USEC offers free screening of nuclear documentary

By Frank Lewis

November 23, 2013

Frank Lewis

PDT Staff Writer

“Bored by the tranche of lefty-liberal journalistic documentaries which attempt to uncover the manifold ills of the modern world and bring sickening tyrants to justice? If so, Robert Stone’s Pandora’s Promise could be the documentary for you. It’s not a film which tells us something we already know from reading the newspapers in an emotive and informative way, it’s a film which dares to challenge ingrained perceptions and offers radical new perspectives on a taboo subject.” That describes the review of a documentary on Pandora’s Promise website coming to Shawnee State University, with a showing sponsored by USEC, Inc.

There will be a free community screening of the nuclear power documentary “Pandora’s Promise” on Thursday, Dec. 5, at 6 p.m. in the Flohr Lecture Hall located in Clark Memorial Library on the campus of Shawnee State University. Free admission is provided courtesy of USEC Inc.

“It’s a documentary by an Academy Award winning director who is an ardent environmentalist, and who has, in the past, and especially earlier in his career, directed films with a very strong pro-environmental tone to them,” USEC Vice President of Communications, Paul Jacobson, told the Daily Times. “His first documentary was about the atomic bomb over Bikini Atoll, and then he went on to do a very well-reviewed documentary about the history of the environmental movement.”

So if you thought that environmentalism was environmentalism and nuclear was nuclear and never the twain shall meet, Jacobson says this documentary reflects a new outlook by some environmentalists.

“He (Stone) mentions (on Pandora’s Promise website) at one of those screenings (of his previous documentaries) there was a Q & A with the audience, and one of the people in the audience raise their hand and said, ‘what do you think about nuclear power?’” Jacobson said. “And he brought out one of the environmentalists who was in the film, and it was Stewart Brand, who originally wrote ‘The Whole Earth Catalogue,’ and Stewart Brand came out and said , ‘I’ve changed my mind on nuclear,’” Jacobson said.

Jacobson said it was at that point the the conversation centered around the zero carbon benefits of nuclear power generation. He said Stone then said he knew that his next film would be about what he called a generational shift in the environmental movement.

Jacobson said Stone compared the environmentalists who grew up believing that nuclear power, which they equated with the atomic bomb, as the existential threat of their lives, to a younger generation of environmentalists who are recognizing that climate change is really the existential threat of today.

“If you simply do the math there is no way to really provide electricity to a global population that could be approaching 9 billion by 2050,” Jacobson said. “A global population that is raising its living standards, especially in places like Brazil and Russia and India and China. There’s no way you can service electricity to all of those people and do it with simply conservation, wind and solar. One of two things is going to happen - they’re going to burn a whole lot more fossil fuel, and really kill the climate, or we’re going to have to rely on nuclear.”

Jacobson said the new thinking on nuclear energy has created a controversy around the world.

“It has been viciously attacked I think by those who see it as a challenge to their orthodoxy with regard to nuclear,” Jacobson said. “And it has created a new discussion in the environmental community about the idea of X-generation nuclear and some of the new reactors coming on line to address climate change.”

Jacobson said it is important to point out that the documentary was not funded or produced by any corporation.

“This is not some type of industry-funded infomercial,” Jacobson said. “This is a film that was clearly developed and produced separate and apart from the nuclear industry from a funding standpoint and a creative standpoint.”

The film aired on CNN several weeks back, and Angie Duduit, Public Affairs, USEC, Inc.’s American Centrifuge Plant, said USEC is offering a screening of the film on Tuesday, Nov. 26, at 7 p.m. at Ohio University in Chillicothe’s Bennett Hall Auditorium.

“We tried to make an opportunity for those folks in our four-county area to get an opportunity to see it,” Duduit said. “It’s also coming out on iTunes Dec. 3.”

Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 252, or at flewis@civitasmedia.com. For breaking news, follow Frank on Twitter @FrankLewisPDT.