By Linda Gunter

It is perhaps no accident that the nuclear power industry chose a French word – “renaissance” – to promote its alleged comeback. Attached to this misapplied moniker are a series of fallacious suggestions that nuclear energy is “clean,” “safe” and even “renewable.” And, in keeping with its French flavor, a key argument in the industry’s propaganda arsenal is that the U.S. should follow the “successful” example of the French nuclear program.

France serves as a convenient sound bite for politicians and others advocating a nuclear revival (hypocritically evoked by many of the same people who insisted on “Freedom Fries” at the start of the Iraq War). A failure to challenge this facile falsehood has cemented the myth of a French nuclear Utopia in the minds of the public. It masks a very different reality.

France gets 80 percent of its electricity from nuclear power. However, this alone does not constitute a success. Rather, it results in the production of an enormous amount of radioactive waste that, as is the case for all other nuclear countries, has nowhere to go.

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