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Wednesday, January 4, 2012

AAAS Symposium on Nuclear Reporting

Thanks to Nicole Stricker, PhD, who is the Science Press Officer at the Idaho National Laboratory, I've been made aware of a very interesting symposium which is to be presented by the AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science) this February. This event is titled "Misreporting Fukushima: A Failure of Science Journalism with Global Repercussions?" Here is a link:

Misreporting Fukushima - Symposium by AAAS in Vancouver, Feb. 20

There is absolutely no doubt in this writer's mind that the vast majority of what was reported in the mainstream press in the months immediately following the Fukushima Daiichi accident was not only incorrect, but seriously flawed. Consultation of both anti-nuclear speakers such as Arnie Gunderson, and people with no nuclear knowledge whatsoever, like Michio Kaku, was regular and normal in those days. The Union of Concerned Scientists, which actually is an organization with agendas (such as being anti-nuclear) and not some oversight panel, was also consulted and quoted.

I think we all see how their predictions worked out. No contamination in the US; no deaths in the US; no radioactive fallout blanketing the Pacific islands; no massive hydrovolcanic explosion due to 'China syndrome' melt-through; no evacuation of Tokyo. No spent fuel pool fires, or prompt criticality in a spent fuel pool (this last being a wonderful Gunderson gaffe) or recriticality of damaged reactors. None of it. So far, none of the pre-apocalyptic horsefeathers these people and organizations spread around have come true.

The major problem of course is that anyone listened to them. The wide distribution of such clearly anti-nuclear (and thus strongly biased) trash as "news" bothered many in positions to know better - but the actual occurrence of the accident itself seemed to be enough to give them a brief season of credibility. We, on the pro-nuclear side, were saddled with sentiments on the order of "well you said this could never happen and now it has so why listen to you?"

None of us said that this could never happen. That's a straw man put out by people who just have absolutely no clue WHAT we've said because, for thirty or more years, they haven't listened.

So now we find ourselves in a world where several nations have decided to dump nuclear energy in a knee jerk reaction to something that happened all the way around the world and doesn't affect them one iota (Germany, and others.) Fukushima Prefecture in Japan is probably permanently non-nuclear now (its governor, as reported here at APR has indicated he will not allow any further nuclear plant operation) but the rest of Japan is up in the air. The tendency of plants shut down for inspection or maintenance not to restart (except for one plant) is bothersome as well.

Luckily there are places where need for reliable energy is high enough and desire for moral high ground (or self-immolation) low enough that nuclear is quite in the cards. This includes the United States, where the Westinghouse AP1000 has just been approved by the NRC. There are further promising signs elsewhere...

South Korea has over 17000 Mw of nuclear plant capacity on line.

'Fuel poverty' in England can only be alleviated by nuclear and they know it.

Slovakia: 50% of electric capacity is nuclear, and it's passed stress tests.

I could go on and on with links to show places where nuclear energy is moving forward, but suffice it to say that the entire world is NOT anti-nuclear. Recent polls in the United States still show a positive for nuclear energy in acceptance.

Even with the horrible mainstream reporting on nuclear energy and the Fukushima accident, and the rampant celebrity anti-nuclearism as well.

It is in the context I've outlined above that I await the results of this symposium. I've been assured by Dr. Stricker that we'll have as much information from the event as possible. I should also note that each of the speakers has a paper linked right at the AAAS page; these provide great information on the topic. It is about time that the press came to terms with its poor job in reporting technical issues; perhaps this AAAS symposium will wake some of the people in the mainstream media up.

5:10 PM Eastern Wednesday January 4, 2012


  1. Happy New Year All!

    Will, I regret you and Rod Adams have no seats at this symposium. Nuclear energy desperately needs a pair of nuclear Carl Sagans espousing the true virtues of this energy source. It says something of how senselessly alarmist nuclear-phobia is when there are those who even regret "we're" going to contaminate Mars with Curiosity rover's RTGs! In addition, I have to respectfully defer from your gentlemanly highly diplomatic posture so defining the "horrible" and "incorrect, but seriously flawed" "MISreporting" by the media on Fukushima. Rather, without pulling punches, it was a willful agenda-driven scattergun disinformation and FUD smear campaign to "serve the public welfare" by disaffecting the public from nuclear energy for reasons Luddite, piously moral, outrageously eco-puritanical, wartime/cold-war historical, and philosophical. We don't need any "hints" they're anti-nuclear; the question's just how deeply steeped and insidious they are in this _war_ against nuclear energy. Really, let me ask just how many other topics and issues does the media so pretzel the truth so blantantly? Rather than merely discuss the horse-out-the-barn-doors effects of this pernicious anti-nuclear slander, this symposium should laser-pin-point and expose and chide the coyly tacit anti-nuclear saturated editorial boards and journalistic individuals and organizations involved and cite a public challenge putting them on the carpet to back-up their hit n' run har'em-scare'em facts and sources. You gotta grab the bull by the horns if you wanna stop getting gored!


    James Greenidge
    Queens NY

  2. @Jim: And a very Happy New Year to you too! I agree with everything in your post and frankly it gave me a good laugh -- not just your choice of words, but to see someone give the anti-nukes "both barrels" as it were. I might refer anyone reading this exchange back to my post on the "Misinformation Superhighway" vis a vis reporting on things nuclear in the wider media should they wish to see more of what Jim and I are agreeing on here!

    I do believe we all did grab the bull by the horns in relation to the latest Mangano-produced FUD "peer reviewed" paper... so we are gaining some traction. For that we can be thankful!