Just The Facts

"Just The Facts" sets the record straight on the many myths about nuclear energy that appear in the media. Both proactively, and as part of a rapid response campaign, Beyond Nuclear will draw upon the 2014 World Nuclear Industry Status Report (and where necessary on prior editions and other sources) to set the record straight using empirical data. Nuclear propaganda is replete with plans and promises. The reality on the ground paints a very different story. This page presents the reality, not the myths. .................................................................................................................................................................................................................

What's on the nuclear industry reprocessing cheat sheet?

As referenced below, a series of articles using in some cases identical, and often near-identical, message points have appeared in publications across the country. Clearly pulled from a nuclear industry handout, we took a look at the authors' phraseology. Here are some examples:




1. Reprocessing as "recycling."

"France uses recycling to obtain 80% of its electricity from nuclear power". Paul Steinmeyer, The Day, September 14, and The Hartford Courant, September 16.

"France uses recycling to obtain 80% of its electricity from nuclear power." William B. Reed, Montgomery Advertiser (September 13) and Huntsville Times (September 18.)

"France successfully recycles its used fuel to produce 75 percent of its electricity from nuclear power." Ivan Maldonado, The Tennessean, September 21.

"France recycles used fuel from its 54 nuclear plants to obtain 75 percent of its electricity from nuclear power." Howard Shaffer, Concord Monitor, September 24.

"Today France – which obtains 75 percent of its electricity from nuclear power. . . " Henry B. Spitz, Cincinnati Enquirer, September 25.

"Nearly 75 percent of France’s electricity is produced from used nuclear fuel that has been recycled." Barry Butterfield, Lincoln Journal Star, September 27.

"France today generates 80 percent of its electricity needs with nuclear power, much of it generated through recycling." William F. Shugart II, Forbes magazine, October 1.

2. "Used fuel" is "valuable," not "waste."

"Used fuel should not be confused with nuclear waste. It contains tens of billions of dollars worth of valuable plutonium and uranium." Steinmeyer.

"Still referred to as waste, used fuel contains valuable nuclear materials."  Reed.

"Often mistakenly referred to as nuclear waste, used fuel contains valuable nuclear materials." Maldonado.

"Recycling is a way to re-use the valuable resources in used nuclear fuel to produce more nuclear-generated electricity." Spitz.

“Those countries realized that spent fuel is a valuable asset, not simply waste.” Shugart.

"Used fuel is a clean energy source that has valuable nuclear materials." Butterfield.

3. No link between reprocessing and nuclear weapons production.

“No country has ever developed the capability to produce nuclear weapons from the recycling of used nuclear fuel.” Shaffer.

“The fact is, no nuclear materials have ever been diverted from recycling for weapons production.” Reed.

The reality is that no nuclear materials ever have been obtained from the spent fuel of a nuclear power plant.” Shugart.


Forbes and others buy nuclear industry cookie cutter falsehoods

Did the nuclear industry’s PR mavens suddenly issue a cheat sheet on reprocessing? It certainly looks like it. So far we’ve counted nine almost identical, and equally erroneous, articles under seven different by-lines, but we're still counting. Why they would choose to beat the reprocessing dead horse, however, is intriguing given that even the Department of Energy’s Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future rejected it. All of them spout the same falsities and all substitute the word “recycling” for “reprocessing”. There’s William F. Shugart II’s article in Forbes and Paul Steinmeyer in The Hartford Courant and The Day (10 “recyclings” each). Then there’s Henry B. Spitz in the Cincinnati Enquirer (five “recyclings”); Ivan Maldonado in The Tennessean (6 “recyclings”); Howard Shaffer in the Concord Monitor (7 “recyclings”); Barry Butterfield in the Lincoln Journal Star (only 3 “recyclings); William B. Reed in the Huntsville Times (10 "recyclings") and the Montgomery Advertiser get the picture. As the 2014 World Nuclear Industry Status Report (pg. 125) shows us, reprocessing has proven a costly burden on the French utility, EDF, and has thrown it into pitched battle with French nuclear corporation, Areva, also largely a government entity. The only thing getting “recycled” is this propaganda piece which newspapers and magazines everywhere are blithely lapping up. You can read our reply to the Forbes article here.


Sorry Mr. Conca, but nuclear power is NOT growing

In the first installation of our series, Just The Facts, we respond to an erroneous article full of nuclear industry spin, penned by James Conca in the September 25, 2014 Forbes magazine column -- The Nuclear Weapons States: Who Has Them and How Many. His lead? "Nuclear energy is growing around the word." (It should be noted that Conca works in the nuclear industry and remains a booster for the Waste Isolation Pilot Project atomic weapons waste dump even after the accident that will close WIPP for at least several more years.)  Among the points we made in our response to Conca: there are 50 fewer plants operating now than at the 2002 peak; even if the 67 reactors under construction complete by 2020 (unlikely, given delays and soaring costs), installed nuclear capacity will still drop; the global nuclear market share has in fact decreased; and meanwhile installed capacity for renewables is soaring. Please consider forwarding our full response to your local reporters. Read our full rebuttal.

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