Beyond Nuclear press release on nuke industry op-ed plants in media

Media outlets publish cookie-cutter op-eds under different by-lines with the same false information

TAKOMA PARK, MD, October 9, 2014 -- Over the past three weeks, news outlets around the country have published op-eds and letters to the editor with identical phrasing under different by-lines suggesting they were orchestrated by a nuclear industry public relations campaign, Beyond Nuclear has found.

To date, Beyond Nuclear has identified nine articles containing the same, often false, talking points and sometimes identical language, written under seven different by-lines. The articles all promote the reprocessing of irradiated reactor fuel, but refer to it as “recycling,” sometimes as many as ten times in a single article. France is touted as the reprocessing Wunderkind.

“Media outlets should not accept articles that are clearly not the original work of the author and that have already appeared in other publications under a different by-line,” said Beyond Nuclear international specialist, Linda Gunter, who researched the apparent rash of plagiarism. 

“These publications also failed to fact check, allowing themselves to be the voice-piece of the nuclear industry and repeating statements that are fundamentally untrue. All of this raises some serious ethical questions.”

The articles appeared mainly in regional newspapers but also in Forbes magazine. Read the full press release.


REGISTER NOW for the Nuclear-Free Future Summit in D.C., Nov. 14-16 + Lobby Day, Nov. 17

This announcement was circulated by Mary Olson of NIRS:

Please come to our Second Nuclear Free Campaign Summit and Strategy Session

This event is for activists working for a Nuclear-Free Future! Here are the event details:

WHO: Sierra Club Nuclear Free Campaign and Allied Organizations / Activists
WHAT: National Summit for a Nuclear Free Future 
WHEN: Nov. 14-17, 2014 
WHERE: National 4-H Youth Conference Center, 7100 Connecticut Ave., Chevy Chase, MD 20815



Hinkley Point C will be the most expensive nuke ever, if completed

It could be described as the precedent for a new age of electricity “robber barons” even though the project is likely never to be completed. The European Commission announced that it has approved United Kingdom public subsidies to  support the French government utility EDF to construct two European Pressurized Reactors at Hinkley Point C in Somerset, England. The initial price tag is now estimated to be £24 billion ($30.6 billion) already up from last year’s estimate of £16 billion. True to atomic power form the latest estimate only marks the figure from which the skyrocketing cost will be launched and likely to become the most expensive nuclear power plant ever built if the project is not abandoned first.   

The anti-nuclear/pro-renewables Austrian government immediately countered that it will sue in the European Court of Justice to reverse the decision. Likewise, Germany's government is also considering taking legal action

International energy analysts are citing the new figures to be enough to finance the deploymet of 7 Gigawatts of new offshore wind farms as compared to the 3.3 Gigawatts that France is proposing to build at Hinkley.

The European Commission deal awards EDF with a 35-year power contract for Hinkley Point C electricity as compared to the 15-year contracts that renewable energy projects now receive. The deal further establishes a guaranteed minimum revenue or “strike price” to EDF from indentured UK ratepayers of £92.50 per megawatt hour in what amounts to approximately twice the current wholesale price. By the end of the 35-year contract in 2058 there is no reliable measure of how much nuclear power will cost.

During a subsequent paralimentary debate in Germany following the decision,  Environmental Minister Barbara Hendricks declared that the European Commission's decision was "utterly wrong." She observed that  nuclear power is clearly not competitive compared to renewable energy "or else, prices wouldn't need fixing for 30 years."


Look what the nuclear industry copy cats dragged in

As referenced on our Just the Facts page, a series of articles using in some cases identical, and often near-identical, message points have appeared in publications across the country. Clearly pulled from a nuclear industry handout, we're calling them out. In the meantime, we took a look at the authors' phraseology. Here are some examples:

1. Reprocessing as "recycling."

"France uses recycling to obtain 80% of its electricity from nuclear power". Paul Steinmeyer, The Day, September 14, and The Hartford Courant, September 16.

"France uses recycling to obtain 80% of its electricity from nuclear power." William B. Reed, Montgomery Advertiser (September 13) and Huntsville Times (September 18.)

"France successfully recycles its used fuel to produce 75 percent of its electricity from nuclear power." Ivan Maldonado, The Tennessean, September 21.

"France recycles used fuel from its 54 nuclear plants to obtain 75 percent of its electricity from nuclear power." Howard Shaffer, Concord Monitor, September 24.

"Today France – which obtains 75 percent of its electricity from nuclear power. . . " Henry B. Spitz, Cincinnati Enquirer, September 25.

"Nearly 75 percent of France’s electricity is produced from used nuclear fuel that has been recycled." Barry Butterfield, Lincoln Journal Star, September 27.

"France today generates 80 percent of its electricity needs with nuclear power, much of it generated through recycling." William F. Shugart II, Forbes magazine, October 1.

2. "Used fuel" is "valuable," not "waste."

"Used fuel should not be confused with nuclear waste. It contains tens of billions of dollars worth of valuable plutonium and uranium." Steinmeyer.

"Still referred to as waste, used fuel contains valuable nuclear materials."  Reed.

"Often mistakenly referred to as nuclear waste, used fuel contains valuable nuclear materials." Maldonado.

"Recycling is a way to re-use the valuable resources in used nuclear fuel to produce more nuclear-generated electricity." Spitz.

“Those countries realized that spent fuel is a valuable asset, not simply waste.” Shugart.

3. No link between reprocessing and nuclear weapons production.

“No country has ever developed the capability to produce nuclear weapons from the recycling of used nuclear fuel.” Shaffer.

“The fact is, no nuclear materials have ever been diverted from recycling for weapons production.” Reed.

“The reality is that no nuclear materials ever have been obtained from the spent fuel of a nuclear power plant.” Shugart.


The fantasy of a better nuclear mousetrap: uranium metal fuel

An article in the MIT Technology Review, asserted that a new, improved reactor fuel (pictured) might be able to off-set the obvious expense of nuclear energy which is also too slow to address climate change. The author's lead -- "slowing climate change will most likely require a vast expansion of carbon-free nuclear power" -- caught our attention. Read the  Beyond Nuclear response. We drew upon our Advisory Board, and particularly upon input from Dr. M.V. Ramana of Princeton University, to set the record straight, including the observation that "the fuel proposed by the Lightbridge company, and cited in Talbot’s article, has potentially disastrous flaws in that it uses uranium metal (rather than uranium oxide), which could swell and cause fuel failure. There can also be very high temperatures at the center of the fuel."