Subject: Re: Gary Robbins' role in the reputation of the Orange Country Register and the fate of the Earth -- by Russell Hoffman -- June 17th, 2001

From: "Russell D. Hoffman" <>
Subject: Re: Your role in the reputation of the Orange Country Register and the fate  of the Earth
Cc:,, California Senators, governor of California

To: Gary Robbins, Orange County Register
From: Russell Hoffman, seeing a seedier side
Date: Sunday, June 17th, 2001
Re: Your role in the reputation of the Orange Country Register and the fate of the Earth

Mr. Robbins,

"The Register has gained a reputation as one of the finest newspapers in the world"

-- from the Freedom Communications, Inc. web site.

If they wish to keep that reputation intact, I expect the Orange County Register to make amends at some point.  But your own actions continue to shame your profession.  I do, however, appreciate that you have made some effort at dialogue.  Dialogue is good.  My comments to your "explanation", such as it is, appear below in [[[triple brackets]]].

Russell Hoffman
Concerned Citizen
Carlsbad, CA

At 10:50 AM 6/17/01 -0700, you wrote:

Mr. Hoffman:
   I'm genuinely confused by your e-mails.

[[[ What part of "libel" don't you understand? Anyway, I suspect the OC Register's publisher (or at least her lawyers) are not nearly as confused as you, thank goodness. -- rdh ]]]

  You accuse me of being unprofessional and biased, yet:
  1. I invited you to lunch to discuss your concerns about nuclear power.

[[[ You invitation only came AFTER committing the acts of libel, and after I demanded redress from the OC Register.  And it is a weak attempt at fairness.  Unless you were planning to order yourself some CROW (which you should have hinted at), I don't see the relevance of your request to my complaints to the OC Register about your behavior.

Even now, your "final note" is surprisingly off-topic from all my letters (see additional comments, below).  It's just plain rude of you to pretend you are going to suddenly behave in an unbiased fashion towards me, and report fairly on the options I am presenting for the populace, after you've already dismissed every point I've made!  You don't even discuss my actual complaints, below.  Hey, but don't worry, Mr. Robbins: You WILL make a good PR guy for SONGS when the OC Register has finally had enough of you!  -- rdh ]]]

  2. I read the web links you included in your e-mails, including the ones
on sustainable development  and Buckminster Fuller. (The Fuller reference
caught my attention because he spoke at my high school graduation.)

[[[ That's nice that you got to see him in person (I wish I had), but what do you think of his idea I was presenting, for a global energy grid which would have enormous benefits for California?  And more importantly (to this discussion), how does the answer you gave respond to my complaint that you accused me of not looking at the broad range of solutions that are needed to solve California's energy crises, when in fact that complaint could only mean that you had not read the material you were actually responding to -- not a good thing for a science reporter to be caught doing.  You accused me of many gross things, and yet you had barely read past realizing I was against SONGS when you fired off your complaints.  How does the fact (I'll presume it's a fact) that Dr. Fuller spoke at your High School graduation change anything? -- rdh ]]]

I also
read the story you forwarded on Oak Ridge, and I reviewed the Stop Cassini

[[[ There are 253 newsletters at the STOP CASSINI web site, and about 200 other items.  Please be more specific.

You were specifically asked to look at my Internet Glossary of Pumps and the basic flavor of the web site, which is linked to by hundreds of educational institutions around the world and used by thousands of students each day.  But you went straight for the "controversial" stuff!

But together, let's look at some facts:

A lot of the technical aspects of America's potential efficiency gains are hidden in the marvelous new pumps which are being created by smart inventors, who, in turn, come to me to have their work presented in the largest collection of its kind anywhere.  And these great new efficient pumps are being ignored!  By media!  Pumping fluids is the #1 use of energy in most cities in the world, a DOE guy told me last year.  There's a lot of lost efficiency right there.  And more efficient pumps, turbines, motors, etc. means more efficient renewable energy systems can be built, and we can build them where otherwise we could not find a cost-effective way to recover clean energy.

But nothing in your letter indicates you've ever dug that deep into the renewable energy solutions, or considered the energy grid that must be built, or looked into the new and more efficient pump technologies, like the Recessive Spiral Pump, the Wolfhart Principle Pump, the Ball Piston Pump, the Cylindrical Energy Module, the Newby Minimum Flow Technique, and others.  Each has distinct advantages for a more energy efficient future.  Would you be able to describe those advantages?  Sure, that example is picked because it reflects my own area of knowledge that no one is likely to argue with -- pump inventors most certainly DO come to me, and it's a very important area of energy efficiency.

How many experts that you have talked to are experts in many things?  Most so-called "experts" are in fact specialists.  Someone has to look at the "big picture" and you've proven yourself incapable (thus far).  Well, Mr. Robbins, that actually IS what I have been trying to do, and I bring a reasonable amount of knowledge in a reasonably wide variety of fields.  No one can know it all.  I also bring the insight gained from scores of interviews with scientists, which I have conducted over the years.  Maybe the "anti-nuclear" position is wrong, but if so, I can't find the flaw, and I've looked pretty hard.

But instead of an apology, you are STILL ignoring the actual substance of my complaints.  Why is that, Mr. Robbins?

If implemented statewide, new technologies could easily allow us to shut down SONGS and stop generating more nuclear waste.  But you don't care about the waste.  As it piles up each day, you claim to be unbiased, as when a man standing on another man's throat claims to be "just standing there".  For you, the "W" is silent at San Onofre Nuclear Waste Generating Station.  That is a bias.  A bias against health, science, common sense, humanity, the future, and economic reality.  Those Casks, if they come, Mr. Robbins, will be your responsibility.  One front-page unbiased representation of the facts I've outlined from you would probably cause the public to come to their senses.  So those casks are your burden, Mr. Rollins.  Yet you claim you are "unbiased".  Only in your dreams are you unbiased, Mr. Rollins.  You support SONGS, as does everyone who doesn't want it shut down!  There is no middle ground, because the waste is piling up each day and clean-energy alternatives get no government seed money because the DoE gives it all to the nuclear weapons programs and the nuclear industry, and the nuclear waste industry takes a pretty good hunk too, and that hunk is growing.

The cost of disposal of the pumps at Hanford, Washington went up from a negligible cost to $1.5 million each, in 1992, because of EPA rule changes -- for the better in terms of protecting the public health.

Did you actually read my entire submission to the California Coastal Commission?  I mean, I know you couldn't have read it before you fired off your first letter or two (or three) to me, but have you done so now?  I suppose some might say it's a bit lengthy, but the problems are very complex.  One thing links to another.  You say you "read the web links I included" but the exact depth of your research efforts is impossible to know unless you tell me.  Did you read about when the SONGS PR spokesperson, Ray Golden (whom you discussed Patricia Borchmann's petition with) was quoted on FOX 6 News saying that the activists "don't understand the laws of physics", but the very same day, SONGS employees dropped an 80,000 lb crane 40 feet?  WHO would YOU say, Mr. Robbins, was having trouble understanding physics that day (June 1st, 2001)?

When you went to the NRC web site, what pages did you look at?  I couldn't find any in-depth information about SONGS' safety record there.  I think one would need to call the NRC Public Documents Room in Washington to get anything good from the NRC.  For example, I've heard about a crane accident in 1986, and one before the reactor even opened.  (I haven't found the reports on these two incidents, but the person who told me about them used to work at the plant, and if I ever find his information is inaccurate, I'll gladly reveal his name, but I think he'd prefer that I not at this point.)  Did you read any of these reports?  Not the NRC's annual summary, which won't tell you a thing, but the initial or preliminary reports and such? What did you read?  Did you just read NRC documents?

Have you figured out if those crane incidents, which I contend are enough to damn the installation by themselves, are the only crane incidents at SONGS since construction began?  Were there any other reportable crane incidents?  Have you followed up on the recent crane drop incident yourself?  No, of course not, not in any meaningful way anyway, because if you had, you'd have found out what I found out, and I'm sure if you had found this out, you would be just as worried as I am! 

Mr. Robbins, please make sure that some of your colleagues, such as legal reporters, and environmental reporters (you do have one there, don't you?) at the Orange Country Register see this next paragraph, because it is very chilling if you think about the ramifications:

Tell me, Mr Robbins:  Do you offhand know if that most recent crane accident at San Onofre was reportable to the NRC?  The answer appears to be no, according to Charles Marschall of the NRC, as I described in documents you really should have read at least twice by now.  Was it reportable to OSHA, Cal-OSHA, or to any agency?  Do you feel there is any relevance between all -- and I stress all -- the crane accidents that have happened there since SONGS opened (including the "inattentive" NRC-licensed crane operator accident in 1997) and Dry Fuel Cask safety?  I've checked around, and I've published what I learned.  Have you figured it out yet, yourself?  I've already laid the groundwork for your Pulitzer on this outrageous situation -- yet after misconstruing what I wrote and thus starting this whole mess between you and I, you ignore it in this "7-point letter" you sent me.   I'm referring to the idea that the NRC has taken too much power.  When I called the NRC the Monday after the crane accident they said that it probably wasn't even reportable to them because it didn't involve nuclear safety.  Yet when I asked SONGS they said it wasn't reportable to anyone else!  When I called OSHA they said that basically nothing at a nuclear plant is reportable to OSHA because it would be under NRC jurisdiction instead.  The whole facility.  The person I spoke to said that was actually very unusual.  So unusual, that in fact, no other civilian industry has similar rules.  Some government agencies, like the CIA, the FBI, the military, and the GSA, also don't report to OSHA. But private contractors on military bases do, and even civil servants on those bases are protected by OSHA.  So that's some pretty elite company these nuke plants have!  Question #1 is why?  Question #2 is, is the NRC handling that responsibility correctly ?  The answer is indisputably no, for the simple reason that they virtually ignore the entire non-nuclear "side" of the plant.  OSHA thinks the NRC is overseeing that area.  But the NRC isn't.  Where does that leave safety for our citizens?  In a void, that's where.  And you ignore it, because you dismiss the messenger out of hand, because you identified him as a one-topic anti-nuclear activist who can't look at the "big picture".

But, oh yes.  You're unbiased.  So you'll just let SONGS keep on producing 500# a day of HLRW and 2000# a day of LLRW each day while you remain "unbiased".

I don't know your history.  Your record with me began when you contacted me, and accused me of such things as not paying attention to scientific issues, not looking at the "big picture", and other such trash talk.  Your record, as you've chosen to exhibit it to me remains pretty atrocious.  But I will admit you have responded with somewhat more care this time, and you have indicated that you are not taking this matter quite so lightly anymore.  That's a good first step. But if you think your email is a "final note" I can only assume it's because you expect to be fired on Monday.  I still expect OC Register to want to make fair restitution for your comments to close this matter respectfully and in accordance with common practice for such things, and I expect them to report on this incident in a timely and unbiased manner. -- rdh ]]]

  3. On June 4, I published a front page story in my newspaper pointing out
that scientists say they might have underestimated the seismic threat to
SONGS units 2 and 3. The story was based on a California Coastal Commission
report,  and on research conducted by Harvard University structural
geologist John Shaw. I met with Shaw at Harvard during the winter to
discuss his research on the Oceanside fault and whether it could trigger a
secondary quake on the Newport-Inglewood fault. I also attened lectures at
the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in January in which scientists
discussed the pros and cons of new energy technology, including nuclear
power and sustainable sources of energy.

[[[ I did not see the article.  I don't subscribe to your paper.  I'm local to SONGS (I live in Carlsbad, CA).  I got your email address a few weeks ago from Patricia Borchmann, the local activist you say you've talked to.  I certainly didn't attend the lectures at MIT, but the fact that various issues were discussed doesn't even begin to prove anything anyway!  Gimme a link or email me a reprint of the article if you're so proud of it, please.  I'd like to see the backup information that you used to formulate it, too.  Since one of my contentions is that you intentionally don't look at all the facts, it's kind of important. -- rdh ]]]

 4. On June 4, I also published a Q-and-A explaining the nature of the
seismic research as it pertains to SONGS. The story pointed out that a
quake on one fault, such as the Oceanside system, could trigger an event on
the Newport-Inglewood. Such triggering occurred during the Landers/Big Bear
event in June 1992.

[[[ Did it discuss the magnitude of the disaster if an accident occurs in the Spent Fuel Pool?  In the reactor itself?  If an accident happens to a Dry Storage Cask?  All three at once?  Did it discuss the difference between a 7.0 and a 7.1 earthquake, and what the NRC says about overbuilding beyond the rated level, and so on?  That stuff is all in what I wrote to the CCC, have you read it?  Here's the URL:

What is the URL of the article you wrote, if it's online? -- rdh ]]]

 5. I reviewed SONGS' safety record on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission
web site,

[[[ This is laughable, from what I've been able to find at the NRC web site.  What URLs did you go to?  There are places to review SONGS' safety record, but it's not online.  For the most part all you can get there is summaries.  Reading an NRC summary to determine if the NRC is properly regulating its industry is approximately like reading Phillip Morris-funded scientific studies to understand the dangers of tobacco.  The fact that you proudly mention this effort as your stunning achievement in independent research only shows that you don't know how to do deep research into nuclear issues. -- rdh ]]]

and tried to find a copy of a petition Patricia Borchman has
filed asking that the plant be immediately shut down. Patricia and I spoke
by phone about her petition and I have kept the list of potential story
contacts she faxed to me on the matter.  I later discussed her petition
with Ray Golden, public affairs officer for Southern California Edison, who
told me how I could obtain a copy from NRC. (I could not find a copy of the
petition on NRC's web site.)

[[[ She's been wondering why it's not at their web site, too.  Anyway, like so much you discuss here, this is not relevant if only for one thing: I wasn't involved in the petition. -- rdh ]]]

 6. On June 14, I toured Unit 1 at SONGS to review the status of the
decommissioning process. The tour included a look at the dry cask storage
site and a discussion with Edison's Ray Golden about potential threats to
the site from earthquakes and tsunamis.

[[[ If you would tell me what he said to you, I could perhaps find proper answers, but until you publish his comments, I can only guess from the other lies I've heard him say, what he might have tried to pull over on such a shallow, unsuspecting, and complacent writer as you. -- rdh ]]]

My science questions were partly
based on the work of geologist Mark Legg of Huntington Beach, who has been
examining the erosion of cliffs in parts of San Diego County, including
Carlsbad. Dr. Legg has expressed concern about the cliffs near SONGS,
notably the Echo Arch area of San Onofre State Park.

[[[ I haven't seen Dr. Legg's report or the results of a "peer review" of it, and so of course I can't comment specifically, but I can say that there is much data to suggest the original SONGS earthquake assessment was bogus in terms of the potential severity of local earthquakes.  But beyond that, there is also a lot of data that shows that some buildings, which were built AFTER San Onofre was built and so presumably had everything that engineering had learned to that point, and more, built into them, which were built survive similarly high intensity earthquakes, DID NOT SURVIVE what they were expected to survive when a real "test" came.  Did you cover that aspect at all in your report?

There are many, many considerations, and all point towards the idea that shutting down SONGS would be the prudent, healthy, and economically sound thing for California to do.  Have you ever reported that?  No, of course not -- to you, that would be "biased reporting"!  As the waste piles up, you claim that talk of shutting SONGS down is "biased"!  It's no more "biased" than to say that advocating freedom or good health is "biased".

But my main complaints to you, since you seem to have trouble figuring out what I'm saying, is that crane accidents ALONE at SONGS have proven SCE should not be entrusted to operate that plant any longer, AND the waste issue, especially with Dry Cask Storage being promoted, dooms the industry, AND I have also uncovered a dangerous loophole in the regulatory oversight of the nation's nuclear power plants, AND I have also proven that the amount of power the NRC claims to have is so broad, that virtually anyone (except, I guess, you) on the outside of the Nuclear Mafia ought to be able to see that it's unconstitutional, if they simply look at the facts.  My main complaint, of course, is simply that you've ignored every word of every one of my complaints. -- rdh ]]]

We've yet to print
anything on Dr. Legg'swork  because his material has yet to go through the
scientific peer review process.

[[[ Huh?  You want to talk about a "scientific peer review process"?  Do you put everything Ray Golden says through this "scientific peer review process"?  (Like his claim that Dry Cask Storage is somehow "safer" than Spent Fuel Pool storage.  That is entirely debatable in a fair scientific community, but in any event, NEITHER IS SAFE is the correct answer, and only THE WEAKEST LINK would miss that one!)  Do you have any idea how little NRC stuff goes through a "scientific peer review process" (and I don't mean their co-worker's rubber stamps)?  I'm not just "blowing smoke", I'm referring to comments made by the late Dr. Karl Z. Morgan, whom I had the privilege to interview, who is known as the father of the science of Health Physics.  He testified in sworn hearings about some of these committees (which he had a hand in forming, and then later resigned from in disgust). -- rdh ]]]

 7. Ray Golden and I also had a brief discussion about an exercise that was
held earlier this year at SONGS, testing the plant's security operation.
Golden said the plant passed the drill. However, I am going to attempt to
get a copy of the drill assessment from NRC so I can make my own

[[[ Yeah, yeah, yeah.  You really think they can stop an RPG (Rocket Propelled Grenade) from crossing the fence and entering the plant?  Or a runaway tank, as happened in San Diego a few years ago?  Will they be able to stop that?  How about an errant bomb from Camp Pendleton's practice flights?  Or a lost airplane that has knifed into the ground in a fog, or due to its own mechanical problems?  Or a bumbling worker, or design flaw (explosive failure of a circuit breaker, perhaps)? Does their security system you are assessing protect them from any of those, Mr. Robbins?

And why are they installing all those security cameras THROUGHOUT THE COMPLEX -- hundreds of them -- if they are not at least a little worried about problems that can occur inside the perimeter? -- rdh ]]]

 Now, if you feel that I misrepresented your position in any of my e-mails,
I apologize.

[[[ You have continued to ignore my positions and merely asserted, again, that you are fair.  You have much left yet to apologize for. -- rdh ]]]

I do so even though you wrote in one e-mail I was
"recommending that we continue creating over 500 pounds per day of new"
radioactive material. I did no such thing. I have not taken a position on
nuclear energy. In fact, I stressed in an e-mail to you that I am not an
advocate for any side of this debate. I stated that I was monitoring and
evaluating changes in nuclear technology. 

[[[ On the contrary.  You have shown, once again, you are biased FOR SAN ONOFRE!  For as long as you do not recommend CLOSING THE PLANT, you are advocating for the creation of a new 500+ lb load of High Level Radioactive Waste, and a ton of so-called Low Level Radioactive Waste, each day.  It's not like this is a THEORETICAL DISCUSSION.  At any moment, that plant could be struck by an earthquake, tsunami, RPG, asteroid, or be damaged by stupid or poorly trained or malicious workers, or a design or building flaw could be revealed (as has happened before, like when a flaw in the electrical circuitry in February brought Unit III to a complete halt for four months earlier this year, when California desperately needed power). -- rdh ]]]

As for being biased and
unprofessional, the seven points I've listed above indicate that the
opposite is true.

[[[ That's it?  With this you think you have acquitted yourself, and restored honor to your profession and to the Orange County Register?  That's really the best you care to do?

You didn't even name a single anti-dry cask storage scientist you've talked to.  You didn't list any documents you've read which oppose Dry Cask Storage, or San Onofre, or the nuclear fuel cycle, or which explain about the dangers of radiation, or anything, except you talked to Patricia, who, bless her, will readily tell you she is not a scientist (nor am I, but I am satisfied that my work can withstand both public and scientific scrutiny, as it often must).  What radiation specialists do you listen to?  An NRC doctor?  What's his name?  (I can't find one.  I understand there's only one, and I can't find him.)

Your "seven points" only indicate to me that someone at the Orange County Register is taking my accusations seriously, as well they should.  For otherwise the reputation of the OC Register will be tarnished along with yours, which you have already tarnished in your dealings with me.

But aside from your insults of my research efforts, and your clear bias which shines right through your transparent denials, the fact remains that what's important is that the public be told THE TRUTH about Dry Cask Storage.  It's NOT SAFE.  It's not reasonable, it's not necessary because we can shut the plants down instead, and it should not be done here or anywhere.

So if, instead of, say, a front page article about the unconstitutional powers of the NRC which has resulted in Dry Cask Storage being shoved down our throats, your letter to me is the best you can do, I will simply continue with my demands for just restitution for your insults at a higher level within the Orange County Register, on the assumption (hopefully not a naive assumption) that someone there puts the reputation of the organization (if not the safety of its reader base) of paramount importance, well above that of one sloppy reporter.

The OC Register is a powerful force in Orange County, I have no doubt of that.  A person in your position can do a great deal of harm to society, or to a person, if you abuse the trust that journalists has developed over the years, earned from the public by nature of the fact that most reporters don't act like you.  I believe the Orange County Register will still decide to fire you.  Wise up, Mr. Robbins.  You can't win this battle because the waste is piling up, and so your "unbiased" viewpoint is in fact the most biased one of all.  Future generations will curse the Atomic Age no matter what your paper decides to do today. -- rdh ]]]

Gary Robbins

[[[ Russell D. Hoffman, Carlsbad, CA, June 17th, 2001 -- rdh ]]]

The previous item in this correspondence appears here:


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