No radiation threat, say media, as reporters pulled out of Japan

Meanwhile, frightened investors in the USA and Europe seek protection

by Keith Harmon Snow

Tokyo-art-decaying-humans-resembling-Chernobyl-deformed-children-1992-by-c-Keith-Harmon-Snow, No radiation threat, say media, as reporters pulled out of Japan, World News & Views Reporting about the nuclear crises in Japan and around the world is getting curiouser and curiouser. Western media are heavily downplaying the threat of radiation in what amounts to an Alice in Wonderland fable of disinformation straight out of the rabbit hole.

Worried about profits and the destabilization of the yen and Nikkei index, the media are doing damage control to help keep people from flooding out of Japan and further destabilizing the Japanese economy. Given the evidence, the history of disasters and epidemics of disease, reporting that dowplays Japan’s radiation threat is criminal.

Meanwhile, back in the U.S.A., frightened investors are seeking protections and assurances from industry and government. Wall Street is worried. This is getting curiouser and curiouser.

For example, on March 20, 2011, CNN ran a video story, “Facts whisper, fears scream during crises,” where their experts proclaim that fears of radiation are unfounded and misinformation abounds. CNN’s latest nuclear expert, Dan Polansky, calls this radiophobia: an irrational fear of radiation with no basis in fact. Even for the Japanese nuclear workers who are closest to the Fukushima hot zone, says CNN reporter Stan Grant, “Radiation might make people sick, but it won’t kill them.”

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Meanwhile, CNN describes Dan Polansky as a “nuclear expert” who “specializes in weapons of mass destruction and knows about radiation.” What they don’t tell us is that Polansky works for the Georgia (USA) Department of Community Health, he studied at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) and the Idaho National Laboratory (INEL) and is a recent graduate of radiological emergency planning at the Harvard School of Public Health.

Pretty good credentials, no doubt. Must be telling the truth.

However, LLNL and INEL are two of the top classified Department of Energy and Department of Defense weapons laboratories, both also Superfund sites of massive toxic nuclear waste. Work at national laboratories like INEL and LLNL requires high-level national security clearances: It looks like Daniel Polansky is another spook.

Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) has produced studies that show some incidence of disease around the Yankee Rowe reactor in Rowe, Mass., USA, which is now decommissioned; but they have also helped to whitewash nuclear and other risks of modern day society.

This is indeed very curious.

The Harvard Center for Risk Analysis (HCRA) was founded by John D. Graham and specializes in advocating forms of risk assessment widely criticized by community groups and legitimate health professionals. The center gained funds from both industry and government agencies, including nuclear interests like General Electric, the Edison Electric Institute, Electric Power Research Institute, New England Electric System – with at least five nukes on the New England power grid – and Westinghouse Electric. GE and Westinghouse are two of the USA’s biggest nuke companies, and EPRI is a pro-nuke think tank that has produced propaganda about nukes for more than four decades.

Harvard School of Public Health and the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis are not the same thing. Harvard School of Public Health supports the nuclear industry and helps to downplay radiation threats at many levels. However, Harvard Center for Risk Analysis is an industry front producing junk science – spurious information posited as science – and debunking truth everywhere in the corporate media.

Looking a little deeper down the rabbit hole we find, for one curious example, that David Ropeik is an instructor in the Harvard University School of Continuing Education Environmental Management program. Ropeik is also a former affiliate at the Harvard Center for Risk Assessment, which he says he left in 2004.

According to his own public relations biography advertised on the Bayer CropScience web page – Bayer is the big German multinational pharmaceutical corporation – Ropeik has also worked closely with the Harvard School of Public Health and “has been interviewed on risk perception by ABC Nightline, National Public Radio, NBC Dateline, ABC 20/20, Fox News, CNN, CNN International, BBC, CBC, CNBC, Voice of America and dozens of regional radio stations nationwide.”

He has also “taught courses on media coverage of risk issues at the Harvard School of Public Health, the Kennedy School of Government, the Neiman Fellowship Program at Harvard, the Knight Science Journalism Fellowship program at MIT, Boston University’s Program in Science Journalism, the Emerson College program in Health Communication, and to the National Association of Science Writers, the Council for the Advancement of Science Writers, and the Society of Environmental Journalists.”

A long-time member of the Society of Environmental Journalists, David Ropeik is now a private consultant in risk perception, risk communication and risk management with Ropeik & Associates, whose nuclear clients include Entergy Power Corp., which owns the dangerously unsafe Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station, Edison Electric Institute, the Electric Power Research Institute, the American Nuclear Society, the Egyptian Nuclear Authority, the International Atomic Energy Agency, the Nuclear Institute, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, which did a study on the incidence of disease on the radiation “pathways” from the Yankee Rowe Nuclear Power Station, the Veterans Board for Dose Reconstruction, Department of Defense etc.

“Risk is a subjective affair,” reads the home page of Ropeik & Associates. “It’s not just a matter of the facts, but also how those facts feel. Understanding why some risks feel more frightening, and some less, is essential for communicating about risk effectively, and for tackling the human behavioral aspects of overall risk management.”

As for the Society of Environmental Journalists, this is just another trade industry group, like any “Society of Professional This-or-That” which maintains deep ties to industry and the media corporations that have censored and distorted the truth about radiation, nuclear weapons and nuclear power. For example, a look at their sponsors and foundation donors quickly leads to a large list of corporate interests, including nuclear corporations.

What a curious world we live in.

Given that there is “so little threat from radiation” in Japan, it is very curious that NBC pulled their entire news team out of Japan. Curiously, it seems that CNN’s Anderson Cooper also pulled out of Japan – and who could blame him – and is now reporting on Libya from somewhere else. (Hong Kong?)

On March 20, 2011, Japanese officials have confirmed radiation food poisoning. “Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said checks of milk from Fukushima prefecture, where the plant is located, and of spinach grown in Ibaraki, a neighboring prefecture, surpassed limits set by the government … It was the government’s first report of food being contaminated by radiation since the March 11 quake and tsunami unleashed the nuclear crisis.”

Meanwhile, on March 19, financial media began reporting that U.S. investors, seeing the nuclear industry in Japan crash, burn and melt, are frightened of financial losses due to “boring” utility debt.

“Investors are seeking protection from a public backlash against nuclear power producers as the threat from earthquake-damaged reactors in Japan stokes calls by U.S. lawmakers to limit plants in this nation,” reported Bloomberg News.

Utility companies, typically considered a haven among credit investors because of their resilience in economic downturns, are being punished as Tokyo Electric Power Co. struggles to cool damaged reactors. Environmental groups want limits on U.S. nuclear plants, and Rep. Edward Markey is seeking a moratorium on facilities in seismically active areas. Nuclear power executives say the nation’s reactors can withstand such disasters.”

Behind the scenes, corporations and money market managers and futures investors are swapping debt portfolios and jockeying to maximize profits and minimize losses.

While the people of Japan suffer the fate of massive radiation emissions – “leaks” is another term invested by the industry and used by media to downplay the incredible but invisible quantities of radiation dispersed – the utility companies are portrayed as the victims. Utility companies are “being punished” and “investors seeking protection” are now the victims.

Curiouser and curiouser and curiouser.

For a detailed look at disinformation and nuclear deceptions, please read Keith Harmon Snow’s extensive and penetrating expose, “Nuclear apocalypse in Japan,” written March 18.

Keith Harmon Snow is a war correspondent, photographer and independent investigator and a four time – 2003, 2006, 2007, 2010 – Project Censored award winner. He is also the 2009 Regents’ Lecturer in Law and Society at the University of California Santa Barbara, recognized for over a decade of work outside of academia contesting official narratives on war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide while also working as a genocide investigator for the United Nations and other bodies. The first UCSB Regents’ Lecturer, in 1960, was Aldous Huxley; other recipients include Margaret Mead, Peter Matthiessen and Meredith Monk. Contact Snow through his website,, where this story first appeared.