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Pedal Power solutions to petroleum dependence and polluting vehicles: Arcata Library Bikes, Pedal Power Produce, and more!

CAOE - Committee Against Oil Exploration - stop offshore oil drilling to protect sensitive habitats and cut petroleum dependence.

Culture Change through music! The Depavers eco-rock!

Take our Pledge for Climate Protection and learn about the Global Warming Crisis Council.

SEI hometown action!
Arcata city council's proclamation against war on Iraq and Kyoto Protocol proclamation.

Overpopulation has become a reality.  Overpopulation Resources and News Tidbits

Sail Transport Network

Fact Sheets
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Alternative energy index

In its newest Communique, the World Information Service on Energy (WISE) published the following article.

The U.S. Press: Top Ten Nuclear Lies 

The U.S. press has carried lots of comments over the last few months, talking of a "nuclear renaissance". Amongst the comments, WISE has noted a considerable number of untruths, many of which have been repeated time and time again and so are in danger of becoming accepted. Here WISE presents its "Top Ten Nuclear Lies" together with arguments which can be used to counter them.

WISE Amsterdam - What is most worrying is that people who know better, or have advisors who know better are responsible for many of the incorrect statements. It is understandable that journalists sometimes make mistakes in describing a subject as technical as nuclear power, but when a figure such as US Vice President Dick Cheney comes out with incorrect statements (e.g. that France has a permanent repository for its nuclear waste) this is something else.

There is a danger that nuclear lies will be repeated, quoted and re-quoted so many times that they become the truth. To try and prevent this happening, here is a list of ten common lies and misleading statements about nuclear power that WISE has noticed, and the truth behind them.

1. "Nuclear power plants emit no CO2". Cheney was quite unambiguous about this one: he told CNN on 8 May that nuclear power "doesnít emit any carbon dioxide at all". This is clearly nonsense. CO2 is emitted in all phases of the nuclear cycle, particularly in uranium mining, milling and power plant construction. If the whole fuel cycle is taken into account, nuclear power emits 4-5 times as much CO2 as renewable energy sources. Sources: CNN, 8 May 2001; Scotland climate change briefing

2. "Nuclear power is cheap." The NEI claim that the "production costs" for nuclear power are cheaper than for all other major power sources. However, production costs include only the costs for fuel, operations and maintenance. The large capital costs involved in nuclear power are not included. These costs were so high that the nuclear utilities were considered unable to compete after deregulation, and so were bailed out by consumers for their "stranded costs". That these same utilities now claim nuclear power is cheap seems beyond belief. Sources: web site, WISE News Communique 483/4.4795, "Stranded costs: California is not a sunny example", web site

3. "Nuclear waste is only produced in small quantities." Richard Rhodes, author of "Nuclear Renewal" and "The Making of the Atomic Bomb", claimed recently that "nuclear systems produce less than 1,000 metric tons of high- and low-level waste per plant per year". He clearly forgot to mention the uranium mill tailings, which are also radioactive and can amount to 100,000 metric tons per nuclear power plant per year, as can be seen from WISE Uraniumís Nuclear Fuel Balance Calculator. Sources: International Herald Tribune, 8 May 2001;

4. "The solution for nuclear waste is a single permanent repository". Cheney said, "The French do this very successfully and safely in an environmentally sound, sane manner." No country in the world has yet made a definite decision on a permanent high level waste repository - certainly not France, where they must first construct at least two laboratories to research into the possibilities. So far, they have only chosen one of the laboratory sites, at Bure, where they have dug about 40 meters of the 490-metre main access shaft as of 30 April 2001. The nuclear waste question remains the hardest question of all for the nuclear industry. Transporting it to a central repository creates extra dangers (the transports have been called "Mobile Chernobyl") while the safety of the repository has yet to be proven. Sources: CNN, 8 May 2001; web sites and

5. "Nuclear energy provides reliable electricity". It seems amazing that the NEI claims this, given that problems at Diablo Canyon and San Onofre played an important part in the California energy crisis (see WISE News Communique 542.5240, "Deregulatory disaster in California" and 543.5244, "California: Another NPP shutdown aggravates energy crisis"). Nuclear power plants are very complex and contain a lot of components that can go wrong. When they do go wrong, they are often much harder to fix than other types of power plant. Sources: web site

6. The "Pebble Bed" hype. The claims made for a new design of high-temperature reactor, the Pebble Bed Modular Reactor (PBMR), have been so exaggerated that even the IAEAís International Nuclear Safety Advisory Group has "expressed some misgivings" about the current direction of safety review. These claims include the idea that the ceramic coating of the fuel "pebbles" can take the place of a normal reactor containment building. This coating consists mostly of graphite, and must be of very high quality to contain the fuel effectively. Though graphite has a very high melting point, it can burn in air (graphite burned in the Chernobyl disaster and the 1957 Windscale fire), so it is important to exclude air from the reactor. Sources: web site; Nucleonics Week, 10 May 2001

7. "Reactors don't make bombs". Richard Rhodes, author of "The Making of the Atomic Bomb", wrote recently "no nation has developed nuclear weapons using plutonium from spent power reactor fuel". However it is a fact that the UK and France have made plutonium for weapons use in nuclear power stations. Sources: International Herald Tribune, 8 May 2001; Plutonium and Highly Enriched Uranium 1996: World Inventories, Capabilities and Policies, D. Albright et al. 1997

8. "Nuclear power is needed to fill the energy gap". The California energy crisis is often quoted as proof that nuclear power is needed. However, the crisis was caused not so much by lack of electricity but by manipulations of the electricity market. The main contribution of nuclear power stations seems to be that they failed at just the wrong moment during the crisis (see WISE News Communique 542.5240, "Deregulatory disaster in California" and 543.5244, "California: Another NPP shutdown aggravates energy crisis"). What is more, since it takes around ten years to build a nuclear power station, their role in solving short-term energy problems is limited. Source: web site

9. "Energy conservation isnít enough." This claim made by Cheney concerning the California energy crisis was criticized not just by environmentalists, but also by Californiaís governor Gray Davis. The Rocky Mountain Institute, which back in 1988 calculated that every US$100 invested in energy conservation saves one tonne more CO2 than if it were invested in nuclear power, has shown that there is still plenty of scope for energy conservation measures, both in California and elsewhere. Sources: CNN, 8 May 2001; web site

10. "Use nuclear-powered aircraft carriers". One of the more crazy ideas that surfaced recently was to connect three nuclear-powered aircraft carriers to the grid in order to solve Californiaís energy problems. The Office of Naval Reactors dismissed this suggestion, pointing out that major modifications in the shipsí hulls would be needed to redirect their output to the grid. Besides the safety implications, the 20MW of electricity generated per ship would make very little difference to Californiaís projected summer shortfall of hundreds or even thousands of megawatts. Sources: Nucleonics Week, 3 May 2001

Contact: Nuclear Information and Resource Service, 1424 16th Street NW, #404, Washington, DC 20036, USTel: +1 202 328 0002; Fax: +1 202 462 2183; web:

About WISE and for older contents see:


Articles of interest:
Anti-globalization protest grows, with tangible results.  WTO protests page

Tax fossil-fuel energy easily
by Peter Salonius

UK leader calls War on Terror "bogus"

Argentina bleeds toward healing by Raul Riutor

The oil industry has plans for you: blow-back by Jan Lundberg

It's not a war for oil? by Adam Khan

How to create a pedestrian mall by Michelle Wallar

The Cuban bike revolution

How GM destroyed the U.S. rail system excerpts from the film "Taken for a Ride".

"Iraqi oil not enough for US: Last days of America?"

Depaving the world by Richard Register

Roadkill: Driving animals to their graves by Mark Matthew Braunstein

The Hydrogen fuel cell technofix: Spencer Abraham's hydrogen dream.

Ancient Forest Protection in Northern California . Forest defenders climb trees to save them.

Daniel Quinn's thoughts on this website.

A case study in unsustainable development is the ongoing crisis in Palestine and Israel.

Renewable and alternative energy information.

Conserving energy at home (Calif. Title 24)



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