Defenders of the Atom, or, Nuclear Spring

On the first  Monday morning after the Friday, March 11 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear accident in Japan, in the suburbs of Richmond, Virginia, the alarm clocks undoubtedly went off early.

Completely fake parody ad

But nobody was going to beat William Tucker to the punch. He’d been burning the midnight oil over the weekend so that at midnight Monday, a “nothing to see here” editorial would be ready.

Across a weary nation, businessmen and businesswomen awakened, rubbed their puffy eyes trying to adjust to daylight savings time, tapped cold bedroom floors for slippers and grabbed robes from the hook on the wall by the closet. Upon returning from the bathroom, ablutions completed, readers were presented with the following fast-tracked op-ed in Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal:

MARCH 14, 2011

Japan Does Not Face Another Chernobyl
The containment structures appear to be working, and the latest reactor designs aren’t vulnerable to the coolant problem at issue here.


Even while thousands of people are reported dead or missing, whole neighborhoods lie in ruins, and gas and oil fires rage out of control, press coverage of the Japanese earthquake has quickly settled on the troubles at two nuclear reactors as the center of the catastrophe.

Rep. Ed Markey* (D., Mass.), a longtime opponent of nuclear power, has warned of “another Chernobyl” and predicted “the same thing could happen here.” In response, he has called for an immediate suspension of licensing procedures for the Westinghouse AP1000, a “Generation III” reactor that has been laboring through design review at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for seven years.

* AKA the “Boogieman” or the “Straw Man” in the argument.

Before we respond with such panic, though, it would be useful to review exactly what is happening in Japan and what we have to fear from it.

Editorial Board Member Mary Kissel explains the Japanese response to the quake.†

† As I said, the subcontracted, sublet, ‘farmed out’ portion of the piece. Usually an indication of haste, or ‘team’ writing on breaking opinion stories.

The core of a nuclear reactor operates at about 550 degrees Fahrenheit, well below the temperature of a coal furnace and only slightly hotter than a kitchen oven. If anything unusual occurs, the control rods immediately drop, shutting off the nuclear reaction. You can’t have a “runaway reactor,” nor can a reactor explode like a nuclear bomb. A commercial reactor is to a bomb what Vaseline is to napalm. Although both are made from petroleum jelly, only one of them has potentially explosive material.‡

‡ The institutional equivalent — going back to every single nuclear policy debate going back to the “Our Friend The Atom” days of the 1950s — of the parental lecture of youth that begins with “Now, you know that we love you, but …” In this case, the “but” is “you’re ridiculous for being afraid of Our Friend, Mr. Atom!

As predictable as the tides, a venerable and requisite preamble to any discussion of Nuclear Power, it is meant to be comforting.

However, the comforting that now begins seems rather uncomfortable in retrospect:

Once the reactor has shut down, there remains “decay heat” from traces of other radioactive isotopes. This can take more than a week to cool down, and the rods must be continually bathed in cooling waters to keep them from overheating.

On all Generation II reactors—the ones currently in operation—the cooling water is circulated by electric pumps. The new Generation III reactors such as the AP1000 have a simplified “passive” cooling system where the water circulates by natural convection with no pumping required….

And the Wall Street Journal would like to interrupt this “pooh-pooh” article for a Sham-Wow Commercial.

I am not making this up. The Ap1000™ (trademarked) is ALSO ® (registered) as you can see from their webpage:

The Westinghouse AP1000 webpage

Nothing like Product Placement in an editorial warning against nuclear panic.


THE AP1000™® — Even Saferer! (SM)

So, who the heck is William Tucker that Murdochian lackeys would awaken him in the middle of the night to get an editorial out by midnight Monday morning? Well, he’s a contributor for the American Spectator, that magazine founded by Richard Mellon Scaife to push the “Arkansas Project” that pushed “Troopergate” and the Paula Jones story that ultimately resulted in the shameful impeachment of President Clinton (now owned by Tom Phillips of “Eagle Publishing” whose Regnery Press first published Ann Coulter, Michelle Malkin, et al, etcetera, ad infinitum. From their website:


William Tucker

William Tucker is the author of Terrestrial Energy: How Nuclear Power Will Lead the Green Revolution and End America’s Energy Odyssey and editor-at-large at Nuclear Townhall.

And a short catalog of his articles on the American Spectator site gives a quick snapshot of a partisan smear merchant, who, when he’s not bashing liberals and “Obamacare” relentlessly shills nuclear energy and pooh-poohs all other forms of alternative energy [emphasis added]:

A quick look at Nuclear Townhall (launched on June 22, 2010) reveals a Drudge Report clone site, filled with happy nuke news and attacks on critics. Some current articles:

(top of the page)

TIM ECHOLS: Get Feds Out Of Nuclear Storage Business

JEFFREY MERRIFIELD: Keep Calm And Carry On With Nuclear Energy

BARRY BRUSS: We’ll Need More Nuclear Power Plants If We Wish To Prosper

PHILIP BOWRING: Nuclear or Coal?

DES MOINES REGISTER: Don’t Overreact to Japan’s Nuclear Crisis

BRIAN BILBRAY: Science, Not Fear, Should Drive America’s Energy Policies

Other stuff (not exhaustive, just symptomatic):

Exposed Workers Okay — Released from Hospital with ‘Clean Bill of Health’

Japan: No Report Of Pressure Vessel Damage

New Video Shows Extent Of Fukushima Challenges

Plutonium Traces ‘quite low and do not pose an immediate health risk’

Seawater Radiation Levels Down

Oh, and remember to “Support the nuclear movement, donate to Nuclear Townhall.” Here’s an ad from the site:

And here’s another ad (with the caption underneath “Support Our Advertisers, Support Nuclear Townhall“):

And another:

And perhaps the most important ad on the site, which I’ll explain in a minute:

Because that’s who launched Nuclear Townhall (cloning Drudge in their indolence). From their launch page:

… Altogether, we think it’s a tremendously exciting format and we hope you will visit often. The Nuclear Renaissance is coming. We intend to be a big part of it.

Steve Hedges
Managing Editor

About Steve Hedges:

Steve Hedges has broad Washington and international experience as a journalist, communications strategist and issues management expert. He is currently CEO of Hedges Strategies, a Washington D.C.-base media strategy business.

Uh, try public relations firm. P.R. meaning, making sure your employer’s point of view predominates, whether true or not. It continues:

As a national reporter for more than 25 years, Steve has worked at some of the best news organizations in the country. He has won the Overseas Press Club Award, the Lincoln Award and the Sigma Delta Chi Award during his 12-year tenure at U.S. News & World Report. He then joined the investigative team at the Chicago Tribune where was part of a team that won the Pulitzer Prize in 2001 for exposing air safety concerns at O’Hare international Airport.

His journalism career included the coverage of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on Washington and New York and the subsequent inquiry into the intelligence failures that led to those strikes. As a Pentagon correspondent, Steve covered the hunt for al-Qaida in Eastern Europe; the invasion of Afghanistan; the Iraq War as well as natural disasters such as the Asian Tsunami and Hurricane Katrina.

Steve has in-depth experience with Congress, the White House and a wide variety of federal agencies including the Government Accountability Office; the departments of State, Agriculture, Energy, Commerce, Transportation and Defense; the Federal Aviation Administration; Food and Drug Administration; Department of Agriculture and key law enforcement and intelligence agencies, including the FBI and CIA.

Contact Us:

Sounds like somebody got laid off or bought out and was hired by the nuclear industry doesn’t it? Well, it worked for Christine Todd Whitman, who went from shilling for Bush’s anti-environmental agenda as the head of EPA to shilling for the “safety” of nuclear energy.

Remember to Duck and Cover

Why not? Christine Todd Whitman seems to have made a nice living at it for years. They even set up an astroturf group for her, too. Along with the bogus “co-founder of GreenPeace” — who is nothing of the sort. (I will go into this whole radioactive rabbithole in a future column.)

go here for CSPAN video and transcript

Just for now, just think …

And remember to buy lots of them AP1000®™ reactors. They’re super-duper safe, clean, efficient and will give you whiter teeth, relieve your erectile dysfunction and make you happy and allergy-free!!

After all, you can trust P.R. shilling for nuclear energy. It’s the best public relations that money can buy. So it must be true, right?

Funny thing, though….

Godzilla – fallout poster child

They’ve continued lying just about every damned day since the earthquake/tsunami:

  • the first words out of the Japanese Prime Minister’s mouth after the disaster were that the nuclear power plants were safe (which almost undoubtedly meant that he KNEW about the problem)
  • the idea that Japanese radiation would ever reach the USA were pooh-poohed.
  • then we were and are being told that it’s fine, no problem, REFLEXIVELY, with each and every story. (Except that we were told by the same flim-flam, er, PR shills that it wouldn’t ever show up in the USA. Now, they’ve found traces in rainwater from Washington state and California to Colorado and Massachusetts, etc. And so on and so forth.)
  • today, this column was resurrected from my drafts folder after hearing this morning’s long “you’re all just assholes” piece on NPR talking about Godzilla, the classic ’50s giant ant movie “Them” and even Spiderman and the rewrite of Captain America for the upcoming movie, wherein Steve Rogers somehow gets his powers via radiation (not the original origin story, BTW)
  • Every story you hear in media contains the obligatory BS rejoinder that everything is totally safe.

This last is no accident. There’s an army of PR shills out there, pushing for what Nuclear Townhall calls the “Nuclear Renaissance.” (William “Bill” Tucker has pages and pages on it at Nuclear Townhall.)

Some renaissance.

So, at a minimum, please QUIT TRYING TO COMFORT US and allaying our legitimate fears. So far, every damned “fact” that’s come out to “comfort” us has turned out to be bogus. Capisce?

And NPR? When you mock people’s unease with a report on how radioactive bananas are, you only make yourselves look like fools.

But then again, NPR just reported that radiation levels are 3,000 times normal, but “there’s no danger.”

Yeah. Right. Sure.

You might not want to read this headline from yesterday, then: “Japan may have lost race to save nuclear reactor.

The Nuclear shills might want to dial back Nuclear Spring a little, lest there be a nuclear fall.

Or, worse, a nuclear winter.

Because the first rule of holes suggests that when you find yourself in one, STOP DIGGING.



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About Hart Williams

Mr. Williams grew up in Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas and New Mexico. He lived in Hollywood, California for many years. He has been published in The Washington Post, The Kansas City Star, The Santa Fe Sun, The Los Angeles Free Press, Oui Magazine, New West, and many, many more. A published novelist and a filmed screenwriter, Mr. Williams eschews the decadence of Hollywood for the simple, wholesome goodness of the plain, honest people of the land. He enjoys Luis Buñuel documentaries immensely.
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