Inside the slow and dangerous clean up of the Fukushima nuclear crisis

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JUDY WOODRUFF: Now we take you to a place that garnered headlines around the world three years ago, but has hardly been seen since, because it’s so dangerous.

Is it possible to make a negative $ contribution to PBS? The February 28th PBS Newshour on Fukushima is shocking. Imagine a script written by Arnie Gunderson and Helen Caldicot, designed to create maximum fear and anxiety. 

Hiroshima Syndrome has posted a March 4th critique titled PBS Fukushima Report is Fear-mongering at its Worst which begins:

The February 28 PBS report, Inside the slow and dangerous clean up of the Fukushima nuclear crisis, is fear-mongering at its most disturbing extreme. The obvious intent is to scare and upset the viewer with exaggeration, innuendo, and thinly-veiled conspiracy theory, all predicated on proliferating fear, uncertainty and doubt. (FUD) There seems to have been little or no effort towards rational informing of the viewers.

Even the lead-in by anchor Judy Woodruff drips with fear and doubt, “Now we take you to a place that garnered headlines around the world three years ago, but has hardly been seen since, because it’s so dangerous.” Hardly seen since? Who is she trying to kid? Fukushima has been in the Japanese Press every day for three years, and the internet has been inundated with apocalyptic scenarios made by leading international antinukes on a regular basis. Plus, what about the Fukushima radioactivity reporting coming out of the Pacific coastline of North America the past two months? “Hardly seen”? Give me a break. In addition, the implication that the Press in Japan isn’t covering Fukushima “because it’s so dangerous” is a complete fabrication! They are all over it… like white on rice.

The report itself begins with end-of-the-world insinuations by PBS’ Miles O’Brien, when he says the evacuation zone around F. Daiichi “remains a post-apocalyptic landscape of abandoned towns, frozen in time. We were on our way to one of the most hazardous places on Earth, the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.” Who wrote the script? Harvey Wasserman? Arnie Gundersen? Helen Caldicott? This is straight out of the antinuclear persuasion’s “Fukushima 101” rhetorical guidelines. The apocalyptic beginning follows with a quote from the plant manager posed in a fashion that makes it seem as if he is not taking his job seriously enough, “After all, if you are just cleaning up after an accident, there is a lack of quality, meaning speed is the only concern. I feel that isn’t enough. We need to look ahead, 30 to 40 years.”

Next comes two misleading statements – “Engineers believe some of the nuclear fuel has melted right through the steel containment vessels on to a concrete basement floor, where it is exposed to groundwater.” (Which it isn’t) – “As the ground water passes through the pump, it gets mixed in with the contaminated water that is used to cool the melted-down cores.” (What is O’Brien talking about? What pump? How is the pump mixing the waters? Is he making this up, or does he simply not have a clue?)

Read the whole thing…

5 thoughts on “Inside the slow and dangerous clean up of the Fukushima nuclear crisis

  1. Jeff Walther

    NPR has, on occasion, used UCS representatives to provide their “neutral view” in stories about energy or nuclear electricity generation. I would not be surprised if PBS let UCS write the script or provide a list of talking points for this hatchet job. In any case, it was unprofessional and useless reporting — I won’t stoop to call it journalism.

  2. Steve Darden Post author

    Yikes – UCS as “neutral view”? NPR must be way left of the political center (we are in NZ). There was no evidence in transcript that they ever talked to a real nuclear engineer or other authoritative source.

  3. Jeff Walther

    Hey, it says right on their website that UCS is neutral with respect to nuclear electricity generation, so it must be so, right?

  4. Jeff Walther

    My favorite parody of their name is “Union of Corrupt Shills”. Unfortunately, a large portion of the public will give any NGO with a self-declared mission to “protect the environment” or as a “watchdog” more than the benefit of the doubt and assume that they are honestly working for the public good.

    Sadly, this assumption is utterly false in today’s (and yesterday’s) world of disguising political action money behind neutral seeming front organizations. But just try to tell people that Greenpeace should be suspected rather than respected and see how far you get. Sigh.

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