Pandora's False Promises

Pandora's Promise, is a new pro-nuclear propaganda documentary released theatrically in the US in July 2013. It is funded in part by individuals with a vested interest in seeing the development of new reactors and is seemingly a vehicle by which to raise the profile of the anti-environmental Oakland think tank, The Breakthrough Institute, whose personnel feature prominently in the film. Despite the film's premise and early claim that it features "a growing number of leading former anti-nuclear activists" who now support nuclear energy, no one in the film ever led the anti-nuclear movement. Nor was any credible, independent scientific or medical professional with expertise in the areas covered in the film consulted or featured. Beyond Nuclear has bird-dogged the film from the beginning, and has produced numerous critiques. We have also published a definitive report - Pandora's False Promises: Busting the pro-nuclear propaganda - and a two-page synopsis. These documents address virtually all of the myths, lies and omissions typically found in pro-nuclear rhetoric and are intended to address these long after Pandora's Promise fades into deserved oblivion.



For screenings - a handout

For those forced to confront the waning moments of box office flop, Pandora's Promise, please feel free to download and reproduce our short handout summarizing many of the facts about the dangers and detriments of nuclear energy.


Newly updated full report - Pandora's False Promises

Pandora's False Promises: busting the pro-nuclear propaganda. A Beyond Nuclear report that debunks the prevailing myths and falsehoods circulated by nuclear boosters in their attempts to mislead the public, press and decision-makers about dirty, dangerous and expensive nuclear energy.


Former NRC Commissioner pans Pandora's Promise

"A new movie, Pandora's Promise (no film-maker familiar with nuclear history would include "promise" in a title intended to be pronuclear), recently screened at Sundance. Featuring the same old converts and straw men, it opened in cinemas a few weeks ago to tiny audiences and generally unenthusiastic reviews, especially from reviewers knowledgeable about nuclear power." Peter Bradford. The Guardian.


Pandora's reliance on untested technology invites disbelief

From GRIST, by John Perkins. "Pandora’s failure lies in its startlingly simplistic proposal to replace fossil fuels with nuclear power. For example, the film claims that the Integral Fast Reactor (IFR) provides a key route to safe nuclear power. These facts, however, are important: 1) The IFR’s prototype, the Experimental Breeder Reactor-II, was small-scale when the program ended; and 2) No IFR plant was ever built. Accordingly, data on reliability, safety, and costs don’t exist. Nuclear power has a long history of bedevilment in scaling up from prototypes, and Pandora’s reliance on untested technology invites disbelief.

Despite the unknowns, Pandora wants a massive turn to new types of nuclear power plants. The world’s power plants currently produce about 5,000 gigawatts (1 gigawatt = 1 billion watts). Replacing this fleet with new plants of 1 gigawatt each — the common commercial size — means building 5,000 new nuclear plants, over 10 times the current number. Existing experience indicates that $6 billion may be a lower cost estimate to build such plants, so the total cost would be about $30 trillion, possibly higher.

Is such a sum even conceivable? Maybe yes, but would such a massive program be the best use of $30 trillion? At the same time, Pandorafails to seriously address the promises and challenges of developing major roles for renewable energy. Such a partial assessment doesn’t cut it for spending $30 trillion."


Canadian reviewers spot the sales pitch

But they needed to call out the absence of actual facts, a far more troubling fault of the film.

"Pandora’s Promise lacks balance and therefore some credibility." Toronto Star.

"The film’s tone is boosterish, and the cursory treatment of the cost of a nuclear-based energy overhaul, or the viability of renewable energy, tends to arouse skepticism rather than allay it. Opposing voices are limited to vintage clips of anti-nuclear protesters and one gotcha confrontation with septuagenarian anti-nuclear crusader Dr. Helen Caldicott, and that supports the impression that Pandora’s Promise is less an exploration of the subject than a well-constructed sales pitch." Toronto Globe & Mail.

"That [Stone] cherry-picks his facts to prove his thesis is ultimately the doc’s greatest fault. Pandora’s Promise aims, as one speaker puts it, to “put nuclear in its proper context.” Some of these claims – like the Chernobyl fallout zone being comparatively safe, despite plenty of evidence to the contrary – verge on the irresponsible." Now