Usually this blog is in German, but this time I am blogging in English in order to share a remarkable story from Germany with the international nuclear community. Deutschsprachige Leser sollten diesen Artikel lesen und möglicherweise auch die in Abschnitt »Links« verlinkten. German readers are advised to read this article and possibly what is linked in the “Links” section below. Okay, what happened?
In Germany, a Nuclear Reactor Disappeared
But first things first. The GreenTec Awards are, according to their website, an important environment prize striving to “ecological and economical engagement and the deployment of environmental technology”. Germany’s environment secretary Peter Altmaier himself is the award’s patron. Media partners are the commercial TV broadcaster ProSieben with its science magazine “Galileo”, and the business journal Wirtschaftswoche. Applicants are required to “contribute their share to protect environment and resources towards ecological sustainability and avoid or reduce pollutants.” Candidates submitted their proposals to various categories. The rules were clear: Within each category, one nominee for the final round is selected by a public online voting, two more are nominated by a jury. Everything went smoothly. Except for the category “Galileo Wissenspreis” (“Galileo knowledge award”). The unexpected happened: In the online voting the public chose – a nuclear reactor!
The Dual-Fluid Reactor (DFR), designed by the Institut für Festkörper-Kernphysik (IFK) in Berlin, claims to be inherently safe, to produce cheap electricity, to produce cheap fuel for cars and planes, and even use to burn and reduce nuclear waste (including plutonium) left over from light water reactors of traditional nuclear plants. And all of this with a low-carbon footprint.
Sounds good? Indeed, it does. But! A reactor! With atoms! And with nuclear! Oh, please! Not in nuclear-superstitious Germany! The GreenTec Awards jury decided to defy the audience and its vote and expulse the Dual-Fluid Reactor from the final round. In order to do so, they changed the rules of the game: Now they have an amendmend saying that “selection of nominees and winners will ultimately be done independently by the Jury of Awards GreenTec. Legal action is excluded.” People who had campaigned for the award and for the DFR were heavily shocked. Not only they found the decision as such completely incomprehensible, but also the procedure to make it. Changing rules in the course of the game is something that is usually considered less than fair. Most of us (but obviously not all) learned this early in our childhood. No wonder the award’s makers were criticized violently in blogs and social media, especially on their own Facebook page. Eventually they published an explanation of their reasons to exclude the DFR. However, this fueled criticism even more. Their statements made clear they obviously didn’t understand how the DFR works, what it does, and why it is inherently safe. Instead, their comments seem to assume that the DFR is something like a mixture of a conventional light water reactor and a distributed final disposal for nuclear waste. They clearly did not understand that the Dual-Fluid Reactor could do a tremendous job to the environment by producing huge quantities of low-carbon energy and reducing the overall radiotoxicity of nuclear waste by orders of magnitude.
Ideology over Technology
When criticism didn’t ease and justification attempts failed, the organizers of the award reacted less-than-professional: They went wild and removed virtually all user comments from their Facebook page and blocked the commenters. They even posted something about the “19,000 dead of Fukushima being the end of nuclear energy”. Such a statement is simply inappropriate, insensitive and instrumentalizing the victims of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan’s Tohoku region in 2011. Nobody died in Fukushima from radiation after the reactor accident and probably nobody will. Eventually the GreenTechies removed this comment, but the damage was done, the screenshots were made, and the failure was documented. As it stands, the organizers “and our jury reject nuclear energy in any form categorically! There will be no further discussion.” At least the jury has an chosen an alternative project to replace the Dual-Fluid Reactor: small wind wheels in hollow roof tiles. Well, let’s look forward to see them power Germany’s steel mills! Anyway, the green world is in order again.
A Petition for the Dual-Fluid Reactor
But not everybody is content with that. The Nuklearia – a nuclear working group and unloved stepchild of the German Pirate Party (which I have the privilege to speak for) – started an online petition calling the GreenTec Awards jury to revoke the retroactive rule change and to revoke the dismissal of the Dual-Fluid Reactor. Please join us and sign that petition! Let the jury members know that the world is looking upon them! Click this link and fill in the form! The text in green on the screenshot below guides you throught the German stuff:
Thanks for signing!
- The petition has been closed. Many thanks to everyone who participated! We sent the open letter to the GreenTec Awards jury.
- The Berlin Court of Appeal issued an injunction stating the expulsion of the Dual-Fluid Reactor from the GreenTec Awards was unlawful and must be undone. Read the full story in English or in German!
Everything below is in German. Sorry.
- Umweltpreisposse: Dual-Fluid-Reaktor-Bewerber erwirken Einstweilige Verfügung, Peter Mühlbauer, Telepolis, 2013-08-07
- Schnelle Reaktoren sollen Atommüll vernichten, Michael Schwager, Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung, 2013-06-27
- Ökospießer bremsen gute Idee – Greentech-Awards disqualifizieren wegweisende Energie-Forschung, Wolfram Göll, Bayernkurier, 2013-06-22
- Götterdämmerung im Wendeland, Alex Baur, Die Weltwoche, 2013-06-20 – The full article is usually available for subcribers only. However, the author permitted the Nuklearia to republish it here.
- Streit um GreenTec Awards, Peter Mühlbauer, Telepolis, 2016-06-20
- Umweltpreis: Wie man einen Reaktor verschwinden lässt, Dirk Maxeiner und Michael Miersch, Die Welt, 2013-06-13
- Darf ein Kernreaktor Umwelttechnologie sein?, Die Freie Welt, 2013-08-20
- German court reinstates nuclear reactor in green energy competition, Mark Halper, Smart Planet, 2013-08-19
- Der Greentec-Skandal geht in die nächste Runde…, Peter Heller, Science Skeptical Blog, 2013-08-05
- Greentec Awards could not handle the truth that Molten Salt Reactors would be good for the environment and that German Public liked it, but a German Court Overturns disqualification, Next Big Future, 2013-08-03
- Noch einmal GreenTec Awards, Ruhrkultour, 2013-08-02
- Der Dual Fluid Reaktor (DFR) ist per Gerichtsbeschluss für die GreenTec Awards nominiert!, Ruhrkultour, 2013-08-01
- Injunction: Dual-Fluid Reactor Nominated For GreenTec Awards Nevertheless, Rainer Klute, 2013-07-31
- Einstweilige Verfügung: Dual-Fluid-Reaktor nun doch für GreenTec Awards nominiert, Rainer Klute, 2013-07-31
- Germany’s inconvenient truth: A green group squirms over the public’s love of a molten salt reactor, 2013-07-12, Mark Halper, Weinberg Foundation
- Galileo zensuriert unweltfreundliche Energie, Unzensuriert.at, 2013-07-07
- Scandal: Judges airbrush popular nuclear design out of German green tech competition, 2013-07-04, Mark Halper
- En Allemagne, un réacteur nucléaire disparait, Energie du Thorium, 2013-07-01 – The story in French
- Greentec – aber richtig!, KaltDuschenMitDoris.ch, 2013-06-23
- … dass nicht sein kann, was nicht sein darf, Kerngedanken, 2013-06-20
- Greentec-Awards, der Dual Fluid Reaktor und die Demokratie, Quentin Quencher, Science Skeptical Blog, 2013-06-18
- GreenTec Awards: Publikumsvotum respektieren, Dual-Fluid-Reaktor nominieren!, Nuklearia, 2013-06-17 – Open letter to the GreenTec Awards jury members
- GreenTec Awards – Was nicht passt, wird passend gemacht, Psiram, 2013-06-14
- Skandal-Wettbewerb! GreenTec Award lädt Publikumgsliebling aus!, Etwasanderekritik, 2013-06-13
- Liebe Leute von den GreenTec-Awards, Peter Heller, Science Skeptical Blog, 2013-06-13
- Der Greentec-Award-Skandal, Serinar.de, 2013-06-13
- Greentec Awards: “Projekt DFR inhaltlich nicht mit den Zielen der Awards vereinbar”, Rudolf Kipp, Science Skeptical Blog, 2013-06-12
- Stellungnahme zur Erläuterung der Wirtschaftswoche in Sachen GreenTec Awards, Atomhörnchen, Nuklearia, 2013-06-12
- Greentec Awards: Macher stemmen sich gegen Online-Voting, Peter Heller, Science Skeptical Blog, 2013-06-09
- Zensur bei den GreenTec Awards, Atomhörnchen, Nuklearia, 2013-06-09
- Abstimmungsfarce – Manipulation bei den GreenTec Awards?, Ruhrkultour, 2013-06-08
- Something missing? Please let me know!
- Dual-Fluid Reactor on Facebook. Meet the makers!
- ProSieben’s Galileo team says the use of radioactive elements would not comply with the GreenTec Awards’ objectives. Does this also hold true for radioactive elements in other areas of application, like wind turbines (neodym mining releases radioactive thorium), nuclear medicine, smoke detectors, bananas, or the air that they breathe.
- The Wirtschaftswoche Green made clear that they don’t like how the award’s organizers behaved. They published a page telling how the jury decision had been taken as they see it. Comment were allowed. Later they added a quite thorough and mostly correct description of the Dual-Fluid Reactor.
- Greentec Skandal – Facebook fan page where people can express their resentment and collect evidence for deleted comments on the GreenTec Awards’ page.
- Dual Fluid Reactor, Institut für Festkörper-Kernphysik gGmbH, AG Nuklearia, 2013-06-27 – The IFK team presented the Dual Fluid Reactor in a 3-hour online session of the AG Nuklearia, using the spreech conferencing software Mumble. These are the slides giving an overview of the DFR.