Directed by Academy Award-nominated Robert Stone, the feature-length documentary "Pandora's Promise" suggests current attitudes and fears about nuclear power may be an overreaction.
“It’s an investigative film and researched on fact,” Stone told the audience at UC Irvine Wednesday. “It’s really bolstered by facts –by science.”
The film, which advocates for nuclear energy's role in thwarting global warming, was screened along with a panel discussion at the university.
Pioneering engineers in the film discussed the renaissance of nuclear reactor designs as the next steps towards breaking away from fossil fuels. These third- and fourth-generation reactors are safer and ensure no meltdowns, they said.
Former American Nuclear Society President Ted Quinn encouraged debate on implementing new power plants across the nation and potentially at the site of the beleaguered San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station.
The plant south of San Clemente has been by a radioactive steam leak which revealed widespread damage throughout crucial components at the plant.
The San Onofre plant was retrofitted -- a process that finished in 2010 -- with new equipment that mirrored old reactor designs. Because of the manufacturing flaws that led to the shutdown, regulators, politicians, activists and plant officials have been wrangling for more than a year trying to decide what to do with the shuttered plant.
“The US is no longer the leader in nuclear energy –it’s China,” Quinn told the UCI audience. “We’re building 50 plants over there, but consider the jobs and opportunities that can hold as well.”
In the face of climate change and high-energy demands, nuclear science may provide a cleaner and safer global future, panelists said. Stone’s narrative includes personal stories from environmentalists and energy experts, including Stewart Brand, Gwyneth Craven, Mark Lynas, Richard Rhodes and Michael Shellenberger to speak about their journey in supporting nuclear energy.
“This film is about hope,” Stone said, “but it can’t be done without nuclear power.”