This article came out through US news services yesterday frequently quoting a nuclear expert who is claiming newer commercial nuclear power plants are safer or superior to plants like Fukushima. Richard Meserve, the expert in the article claims because Fukushima was built in the 1970’s and that newer plant designs would be much safer. The bulk of the US power plants were built in the 60’s and 70’s just like Fukushima. The word for word line about newer plants being safer is a standard line from the commercial nuclear power industry. The article cites’s Meserve’s credentials as being a former NRC head and as a consultant to the IAEA. After some research it is clear that this doesn’t even scratch the surface of Meserve’s real allegiances or who who signs his substantial paychecks.
Meserve worked for Covington & Burling, a legal and lobbyist firm in Washington DC before is term at the NRC and continues to work there now. Covington & Burling include commercial nuclear power companies among their lines of business for the lobbying and legal services. Meserve also works for PG&E (Pacific Gas & Electric) the huge west coast utility company that owns Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant. He is frequently quoted as being the President of Carnegie Institution of Washington, PG&E owns this institution and lists Meserve on their corporate board of directors. Meserve’s total compensation just from PG&E in 2009 was over $172,000.
Meserve also works for UniStar Nuclear on their advisory board. UniStar Nuclear and Constellation Energy are owned by EDF/Areva, the gigantic French nuclear conglomerate. UniStar Nuclear was formed for the specific purpose of promoting the French EPR reactor design. Constellation Energy is partially owned by EDF and is in the process of being bought out by nuclear giant Excelon. Areva has a less than stellar reputation in the world, just ask Niger.
Meserve is also a director for Luminent Energy, a power company that owns Comanche Peak nuclear plant. All of these well paid connections Meserve has trump his claimed record of only working for the NRC and IAEA. He also paid for and authored a special supplement piece on behalf of the nuclear industry in the Washington Post in an attempt to lobby Congress for more financing for nuclear power plant construction.
The newer design Meserve is being paid to promote in the article is the French EPR that his employers want to build in the US. We recently published an article about the EPR reactor design that has been plagued with design and technical failures. These kinds of articles are becoming a pervasive problem in the US media. People are frequently quoted as experts without their true allegiances and motivations even mentioned, giving the public a distorted sense of the commercial nuclear power situation.
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