May 4, 2013

NBC News’ article, ‘A very fragile situation’: Leaks from Japan’s wrecked nuke plant raise fears, is too disappointing for words. It is clearly intended to feed pre-existing fears using scary speculation, served with an appetizer of uncertainty and a hearty entre of doubt. The journalistic meal hit the table running.  In the second sentence, the writer says the plant is so fragile it “could even start to break apart during a cleanup process expected to take years.” This is clearly intended to provoke fear. There is no basis for the statement other than unfounded speculation! Next, the article says the recent IAEA inspection of Fukushima Daiichi was held because recent “leaks, power outages and other glitches have raised fears”. It is little more than a twisting of the truth. The visit had been planned for months, long before these recent events. Fear, once again, seems to be at the root. Then, the article adds that the recent WHO report on F. Daiichi says baby boys have a 7% greater chance of leukemia and baby girls a 6% greater risk of breast cancer. However, WHO concluded there will be “no discernible increase in health risks” and “no observable increases in cancer above natural variation”. Regardless, the cancer risk statement reeks of uncertainty and doubt.

Next, NBC news immediately goes off the deep end by citing John Large of Greenpeace at length. They pose him as an expert because he spoke before British Parliament and writes on Fukushima for Greenpeace. He’s actually a confirmed antinuke who makes a living scaring people about nuclear energy. Regardless, Large tells us robots “normally” could easily move about and clean things up, but not at Fukushima because of tsunami and quake damage. There are no other nuke plants, other than F. Daiichi, requiring use of robots to clean things up. He’s clearly playing on ignorance of the audience to make his point seem realistic. He next says that the plant is too close to the water table and in-leakage can’t be stopped. Although it makes no sense, he says the un-stopped in-leakage proves radioactivity cannot be contained and that the buildings at Fukushima will collapse because they were not designed for radioactive containment, “Until you can stop that transfer, you will not contain the radioactivity. That will go on for years and years until they contain it. The structures of containment start breaking down. Engineered structures don’t last long when they are put in adverse conditions.” He further contends Fukushima girls will never find husbands, “It may have some marked effect on the health of future generations in Japan. What it will create is a Fukushima generation — like in Nagasaki and Hiroshima -where girls particularly will have difficulty marrying because of the stigma of being brought up in a radiation area.” Plus, Mr. Large contends the recent minor leaks will only add to contamination on-shore because tiny radioactive particles will wash onto beaches, dry, and be blown around by the wind. Assumption sautéed in speculation and served over a platter of FUD.

But, NBC news doesn’t stop there. They next present the biased views of Ms. Hisayo Takada, a Greenpeace-Japan energy campaigner and source of the headline’s “fragile” assertion. She says, “It’s still a very fragile situation and measures implemented by the government and [power company] TEPCO are only temporary solutions. The issue with the contaminated water is very serious and we’re very concerned. And we’re very angry because it’s been two years and they’ve been saying that everything’s safe. The land and sea will never return to the way it was before the accident.” Fukushima fear, uncertainty and doubt all rolled into a nice, neat package.

It must be noted that NBC news “balances” the above by citing a spokesman for NEI, but everything in his quotes concern American nukes and the safety upgrades made since Fukushima. The article posts nothing from the NEI spokesman about the situation at Fukushima itself. Did NBC even ask him about Fukushima? It seems they did not. That’s not journalistic balance – it’s no more than convenient deflection from the topic at hand!

Asking Greenpeace about Fukushima is tantamount to asking Al Qaida about America. Greenpeace has been spreading rhetorical terrorism for decades. They want the world to be afraid of nuclear energy, using uncertainty and doubt as the cornerstones of their assault. NBC should be ashamed for such a one-sided, speculation-packed report. This NBC article is full of FUD.