If you’ve been paying attention to international news coverage of the Fukushima nuclear accident, you’ve probably seen a lot of Arnold Gundersen (aka Arnie Gundersen). Anti-nuclear campaigners and conspiracy theorists have blanketed social media sites with links to Gundersen’s videos, most of which contain fearful claims about how Fukushima will kill hundreds of thousands of people.
A lot of Gundersen’s appeal comes from the belief that he is objective. People claim that he “doesn’t have an agenda” and that he “isn’t anti nuclear.” Pardon me, but that’s just plain bullsh*t.
Gundersen operates a for-profit anti-nuclear consulting business. Anti-nuclear groups have paid him to give testimony and write papers that favor their viewpoints. He has a vested financial interest in making nuclear power appear dangerous.
As a for-profit anti-nuclear activist, Gundersen has a lot to gain from appearing on TV and saying scary things about Fukushima. Every TV appearance increases his fame, and his business will probably be booming for years to come. As fearmongering about Fukushima causes increased public fear of nuclear energy, anti-nuclear activists around America and the world will pay good money for his testimony.
The misconceptions about Gundersen also extend to his credentials.
A Dubious Resume:
- Gundersen is frequently introduced as the “Chief Engineer” of Fairewinds Associates, an energy consulting company. It’s a meaningless title that Gundersen bestowed upon himself. Fairewinds Associates is a company that consists of only two people: Gundersen and his wife.
- Fairewinds Associates is a business devoted to providing “expert opinions” on the nuclear energy. It receives money from anti-nuclear groups that want an “expert” to spread fearful information about nuclear energy. As an expert witness for the anti-nuclear lobby, Gundersen can probably rake in about 300 dollars an hour. They have also paid him to write reports that make nuclear energy sound dangerous.
- Gundersen has advertised himself as having “39-years of nuclear power engineering experience” / “almost four decades experience in the nuclear power industry”. Very misleading, considering that Gundersen only worked in the nuclear industry between 1970 and 1990. He has worked full-time as a high school teacher since 1990.
- Gundersen says he is a licensed nuclear reactor operator: “The only reactor that he was ever license to operate was a 100 Watt “critical assembly” at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. That reactor had no power generation ability – its thermal power was about as much as a single lightbulb. Operating it provides no experience at all in nuclear power plant operations or maintenance.”
- Although Gundersen frequently talks about the health dangerous of various forms of radiation, he has no formal qualifications that make him an expert in that field.
Gundersen’s fans and supporters like to mention how Nuclear Energy Services (NES) fired him in 1990 because he was exposing safety violations in the nuclear industry. The story makes him sound like a heroic whistleblower, but is it true?
His former employer didn’t think GUndersen was telling the truth. They filed a lawsuit against him. Did Gundersen win? No, he did not:
- NES filed a defamation lawsuit against Gundersen. Defamation cases can be won if the accused is able to prove that his statements are true. Instead of taking the case to court and successfully proving the truth of his statements, Gundersen settled out-of-court.
Why couldn’t Gundersen prove the truth of his statements? Why was it settled? We do not know.
One this is clear: there are a lot of people on the internet who are clueless about Gundersen and his for-profit activism. He is not a neutral party. He has obvious financial incentives for what he is doing. He’s been a paid spokesman for the anti-nuclear industry for nearly two decades. He earns money by spreading fear about nuclear energy.