (or plagiarizing The New Yorker) to do a decent job at reporting the news. In case you haven’t noticed, support for nuclear power is not P.C.
Seriously, who is surprised with this CNN piece?
The ‘smoking gun’ series is not designed to include new, surprising revelations. It is designed to provide documentation for my theory that people and organizations with financial interests in fossil fuels and industrial scale alternative energy projects are the primary force of support that enables antinuclear activity to be “Politically Correct” (PC, as you say.)
There is a reason for every seemingly illogical activity and it is often hidden financial motives.
It is supremely illogical for people who are concerned about the environment and who fight against climate change to also fear nuclear energy and fight against its safe and effective use.
Therefore, I assume that they are either duped – in the case of some of the idealistic people I meet at public meetings – or they are well aware of reality. In the case of them being aware of reality, I believe they are pretending to think that there is something wrong with nuclear energy. I put most well-positioned and well-educated antinuclear activists and their friends in politics, business and the media in that category.
Rod, I think the addition of a link in your comment may be the reason it is not making it through to the board. I have before posted long comments with links to my sources and have not ever seen them approved. If I remove the links it is posted right away. The link forces a moderator to have to review it which probably never happens at CNN.
It is a silly system which promotes people just posting anything they want without having to back it up.
Tried George’s suggestion (thanks for that and your persistent CNN posts, George), and may have broken through, citing Rods comment. Couldn’t have said it any better myself anyway.
Let’s see if it sticks, on the network that thinks Michio Kaku is an expert on nuclear energy.
And today 12/3 in CNN’s home town a carbon monoxide leak likely from a heating/boiler system at a elementary school sent 50 to local hospitals. ( http://www.ajc.com/news/news/local/southwest-atlanta-school-evacuated-after-several-p/nTLg8/ ) So safe. You couldn’t make this stuff up.
It seems my comment about Titisee in Germany didn’t go unnoticed. The main reason why the death toll is so heavy is that it was a factory for disabled workers.
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