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How to dismantle an atomic lie–taking apart the nuclear falsehoods via Fairewinds Energy Education

By Arnie Gundersen

The Beginning

I am a nuclear engineer and have been for 50-years. I have two Nuclear Engineering degrees, a Nuclear Reactor Operator’s license, and ultimately became a Senior Vice president in the nuclear industry. My journey in atomic power started in 1958 when I was 9-years-old, and my mother took me to New York City to see the Nautilus.

This first nuclear-powered submarine had just crossed under the North Pole between the Pacific Ocean and the Atlantic.I was enthralled by this atomic-powered submarine, and visions of Jules Verne’s tales peppered my dreams where I imagined travel in the Nautilus.

When I attended university at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, I chose my study plan as a 20-year-old sophomore. The math behind splitting atoms and controlling them in a nuclear reactor captivated me, so I decided on nuclear engineering. Later in life, at 40-years-old, I knew I had made a colossal mistake. Splitting atoms for nuclear power is rooted in the secrecy surrounding atomic bombs as weapons of mass destruction.

Like many others my age, I learned that dropping the atomic bomb was allegedly necessary to end a terrible war. My generation was lied to and developed beliefs based on that lie.  Studying nuclear engineering, I believed that pursuing the “peaceful use of the atom” would help people worldwide and move us away from atomic war.

In 1971, I became a card-carrying member of the nuclear priesthood when I began my career as a licensed nuclear reactor operator.

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And so, against the backdrop of Atoms for Peace, in 1971, I consecrated my career in the atomic priesthood as a newly-minted nuclear engineer in the U.S. atomic power industry. The nuclear industry is enormous, extraordinarily profitable, and with tenacious political and legal contacts with Washington Lobbyists and Law Firms.  It shapes the laws that govern it and even controls who Congress appoints to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to oversee it!

To be accepted into the Atomic Priesthood as I initially was, one must believe in the regulatory Echo Chamber.  Regulators and the nuke industry use specific language and jargon, some call it Nukespeak, to frame all nuclear concepts inside a predetermined and agreed-upon box. This predetermined regulatory framework began in 1945 and still exists today anywhere in the world with nuclear power and weapons.

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1.1. Briefly, I uncovered radiation safety violations at Nuclear Energy Services / NES, my employer. When I tried to have the violations corrected by the company, the corporation’s president fired me for doing my job.  Then I went to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission / NRC and was shocked that it would not support me.  The NRC deliberately distorted the follow-up investigation of my safety concerns and supported the company I had worked for.  

1.2. Three years after I began fighting the NRC, I contacted Senator John Glenn, the former astronaut and my childhood hero. Senator Glenn held whistleblower hearings in which I testified and was commended for my actions, while Senator Glenn lambasted the NRC. Ivan Selin, then the NRC Chair, even told Senator Glenn that I was a hero who performed quite a service to my country. Yet behind the scenes, Selin, a Republican appointee and significant donor to the Republican party, did absolutely nothing, even after the Inspector General’s investigation showed that NRC personnel had purposely lied and covered up my findings.

1.3. After the Glenn hearings, a prominent Nuclear Industry attorney and former colleague told me, “Arnie, in this business, you’re either for us or against us, and you just crossed the line.”

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