Karl Grossman - Investigative Reporter and Professor of Journalism


Karl Grossman

2018 Tom Twomey Series in Local History at East Hampton Library

October 13, 2018

I’ve been to many beautiful islands—Bora Bora, Paros, Mykonos, Nantucket, Cuttyhunk, Tahiti, Moorea, Santorini, Virgin Gorda, Tobago.

But just off Long Island’s shores is a gem, splendorous, an exquisite island that excels any. It’s been aptly called a paradise. And it’s a time capsule of what the best of Long Island once was.

Gardiner’s Island—an ecological and historical jewel.

According to East Hampton Town’s 1984 comprehensive plan, Gardiner’s Island “stands as a unique expression of unspoiled terrain, at a time when few such areas exist.”

The 3,300-acre island is home to hundreds of bird species, freshwater ponds, a 1,000-acre white oak forest, Bostwick Woods, the largest stand of White Oak in the Northeast.

It is the oldest English settlement in New York.

I first went to Gardiner’s Island nearly 50 years ago.

Robert David Lion Gardiner, who always described himself as the “16th Lord of the Manor” of the island, which for nearly 400 years has been privately held by his family, welcomed a large camp-out of Boy Scouts on it in 1971.

I was a big Boy Scout, indeed an Eagle Scout, had seen the island from afar, and I thought this would be a great event. I covered the camp-out for the daily Long Island Press. And interviewed Mr. Gardiner for the first time, on the island.

The next year, 1972, I got to know Mr. Gardiner pretty well—when he ran for Congress in the lst C.D. on the Conservative Party ticket against incumbent Otis Pike as a protest to Pike’s effort for federal acquisition of the island.

Gardiner was no Conservative. Indeed, he ran for the State Senate in 1960 as a Democrat.

It was quite a scene when he ran for Congress—this kind-of an American aristocrat with his near-British manner of speech and sporting a blue blazer with breast pocket medallion—mixing with Conservative Party members, in Ronkonkoma, Babylon, and so forth, some of them Trumpsters of the time.

Mr. Gardiner told American Heritage magazine in 1975: “The DuPonts, Rockefellers and Fords, they are nouveaux riche. The DuPonts came in 1800; they’re not even a colonial family.”

Gardiner lost, of course, but there was also a letter-writing campaign—80,000 letters opposing Pike’s bill were sent to the House Committee on the Interior—and Pike withdrew it.

Mr. Gardiner was subsequently a guest on my weekly TV show, “Long Island World,” on WLIW/21, the Long Island PBS station. And I did more interviews with him for print.

Meanwhile, in 1974, my family had been living in Sayville for a decade, and I saw parts of that pleasant hamlet being hit by development sprawl, the sprawl that had enveloped so much of western Long Island.

Although raised in the city, I always loved the country. My wife, Janet, who grew up in what was then country-like Huntington Beach, and our two boys, moved in 1974 to Sag Harbor, where, in fact, I had roots.

My paternal grandfather, an engraver, came to Sag Harbor more than a century ago, from Hungary and worked at Fahy’s watchcase factory. Engraving was an art for Hungarian Jews, and Joseph Fahy recruited Hungarian and Italian engravers, too, transporting them from Ellis Island to Sag Harbor. This is where my grandfather met my grandmother, who had been staying with her sister, who had married into the Spitz family, many of its members watchcase factory workers.

Thinking about development in Suffolk as we moved east, I got the idea of making a TV documentary. “Can Suffolk Be Saved?”

Others were thinking the same. After Suffolk County Executive John V.N. Klein, raised in what was then country-like Smithtown, took a trip in a helicopter and, looking down, saw the sprawl blanketing so much of western Suffolk and then the green expanses of the East End, his innovative Suffolk County Farmland Preservation Program got started in 1974.

I envisioned ten half-hour TV programs and of starting the series on Gardiner’s Island as a sort of baseline. Mr. Gardiner graciously gave me permission.

In my stand-up on the island I describe it as a “time capsule” for Long Island, and ask whether Suffolk can be exempt the 100-mile swath of sprawl from Boston running through New York down to Washington.

Gardiner’s Island, its nature, Bostwick Woods, its fields and meadows, its birds and other animal life, its creeks, lagoon, its historic buildings —breathtaking.

Lion Gardiner bought it from the Montaukett Indians in 1639 for—as has been reported—”one large dog, one gun, some powder and shot, some rum and several blankets.”

I wonder whether the Montauketts and their chief, Wyandanch, really knew what was happening as Native Americans never considered land something that can be bought and sold.

Another factor here: the Pequots of Connecticut and their war with the Montauketts and English settlers. There was an alliance between the settlers and the Montauketts to counter the Pequots.

Among its structures is a windmill, brilliant white, built in 1795, by Nathaniel Dominy 5th of East Hampton, on the National Historic Register.

There is a carpenter’s shed, built in 1639, said to be the oldest surviving wood-frame structure in New York State.

There’s the Manor House, originally built in 1774, but it burned down in 1947. Its replacement built that year is splendid.

To witness the shoot, Mr. Gardiner invited actress Gloria Swanson, star of the film Sunset Boulevard, and her husband, William Dufty, author of Sugar Blues. We all met at the Gardiner mansion in East Hampton where Mr. Gardiner proudly showed the portrait—”by Salvatore Dali,” he emphasized—of the stunning red-haired former British model, Eunice Bailey Oakes, whom he wed in 1961.

Then we took off from Three Mile Harbor on Mr. Gardiner’s boat, he at the wheel, talking as he drove.

On the island, in what is called in TV a “stand-up,” I introduced the series and then interviewed him. And then we got on to the beds of two trucks for a tour of the island which Mr. Gardiner narrated.

He knew the island’s history in depth.

He told us how Captain Kidd came to the island in 1699, buried treasure in a ravine, said Gardiner, and warned John Winthrop Gardiner that if the treasure wasn’t there when he returned, he’d kill the Gardiner family. Captain Kidd then headed off to Boston where he was captured, put on trial for piracy and executed. The Gardiners were ordered to return the treasure of gold dust, silver bars, gold Spanish coins, rubies and diamonds. One diamond somehow wasn’t immediately found to be returned, it’s said, and was given later to daughter Elizabeth Gardiner. Also, a piece of cloth embroidered with gold had been given by Captain Kidd to her mother and is now part of the Long Island Collection at this library.

Mr. Gardiner took us to the marked site where he said the treasure had been buried.

He spoke about Julia Gardiner, born on the island, who became President John Tyler’s second wife and the First Lady of the United States in 1844.

As he continued with his fascinating talk and we traveled around the island, my director, Bob Civiello, told me we had run out of film—what should we do? Bob and I felt that Mr. Gardiner was having such a fine time—especially directing his words at Ms. Swanson, who he seemed to be in awe of—that the cameraperson should just keep rolling.

Then we had a gala lunch at the Manor House. At a centerpiece table was Mr. Gardiner, and he had positioned on one side of him, Ms. Swanson, on the other, the other woman in our group, environmentalist Lorna Salzman. I kind of got the feeling of being at a ceremonial meal of an English royal centuries ago.

Thereafter, a feud developed between Mr. Gardiner and his niece, Alexandra Creel Goelet, who stood to inherit the half-share of the island held by Gardiner’s sister, Alexandra Gardiner Creel.

Their battle continued for years.

Gardiner accused his niece and her husband, Robert Goelet, of planning to sell the island for development. He refused to pay his share of the $2 million a year in upkeep and taxes.  At one point, Mr. Gardiner accused Mr. Goelet of trying to run him over with a truck on the island.

And, Gardiner switched and said he was not opposed to ownership of the island by the government or a private conservation group. Then Mr. Gardiner, was barred starting in 1980 by a Surrogate Court’s ruling from visiting the island for not paying his share. In 1992 this was overturned.

Also, because Mr. Gardiner had no heirs, he sought unsuccessfully in 1989—to smite Mrs. Goelet—to adopt as his “son” a Mississippi businessman, George Gardiner Green, Jr., a distant descendant of Lion Gardiner.

Mrs. Creel’s ownership went to her daughter when she died in 1990.

Mr. Gardiner died in 2004 at 93 at his mansion here in East Hampton. His wife Eunice subsequently died.

Meanwhile, total ownership passed to Mrs. Goelet.

What will be future of Gardiner’s Island?

A few months after Mr. Gardiner’s death, a 20-year conservation easement covering more than 95% of the island was arranged with the Town of East Hampton.

Said my old and very missed friend, Tom Twomey, attorney for the Goelets: “This is a way for the family to keep their longstanding pledge not to develop the land for the foreseeable future.”

The easement arrangement was contingent on a promise from the town that it would not further upzone the island, change its assessment, or attempt to acquire it by condemnation.

Twomey stressed: the Goelet family believes that “maintaining the island’s existing yield” increases the island’s value and discourages the government from attempting to buy it without compensation.”

Mrs. Goelet opposed a 1993 upzoning of the island from one to five acres—but that happened anyway. In 2001, there was a move by the Town of East Hampton for more restrictive zoning—to 25 acres per house.

Lee Koppelman, executive director of the Long Island Regional Planning Board and long-time Suffolk County planner, recommended then that the “development rights” for the island be purchased by government—this is the basis of the Suffolk County Farmland Preservation Program.

Or, the island could become a limited access national park or a national wildlife refuge, he said in an interview with my reporter buddy John Rather that appeared in an article in The New York Times headlined: “Gardiners Island: The War of Wills.”

Mr. Koppelman comments in it that the island’s uniqueness and historic and environmental importance would make a federal commitment “not unlikely.”

He described Gardiner’s Island as “perhaps the most important offshore island on the entire Atlantic seashore from Maine to Florida.”

John quoted Koppelman as saying that the Goelets had done “a magnificent job in properly protecting and maintaining the island.”

Lee, incidentally, knew Gardiner who had served on the Suffolk County Planning Board after Lee first became Suffolk planner.

Koppelman emphasized: “The overriding concern is for the long-term future.”

Still, Mrs. Goelet, in the article, stressed that the Goelets had “willingly and by ourselves supported the island for more than 20 years. My children intend to carry on this tradition.”

Koppelman said the town that more restrictive 25-acre zoning was not a solution. Five-acre zoning would allow for 650 homes. Under 25-acre zoning, 130 homes.

And, said Koppelman: “Even 130 homes would irretrievably change the unique character and environment of the island.”

Gardiner’s attorney, Joseph R. Attonito, said that Gardiner would welcome a government role in the island’s future. He was quoted as saying: “Mr. Gardiner has consistently said, almost like a mantra, that the island has to be preserved as it is today. He would be supportive of Dr. Koppelman’s proposals and even of a national park, provided that he would not want a Jones Beach because the ecology of the island is way too fragile.”

The lawyer went on, “The island is an extremely expensive place to run as a private second home.” He said Mr. Gardiner was “convinced that the Goelets would develop the island because they would be unable or unwilling to pay maintenance costs.”

But Mrs. Goelet was quoted in the article as saying she did not foresee needing government help. She said: “I respect the concern of those who live in East Hampton for the long-term continuation of the current use of Gardiner’s Island. Nevertheless, the island is my home. Proposal for changes in ownership of it through governmental action, however well-intentioned and however limited, are very troubling to me and my family.”

Mrs. Goelet is an environmentalist. She has a master’s degree from the Yale School of Forestry. Mr. Goelet is a former chairman of the American Museum of Natural History. The Goelet family has enormous wealth based on New York City real estate.

The Goelets have been—and Mr. Gardiner, too, of course—excellent stewards of Gardiner’s Island.

But for me, I worry: will wonderful Gardiner’s Island, in future years, in another 400 years, be saved?

Karl Grossman

Professor of Journalism

State University of New York/College at Old Westbury


Presentation on October 14, 2016

Long Island Metro Business Action

It was nearly 40 years ago that as a journalist I began concentrating on nuclear power.

The preface: 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.”

Cover Up

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 activity, was supported by the U.S. State Department.

I start Cover Up declaring: “You have not been informed about nuclear power. You have not been told. And that has been done on purpose. Keeping the public in the dark was deemed necessary by the promoters of nuclear power if it was to succeed. Those in government, science and private industry who have been pushing nuclear power realized that if people were give the facts, if they knew the consequences of nuclear power, they would not stand for it.”

“Equal to that of the State of Pennsylvania”

For example, although those Brookhaven Lab scientists downplayed the dangers of nuclear power, studies I obtained from BNL itself projected huge and dire consequences of an accident. For example, over and over again in BNL’s report, WASH-740 Update, is the line that “the possible size of the area of such a disaster might be equal to that of the State of Pennyslvania.” This was written a decade before the Three Mile Island accident almost turned that BNL projection into fact.

I reprint in Cover Up this line and many other passages from government documents on the dangers of nuclear power as facsimiles—reprinting the actual documents themselves—so nuclear promoter could not deny them.

Covering up, deception, continue today.

The push for nuclear power has been—and is—a huge con job, one of the biggest the world has ever seen. From the claim of Atomic Energy Commission Chairman Lewis Strauss that nuclear power would be “too cheap to meter,” to the insistence of nuclear promoters through the years that nuclear plants are safe, to what the some nuclear scientists have advanced as the  “hormesis” theory—that radioactivity is good for you; it exercises the immune system—the falsehoods run deep. It almost makes the tobacco industry look like pikers.

$7.6 Billion Bail-out Plan

And now we have in New York State a $7.6 billion plan advanced by Governor Andrew Cuomo and supported by the state’s Public Service Commission, the members of which the governor appoints, to bail out four aged upstate nuclear power plants.

The bail-out would be part of a program that includes a “Clean Energy Standard” under which 50 percent of electricity used in New York by 2030 would come from “clean and renewable energy sources”

To subsidize the upstate nuclear plants, there would be a surcharge for 12 years on electric bills paid by the state’s residential and industrial customers. Business owners, because of their larger use of electricity, would be particularly hard hit.

Nuclear power is dirty, dangerous and expensive—very expensive. And these days, nuclear power cannot compete economically.

As Jessica Azulay, program director of the state’s Alliance for a Green Economy, explains about the bailout: “Without these subsidies, nuclear plants cannot compete with renewable energy and will close. But under the guise of ‘clean energy,’ the nuclear industry is about to get its hands on our money in order to save its own profits, at the expense of public health and safety.”

What are the arguments made by the bail-out plan’s promoters?

The four nuclear plants are needed to offset climate change. A nuclear plant doesn’t emit carbon or greenhouse gasses, they say, a key nuclear industry argument in a time of great concern over climate change for nuclear plants nationally and worldwide. What is never mentioned by these nuclear promoters, however, is that the “nuclear cycle” or “nuclear chain”—the full nuclear system—is a major contributor of carbon emissions and greenhouse gasses.

“Nuclear is NOT emission-free!”

As Manna Jo Greene, environmental director of the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, wrote to the state Public Service Commission on this: “Nuclear is NOT emission-free! The claim of nuclear power having ‘zero-emission attributes’ ignores emissions generated in mining, milling, enriching, transporting and storing nuclear fuel.”

Or as Michel Lee, head of the Council on Intelligent Energy & Conservation Policy, told the PSC: “Nuclear power is not carbon-free. If one stage,” reactor operation itself, “produces minimal carbon…every other stage produces prodigious amounts.” Thus the nuclear “industry is a big climate change polluter…Nuclear power is actually a chain of highly energy-intensive industrial processes which—combined—consume large amounts of fossil fuels and generate potent warming gasses. These include: uranium mining, milling enrichment, fuel fabrication, transport” and her list went on.

To combat climate change what’s needed is really green energy led by solar and wind.

Then there is the argument that the 2,000 jobs in the four upstate plants must be saved.

But as Dr. Mark Z. Jacobson, professor of civil and environmental engineering and director of the Atmosphere/Energy Program at Stanford University, wrote in an op-ed in Albany Times Union, “allowing the upstate nuclear plants to close now and replacing them with equal energy output from…wind and solar power would be cheaper and would create more jobs.” The closure of the upstate plants “would jeopardize fewer than 2,000 jobs, approximately half of which would remain for years because of the required decommissioning and decontamination of the facilities and the securing and monitoring of the nuclear waste.” A “peer-reviewed study” he has done “about converting New York State to 100 percent clean, renewable energy—which is entirely possible now—would create a net of approximately 82,000 good, long-term jobs above the number lost,” he said.

Dr. Jacobson also stated that “I was among many who were shocked by the Public Service Commission’s proposal that the lion’s share of the Clean Energy Standard funding would be a nuclear bailout.”

And there’s the claim the power the upstate nuclear plants provide is needed for continuity of supply. Not true, says as Michel Lee, head of the Council on Intelligent Energy & Conservation Policy, “Upstate New York is flush with energy,” she notes.

Renewable Energy Revolution

And, moreover, there is a renewable energy revolution now well underway.

Just last month, for example, a new firm, Insolight, announced development of solar photovoltaic panels with 36% efficiency. The most advanced solar panels NASA uses in space have 25% efficiency. When I wrote Cover Up, the efficiency of solar panels was in the single digits. Now most are 18% to 20%, and the SunPower company last year began manufacturing panels with 24% “world record” efficiency. With such jumps in efficiency, less space for panels is needed. More panels can be deployed harvesting more sunlight and converting it to electricity. Meanwhile, the price of solar panels has gone down dramatically.

Wind has become the world’s fastest growing energy resource.

Deepwater Wind is now completing America’s first offshore windfarm east of Long Island. It seeks to follow that up with a 200-turbine windfarm south of Long Island—the turbines placed beyond the horizon so there’s no aesthetic issue as there has been in early offshore windfarm plans. Then Deepwater Wind seeks to build a 200-windfarm south of New York City off New Jersey.

Here on Long Island the Town of East Hampton is moving ahead to have 100% of its electricity come from safe, clean, green, renewable energy by 2020. That’s just four years away!

East Hampton Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell says: “Making the switch to clean energy is just the right thing to do, both for the environment and for keeping more money in the local economy and creating jobs here.”

“We’re doing it!,” he told me recently:

East Hampton is to meet its 100% renewable energy goal through solar energy, from panels on town-owned land and rooftops, and from wind energy from Deepwater Wind’s off-shore wind turbines.

East Hampton has become the first municipality on the East Coast to adopt a 100% renewable energy goal but other governments in the U.S.—including cities such as San Francisco—have done the same, as have nations around the world.

Every town on Long Island and through New York State could do it, too. There’d be different mixes—like there needs to be different mixes globally depending on energy resources, although solar power runs through all.

“The World Can Transition…”

“The World Can Transition to 100% Clean, Renewable Energy,” declares the website of The Solutions Project headquartered in California. “Together ,” it continues, “we can build a stronger economy, healthier families, and a more secure future. 100% clean is 100% possible. Join us.” The website—http://the solutionsproject.org—is full of information on 100% renewable energy programs happening.

Among the articles: “139 Countries Could Be 100% Renewable by 2050.” The Solutions Project, supported by leading U.S. foundations including the Park Foundation, last month launched “The Fighter Fund, a new grant-making program for community-based groups on the front lines of the fight for clean energy and climate justice.”

And a fight is occurring. “Holding Clean Energy Hostage,” was the title of a recent  article by Cathy Kunkel of the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis and M.V. Ramana of the Program on Science and Global Security at Princeton University in the journal Reason in Revolt. Companies tied to “traditional” energy—nuclear, coal, oil, gas—seek to block “renewable energy every step of the way.”

The sun does not send bills.

Neither does the wind.

Once the infrastructure for renewable energy is built, energy flows—freely. And this threatens the old power order.

But there are new companies—like Insolight and Deepwater Wind—making huge advances in renewable energy technologies that the old order can’t put a lid on.

Regarding wind, the United Kingdom has just given the go-ahead for what’s to be the world’s largest offshore wind farm. An this August 7, Scottish wind turbines generated “the total amount of electricity used by every home and business” in Scotland, reported the U.K. newspaper The Independent. 

There are big advances in energy storage—to end criticism of renewable energy being intermittent. “Holy Grail of Energy Policy in Sight as Battery Technology Smashes the Old Order,” was the recent headline of the U.K. newspaper The Telegraph. Storage is a component of the Deepwater Wind bringing electricity to Long Island.

Said Bill Nye, the “Science Guy,” on CNN recently: “There’s enough wind and solar to power the world.”

And there are other renewable sources including those involving water—tidal power and wave power as we see daily on Long Island, now being tapped around the world, biomass, geothermal and on and on.

East Hampton by “setting these bold renewable energy goals,” says Gordian Raacke, executive director of Renewable Energy Long Island, is “a visionary leader in the fight against climate change and an example of how we can all become part of the solution.”

“Imagine what New York could do if Cuomo…”

Says Jessica Azulay of Alliance for a Green Economy: “Imagine what New York could do if Cuomo would go all-in on the thriving renewable energy sector instead of dumping more money into the nuclear industry. We could put more funding into wind and solar…and make tens of thousands of homes more energy efficient, creating jobs and saving people money. We could put real dollars into the geothermal industry and get ourselves off fracked gas and other fossil fuels…We’d save money to help with worker retraining and transitioning communities into the green economy. In short, we could accelerate our transition to 100 percent renewable energy, getting there faster, cheaper and safer.”

The Cuomo $7.6 billion nuclear bail-out plan, as Blair Horner, legislator director of the New York Public Interest Research Group, says “is like subsidizing the horse-and-buggy industry while Henry Ford is rolling cars off the assembly line.”

Beyond Dollars—It’s About Life

And this, most importantly, is beyond dollars—it’s about life.

The most comprehensive study of the consequences of a nuclear plant meltdown with loss of containment was done for the U.S. Nuclear Regulation Commission, which succeeded the Atomic Energy Commission, by Sandia National Laboratories in 1982. It’s title: Calculation of Reactor Accident Consequences or CRAC2.

The study projected “peak early fatalities,” “peak early injuries,” peak cancer deaths” and  “scaled costs” in the billions of dollars for such a meltdown at every nuclear plant in the United States.  In “scaled costs” the study itemizes “lost wages, relocation expenses, decontamination costs, lost property” but it is noted that “the cost of providing health care for the affected population” is not included. The nuclear industry and nuclear promoters in government were so upset with the release of this analysis that I doubt there will ever be anything like it again. I’ve distributed a breakdown of the CRAC2 numbers done by the House Subcommittee on Oversight & Investigations for your review.

The figures—and we’re speaking here of lives not mere numbers—for the four nuclear plants that would be bailed out under the Cuomo plan are:

Ginna — 2,000 fatalities, 28,000 injuries, 14,000 cancer deaths and $63 billion in costs—based on the value of the 1980 dollar. It would be three times that now.

FitzPatrick – 1,000 fatalities, 16,000 injuries, 17,000 cancer deaths and $103 billion in costs.

Nine Mile Point which consists of two nuclear power plants.

Unit 1 — 700 fatalities, 11,000 injuries, 14,000 cancer deaths, $66 billion in costs.

And Nine Mile Point 2 – 1,400 fatalities, 2,600 injuries, 20 000 cancer deaths, $134 billion in costs.

Also, as we have seen from Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukishima, nuclear accidents are not rare events, like the BNL scientists told me, and not minor. With a little more than 400 nuclear power plants in the world, 100 in the U.S., disaster has occurred nearly every decade.

And if the next nuclear disaster is to strike anywhere, it could easily happen at these four old nuclear plants. Nuclear plants were only seen as operating for 40 years. After that, the metals would become embrittled from radioactivity creating unsafe conditions. So they were given 40-year operating licenses. But the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has gone ahead in recent times and given 20-year license extensions to now more than 80 of the nuclear plants in the U.S.—including the four upstate plants. This would allow them to run for 60 years. And the NRC is considering having an additional license extension program to allow nuclear plants to run for 80 years. It’s just asking for disaster. Considering taking a 60-year car on to the LIE or an Interstate and driving it at full speed—and that’s also part of the NRC program, allowing the nuclear plants given extensions to “uprate”—run hotter and harder to produce more electricity.

In terms of age, Nine Mile Point Unit 1 went online in 1969 and is one of the two oldest nuclear plants in the U.S., tied with Oyster Creek in New Jersey. Ginna started operating in 1970. FitzPatrick in 1975.  These are from-the-past machines prone to mishap.

Excelon: 800 Pound Nuclear Gorilla

But there’s an 800 pound nuclear gorilla heavily involved in the bail-out plan—a company called Excelon. It’s the major owner of three of the plants—Ginna and the two Nine Mile Point plants—and Excelon has made a $110 million deal to buy FitzPatrick from Entergy with the bail-out deal in mind.

I’ve written articles on Excelon and notably its role in President Barack Obama’s flip on nuclear power. Running for his first term as president Obama declared: “I start off with the premise that nuclear energy is not optimal and so I am not a nuclear proponent. My general view is that until we can make certain that nuclear power plants are safe, that they have solved the storage problem…and the whole industry can show that they can produce clean, safe energy without enormous subsidies from the U.S. government, I don’t think that’s the best option. I am much more interested in solar and wind…”

Or as he told the editorial board of the Keene Sentinel in 2007: “I don’t think that there’s anything that we inevitably dislike about nuclear power. We just dislike the fact that it might blow up…and irradiate us…and kill us.”

Then, after his election, he began talking about “building a new generation of safe, clean nuclear power plants in this county.”

What happened in between? Key influences on Obama on nuclear power were Rahm Emanuel, who became his chief of staff, and as an investment banker was in the middle in 1999 of the $8.2 billion merger of Commonwealth Edison of Chicago and Peco Energy to put together Excelon, and there was David Axelrod, who became Obama’s senior advisor, who had been an Excelon PR consultant. Obama also received sizeable campaign contributions from Excelon executives. Indeed, Forbes magazine in 2010 ran a piece on Excelon and Obama headlined: “The President’s Utility.”

Excelon is now the biggest nuclear utility in the U.S.

Its fingerprints are on the $7.6 billion nuclear bail-out deal. As a filing with the PSC by a coalition of groups including Physicians for Social Responsibility, Indian Point Safe Energy Coalition, the Council on Intelligent Energy & Conservation Policy, Sierra Club-Lower Hudson Valley, and public officials, states: “There have been constant ongoing closed door negotiations with Entergy and Excelon nuclear reactor owners, discussing ways to protect and subsidize New York State’s nuclear industry….Some sort of deal for Excelon to purchase the FitzPatrick reactor from Entergy was worked out.” The “deal was predicated on the [Public Service] Commission approving the ratepayer subsidies…to bolster Fitzpatrick and the other financially failing nuclear plants in upstate New York.”

The two Indian Point nuclear power plants 26 miles north of New York City—45 miles west of us here today—are not now included in the bail-out plan. Governor Cuomo says he wants to those plants closed citing their danger. But, notes Jessica Azulay of Alliance for a Green Economy, the plan “leaves the door open to subsidies” for them and this would mean “the costs [of the bail-out] will rise to over $10 billion.”

Rickover: “Outlaw Nuclear Reactors”

The bottom line when it comes to nuclear power comes from Admiral Rickover,

considered the “father” of the U.S. nuclear navy as well as being in charge of building Shippingport. When he retired from the Navy in 1982 he addressed a Congressional committee and said—his remarks are included in Cover Up—that until several billion years ago “it was impossible to have any life on Earth; that is, there was so much radiation on Earth you couldn’t have any life—fish or anything. “ Then, “gradually, “the amount of radiation on this planet and probably in the entire system reduced and made it possible for some form of life to begin.”

“Now,” he went on, by utilizing nuclear power “we are creating something which nature tried to destroy to make life possible…every time you produce radiation,” a “horrible force” is unleashed, “in some cases for billions of years.” In other words, nuclear power plants recreate the very radioactive poisons that precluded life from existing. “And,” said Rickover, “I think there the human race is going to wreck itself.”

We must, for the sake of life, Rickover told the Congressional committee, “outlaw nuclear reactors.”

Rickover, deeply involved in nuclear technology, finally saw—as we all must—the light.

Karl Grossman

Professor of Journalism, SUNY/College at Old Westbury and investigative reporter

What’s been called investigative reporting for the past nearly 50 years—a century ago it was called muckraking—is a specific branch of journalism.  It isn’t just answering the questions—who, what, when, where, why and how—but digging deep.

A definition and a good one for investigative reporting, from Paul Williams, author of a basic book on investigative reporting and a founder of the organization Investigative Reporters & Editors, is “to tell how things really work.”

Not how some government official or corporate executive might claim things work but what you, the journalist uncovers through intensive investigation. Truth with a capital T. You then write or air an expose. This sometimes takes the form of a journalistic crusade.

It’s a form of journalism highly compatible with Judaism.

As Isaiah said: “Seek justice, defend the oppressed.”

Investigative reporting fits perfectly with the Jewish tradition of always questioning…and of challenging authority.

It’s a branch of journalism loaded with Jews.

It wasn’t happenstance that Joseph Pulitzer, a Jew from Hungary, was one of the two major publishers in the mainstream press whose papers engaged in muckraking in the Muckraking Era in the United States, between 1900 and 1914.

George Seldes, from a Jewish utopian agricultural community in New Jersey, who lived through most of the 20th century, passing away at 104, is regarded as the father of contemporary independent investigative journalism.

And Seymour Hersh; I.F. Stone; Carl Bernstein; David Halberstam; Fred Friendly (Edward R. Murrow’s investigative partner); Don Hewitt, creator of 60 Minutes, long the leading investigative TV program; Mike Wallace; Daniel Schorr—Schorr wrote, “We Jews are searchers for truth, sometimes called investigative reporting”—Gloria Steinem; Lowell Bergman; Eric Nadler; Bob Simon…

Jill Abramson, with a background in investigative reporting, was the top editor at The New York Times between 2011 and 2014,the first woman to hold that post, and in it directed The Times to do more investigative reporting.

The list goes on.

The most important work of journalist Theodor Herzl, the father of modern Zionism, could be considered investigative journalism. Writing for his newspaper about the Dreyfus affair in France and virulent anti-Semitism there and elsewhere in Europe, the truth became clear to this Hungarian Jew about how things really worked for Jews in Europe. He concluded that Jews must remove themselves from Europe. And his mighty crusade was for Jews to create their own state.

I’ve been at investigative reporting for more than 50 years.

This is a corny store but it’s about how I got into investigative reporting. In college, I got an internship at the Cleveland Press. It was the first newspaper started by E.W. Scripps who was the other major mainstream press figure highly active during the Muckraking Era. Pulitzer and Scripps were special because much of the press of the day—and our day—were compromised like other institutions in society. In the Muckraking Era, the investigative reporting was largely carried out by independent magazines that sprung up.

The culture Scripps created was still very much present at the Cleveland Press. Every few days the paper ran an expose. Scripps wasn’t Jewish but in his views could have been. As he declared: “Whatever is—is wrong.” And must be changed. The title of his autobiography:  I Protest.

Above the entrance to the paper, etched in stone, were a lighthouse and the words: “Give Light and the People Will Find Their Own Way.”

And every day I saw this happening. It was 1960 and the term investigative reporting wasn’t yet used. It came a few years later. But there was a group of reporters at the Cleveland Press who did this. I was a copyboy and working at night, nearly alone in the city room, when there was a phone call advising the paper about some event in Shaker Heights, for example, you passed on a note to the suburban desk. A call about something happening in the city—the note went to the city desk.

But if someone called with a horror story, a tale of injustice, inequity, danger—you gave it to this group of investigative reporters.

And the amazing thing to me, at 18, was seeing how when the information was documented by one of these investigative reporters and published—half the time the situation was resolved.

This was just the neatest thing, I thought, so I headed back east with my girlfriend from Antioch College, the former Janet Kopp of Huntington,  we’ve been married for 56 years, to become an investigative reporter.

My first big story was as a reporter for the Babylon Town Leader—which for decades had opposed various schemes of Babylon resident and public works czar Robert Moses (who otherwise had most of New York media in his pocket). It was 1962 and Moses had just announced he wanted to build a four-lane highway on Fire Island.

I wrote about how the Moses road would devastate the human and natural communities on the fragile 32-mile long barrier beach. The crusade pointed to a Fire Island National Seashore as a way to stop Moses, considering his enormous power in New York State.

It wasn’t just me, but I did my part, and the highway was stopped and the seashore created.

I went to the Long Island Press (my plan was to move up the journalistic ladder to what was my favorite newspaper as a kid in the city, the New York Herald Tribune, but it closed in 1967.)  I was promoted to doing investigative reporting at The Press and my pieces including this beaut: George Semerjian, who’s still around in Southampton, was excavating a square mile of Long Island up in Jamesport claiming he was building a deepwater port. In fact, it was a mammoth sand mine with the sand being barged over to Connecticut to make concrete for highways. I did an expose, received the George Polk Award for it, and most important, this rape of Long Island was stopped.

I investigated, before we moved out to Sag Harbor in the Town of Southampton, the Town of Southampton, revealing, among other things, that if you wanted to turn wetlands into buildable lots for houses, you just needed to hire as your engineer Rudolph Kammerer, otherwise the Suffolk Department of Public Works commissioner, and as your surveyor, Marvin Raynor, otherwise president of the Southampton Town Trustees. And lo and behold, the county Department of Public Works dredge would come, suck up bay bottom and spit it out on the wetlands, now with bulkheading to hold the “fill” that was laid out by Raynor, who also voted for the bulkheading. The county dredge was sold, Raynor resigned.

I broke the story of the oil industry seeking to drill in the Atlantic and traveled from off Nova Scotia, where the first rig was placed, down the U.S. coast—investigating the consequences of spillage.

After The Press ceased publication, I accepted an offer from the State University of New York/College at Old Westbury—established in 1965 with a commitment to social justice and where the first college or university course in Investigative Reporting in the U.S. began—to be a professor and teach it.  I’ve been teaching Investigative Reporting every semester since 1979, and continuing to do it—functionally locally, continuing the column I had at The Press in Long Island weekly papers, and nationally and, indeed, sort of cosmically.

Of my major stories through the years, a big one, has involved the use of nuclear power in space. That started with my learning that the next mission of the ill-fated Challenger space shuttle involved lofting a space probe containing plutonium fuel. With all the debris that ended up over Florida when the Challenger exploded in 1986, consider the impacts if plutonium, the most toxic radioactive substance, was also dispersed. I wrote about accidents that had happened involving nuclear in space and plans for bigger nuclear payloads. My book on this: The Wrong Stuff.

This led me to investigate President Reagan’s Star Wars program which was based on orbiting battle platforms with onboard nuclear power systems providing the energy for hypervelocity guns and laser and particle beam weapons. My book on this: Weapons in Space.

As to nuclear power on Earth, my first book was Cover Up: What You Are Not Supposed to Know About Nuclear Power. Regarding Long Island, for years I investigated the Shoreham nuclear power plant—which was to be the first of seven to 11 nuclear plants on Long Island. My book on this: Power Crazy.  Again, many others were involved—pressing politically, utilizing civil disobedience, among other strategies. But I did my part through investigative journalism. And Shoreham was stopped from operating. The scheme to turn Long Island into, in nuclear establishment parlance of the time, a “nuclear park” was ended.

I’ve also done much investigative reporting on television. For nearly 25 years I’ve hosted the nationally-aired program Enviro Close-Up. I’m the chief investigative reporter for WVVH-TV. TV documentaries I’ve written and presented have included: Three Mile Island Revisited, The Push to Revive Nuclear Power, Renewables Are More Than Ready and Nukes in Space: The Nuclearization and Weaponization of the Heavens.

In recent year, with the arrival of the Internet, I’ve done extensive investigative reporting on websites including CounterPunch, Enformable, The Huffington Post and The Times of Israel.

I write regularly for the Jewish press in the New York area: for the Long Island Jewish World, Manhattan Jewish Sentinel and The Jewish Tribune.

I’m still amazed how the process of investigative reporting works—how the exposure of injustice, inequity, danger works to resolves the situation—about half the time.  And if there is no immediate resolution, you keep at it.  “It is not incumbent on thee to complete the task,” says the Talmud.  But “thou must not…cease from pursuing it.”

The big problem has been getting air or ink considering the dysfunction of much of media. A course I developed at SUNY Old Westbury is Politics of Media.

But the Internet has made a great contribution to investigative reporting—suddenly there is this enormously powerful instrument to, so far freely, communicate information globally.

As to deciding on what I investigate and report on, there are so many horror stories out there I need to handle what I select through a kind of journalistic triage. I focus on stories involving life-threatening issues—one of my books is about toxic chemicals and the close connection between environmental pollution and cancer. I keep investigating nuclear power on land and overhead and how it threatens life. That’s also about what we as Jews hold dearest— l’chayim.to life.

Shabbat sholom.

Presentation at Center for Jewish Life


Sag Harbor, New York

Karl Grossman, May 25, 2018

Professor of Journalism, State University of New York/College at Old Westbury

Keynote Address

Karl Grossman

Professor, State University of New York/College at Old Westbury

Russian-American Women’s Leadership And Nuclear Safety Activism

Exchange of the Initiative for Social Action and Renewal in Eurasia

Tomsk, Siberia, May 24, 2002

Karl Grossman

Professor SUNY College at Old Westbury

Presentation at SUNY College at New Paltz

October 21, 2010

Energy we can live with. Yes. It’s here, it can sustain us, it can allow us to thrive—without life-threatening power.

But getting from here to there will not be easy. It will take individual and group action because the energy deck is stacked—from pressure especially from the oil, coal and nuclear industries.

Let me make some remarks—and then let’s have a discussion with you saying what you think we can do to implement safe, renewable energy technologies.

They are here today. As this magazine, the respect British journal New Scientist declared in a special issue not long ago, “The UN says the renewable energy that can already be harnessed economically would supply the world’s electricity needs 15 times over.” Clean renewable power technologies can be employed to “achieve a colossal environmental win…It’s time we…got on with making it a reality.”

New Scientist goes on to present details on solar power, wind energy, tide-power, geothermal energy and other technologies that are here today.

It declares: “A world run on renewables is no longer a hippy’s fuzzy green dream. “ It’s time, it says, we “make it a reality.”

But we don’t live in the fairest of energy worlds.

Take oil. Do you remember—just two years ago—when the price of gasoline was skyrocketing: to $4 and $4.25 and $4.50 a gallon and more.

The oil companies were claiming the fault was China and India going car-crazy and guzzling up gas, problems in the Middle East, then it was refinery capacity, and all along—if the ban on drilling in areas on the continental shelf offshore was only lifted, everything would be different.

Meanwhile, filling up a car, at 40 or 50 bucks a shot, was hurting people badly, impacting an already bad economy. And the oil companies were raking in record profits—billions upon billions of dollars.

People were getting angrier and angrier thinking some kind of price-rigging was going on. You think?

Then, suddenly, the price of gas went down. And ever since it’s been down to about $3 a gallon. That’s the price I just paid on the Thruway coming here. The price of a barrel of crude has dived—from a high of $145 two years back to half that.

Yet people are still car-crazy in China and India, problems continue in the Middle East, no new refineries have been built, and after the mammoth oil spill in Gulf of Mexico, restrictions on offshore oil drilling have been expanded.

Do you think the oil industry is manipulating the market, grabbing our money to make windfall profits when it can, and is deep in deception?

I’ve thought so for years.

Let me tell a story—of how decades ago I broke the story of the oil industry exploring in the Atlantic—and received my first lesson in oil industry honesty, an oxymoron.

I was a reporter for the daily Long Island Press and got a tip from a fisherman out of Montauk who said he had seen the same sort of vessel as the boats he observed searching for oil when he was a shrimper in the 1940s in the Gulf of Mexico. I spent the day telephoning oil company after oil company. Public relations people for each said, no, we’re not involved in looking for oil in the Atlantic. In the Atlantic? they scoffed.

I was leaving the office when there was a call that a PR guy from Gulf was on the phone. He said he checked and, yes, Gulf was involved in searching for oil in the Atlantic—in a “consortium” of 32 oil companies. These included the companies that all day issued flat denials.

As to oil spillage at offshore rig, I worked the Atlantic offshore oil drilling story for years which included visiting the first rig set up—off Nova Scotia. Offshore drilling is dangerous in the Atlantic or the Gulf or anywhere. My article began: “The rescue boat goes round and round…as the man from Shell concedes, ‘We treat every foot of hole like a potential disaster.’” On the rig were capsules to eject crew members in an accident. I wrote, “Workers may all be kept in one piece, but erupting oil won’t, the man from Shell admits.” He acknowledges that “booms and other devices the oil industry flashes in its advertising ‘just don’t work in over five-foot seas.’” So, he says, there are “stockpiles of clean-up material on shore. Not straw as in the States,” he says. “Here we have peat moss.”

I found spills in offshore drilling and consequent damage to fisheries and other life as chronic—although we’re not supposed to know that. We’re to believe the Gulf disaster was an isolated incident. In fact, it’s drill, baby, spill.

Might I recommend a very well-researched recent book, The Tyranny of Oil: The World’s Most Powerful Industry—and What We Must To Do Stop It by Antonia Juhasz.

She writes: “The masters of the oil industry, the companies known as ‘Big Oil,’ exercise their influence…through rapidly and ever-increasing oil and gasoline prices, a lack of viable alternatives, the erosion of democracy, environmental destruction, global warming, violence, and war.”

She cites a Gallup poll on “public perceptions of U.S. industry” and reports the oil industry “earned the lowest rating of any industry.” Americans are on to the oil industry—and they need to do a lot about it! And it’s not just Big Oil.

When it comes to energy, it’s Big Oil and Big Coal and Big Nuclear which manipulate U.S. policy, says S. David Freeman, and he should know.

Freedman headed the New York Power Authority and also the Tennessee Valley Authority and authored the book Winning Our Energy Independence: An Energy Insider Shows How.

Freeman calls oil, coal and nuclear “The Three Poisons.” And he stresses that we don’t need any of these poisons.

He declares that the solar power that could be harnessed on 1 percent of the land in the U.S. “could generate electricity that, if converted to hydrogen, could completely replace gasoline,” that “our vast solar and wind potential…could meet all our energy needs, from driving our motor vehicles to heating our homes and other uses now being supplied by coal, nuclear, oil…We would have our renewable energy when, where, and however we liked it.”

There’s a windfall at hand of safe, renewable, clean energy—if only it would be fully pursued. But there are industrial interests working with their partners in the U.S. government, who fight that.

These renewable energy technologies—are energy that we can live with, energy that can unhook us from oil, coal and nuclear. But those industries don’t like that possibility.

Consider hot dry rock geothermal energy. It turns out that below half the earth, two to six miles down, it’s extremely hot. When naturally flowing water hits those hot rocks and has a place to come up, you get geysers like in California or Iceland. But also water can be sent down an injection pipe to hit the hot dry rock below and rise up second production pipe as super-heated water that can turn a turbine and generate electricity or furnish heat.

Scientists from Los Alamos National Laboratory built a model hot dry rock facility at Fenton Hill and showed that the technology can work.


That was some statement from Dave Duchane, a respected, careful scientist, that “hot dry rock is has an almost unlimited potential to supply all the energy needs of the United States and all the world.”

The New York Times said about hot dry rock geothermal: “The estimated energy potential of hot dry rock nationwide is 10 million quads…more energy than this country uses in thousands of years.”

So what happened?

A request for proposal—an RFP—was prepared by Los Alamos inviting industry to take over the Fenton Hill facility that you just saw and “produce and market energy” from it. But on its way to Washington, the RFP was cancelled by the Department of Energy under pressure, I’ve been told, by conventional energy industries. And the Fenton Hill facility has been decommissioned. And now there are claims being made that hot dry rock geothermal might be great but the initial drilling could cause earth tremors. The hot dry rock scientists say if that happens the tremors cease pretty quickly. But the technology is to a large degree stalled.

What do we do?

Some things can be done individually. The sun shines on where I live on Long Island, and up here and all over New York State, indeed throughout the U.S. and the world. As Sharp, a major manufacturer of solar panels, says: the sun is the answer.

Last year, my wife and I had solar photovoltaic panels installed on the roof of our house. And now, most of the time, our electric meter spins backwards. The panels on the roof are not onlysupplying all the electricity we use but excess is sent back into the grid, for which we are paid. Our electric bill is now $5 a month, the minimum charge for the meter reader to come.

Meanwhile, the price of solar photovoltaic panels has been dropping fast and their efficiencies rising. SunPower Corp. of California this year announced new panels with a remarkable 24.2 percent efficiency—the rating NASA’s solar panels have in converting sunlight to electricity.

Also, we not only now have solar panels to generate electricity but thermal panels to heat water. And it is just amazing to see, in the middle of last winter, a cold winter, the water coming down from the roof at 100 and 120 days—on frigid days.

Technology can be very good.

Solar is also a key to generating an optimum fuel—hydrogen—for locomotion . As Lester Brown, founder of Worldwatch Institute says in his book, EcoEconomy: Building an Economy for the Earth, “In the eco-economy, hydrogen will be the dominant fuel…Since hydrogen can be stored and used as needed, it provides perfect support for an energy economy with wind and solar power as the main pillars.”

There’s a very, very good U.S. Department of Energy Laboratory, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado. It’s a beacon for a sustainable energy future. At NREL, they’re working on using solar to produce hydrogen from water. Here’s my interview with John Turner, senior scientist, at NREL. (AN ENVIROVIDEO TV INTERVIEW WITH TURNER IS PLAYED.)

Here’s Dr. Turner, a respected, careful scientist speaking of “sunlight to hydrogen—basically an inexhaustible fuel…the forever fuel.”

The hydrogen-through-solar-energy approach of NREL is the way Volkswagen envisions a hydrogen infrastructure. It has opened a solar hydrogen filling station in Germany, built in collaboration with the German solar energy company Solvis. You drive up and see a large solar array which, through electrolysis, produces hydrogen from water. And you fill’er-up—with hydrogen.

That combination of endless hydrogen from water and endless solar from the sun to produce it is being called green hydrogen.

But, again, those vested interests would get into the act. A scheme started under the administration of President George W. Bush—with its cronies in the oil, coal and nuclear industries—involves construction of a nuclear power plant at Idaho National Laboratory to make hydrogen.

To get clean hydrogen there’s this push to use atomic power with all its dangers: the potential for catastrophic accidents, routine radioactive emissions, the production of nuclear waste that somehow must be safeguarded for millennia, problems of nuclear proliferation, and so forth.

Talking about screwing up a great idea.

There’s a coalition—the Green Hydrogen Coalition—which includes Greenpeace, Sierra Club, Friends of the Earth and other groups—fighting for the hydrogen/solar economy, not the hydrogen/nuclear scheme.

What I’ve been most impressed in visiting the National Renewable Energy Laboratory is that whatever division I went to there, the vision is of boundless safe, clean, renewable energy energy.

Not only by using solar to generate hydrogen but through a new amazing solar energy technology called “thin film photovoltaic.” Developed at NREL, rather than conventional rigid solar panels, it involves flexible membranes impregnated with high-efficiency solar collectors.

These sheets of solar-collecting membranes can be applied over glass buildings. Skyscrapers that rise in Manhattan or buildings here on the New Paltz campus can serve as electricity generators. “Thin film photovoltaic” is now being widely used in Europe.

Scientists at NREL’s Solar Energy Research Facility say that through solar we could get all the energy we’d ever need.

But then you go to NREL’s National Wind Technology Center where the scientists speak about wind providing all the energy we’d ever need.

They were pioneers in the great advances in wind energy in recent years—especially the development of turbines with highly-efficient blades and wind turbines that can be…and are…being placed on land and increasingly, in Europe, offshore.

Bluewater Wind is getting set to build the first offshore wind farm off Delaware. It would be this country’s first.

Wind is now the fastest growing energy technology. It has been expanding 25 percent a year and that kind of future annual growth is predicted. Wind energy costs a fifth of what it did in the 1980s—and is now fully competitive with other energy technologies—and a continuing downward cost trend is anticipated.

And at NREL’s National Bioenergy Center, the scientists say biomass could fulfill a huge portion of the world energy needs—and we’re not talking here about using food stocks, corn, but switchgrass and poplar trees and other, again, non-food energy crops.

The scientists at NREL might not be right on any single energy source—but all together these and other renewable energy sources, can, in a mix, provide all the energy we need. And energy we can live with.

As NREL declares on its website: “There’s no shortage of renewable energy resources.”

And there’s so many more:

Consider: wave power. In Portugal, a wave power project has just begun. Pelamis Wave Power, a Scottish company, has engineered it—a line of machines will be tapping nature’s constant ocean power.

And tidal energy. The government of Nova Scotia is moving ahead with tapping the enormous power of the 40 and 50 foot tides that twice a day rush in and out of the Bay of Fundy—driven by the moon.

And energy from algae.

And micro or distributed power, smart grids, cutting energy loss from transmitting electricity over long distances.

And throughout, we must remember efficiency, a key across the board.

Here’s my interview with energy analyst Amory Lovins. (ENVIROVIDEO TV INTERVIEW WITHLOVINS TAPE IS SHOWN)

Renewables Are Ready was the title of a book written by two Union of Concerned Scientists staffers in 1995. They’re more than ready now. But there’s much work to do challenging the manipulation and, yes, tyranny of Big Oil, Big Coal and Big Nuclear to make that possible.

Now, let’s have a discussion on what you think we should and can do to bring on safe, renewable energy technologies.


Karl Grossman is a full professor of journalism at the State University of New York/College at Old Westbury. Among the six books he has authored are: Cover Up: What You Are Not Supposed To Know About Nuclear Power and Power Crazy. He has given presentations on energy and environmental issues around the world.

He hosts the nationally-aired Enviro Close-Up produced by EnviroVideo, a New York-based TV company. He narrated and wrote EnviroVideo’s award-winning documentaries The Push To Revive Nuclear Power; Nukes In Space: The Nuclearization and Weaponization of the Heavens and Three Mile Island Revisited.

He is the chief investigative reporter of WVVH-TV on Long Island.

His articles have appeared in publications including The New York Times, The Boston Globe, USA Today, The Miami Herald, The Village Voice, Extra!, E, The Environmental Magazine, The Globe and Mail, The Nation, The Progressive, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Newsday, The Christian Science Monitor, The Crisis, Mother Jones and The Ecologist. His column appears weekly in newspapers of The Southampton Press Group and other newspapers on Long Island.

Honors he has received for journalism include the George Polk, James Aronson and John Peter Zenger Awards.

He can be reached by email. His home address is: Box 1680, Sag Harbor, New York, USA, 11963.

Beyond the Bomb Conference
Pace University

New York City
November 4, 2006

Karl Grossman
Professor, State University of New York, College at Old Westbury

5th International Conference

Problems and Practice of Engineering Education

Tomsk Polytechnic University

Tomsk, Siberia

May 26, 2002

Karl Grossman

Professor, State University of New York, College at Old Westbury

Doobrahye Ootrah.

The Patriarch of Russia, Alexey II, spoke here yesterday afternoon about the importance of combining learning in science and engineering with education in the humanities.

I would like to humbly add to that wise man’s counsel with some thoughts.

We have come to a time in my country and yours, indeed in the world as a whole, that education in the humanities—especially in understanding and applying ethics and moral principles—is critical, vital, indeed should be required in science and engineering.

First, I am a professor of journalism and let me say that education in the humanities—in history and culture and values—is also critical for journalists.

And some journalists are, unfortunately, remiss in this central area for their work, too. At my college of the State University in New York, in classes I and others teach for future journalists, we try to educate them in this regard. The problems of ethics and journalism must be the subject of another day. But I do want to make it clear, I am not picking on another profession.

I have written several books and done much investigating into nuclear technology—including the role of nuclear engineers and scientists.

My subject today at this conference on “Problems and Practice of Engineering Education” is, in specific, “Nuclear Engineering, Ethics and Public Health.”

Several weeks after the 1986 catastrophe at the Chernobyl nuclear plant, Morris Rosen, a nuclear engineer from the United States—formerly with our government—who moved on to become long-time director of nuclear safety at the International

Atomic Energy Agency, the Number 2 man at this agency—said, and I have his statement in my hand:

“There is very little doubt that nuclear power is a rather benign industrial enterprise and we may have to expect catastrophic accidents from time to time.”

To this day, the nuclear engineers and scientists of the International Atomic Energy Agency—created by the United States to somehow promote and regulate nuclear power at the same time—have sought to minimize, indeed deny, the terrible public health impacts of Chernobyl.

They maintain that but 31 people died, that the main health effect has been psychological.

Chernobyl was not an anomaly, a unique event.

I have in my hand an official analysis by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission projecting the impacts—in “early fatalities,” “early injuries,” “cancer deaths” and property damage—in the event of a meltdown with breach of containment at every nuclear plant in America.

This analysis, “Calculation of Reactor Accident Consequences,” estimates for the Indian Point 2 and 3 nuclear plants—just north of New York City:

  • 46,000 “early fatalities” from 2 and 50,000 from 3.
  • 141,000 “early injuries” from 2 and 167,000 from 3.
  • 13,000 “cancer deaths” from 2 and 14,000 from 3.
  • And property damage — $274 billion from 2 and $314 billion from 3 (and these are in 1980 dollars; a trillion each today.

And these are not just numbers. These represent people’s lives.

Before our Three Mile Island accident in 1979, American nuclear engineer Norman Rasmussen, professor of nuclear engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said getting injured or killed in a nuclear plant accident was “like getting hit on the head by a meteor while crossing a street.”

Some meteor. Some street.

Later, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, under pressure of a U.S. Congressional committee, admitted in this statement that the “likelihood of a severe core melt accident” in “a population of 100 reactors operating over a period of 20 years” was 45%—and that this might be off by 5 or 10%. So the chances, it said, are about 50-50.

Nuclear technology—and engineering and science in general—are not value-free. At the end of the Manhattan Project, the U.S. program which first invented the atomic bomb, J. Robert Oppenheimer, its scientific director, told Edward Teller, who was pushing on to develop the hydrogen bomb, “We physicists have sinned.”

Today, good engineering and science have revolutionized safe, clean, sustainable, non-nuclear energy technologies. Generating energy from the wind is now far cheaper than nuclear power. Huge strides have been made in solar energy, geothermal power, there is appropriate hydropower, tidal power, wave power, the production of hydrogen fuel by using solar energy to separate hydrogen and oxygen in water—and on and on.

Still, in my country, what has been called the “nuclear establishment,” drives on. Nuclear engineers and scientists working for the government and industry in the U.S. push the technology that gives them money and power—and forget about good science.

Forget about ethics. Forget about morality. Forget about honest, independent epidemiology. Forget about life.

In medicine, all over the world the first principle for all doctors under the Hippocratic Oath is “do no harm.”

This is not the case, I submit, for many nuclear engineers and scientists.

In my country, with many nuclear engineers and scientists involved, there is a push to “revive” nuclear power.

There has not been a nuclear plant sold in America since our Three Mile Island accident.

Fifty new nuclear plants would be built.

The operating years of existing reactors would be extended from 40 to 60 years—inviting catastrophe from machines never viewed as running that long.

Some nuclear waste would be smelted down and incorporated into consumer items like car bodies, pots and spoons and forks. High level waste would be sent to Yucca Mountain in Nevada, a place on or near 32 earthquake faults.

The huge terrorist threat against nuclear plants is not being realistically dealt with. One of the jets piloted by terrorists that flew into the World Trade Center minutes before flew over the Indian Point nuclear plants.

But U.S. government agencies and corporations—and engineers and scientists with a vested interest in nuclear technology—continue pushing.

Here in Russia, where your Ministry of Atomic Energy wants to build 10 new reactors and make your wonderful country a garbage dump for large amounts of the world’s nuclear waste, there is a comparable situation.

The brave Lydia Popova, who broke from your Ministry of Atomic Energy, has written about the ministry and “its commitment…to serve the interests of the [nuclear] industry and a select group of nuclear specialists at the expense of the people.”

What’s to be done?

Education—sound, solid education imbuing moral values and broader understanding pioneered here at Tomsk Polytechnic University—for scientists and engineers must occur. Widely and intensely. At the least.

Education and democracy, of course, go hand in hand.

The kind of critical issues I’ve spoke about today are too important to be left to nuclear engineers and scientists—many who would prefer to work in secret.

We need transparency. We need openness. We need full public participation and democratic involvement.

We need to make sure life is put first.

As the environmental plan for Russia advanced by the Center for Russian Environmental Policy, led by your great scientist and my friend, biologist Alexey Yablokov, states: the “environment must be healthy for both long-time successful existence of the living nature and assurance of human health.”

Or as another great Russian scientist of conscience, nuclear physicist Andrei Sakharov, has said: “The [long-term] effect of radioactive carbon does not reduce the moral responsibility for future lives. Only an extreme deficiency of imagination can distinguish the suffering of contemporaries [from] that of posterity.”

In respect to the Holy Father’s comments on integrating religion and education, we have in America a principle of separation of church and state. But as an American Jew, there’s nothing wrong, I believe, in considering a passage from the Bible—important to Russian Orthodox and Christians of all kinds, and Jews, who, I mention in all humility, wrote the book.

In Deuteronomy it is written:

“I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse.

Therefore, choose life, that you and your descendants may live.”

People from around the world, lawyers and plumbers, professors and bus drivers, musicians and engineers and scientists, must choose life—and learn about why.