Green Delaware Alert 579
December 26, 2007
Nuclear Plantation Journalism from Delaware
The truth, but not the whole truth....or anything like it
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"
"New nukes may be safer; oversight is crucial--Scientists call for stronger
Nuclear Regulatory Commission"
"Nuclear revival--Climate change is bringing calls for new plants, but at
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
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 "
Another wrote ( http://forums.
"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
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
Here's some more on nuke subsidies: http://www.spokesma
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:
www.psr.org - Physicians
for Social Responsibility
Plant Risk Studies: Failing the Grade - Union of Concerned Scientists
com - Dr. Helen Caldicott's official website
org/ Public Citizen
org Nuclear Information and Referral Service
wise/ World Information Service on Energy
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
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