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Proffessor Karl Grossman -Nuclear Power-Is it Safe?

July 29, 2011 @ 12:00 am EDT


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Karl Grossman – July 29, 2011


Professor of Journalism, SUNY/College at Old Westbury


This morning Mr. Karl Grossman addressed LIMBA about nuclear power and his experience as an investigative reporter. His knowledge of the topic is encylopedic and his passion for the topic is deep and genuine. Mr. Grossman’s bio is available on wikipedia.


Mr. Grossman began by describing his early years as a reporter on Long Island. He was instrumental in keeping a four lane highway from being built on Fire Island, despite the plans by the powerful community planner Robert Moses. Mr Grossman related that in those early years as a reporter, he learned to answer the all important question – "how do things really work?" For instance, the claims made by Moses that the highway was required to shore up beach land could be proven to be untrue. Eventually the highway project was scrapped by getting the area classified as "National Seashore". Grossman remembers that Paul Townsend (founder of LIMBA) was also instrumental in this effort.


Mr Grossman then related a quote from Adam Rickover, considered the father of naval reactors. According to Mr Grossman, Rickover made statements in his retirement address that nuclear power was a mistake, and should be banned to save future generations. Grossman then relayed a history of nuclear power, and how it was born from the famous group of WWII ‘Manhattan Project’ scientists working to beat Germany in the race to harness a nuclear bomb. According to Grossman, the years after World War II saw a concerted effort by the US Government to use nuclear power in civilian settings such as nuclear power plants. Brookhaven National Labs was founded in order to advance this particular purpose. As nuclear power gained momentum, many US universities received funding as well. Of course big businesses such as Westinghouse and GE became the world leader in supplying the nuclear plants. Mr. Grossman contends this created a generation of business people, scientists and academics who are champions of nuclear power because it is their main source of income.


Grossman related how a nuclear power plant works: it creates nuclear waste which, in some cases, must be isolated from any other life forms for a million years. He also pointed out that there is always some trace radation leakage (some is even allowed by Federal agencies), and that current research indicates all exposure to radiation, even traces, is harmful.


Grossman then spoke specificially about Long Island’s involvement in the history of Nuclear Power. According to Grossman, power plants to be built within New York City were deemed unsafe and therefore were plans were relocated to Long Island. Lilco needed the cash infusion and was eager to build the plants. The never opened Shoreham plant was only to be the first of many on Long Island. Mr. Grossman contends that Long Island could have been the site of a Fukushima type disaster if these multiple plants had been built. Grossman also spoke about the Fukushima disaster – specifically he contends that press and government are not forthcoming in exposing the health problems that this disaster will bring.


Mr. Grossman then spoke about many types of renewable energy: solar, geothermal and wind. Mr. Grossman quoted a number of sources, including the UN, that indicate that 100% of the world’s energy needs can be supplied with renewable power. According to Mr Grossman, the need for nuclear power is obsolete. Grossman related that he has had an energy audit created in his residence by Jay Best of Green Audit USA and now has enough solar power in his own home so that he will not pay anything for electric bills this year and may even have a small credit.


Mr. Grossman concluded by echoing Admiral Rickover’s call to ban nuclear power, and reminded us of his initial motivation: to learn "how do things really work".


As always there were a number of questions from LIMBA members. Mr. Grossman relayed that in other countries, a ‘green party’ has helped force change through the democratic process. He is dismayed that this process does seem to be possible here in the US. He also answered a question relating to other, innovative sources of renewable energy such as photovoltaic being developed at the National Renewable Lab.


LIMBA was very pleased to such a knowledgeable and experienced speaker address us this morning.