A hint of uranium on the breeze

Written By: - Date published: 9:55 am, March 29th, 2009 - 32 comments
Categories: Environment - Tags: ,

Well well well. According to the Herald:

“New Zealanders are being asked whether the Government should allow nuclear-powered ships back into our waters … workers for a market research company have disclosed they have been polling voters about nuclear power”.

Bravo to the staff involved for blowing the whistle.

The usual suspects, National, ACT and “Right-leaning think-tanks” have denied involvement (well they would, wouldn’t they). The survey staff believe it was National.

Someone is sniffing around this issue again. It would be interesting if we could find out who….

32 comments on “A hint of uranium on the breeze”

  1. Principessa 1

    When I read that I wondered if it could be Rakon?

  2. out of bed 2

    it’s not April 1st quite yet

  3. Bravo to the staff for breaching their obligation to confidentiality to use this information as a tool in their bargaining.

    Will you be as supportive of them when they are sacked for gross misconduct?

    • Chris S 3.1

      A tool in their bargaining?

      • Inventory2 3.1.1

        That’s right Chris – that’s the bit that Steve “Guest Post” Pierson didn’t mention:

        “But now, workers for a market research company have disclosed they have been polling voters about nuclear power. The workers have been in a pay dispute with their employer, Oceania Customer Interaction Service (OCIS).

        The Unite union last night settled its dispute with the company, but not before claiming the survey was being carried out for the National Party.”

        Casts a somewhat different light on the matter, does it not?

        • r0b

          IV2, You know that the authors here don’t like speculation on the identities of posters, for reasons discussed in the about page they prefer to protect anonymity.

          But you needn’t see the hand of Steve Pierson everywhere. This guest post happened to be me (sorry I stuffed up the link Tane). I’ve done others in the past, I might do others in the future, I won’t “sign” them, I like the mechanism of the guest post. I expect that others do too and are doing the same.

          • Inventory2

            Cheers for that r0b. What of the issue I raised though – is it ethical for employees to use confidential information obtained on behalf of a paying client for leverage in an industrial dispute?

          • r0b

            I wouldn’t have thought so no. But we don’t know if that is the case here, all we have is the speculation of a reporter. And the fact that this has leaked to the media tends to suggest that it wasn’t being used as a bargaining chip, it’s “bargaining power” is gone as soon as it is actually released.

            So while I wouldn’t agree with the information being used in that way, I certainly agree with it’s leaking to the media. Whistle blowing in the case of genuine national interest has a fine and venerable history, and these days is facilitated by mechanisms like Wikileaks (see link in OP).

  4. coge 4

    Is this another one of those issues that (according to some) is not supposed to be discussed in NZ? Why is that?

    • Felix 4.1

      I agree, it should be discussed openly.

      If the govt genuinely wants to have the discussion they should come clean and have the discussion. Why won’t they?

    • r0b 4.2

      I would have thought we could discuss it all we like – see Herald, this post, whatever…

      For the record, I’m opposed. I like our nuclear free policy the way it is. Nuclear free. I haven’t taken to the streets for a wee few years, but I’d take to the streets for this.

  5. DeeDub 5

    That link goes to an article about HC’s UN appointment.

  6. John Dalley 6

    Looking forward to a number of future leaks from within the Public Service from disgruntled current and ex employees.

    • IrishBill 6.1

      thestandardnz (at) gmail (dot) com

      (just in case anyone is looking for a sympathetic ear)

  7. infused 7

    I don’t see the reason for the ban personally. I’m all for Nuclear power here too. Although I know NZ is too small for a reactor… Yes, I’ve had this debate.

    Maybe in the future though, smaller reactors hmm? Beats damming up every god damm river.

    I use to own nuclear.co.nz, .org.nz and .net.nz with forums discussing the issue.

  8. Irascible 8

    The Lange Labour Govt’s nuclear policy was always up for sale by John Key. It his world of short lived gain for speculative profit there are no principles except a readiness to sell off anything that could have value be it real or intrinsic.
    The press were not tough enough on Key & co during the election campaign to force an admission from them that there would be a drop off of perceived policy as soon as the victory was obvious.
    Watch for more covert – then trumpeted revocations of long held national principles as Key beds himself in.

  9. unionist 9

    “Bravo to the staff for breaching their obligation to confidentiality to use this information as a tool in their bargaining.
    Will you be as supportive of them when they are sacked for gross misconduct?”

    Actually they aren’t techically employed during a lock out so have no oblgations to confidentiality.

  10. coge 10

    So who commissioned the survey, Greenpeace or an NZ electricity supplier?

    This thread looks like a bit of an own goal. Let’s have some factual answers!

  11. Helena 11

    Has this got something to do with Don Brash’s comment “gone by lunchtime”. Perhaps the philosophy of National is actually, “Lets get things through Parliament as quickly as we can before the masses can have any say whatsoever!!”
    Are they using the “shock” of the credit crunch to push unpopular policies through before the people know what is happening? Doesnt sound like democracy to me..

  12. Ianmac 12

    I’m dead against nuclear vessels visiting NZ.
    But I think we should keep open the possibility of nuclear fission or in development fusion as a source of all NZ electrical energy needs. If all (world) power stations stopped emmitting smoke and used nuclear power instead, global warming would take a hit. And Cheynobal is not a reason to not consider it.

    • r0b 12.1

      I usually agree with you Ianmac, so I’m interested in this point of disagreement.

      And Cheynobal is not a reason to not consider it.

      Why not? I was living in Europe when Chernobyl blew, I will have copped my share of rads. I’m not anxious to repeat the experience.

  13. dave 13

    I believe that nuclear powered ships visiting is preferable to nuclear power, we have plenty of resources to generate more than enough power for our means, without resorting to a highly unstable element that, theoretically should stay in the soil where it may be doing a job we’re not aware of.

    Just my two cents

  14. sweeetdisorder 14

    And Cheynobal is not a reason to not consider it.

    Cheynobal was caused by the team over riding safeties. Safeties, which you might imagine were there to prevent trouble.

  15. sweeetdisorder 15


    I am sure the huntly power station has safeties designed to prevent trouble, which if over rode would amount to a terrible incident. Just because they were over ridden at one site (which was under communist rule at the time and employees were not in a position to refuse orders to carry out the scheduled tests-hence the over riding of the safeties even though they were there for a good reason) should not rule out nuclear power stations in NZ. Over reasons may, but they one should not.

  16. RedLogix 16

    I am sure the huntly power station has safeties designed to prevent trouble, which if over rode would amount to a terrible incident.

    I don’t have the story first hand, but I am aware of a fairly major incident at Huntly within the last few years, in which a high pressure oil system isolator was left closed and some major turbine bearings catastrophically failed during a test run, resulting in a lot of metal flying about the machine hall. Apparently it was fortunate no-one was killed.

    From what I heard it was pretty much a case of failed procedures and bypassed safeties.

    Or do you want the details of a major US nuclear plant in the Ohio area that had seven of eight diesel backup generators fail during a major grid incident about 8 years ago? These generators are essential to ensure that the critical core cooling water pumps continued to operate even after the system had been tripped. If the last one had not started it would have made Chernobyl look like a little lab experiment gone wrong.

    Actually Chernobyl is not the largest nuclear contamination the Soviets created. Far worse was the prolonged dumping of waste at the Mayak facility, located in the Chelyabinsk area during the 1950s and 60’s. (South of the Ural mountains). Huge accidents and dumping of waste into a major river headwaters continued for many years unchecked and unreported.

    No-one here is unaware of, or glosses over the deplorable crimes and abuses of that regime. But the prime lesson to be learnt from those disasters is that nuclear power demands a high tech, policitically accountable, stable culture to run it safely. Not just for now, but for centuries into the future. That is a big ask… anywhere in the world, anytime in history.

  17. BLiP 17

    I note that Saturday was the 30th anniversary of the melt down at Three Mile Island. It would seem that the nuclear industry is now trying to paint this as a success.

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