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Re: [cdn-nucl-l] Request of dialogue between the nuclear industry and its critics
In his email requesting a dialogue, Mr. Adams makes several interesting
He writes, "The Canadian public should have little confidence that licensees
will live up to their legal obligation in taking security risks seriously
because....". Mr. Adams seems to be doing everything in his power to make
this a reality.
He writes, "The opinions expressed on this litserv by representatives of the
nuclear industry....". Even though he has been reminded repeatedly, Mr.
Adams appears to forget that while some of us may be employees within the
nuclear industry, we are not representatives of that industry. Others are
not even employed within the nuclear industry.
He writes, "this listserv has accumulated many comments from nuclear
industry representatives emotionally expressing unsubstantiated subjective
condemnations of....". Is this a case of the pot calling the kettle....?
Transference perhaps? And again the same forgetfulness.
He writes, "The emotional, dismissive responses these ideas have received
suggest that within the culture of....". More transference? Pot calling
the kettle....? etc., etc...
He writes, "emotionally expressing unsubstantiated subjective condemnations
of the people associated with Energy Probe. We
have been described as "not that bright", "very angry", "sophomoric"....".
And then he states, "For a bunch of smart guys, your industry is remarkably
stupid on....". And then he claims that he apologized for that. But did he
really apologize? I don't think so. He apologized, not for writing it, but
if any feelings were hurt.
I could go on and on and on, but what's the point? He also writes, "replace
all the nuclear energy with nasty coal (which Energy Probe is working to
shut down too)....". And this man wants to have a Dialogue? Yeah, right.
Give me a break.
----- Original Message -----
From: "Tom Adams" <TomAdams@nextcity.com>
To: "CNS listserv" <firstname.lastname@example.org.McMaster.CA>
Sent: Monday, February 04, 2002 12:18 PM
Subject: [cdn-nucl-l] Request of dialogue between the nuclear industry and
> The purpose of this note is to try to capture some lessons from the
> previous month's exchanges between pros and EP. At the outset, I want to
> reassure you that I am working on replies to two previous questions
> Jeremy put to me, one requesting references for India's tritium sources
> and another one seeking clarification of Energy Probe's support for a
> range of nuclear technologies. I was too abrupt in replying to his
> request on India's tritium supplies, for which I apologize.
> From Jeremy's 1 Feb 2002 posting, it appears that he doesn't understand
> the legal structure for nuclear regulation in Canada. Contrary to his
> statement that the "CNSC is responsible for safety & security at nuclear
> facilities", in our system, licensees are responsible for safety and
> security. In the U.S., the regulatory system is closer to what he has
> described. In the case of the risk posed by nuclear plants as weapons
> for the enemy, his statement inadvertently illustrates one of the gaps
> in Canada's regulatory regimes for nuclear technology. The Canadian
> public should have little confidence that licensees will live up to
> their legal obligation in taking security risks seriously because of
> their conflicted interests. The opinions expressed on this litserv by
> representatives of the nuclear industry, particularly since the Bush
> State of the Union address, reinforce this view.
> In the last month, this listserv has accumulated many comments from
> nuclear industry representatives emotionally expressing unsubstantiated
> subjective condemnations of the people associated with Energy Probe. We
> have been described as "not that bright", "very angry", "sophomoric",
> and terrorist collaborators who "must be held responsible". Before you
> dismiss Energy Probe's thinking, you might reflect on our record of
> accurately forecasting a variety of business developments in Canada's
> energy economy. I would suggest that Energy Probe's forecasting record
> (particularly Norm Rubin's record) is impressive even without comparing
> it to the business forecasting record of AECL, NB Power, Ontario Hydro,
> and OPG which has been systematically wrong in the same direction, in
> some cases for many decades.
> Several times, I have been asked to explain why I am participating on
> this listserv. I am here to test ideas. Examples of ideas I have offered
> for testing include the non-viability of a hydrogen economy, the weapons
> proliferation risks inherent in nuclear technology proliferation, the
> acute risk of terrorism threats to nuclear facilities, and the proven
> unprofitable nature of nuclear investments. The emotional, dismissive
> responses these ideas have received suggest that within the culture of
> Canada's nuclear industry, these concerns are not considered worthy of
> serious discussion. The pro-nuclear replies reveal more about nuclear
> anthropology than they do about technical or policy issues. The
> anthropological picture the nuclear representatives have painted of
> yourselves is not flattering. Some of your team mates even dismiss
> factual statements about AECL's history as "offensive". As illustrated
> by its response to criticisms on this listserv, Bill Farlinger's
> description the nuclear industry as a "cult" in 1997 continues to have
> some application.
> When criticized, on almost any subject it seems, the reaction currently
> in fashion among pro-nuclear circles is to reply that nuclear power
> generation doesn't contributed GHGs or other air quality problems. While
> this statement on its own is obviously true, the ability of nuclear's
> favourable conventional emissions profile to rescue otherwise non-viable
> nuclear investments relies on two arguments: first that nuclear's other
> drawbacks, particularly proliferation, reactor safety, and waste, are
> not serious drawbacks on top of bad economics; and, second that nuclear
> energy options have superior cost-effectiveness relative to other
> no-carbon or low-carbon energy strategies. Nuclear fails on both
> accounts. Imagine if we could achieve a fanciful tradeoff: replace all
> the nuclear energy with nasty coal (which Energy Probe is working to
> shut down too) and in return all nuclear technology could be permanently
> withdrawn from military use. Almost any rational person would accept
> such a deal. As for emissions, nuclear's problem and the world's relief
> is that there are some very low cost, ultra-low-carbon strategies out
> there (see for example,
> that we should fully develop long before we even consider more nuclear.
> On the question of netiquette, Morgan Brown of AECL, who posted
> netiquette guidelines for this listserv (14 Jan 2002) understands
> clearly the distinction between business and personal email, as
> illustrated by his 17 Jan 2002 posting. Morgan didn't think that there
> would ever be confusion that the former category applies to email
> exchanges on nuclear policy matters between representatives of Energy
> Probe and AECL. On this issue, Morgan is eminently sensible. Jeremy, the
> one time I asked your permission to publish some of your emails to me
> was to give you the opportunity to withdraw remarks made in the heat of
> the moment that I thought you might want to reconsider eg. the bombing
> of Osirak was arguably the "best thing to ever happen to the Iraqi
> nuclear bomb program".
> In a previous posting, I made a comment that, though not intended to be
> offensive, could have been interpreted that way. The comment was: "The
> world needs the expertise of you and your team mates in the nuclear
> industry, but we need to direct your work in ways that sustain life
> here. That is, we need your help cleaning up the ecological, economic,
> and security disasters the nuclear industry has played such an important
> role in creating. Before that can happen, the nuclear industry has to
> start grasping some basic facts of life about subjects ranging from
> economics, decision making in conditions of uncertainty, regulatory
> theory, and proliferation. For a bunch of smart guys, your industry is
> remarkably stupid on many of life's basics." This comment was
> indelicately stated and I apologize if any feelings were hurt by my
> comment. An example some of you might know of might better explain my
> intention. Lorne McConnell was (hopefully he is still with us and
> active) a brilliant nuclear engineer. He worked for 35 years to
> contribute to Ontario's electricity supply and received a professional
> engineers' gold medal. However, in hindsight we now know that he was
> also a disastrous business manager, having played a key role in getting
> Ontario hooked on uneconomic nuclear generation. He also participated
> in, and was perhaps particularly responsible for, deliberately
> misinforming the Ontario legislature on Darlington costs in 1985, using
> tricks of financial reporting to inflate by about 100% the investment
> then sunk in Darlington. McConnell was an extraordinarily smart guy who
> made some avoidable mistakes that will take Ontario at least a
> generation to pay for.
> There are rich lessons for nuclear policy in the McConnell experience.
> The nuclear industry is a brain trust, highly motivated to do good
> science. As history shows, good science in a bad context can achieve
> worse ends than just wasting scientific talent (which is bad enough).
> Ontario Hydro's effective bankruptcy in 1997 and AECL's failure to make
> its Candu program ever achieve a positive cash flow let alone a positive
> return on investment are both subsets of the general failure of the
> nuclear industry to achieve a net contribution to society. This failure
> is attributable to a range of factors. One factor that I think is
> particularly important in contributing to this failure is the
> self-referential nature of policy and business thinking within the
> industry. Despite their track record, the industry's marketing documents
> are treated by industry representatives as useful guides to the future.
> External input from parties like Energy Probe with a proven forecasting
> record is not welcome or given serious consideration.
> Another contributing factor the nuclear's demise appears to be ignorance
> about key elements of nuclear history. Some postings here have suggested
> that some of AECL's own employees may not be aware of its historic role
> funding corruption in client countries.
> Another reason for participating on the listserv was a hope that my
> participation might in some way be informative for you. I continue to
> believe that dialogue and mutual education is needed between the nuclear
> industry and its critics. Such a dialogue might contributed to more
> effectively dealing with some pressing problems, like waste management
> and protection nuclear facilities from terrorists. However, my
> experience on this listserv suggests that realizing this dream may still
> be some way off. I would be delighted to be proven wrong. However, the
> emotional reaction my postings have received doesn't bode well.
> Tom Adams,
> Energy Probe
> cdn-nucl-l mailing list