Despite it being a complete fiction, it looks like the meme of nuclear power being a ‘clean’ energy source is taking hold in the media. The latest news outlet to pass on the virus is Bloomberg…
China Guangdong Nuclear Power Group Co., the nation’s second-biggest builder of atomic plants, received state approval to construct two reactors in the southern province of Guangxi to boost supply of clean energy.
…but you don’t have to look too hard to see how far the infection has spread. When even the US’s Environmental Protection Agency refers to nuclear power as ‘clean’ you can see how deeply the idea is entrenched.
How has this happened and why? Are the journalists writing these pieces pro-nuclear and so smuggling their viewpoint (whether subconsciously or not) into their copy? Or are the words ‘clean energy’ being copied and pasted from nuclear industry PR(opaganda)? We’d genuinely like to know.
Where has the idea come from if not from industry misinformation? In this context, ‘clean’ has become synonymous with ‘low carbon’ and is leading to nuclear power gaining a reputation it has neither earned nor deserves. In the minds of these journalists, the nuclear story seems to begin and end with the idea of a nuclear power plant that produces no CO2 emissions.
That, however, conveniently ignores the contamination and pollution caused by uranium mining, the tonnes of CO2 produced by manufacturing nuclear fuel and building reactors, the various leaks and accidents, and the tonnes of highly dangerous radioactive waste from those reactors for which we still have no solution. Saying the energy produced by a nuclear reactor is 'clean' is at best shortsighted and at worst downright misleading.
If something looks too good to be true, it usually is. Journalists need to look further than industry press releases and the word of nuclear boosters. If they want to write propaganda for the industry then they should quit their jobs and go and work there.