Didn’t The Guardian look a long way for Fukushima experts?

Some nuclear experts say Tepco, still reeling from international criticism of its inability to stem massive leaks of contaminated water into the Pacific ocean, is deliberately playing down the risks.

“A task like this has never been done before, and obviously it is extremely dangerous,” said Charles Perrow, an emeritus professor at Yale University.

“I would be reassured if experts from other nations were allowed to inspect the site, make recommendations and observe the process. Or better yet, do the work. Rather than damage the nation’s pride, it would increase other nations’ confidence in the ability of Tepco to handle the job.”

Shaun Burnie, a nuclear consultant, said Tepco had “clearly demonstrated its inability” to manage the cleanup.

“Does that mean they cannot be trusted to remove the fuel from Fukushima?” he asked. “That’s irrelevant. They are going to remove the fuel and therefore the question is whether their plan is the best option without risk.

“They have to remove the fuel as early as possible – the risk from major structural failure leading to pool collapse is a greater threat than leaving the fuel in situ.

“The probability that the operation will go wrong in some way given the unique challenges and Tepco’s track record must be considered a real risk.”

As we noted yesterday, Charles Perrow is a retired sociology professor. Just the person we want commenting on nuclear engineering really. And Shaun Burnie?

Shaun Burnie has worked on nuclear power and energy for more than 25 years. He has worked for Greenpeace International for 20 years as a campaigner and head of policy, and is currently a consultant to the organisation. He has worked at the United Nations in New York, Geneva and Vienna on nuclear safety and proliferation issues, and lobbied governments in Asia, the Middle East, North and Central America, and Europe. His specialist area is the nuclear fuel cycle in East Asia having worked in the region for 20 years. As head of nuclear campaigns at Greenpeace International and as a consultant he has worked on nuclear power and climate policy, including critical analysis of the Clean Development Mechanism and the Sectoral Approaches in the post-2012 Kyoto framework. Â He has written over 100 papers on nuclear issues during the past quarter century, including for the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, Japan Focus, and Asia online. He has Masters in War Studies from King’s College London. He lives with his family in the west of Scotland.

He’s not really a nuclear consultant, is he? He’s an anti-nuclear campaigner and appears to have been one all his working life.

So well done to the Guardian for uncovering those sources then. And why didn’t they actually bother to ask a nuclear engineer?

12 thoughts on “Didn’t The Guardian look a long way for Fukushima experts?”

  1. So Much For Subtlety

    And why didn’t they actually bother to ask a nuclear engineer?

    Well an expert is obviously biased isn’t he? His career depends on it.

    The bastard!

  2. Problem Guardian’s got is it’s determined to have a nuclear disaster & can’t find any actually qualified experts to give it one. One can sympathise with it. Must be very frustrating when reality stubbornly refuses to comply with narrative necessity.

  3. The use of the term “expert” is one of these ways of lying. Roger Helmer bogged of a BBC radio discussion he had with what the BBC billed as a “climate change expert” (actually an activist and failed LudDim candidate) who admitted knowing nothing about science and whose “expertise” extended to saying we should believe it beause the IPCC say it.

    It is, of course, conceivable that there is some occasional BBC/Guardian “expert” chosen for experise rather than willingness to lie but the default assumption must be that anybody they present as such is a liar willing to push the party line. eg David Attenborough

    See also “Government chief science advisor”

  4. Yes, fairly standard BBC procedure. Also their ‘experts’ ‘say’ stuff, while people the BBC doesn’t like ‘claim’ stuff.

    So, you load an article with people who oppose something, claim them as ‘experts’ or ‘scientists’ (even if they are patently not), have a single person ‘defending’ something the BBC doesn’t like, preferably a scary Tory minister or a horrible representative of Big Business, ‘claiming’ things, perfectly normal statements in scare quotes, bonkers leftist statements presented as perfectly normal statements…

  5. A more subtle one is the use of the ambiguous plural, in which it is being used simply to describe “more than one” but implies a general class.

    “Tim Worstall ‘Is The Antichrist”, Say Economists”.

    It implies all economists everywhere, or in general, or a consensus, thus fixing that impression in your mind before you’ve read down the article to find it’s actually just two people, and one of them is Ritchie and the other one is Arnald.

  6. ‘Work” or “worked’ is another weasel word. It crops up five times in the Burnie biog and aims to confer a rich patina of industry and expertise where none -at least of the kind that requires a meatier qualification than a masters degree in war studies- exists.

  7. The BBC had an article about the Kenyan massacre recently, in which the group were described as “insurgents” (really? Against whom? In another country entirely?) whose “raid” “resulted in 67 deaths”. You know, like they bumped their car going into the car park and the roof collapsed, that sort of thing.

    I suppose “the context” didn’t require irrelevant details such as deliberate murder and targeting of young children.

    A nauseating organisation.

  8. What pisses me off more than anything is the BBC putting the quotations of minor people on the front page as headlines. For example, you’ll see:

    Israel “threat to world peace”

    as a front page headline, as if they’re stating an incontrovertible fact. Then you open the story and find actually, some minor lefty European politician has said this at some irrelevant “peace seminar” or something. Headlines should state facts, not opinions.

    Count how many BBC headlines are in fact quotes, and usually someone’s opinion. It’s a lot: I’ve counted 5 on the current front page.

  9. The mass of the Pacific Ocean is about 700 million billion tons (7 × 10^20 kg). A sense of scale in amongst all the anti-nuclear pearl-clutching might help here.

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