Green Delaware Alert 579

Nuclear Plantation Journalism from Delaware
The truth, but not the whole truth....or anything like it

December 26, 2007

The Wilmington (Delaware) News Journal has published a set of stories about the possible building of new nuclear power plants near Delaware, under the general heading of "NUCLEAR REVIVAL"

"Del. lies amid cluster of nuclear generators-- Nine nearby plants may well be joined by more in coming years"
( http://tinyurl. com/yv7hy4)

"New nukes may be safer; oversight is crucial--Scientists call for stronger Nuclear Regulatory Commission"
( http://tinyurl. com/25t2vo)

"Nuclear revival--Climate change is bringing calls for new plants, but at what price?"
( http://tinyurl. com/24v2tp)

These stories are full of interesting quotes and factoids and likely will satisfy many readers.

But if we look a little deeper we can see a good example of how "Stooge Journalism" systematically weakens the voices of the people of Delaware.

In this trio of stories in a Delaware newspaper, there are about six quotes from the Nuclear Energy Institute but not a single quote from the many Delawareans who have worked for decades against nuke power.

Frieda Berryhill, almost personally, stopped Delmarva Power from starting to build a nuke on the banks of the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal.  (We think the plant never would have been completed, but the project would surely have caused a financial meltdown of Delmarva Power.)  Berryhill told Green Delaware her organization mobilized ten thousand people to fight the Delmarva Power proposal, but "... today they won't even give me a call."  Berryhill is well-known and respected in anti-nuclear circles all over the world.

Green Delaware's site contains dozens of stories and Alerts about nuclear problems.  Just one:  Alert 331: Opposing the nuclear power industry, http://greendel. org/item. xhtml?name= ALERT_O331

The News Journal stories offer "On the Web" links for people to learn more.  Every link is to the nuclear industry:  PSEG (owners of the Salem/Hope Creek reactors), the Nuclear Energy Institute (chief industry lobby group) and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (more promoters than regulators of the nuke industry).  There are no links to anti-nuke or even neutral sites (some are listed below).

Also interesting are the commentors on the stories, most pro-nuke.  One fellow thinks nuke reactors should be installed in "

villages, apartment buildings, shopping malls, factories, and ships." ( http://www.atomicin sights.blogspot. com/)

Another wrote ( http://forums. delawareonline. com/viewtopic. php?p=280652# 280652):

"You freak treehuggers are the ones who NEED to be silenced. There are so few of you, yet you nag, nag, nag your way into our faces, and strangle any sort of civilization advancement.

Go get arrested at a mall. Wear your stupid tee shirt. And just leave the rest of us alone, Alan!

I would love to see a modern nuclear plant in Delaware, preferably in Alan's backyard. Ahhh, the beauty of two cooling towers draping the Delaware river near Port Penn!!! Like guardians of the empire!

The tone and content of this stuff seems very similar to that of the Editorial Board of The News Journal itself.  Did these folks get advance notice?

What are the facts about nuclear power and Delaware?

As the story notes, Delaware is surrounded by ageing nuclear reactors.  All are emitting radiation and producing radioactive waste which is piling up at the sites because there is no means of safe disposal or recycling.

Is there danger of another reactor being built at Salem ("Artificial Island")?  Maybe.  The site was originally planned for four reactors, but only three were built.  The foundations for a fourth (Hope Creek II) are said to already be in place.  But it is not likely that a new reactor would be built to the decades-old design of Hope Creek I.

Would new reactors be better-designed than the present ones?  They ought to be!  It's hard to think that the major reactor companies (in the US, GE and Westinghouse, now as before) haven't learned anything in the past 30 years.

Do better reactors solve the basic problems of the nuke industry?  No.  New reactors might be less likely to melt down or blow up.  But that doesn't solve other fundamental problems of radioactive emissions, nuclear waste disposal, cancer clusters, vulnerability to terrorism, and the horrible side effects of uranium mining.

Will people have a real say in whether more reactors get built?  Not if government and industry have their way.  For years, the nuke industry and government have connived together to "simplify" and "streamline" the siting and licensing processes.  This, of course, has one main purpose:  To deny the public any real role.

Is nuclear power cheap?  No.  The people claiming this are citing only "production cost," meaning the costs of running already-built plants, with subsidies, and exclusive of the multi-billion dollar costs of building the plants, and disregarding the real costs of nuclear waste.  This excessive capital cost makes nukes economically unviable without big government handouts.

So why are applications being received by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission?  The Federal government is willing to pay companies to apply.

"For each nuclear plant seeking federal approval before the end of 2008, the act provides tax credits of up to $125 million for eight years, loan guarantees for up to 80 percent of a plant's cost, shared application costs and insurance that would cover the costs of regulatory delay."  (Washington Post, http://tinyurl. com/3cgn7w)

Here's some more on nuke subsidies: http://www.spokesma opinion/story. asp?ID=224131

The bottom line is that the nuke industry can't resume building on its own merits.  But the Bush administration wants badly to get more nukes built and is willing to stick the public with the costs and dangers.  (Do you really need to know any more than this?)

Here are some links to some organizations opposing nuclear power:

http://www.beyondnu ?Page=Module&ModuleID=38 - Physicians for Social Responsibility

Nuclear Plant Risk Studies: Failing the Grade - Union of Concerned Scientists

www.helencaldicott. com - Dr. Helen Caldicott's official website

http://www.citizen. org/ Public Citizen

http://www.nirs. org Nuclear Information and Referral Service

http://www10. wise/ World Information Service on Energy

http://www.greenpea onal/news? related_item_ id=89369 Greenpeace

The News Journal stores weren't written by a hack.  The author is an excellent reporter.   What we have here is a lesson in how the mainstream US corporate media, in spite of the generally good intentions of reporters, acts to silence and mislead our communities while appearing to provide credible information.

The overall coverage of the runup to the invasion and colonization of Iraq was similar:  Official sources only.  Those who knew better (most of the informed people in the world) got little ink in the US media.


David Ledford is the top editor at The News Journal.  Let him know how you feel:

302.324-2860, dledford@delawareon

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