Nuclear by Any Other Name

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image by Peter O. Zierlein

The nuclear power industry knows that the term nuclear is, from a public relations vantage point, radioactive. So its lobbyists and apologists work to avoid the term altogether, reports the Progressive (June 2008). In New Jersey, where the Oyster Creek nuclear power plant is up for a license renewal, an advocacy group called the New Jersey Affordable, Clean, Reliable Energy Coalition emerged to support the renewal. The initiative was paid for by the plant’s owner. This brand of semantic sleight of hand transcends imagistic greenwashing: In the Lieberman-Warner climate change bill that the U.S. Senate debated and rejected this summer, one-fourth of funds set aside for a climate change worker training fund “shall be used for the University Programs within the Department of Energy.” Those anonymous-sounding University Programs? They’re operated out of the Energy Department’s Office of Nuclear Energy. If this type of obfuscation continues, we might soon find the n-word headed for the dump, er, repository.

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