If a special session occurs and the press ignores it, did it really happen?
Ted Rockwell, one of my favorite nuclear pioneers, was unable to attend the American Nuclear Society annual meeting despite having worked diligently to help organize a President’s Special Session titled “Low-Level Radiation and Its Implications for Fukushima Recovery.” He eagerly looked forward to reading reports about the special sessions from his home in Bethesda, where he is learning to use his new titanium hip. (Note: Ted also celebrated his 90th birthday last week.)
Unfortunately, there was no published news about the Special Session. Here is a copy of an email that Ted wrote and published on an ANS member listserv.
I enjoyed your msgs about the excitement kicked up at the ANS Annual Conference this week by the President’s Special Plenary and its accompanying Report, on lessons from Fukushima. You wrote that the available copies of the Report were eagerly snatched up and additional copies printed and distributed. And additional copies were to be available on ANS web-sites. Sounds exciting! All the months of work we put in, and the many participants brought in from Japan, Oxford, Canada…it all seemed worthwhile.
Since I couldn’t attend personally (with my new titanium hip), I had to rely on news reports. And guess what? None of this ever happened. The only news came from nuclear executive John Rowe, who was quoted as saying: “We must understand that with today’s natural gas prices in the United States, in western Europe, it is probable that new nuclear plants will not be economical for a decade” said Rowe. “And two decades is as good a guess as any.”
The news report continued: “Rowe also addressed the headline-stealing event of the industry since March 2011, the disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan. ‘A great deal of public uncertainty was created,’ he said. ‘And a great deal of genuine environmental damage was done.’ ” He didn’t mention that, despite errors made and radioactivity released, not a single case of radiation injury occurred, even to the operators who stayed with the plant through all the shutdown hours, who were widely reported in the media as the “suicide squad.”
So we have to ask: Who doesn’t want people to hear good news about nuclear power? The Sunday edition of the Washington Post that came out as the Nuclear Society Conference was opening, had a short, mildly pro-nuclear editorial in its early edition. But that editorial was dropped from all subsequent editions, the ones that cover most of its readership.
I ask the copied addressees who were at the Conference, or who had colleagues that attended: will you report what happened but was not reported? We’ve had this sort of thing happen before. People above the ANS President make decisions without revealing their actions or the reason for them. Why? Who is really calling the shots? Don’t you want to know?
Here is a PDF of the slide presentation that Dr. Jerry Cuttler gave during the special session. I hope that someone recorded the event; there is some life saving information that needs to see the light of day.