NRC's Magnificent Seven


Several weeks ago, the Crew at Fairewinds Energy Education told you about The NRC’s Magnificent Seven – electrical engineers employed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) who are putting their careers on the line to protect all of us. The courageous employees found a critical flaw in atomic power plants, which the NRC chose to ignore.  These people took the only action open to them, as private citizens they legally filed a 2.206 petition seeking action from the NRC to either enforce existing regulations for atomic power plants or shut them down.

Invited guest David Lochbaum from the Union of Concerned Scientists and Maggie and Arnie Gundersen discuss the brave seven who submitted the "put up or shut down" petition in this most recent Fairewinds podcast.

In the words David Lochbaum, taken from his All Things Nuclear blog post on the subject:

“If employees of the NRC do not trust the NRC to have acted to protect members of the public and have to petition their employer to protect the public, why should any member of the public trust the NRC to have its back (other than to have its back covered with a target)?”

Despite the nuclear industry’s best attempts to veil the threat of nuclear power, we are all familiar with the disasters at Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and Fukushima Daiichi. 

However, these three atomic catastrophes are far from being the only times that people, their homes, and neighborhoods have been irradiated due to devastating negligence on the part of nuclear corporations and its regulators. 

Check out these 10 Devastating Radiation Accidents They Never Tell You About.


Demystify Blog and Featured Book:

Public Service Announcement: Nukespeak Watch

By Maggie Gundersen and Sue Prent

We at Fairewinds think it’s time to further reframe the conversation around nuclear energy and the myths and misconceptions it perpetuates. 

For far too long, spin doctors within the nuclear energy industry have successfully obscured bad news about their product by carefully controlling the language chosen for public consumption. It is called “Nukespeak”. 

Nukespeak is the “language of euphemism and distortion—a language like ‘newspeak’ from George Orwell’s 1984—has profoundly shaped public debate about nuclear technology since its inception”, according to a summary of the book Nukespeak first published in 1982 by Sierra Club Books following the first commercial nuclear power reactor meltdown at Three Mile Island (TMI).

“After World War II, nuclear developers used information-management techniques, including official secrecy and public relations, to promote what …would supposedly power a new Golden Age. Such euphoric visions set the stage for one of the most extraordinary public-relations efforts in history: the selling of nuclear technology to the American public”, and to people around the world including the government of Japan, even though most citizens were against atomic power following the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. 

“Breaking through the linguistic filter of the nuclear mindset, it [Nukespeak] carefully documented how nuclear developers confused their hopes with reality, covered up damaging information, harassed and dismissed scientists who disagreed with official policy, and generated false or misleading statistics to bolster their assertions”, according to the summary. 

The authors of Nukespeak: Stephen Hilgartner, Richard C. Bell , and Rory O'Connor have created a seminal work that is more applicable today than ever as we face aging and leaking atomic plants all around the world and the myths of cold shutdown, SAFSTOR, and no radiation exposures to the public from operating reactors.

This is the first of many posts in which we will expose examples of Nukespeak and suggest more truthful alternatives. 

Nukespeak: When an “anniversary” is not a happy occasion.

It’s been 37 years since the Three Mile Island nuclear meltdown.  That isn’t an “anniversary,” it is a solemn remembrance, as are the days on which we remember the nuclear catastrophes at Chernobyl and Fukushima Daiichi.

“Anniversary” also frames these disasters as events that belong to the past. No atomic meltdown event will ever be “in the past,” since radioactive decay is both continuous and spontaneous and will last into perpetuity.

We suggest that these occasions should more appropriately be referred to as Days of Remembrance for their human and environmental toll, leaving “anniversaries” tocommemorate happy occasions.

Let’s change the Nukespeak by telling the truth and speaking truth to power.