Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Nuclear Energy Framed as "Carbon Free" in New York Times

There are many studies that examine carbon consumption and emissions across the entire uranium supply chain - from mining to spent fuel storage and decommissioning. Why weren't any of these studies addressed in this New York Times plug for nuclear energy?

Cardwell, Diane.Nuclear Plants, Despite Safety Concerns, Gain Support as Clean Energy Sources. The New York Times, May 31, 2016,

Nuclear power remains mired in longstanding questions over waste disposal, its safety record after the catastrophes at places like Fukushima and Chernobyl, and the potential for its plants to be converted into weapon-making factories. In spite of the lingering issues, policy makers, analysts and executives, along with a growing number of environmentalists, say that at stake is the future of the country’s largest source of clean energy.

“Nothing else comes close,” Mr. Moniz, a nuclear physicist, said at the symposium.
In an interview on Tuesday, Mr. Moniz added, “Maintaining the nuclear fleet is really important for meeting our near-term and midterm goals.”
Mr. Moniz is undoubtedly a very talented and accomplished scientist, as noted in Wikipedia

However, he is not an unbiased analyst of the nuclear supply chain. In fact, as Secretary of Energy under the Obama administration, Moniz has warned that his administration has neglected needed development of “America’s nuclear umbrella,” as reported here in The Wall Street Journal. These improvements include infrastructural repairs as well as weapons modernization:
Mr. Moniz’s Nuclear Warning: The keeper of America’s arsenal sends an S.O.S. about its deterioration. The Wall Street Journal, January 12, 2016,

Now comes a warning from U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz that the Obama Administration is neglecting America’s nuclear umbrella…  Mr. Moniz went on to note that “a majority of NNSA’s facilities and systems are well beyond end-of-life.” Also, “infrastructure problems such as falling ceilings are increasing in frequency and severity,” as more than 50% of facilities are at least 40 years old and nearly 30% date to World War II. “The entire complex could be placed at risk if there is a failure where a single point would disrupt a critical link in infrastructure.” Yet the White House is set to request only half the funding needed for facilities between 2018 and 2021.

Higher-tech parts of the system are struggling, too. “There has been a steady decline in the performance of the nuclear weapons computer codes needed to ensure the safety, security, and reliability of the nuclear stockpile,” Mr. Moniz wrote, but the current budget seeks less than a third of what’s needed, despite an executive order on “strategic computing” issued six months ago. He added that uranium-enrichment programs and satellite systems are short some $715 million.

“Failure to address these requirements in the near term,” he warned, “will put the NNSA budget in an untenable position” by fiscal 2018. Energy Department officials didn’t respond to our requests for comment.

…“Events elsewhere in the world reaffirm the seriousness of the threat environment in which we live and underscore the need for a credible nuclear security program portfolio.”
Despite his strong endorsement of nuclearity, Moniz has elsewhere recognized the significant security challenges associated with nuclear waste, as illustrated in his comments here:
Secretary Moniz's Remarks on “A Look Back on the Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future” at the Bipartisan Policy Center -- As Delivered. Energy.Gov, March 24, 2015,

As we address spent nuclear fuel, however, we also must, at the same time, provide for the final disposal of wastes from past nuclear weapons activities.  Although there’s a far smaller amount of waste, serious challenges – technical, environmental and budgetary – remain. 
The nuclear umbrella is ridden with attendant nuclear insecurities.

Why is the New York Times relying on Moniz alone as their authority about nuclear and carbon emissions and WHY ABOVE ALL ELSE is the New York Times asserting that nuclear power does NOT produce green house gas emissions when IN FACT THE ENTIRE NUCLEAR SUPPLY CHAIN is very carbon intensive and nuclear PPs produce Krypton-85 which has been identified as a potential greenhouse gas by the EPA and will be regulated (see here:

In closing, I simply wonder at the extent of green house gasses produced building and “decommissioning” Fukushima Daiichi?


  1. Pure insanity by the same people who brought us Iraq and never ending war. Too bad no one will sue them. I do not even look at the New York times if it is free at a bar or coffee shop. Devils propaganda rag.

  2. ‘Universities Are an Absolute Wreck Right Now’

  3. Well, carbon is the big enemy. I am sure some people imagine a carbon free planet as ideal. Obama speaks of nuclear power as clean energy. The NYT was never the great paper it wished to be seen as; but now is a collection of worthless opinions and false news. There is no known way to deal with all the nuclear waste. Why create more? Even if there were the on going radiation is way too dangerous. It represents an ultimate stupidity.

  4. you nailed it, on several accounts, Majia. Moniz is biased and apparently unable to correctly value high risk while fanning his desire to create longevity. He isn't using a complete assessment model. As is usual for nuclear pushers and their political enablers.