Revealed: British government’s plan to play down Fukushima, Guardian, June 30, 2011:
British government officials approached nuclear companies to draw up a co-ordinated public relations strategy to play down the Fukushima nuclear accident just two days after the earthquake and tsunami in Japan and before the extent of the radiation leak was known.
Internal emails seen by the Guardian show how the business and energy departments worked closely behind the scenes with the multinational companies EDF Energy, Areva and Westinghouse [...]
Officials stressed the importance of preventing the incident from undermining public support for nuclear power.
Here are a few revelations from the internal emails obtained by the Guardian:
- A British official suggested that if companies sent in comments, they could be incorporated into government statements: “We need to all be working from the same material to get the message through to the media and the public.” Westinghouse said reported remarks by the deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg, were “unhelpful and a little premature”.
- A British official told Areva: “We need to quash any stories trying to compare this to Chernobyl.”
- A British official wrote: “We need to ensure the anti-nuclear chaps and chapesses do not gain ground on this. We need to occupy the territory and hold it. We really need to show the safety of nuclear.”
- There was a meeting where the aim was “to discuss a joint communications and engagement strategy aimed at ensuring we maintain confidence among the British public on the safety of nuclear power stations and nuclear new-build policy in light of recent events at the Fukushima nuclear power plant”.
- Conservative MP Zac Goldsmith: “The government has no business doing PR for the industry and it would be appalling if its departments have played down the impact of Fukushima.”
- According to one former regulator, who preferred not to be named, the degree of collusion was “truly shocking”.
Read the article here.
Published: June 30th, 2011 at 5:45 pm ET
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