Corporate and government messages spin these days that we can meet our energy needs without going to the Middle East and other difficult faraway places. “The Atomic States of America” provides a tolerably depressing reminder of the history and long list of reasons why we should NOT allow new nuclear power plants. Republicans AND Democrats say we need nuclear to be part of our energy mix, regardless of any wakeup call from the earthquake-and-tsunami-induced Fukushima disaster.
It is possible that corporations and governments do not lie to us. The film shares video of the following two statements from company representatives shortly after the 1979 Three Mile Island disaster: “Everything is under control; there is and was no danger to public safety." Also, “I don't know why we need to tell you everything we do."
Regulators may not be in bed with the corporations, and regulations may be a bunch of constrictive hooey anyway. Video in the film shows a representative of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) being tripped up about millions of gallons of leakage from an Illinois plant that they’d known about for 10 years.
The declared (and generous) acceptable level of tritium is 20,000 picocuries. Don’t worry about any hazard when independent measurements in a neighborhood report 200,000 picocuries. Don’t worry about the number cancers that cause citizens to make independent measures since the NRC tends to stick with the testing done by the perpetrators.
The film mentions that the monetary cost of cleaning up the Chernobyl disaster cost more than monetary reward from all the other 50 Soviet nuclear sites combined. No company (spelled profit making corporation) in the US would ever build a nuclear plant if our government didn’t guarantee the loans needed to build it.
A well-constructed film, “The Atomic States of America” is a good place to remind yourself how the radioactive wool might once again be pulled over our eyes.