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ETU hits back at radio shock-jock Steve Price’s wilful ignorance

Nicholas McCallum

MEDIA RELEASE: Friday 5 July, 2019             

There are many myths and misconceptions about nuclear power and its benefits being pushed by radio shock-jock Steve Price that have no basis in fact.

The Electrical Trades Union has a strong anti-nuclear stance that was developed by veterans returning from the horrors of World War II and more recent episodes of nuclear-related disasters have only reinforced this strong opposition policy.

In an effort to communicate the union’s well-informed concerns, ETU National Secretary Allen Hicks tried to speak with 2GB’s Price on-air only to be hit with a barrage of wilful ignorance before the call was terminated.

The ETU would like to know why Price was so insistent on pushing complete lies or utter falsehoods about nuclear power’s dangers to people and the environment while denying the facts of its true costs.

Price should also come clean on his trip to Fukushima, Japan, and reveal who covered his expenses.

If Price is not being wilfully ignorant and indeed pushing these many dangerous lies about nuclear power, questions about his ties and interests to the industry must be answered.

Here are the facts on nuclear power:

Price said Japan’s nuclear disasters in Fukushima “was hit by a tsunami that had nothing to do with anything to do with the reactor… and had no impact on anybody living in that area”.

If not wilful ignorance, this is a disgraceful lie that denies justice for the victims, many of whom are the people the ETU is defending – workers, their families and the local community.

The natural disaster resulting from an earthquake and a tsunami has led to the creation of a “no-go zone” exclusion area in the surrounding countryside.[1] Although the exclusions have been lifted in some areas, a 371km2 no-go zone remains in place. Less than one in four residents have returned to the affected surrounding areas, according to the government.[2] More than 30,000 former residents are still unable to return to their homes due to radioactive contamination.[3]

To say the Fukushima disaster had “no impact on anybody” is also blatantly false. Last year the Japanese government reported the first death resulting from exposure to the nuclear fallout. The man, a worker at the plant, died of cancer while four of his co-workers have been diagnosed with the disease[4]

An article posted on the 2GB website, calling the ETU National Secretary a liar, pointed to an out-of-date World Health Organisation report from 2015.[5] This is clearly wrong and 2GB should correct the record.

Energy should not and need not be sourced from something so deadly that it can put workers and the public at risk because of something unavoidable and uncontrollable like a natural disaster.

Price said the US “has got 98 [nuclear reactors], building another two; haven't had a problem”.

As many of his listeners will no doubt recall, there was a partial meltdown of a nuclear reactor at the Three Mile Island nuclear plant near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania in 1979.[6] To claim the US has not had a problem with its nuclear reactors is a complete lie or intentionally ignorant.

Price said there are “58 nuclear plants in France [and are] building another one”.

France’s Flamanville reactor has been under contraction for nine years and has already cost AU$14.7 billion but is still not operational.[7] Its initial cost was to cost AU$5.29 billion and come online in 2013 but even further delays were reported last month. [8]

Price should stop being intentionally uniformed or stop pushing the lie that nuclear power is a cheap and easy fix and be honest with his listeners who are rightly angry about the rising cost of power. Going by the recent French experience, 2GB listeners will be waiting for a very, very long time for nuclear power to lower their bills.

Price claimed: “Korea has 24 nuclear plants; they're building 5 more they might be phasing out ones that old-fashioned to build modern ones, they're not building 5 new ones if they think there's a problem”.

South Korea is pursuing a nuclear energy phase-out over the next 40-45 years,[9] halting construction on plants and permanently shelving plans for new builds as the nation pursues cheaper, cleaner, greener renewable energy.[10]

Like Australia, there are vested interests pushing against this – these are the companies that are making money from the deadly and unnecessary power source.

Is Price hoping to gain from pushing so loudly and proudly for nuclear power?

When it was pointed out that Germany was phasing out its nuclear plants, Price said that was “not right, there is seven in operation in Germany”.

This was blatantly untrue as Germany will close all seven plants by 2022.[11] Price knows this, but it is clear he does not want his listeners to know this fact.

Price was correct saying ETU National Secretary Hicks “represents people who work in electricity” and they are the very people who will deal with the deadly consequences of nuclear power and uranium mining first.

The National Secretary said he has ETU members and their families in mind when he continues to take a firm stance against nuclear power.

“The people who are pushing for nuclear power won’t be affected at first because they aren’t the people who will have to dig up radioactive material and work around it every day at work,” he said.

“It’s the workers, their families and the communities around nuclear power that suffer the deadly consequences first.   

“These nuclear pushers have short memories. They can’t see that nuclear power is exactly like asbestos mining that vested interests pushed for so long while saying it was totally safe.

“The workers suffered and died in the first phase. Then wives and families who breathed it in at home then got sick.

“Now there are asbestos timebombs sitting in every suburb and there is not one clear answer or plan for dealing with them.

“It’s not safe, it’s not cheap and the parallels between asbestos and nuclear power, and what to do with the nuclear waste, are undeniable.”

Media enquiries: ETU National Communications Coordinator – Nicholas McCallum

0419 499 886, nicholas@etuaustralia.org.au

 

[1] https://www.pref.fukushima.lg.jp/site/portal-english/en03-08.html

[2] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/mar/10/fukushima-eight-years-on-evacuees-come-home>

[3] https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2018/12/27e0bf6c32c8-5-year-jail-terms-sought-for-ex-tepco-execs-over-nuclear-crisis.html>

[4] https://time.com/5388178/japan-first-fukushima-radiation-death/>

[5] https://www.2gb.com/steve-price-hangs-up-on-union-boss-after-fiery-interview/>

[6] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three_Mile_Island_accident>

[7] https://www.crikey.com.au/2018/07/31/nuclear-industry-mines-shutter-costs/>

[8] https://www.reuters.com/article/edf-flamanville/update-2-edfs-flamanville-nuclear-plant-faces-new-delay-over-faulty-welding-idUSL8N23R0V8>

[9] http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/NP-Koreas-nuclear-phase-out-policy-takes-shape-1906174.html>

[10] http://www.koreaherald.com/view.php?ud=20190626000465>

[11] http://www.world-nuclear.org/information-library/country-profiles/countries-g-n/germany.aspx>

 


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