It was nearly 40 years ago that as a journalist I began concentrating on nuclear power. I hosted a TV program—“Long Island World”—in the 1970s on WLIW/21, Long Island’s PBS station, and was asked to do one on nuclear power. With my crew I visited Brookhaven National Laboratory set up on Long Island in 1947 by the U. S. Atomic Energy Commission to conduct research into atomic science and develop civilian uses of nuclear technology. The labs such as Los Alamos built during World War II as part of the atomic bomb-making program, Manhattan Project, which the AEC succeeded, would continue working on military uses of atomic technology. And here on Long Island this new lab would focus on developing and promoting civilian uses—extending what was done during the war.
The scientists at Brookhaven Lab I interviewed downplayed the dangers of nuclear power. They said to the camera that there might be a minor accident over many years but nuclear power plants were extremely safe because of having redundant systems.
Then in 1979 the Three Mile Island accident—no minor accident—happened. And hearing the news, I thought of those scientists and how they tried to bamboozle me and TV viewers.
I committed myself that day to writing a book, based on investigative reporting, presenting the realities of nuclear power.
A description used in the Investigative Reporting class I’ve taught and in many other classes in Investigative Reporting is that it’s an effort through journalism to tell “how things really work.”
It took a year to write the book. Those who assisted me included atomic physicist Dr. Richard Webb. He read every word of the manuscript. Dr. Webb served under Admiral Hyman Rickover in the construction of the first U.S. nuclear power plant, Shippingport, in Pennsylvania, and authored the book The Accident Hazards of Nuclear Power Plants. Other journalists reviewed what I found including John Rather who for many years reported for The New York Times.
The book was titled Cover Up: What You Are Not Supposed to Know About Nuclear Power. The latest edition, issued after the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe began, is available for free, courtesy of the publisher, on my website, www.karlgrossman.com
Cover Up was the first of several books I’ve written on nuclear technology. I’ve written thousands of articles, too, and hosted and written many TV programs on nuclear power broadcast on the nationally-aired TV program I’ve hosted for 27 years, Enviro Close-Up.
Since Cover Up’s publication in 1980, I’ve also been on the lecture circuit—including being paired by my lecture agency with a leading advocate of nuclear power, John Sununu, the former New Hampshire governor. I’ve spoken at colleges and universities across the U.S. and also overseas, including making presentations in six trips to Russia in the 1990s and early 2000s as Russia sought to create a new energy program—before Vladimir Putin’s iron fist came down. My last presentation in Russia, a keynote address at a conference in Siberia on nuclear power, in Tomsk, a so-called “atomic city,” a center of Russian nuclear …read more