Saturday, 31 May 2008

The new nuke look: "clean, green and safe", nuclear lobbyists claim

(Note: other sources for this brief, submitted to the CCAMU Citizens' Inquiry, can be checked by clicking on the tag "nuke" in the blue tagcloud on the bottom right of the blog.) World reactor map courtesy of INSCThe international nuclear lobby (see the list at the end of this post) began its campaign promoting nuclear power as "green" and "safe" in the late 1990s. Its initial success was closely connected to the worldwide pressure in that decade of the Washington Consensus for globalization and deregulation of money markets.

The first attempt was covert. In 1998-2000 the Clinton administration’s attempts to gain financing for construction of nuclear power plants under the Kyoto CDM (Clean Development Mechanism) were denounced as "tricks" by environmentalists.

The opening gun of the overt international campaign was a keynote speech on "the need for nuclear power", by Don Johnson, a former Liberal cabinet minister from Canada now Secretary-General of OECD (which has its own nuclear agency), to a joint conference of the American and European Nuclear Societies in Washington, DC in November 2000. Johnson had also been an eager advocate of globalization, the Multilateral Agreement on Investment, and free trade -- all of which suggests that he was acting as spokesman for the Washington Consensus, not an unusual role for Canadian politicians abroad. An OECD official document declared in 2001 that nuclear power had "unique potential as... sustainable energy". Johnson continued to urge new nuclear construction through 2005, when he gave another speech to the International Nuclear Energy Association, shortly before retiring from OECD.

In 2000, John B. Ritch III, after serving 7 years as US ambassador to IAEA, became director-General of the World Nuclear Association. A longtime adviser to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, in 1999 he declared nuclear power was "the only answer to global warming". Playing a central role in the ensuing campaign, by 26 November 2007 he boasted that a "nuclear renaissance" had been achieved by the worldwide lobby. Worldwide, 441 existing nuclear plants are close to the end of their operating life; the IAEA estimates 40 new ones by 2020; the WNA claims 64 will be added; financial speculators talk of 80.

For industry insiders and government officials, the WNA offers yearly symposia, frequent seminars and courses. In 2003, it founded the World Nuclear University, a well-funded body whose supporters include James Lovelock, the World Association of Nuclear Operators, the IAEA, and the Nuclear Energy Association of the OECD. It is highly likely that the WNA and WNU coordinated the international "nuclear green" campaign, providing data and strategy to national lobbyists. For instance, a 2002 Nuclear Renaissance conference in Washington DC included speeches by Richard A. Meserve, chairman of the U. S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Gail Marcus of DOE, and a Canadian AECL executive.

Part of the worldwide nuclear lobby’s success is its mixed nature, both public and state-owned, which has given it enormous influence in obtaining subsidies. Governments like to throw good money after bad, if only to prove that initial decisions were correct. And few politicians can say a flat “no” to a well-organized lobby with inside support from state bureaucrats as well as outside pressures from private industry.

In 2006, the Nuclear Energy Institute (ex-American Nuclear Energy Council) of Washington, DC, claiming 206 members in 60 countries, hired the PR firm Hill and Knowlton to conduct a million-dollar ad campaign, apparently connected with U.S. Congress' passing of an energy bill that opened the door to nuclear plant construction, with heavy support from the Bush administration. This campaign seems to have paid off handsomely. The current Lieberman-Warner bill offers the industry about $544b in subsidies, with more expected to be added by senatorial amendments.

The NEI formed a front group, the Clean and Safe Energy Coalition aka CASEnergy, led by former EPA chief Christine Whitman and ex-Greenpeace founder Patrick Moore, to disguise links between the campaign and the nuclear lobby.

Key to this campaign was the alliance between US political insiders of both parties, and the front group. One of the minor scandals of the 2008 Democratic primaries was the discovery that Mark Penn, Hillary Clinton's strategist, was actively lobbying for the nuclear company Exelon. It had been a major contributor to Clinton, a lesser one to Obama via "employee contributions". Penn worked for Burson Marsteller, another PR firm notorious for its less-than-ethical lobbying practices. On the Republican side, McCain has promised “a comprehensive nuclear component” in energy policy.

The Bush Jr administration gave heavy support throughout. Its 2000 transition team included as energy advisors: Joseph Colvin of the NEI; Senator J. Bennett Johnston (Dem-LA 1972-97) a former Committee on Energy and Natural Resources member turned lobbyist; Thomas Kuhn, President of Edison Electric Institute and ex-head of the American Nuclear Energy Council; along with four other nuclear utilities. The woman appointed as deputy director of Bush's DOE, Gail H Marcus, was also president of the American Nuclear Society. The political fix was in from day one.

The Labour governments of Tony Blair and Anthony Brown were convinced to announce a major UK nuclear construction program by a campaign whose spearhead was a key insider, their science advisor Sir David King. A High Court judge ruled against their handpicked nuclear inquiry in 2007, ordering a less biased one to be held this year. Similarly, French president Sarkozy became a strong supporter shortly after Areva announced a joint nuclear plant project with China. Like Canada and the USA, both France and the UK faced lobbying from within by state-owned nuclear companies and export development agencies, adding their voices to those of private industry, financiers, and their flacks. In Germany, where the minority government depends on anti-nuke Greens who form part of the ruling coalition, lobbyists have not yet succeeded.

A wave of international mergers and alliances strengthened the industry’s appeal to governments and stock markets. Financial marketeers trumpeted the rebirth of the nuclear industry, claiming that uranium prices had risen 1600% in six years (note: largely due to shortage of high-grade ore). The City and Wall Street became even more interested when the UK passed laws to limit liability of nuclear operators and waste disposal companies, while guaranteeing profit. Similar protections against liability were being created by American and other countries' laws, covertly inserted into regulations, or achieved by company lawyers creating new corporate shells. In effect, the moral risk was now being passed to the state, and to taxpayers, while profits were guaranteed by "perverse subsidies". Security and safety risks, as always, would be borne by the public.

Chernobyl photo by Elena 20 years after the disaster; the sarcophagus is now disintegrating.

It was these risks that weakened the nuclear renaissance campaign. Old nuclear scandals kept cropping up: rediscovery of the 1966 Palamares N-bomb debris in Spain, accidents and radioactive pollution (often deliberate, and long kept as state secrets) -- at Semipalatinsk, Seversk, Mayak, Browns Ferry, Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, Sellafield, Dounreay, La Hague, Palo Verde AZ, Yellowknife, Port Colborne, Brunsbuttel, Tokaimura, Hamaoka, Kashiwazaki Kariwa, Sierra Blanca TX, Tricastin -- highlighted links between nuclear weaponry and the so-called “peaceful atom” – as well as alerting the public to continuing risks of nuclear power for which no reliable solution has been found. To refreshed memories of leaks and meltdowns, we must now add nuclear proliferation, smuggling and terrorism. In 2005 an Al Qaeda website published an 80-page manual for making a dirty bomb. The IAEA has reported 650 cases of nuclear smuggling since 1993, with rising incidence: 100 in 2004 and 103 in 2005. Though atomic waste production has reached 10,000 kg per year, there is still no permanent storage anywhere in the world. Safety and security threats, radwaste (particularly from MOX reprocessing), and proliferation remain the unsolved problems of nuclear advocacy.

Finally, though nukes are proclaimed as “carbon neutral”, the lobbyists’ accounting of carbon emissions during mining, processing, operation, decommissioning and radwaste disposal is unworthy of trust. They are paid to underestimate and conceal.

Citizens concerned about nuclear sprawl can learn from the lobbyists’ use of professional public relations. You too must learn how to play the game. Fortunately there are many handbooks available. Three main points:
1. Look out for stories “planted” by PR firms. That is what they are paid for. They develop contacts, know the deadlines for each medium, and provide stories in the style, length and format needed. Lazy reporters (or biased editors) often run these stories virtually unchanged.
2. Answer media stories with your own information, at the appropriate length and format for each medium. Rightwing bloggers deserve one comment referring readers back to an authoritative website, but do not let yourself be drawn into unending debate with closed minds.
3. Organize your answers. Create a looseleaf speakers’ book, share it with others, add to and improve the material. Know its contents well enough that you can give a brief memorable “sound bite” in your own words. Some of the most authoritative sources for in-depth fact-checking are Mother Jones, CSPP, NIRS, CCNR, IPPNW, Union of Concerned Scientists, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Rocky Mountain Institute, Pembina Institute’s Basics on Base Load (2007); watchdogs Corpwatch, Sourcewatch, and PR watch. See also Carbon-Free and Nuclear-Free: A Roadmap for US Energy Policy by Arjun Makhijani and The Nuclear Illusion by Amory Lovins and Imran Sheikh. You should always verify your facts in at least two reliable sources. Greenpeace, FOE, Suzuki, and Pembina have useful lists of nuclear “myths”. Wikipedia should not be relied on exclusively but is a good starting point for basic information – follow its links, and then Google keywords for additional sources. Update your fact-checking at least once a month. You will be astonished at what new facts you discover.
Appendix: an incomplete list of nuclear lobbyists

International corporations, mergers and lobbyists
BNFL British Nuclear Fuels plc - purchased Westinghouse and ABB/Combustion 2002, operates Sellafield in UK
EU chemical industry lobby announced its support for the nuclear lobby
EBRD European Bank for Reconstruction and Development
Foratom – lobby within EU
GE General Electric – merged with Hitachi for $2b
NET.EXCEL – international radwaste consortium incl. state and private companies)
Donald James Johnson, sec-gen. OECD 1996-2006
Nuclear Energy Institute – lobby, with 206 members in 60 countries
OECD Nuclear Energy Association
URS San Francisco-based multinational, purchased Washington Group for $3.1b
Westinghouse – purchased by British Nuclear Fuels 2002; Toshiba bought Westinghouse from FCNL for $5.4b in 2006
World Energy Council
World Nuclear Association (note its membership list), and its World Nuclear University
Australian PM’s Task Force June 2006 – Liberal government defeated 2007
Chiang Pin-Kung, ex-ch. Council of Economic Planning & Development, Taiwan
TVO: Teollisuuden Volma, Finland
Vattenfall, Sweden
Asea Atom, Sweden
Wolfgang Clement, ex-SPD Economic Minister, Germany
Atomforum, Germany, linked to Merkel’s CDU
Ibec – Irish business lobby
Tokyo Electric and many other nuke plant operators, Japan
Toshiba - purchased Westinghouse
Mitsubishi – allied or merged with GE
Minatom and Atomstroyexport, Russia
Siemens, Germany
CGNPG, China – joint nuke plant construction with Areva, France
Jose Alberto Acevedo Monoy, of Mexico Nuclear Power Program under SENER (M of Energy)

AECL Atomic Energy Canada Ltd
Cameco – responsible for radon, uranium, arsenic and fluoride pollution at Port Hope (see the recent article in Walrus magazine)
CEA Canada Export Development Corporation
Canadian Nuclear Association
Canadian Nuclear Society - founders Rodney Anderson, Bruno Comby, Jeremy Cutlin. Current pres. Eric Williams, ex-Bruce Power, presidency changes yearly. Council: Dan Manley, Ben Reuben, Kris Mohan, Pierre Girouard, Jad Popovic and Jeremy Whitlock all of or ex-AECL; Jim Harvey of CNSC Canadian Nuclear Safety Assoc.; Ken Smith of UNECAN; Ned Alexander and Bill Schneider of Babcock & Wilcox Canada; Paul Lafreniere of CANDU Owners Group; Prabhu Kundurpi and Andrew Lee, both ex-Ontario Power Generation; Murray Stewart of World Energy Council; Syed Zaidi ex-Énergie NB Power (Point Lepreau); Mohammed Younis of NSS Nuclear Safety Solutions; John Luxat, and Dave Novog of McMaster University; Dorin Nichita of UOIT.
Jan Carr, CEO Ontario Power Authority
Stephen Harper, Conservative PM – but former Liberal PMs never refused nuclear subsidies
Ken Nash, NWMO Nuclear Waste Management Association
see also the June 08 Nuclear Renaissance wish-list and its participants

Areva, CEO Anne Lauvergeon , result of merger of Framatom and Cogema
EDF Électricité de France

David Attenborough
Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, Prime Ministers
British Nuclear Group
BNFL British Nuclear Fuels plc - purchased Westinghouse and ABB/Combustion 2002, operates Sellafield reprocessing plant, in 1990s falsified safety data for fuel shipped to Japan, privatized 2005 after leaks and radwaste scandals
British Energy CEO Bill Coley
CBI Confederation of British Industry
Chambers of Commerce, England and Scotland
Alan Duncan, Tory shadow Business Secretary
John Hutter, Business & Industry Secretary
Sir David King, science advisor to Blair and Brown
James Lovelock, Gaia environmentalist
NIREX former waste disposal agency
Nuclear Decommissioning Agency – owns British Nuclear Group ?
Oxford Research Group – James Kemp and others
Royal Association of Engineers
Spiked – rightwing bloggers and journalists; also group blog by Rob Johnson, Joe Kaplinsky, James Wondhuysen
Zero Carbon – lobby of Cambridge nuclear scientists

B&WNT Babcock & Wilcox Nuclear Technologies
Everett Becker, National Nuclear Security Administration, ex-Lockheed Martin
BKSH - PR subsidiary of Burson Marsteller
Boeing – operates Susana Field Lab with Rocketdyne/U California; the corporation, which has a longtime link with the nuclear industry, put DU as counterweight in 707 tailplanes 1960s-70s, revealed when a Korean cargo plane crashed in Sussex 1999, with about 1/3 of DU reported lost and unrecoverable at the crash site; also JIMO project under CEO Dr Joe Mills, a nuclear engineer - nuclear spaceships for NASA
BWX Technologies – subsidiary of McDermott Engineering, submarine reactors, Pantex nuclear weapons factory jointly run with Sandia Lab, Honeywell, Bechtel, Livermore
Stewart Brand, founder of Whole Earth Catalogue and the WELL
Burson Marsteller, PR agency
CASEnergy: Clean and Safe Energy – front group
Constellation Energy
Consumers Energy
Joseph Colvin of NEI
Constellation Energy – 4 plants (restructuring to reduce liability, report by Corpwatch 23 Oct 02)
John Deutch, ex-CIA director, wrote The Future of Nuclear Power
DOE Department of Energy – funds research, nuke plants and weapon development
Dominion Resources – 6 plants (restructuring to reduce liability, report by Corpwatch 23 Oct 02)
Duke Energy
Edison Electric pres. Thomas Kuhn, ex-head American Nuclear Energy Council (now NEI)
Entergy - 10 plants (restructuring to reduce liability, report by Corpwatch 23 Oct 02)
EXCEL Services – radwaste (linked to international NET.EXCEL ?)
Exelon – 10 plants (restructuring to reduce liability, report by Corpwatch 23 Oct 02)
First Energy - responsible for Davis-Besse nuke plant safety failure in Ohio
GE General Electric – merged with Hitachi for $2b
Halliburton – its Brown & Root division refuels and refits Trident submarines
Hill and Knowlton, PR agency
Ex-Sen. J Bennett Johnson - “consultant”
Dr Dale Klein, nuclear engineer, chairman US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (and other former NRC leaders)
Lyndon Larouche, perennial presidential candidate, started as a Trotskyite, now far rightwing
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory – jointly operated by U California, BWX, Bechtel, Washington Group International
Lockheed Martin
Los Alamos Nuclear Laboratory – U California (until 2006), Bechtel
Gail H Marcus, deputy director of DOE, pres. of American Nuclear Society
Richard A Meserve, chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Patrick Moore, ex-Greenpeace, leader in CASEnergy, "Greenspirit" consulting for industrial polluters
Northrop Grumman-Honeywell-Fluor consortium, which founded radwaste company Savannah River Nuclear Solutions, under CEO Chuck Munns, former Vice-Adm. US submarine force
Nuclear Energy Institute (formerly American Nuclear Energy Council) – nuke lobby, see international list
NuStart Energy consortium in MS and AL, incl. Westinghouse, GE
Potomac Communications Group – PR for NEI and utilities companies
PPI Progressive Policy Institute – Bill Clinton’s Democratic think tank, funded by rightwing Bradley Foundation

Senators Jim Webb (D-VA) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN) in Roll Call 21 Dec 2009

Shaw - joint venture with Areva to build MOX reprocessing plant in SC
TRW Parsons – radwaste consortium
University of California – Livermore, Los Alamos, Susana Field nuclear labs
Unistar, pres. Mike Wallace - joint venture with Constellation, EDF
URS San Francisco-based multinational
USAF next-generation stealth bomber to carry nukes (for “theatre war” ?) – report in 19 Dec 07
Washington Group International – engineering, mining, construction, radwaste
Westinghouse, CEO Steve Tritch – purchased by British Nuclear Fuels 2002; then
by Toshiba in 2006 for $5.4b
Christine Whitman - ex-NJ governor and Bush EPA
Winston & Strawn – lawyers, Washington

Financial advisors who tout uranium investments
James Dines
Money Week
Gerry White, UK
and many others

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