To: "James V. Higgins" <>
From: "Russell D. Hoffman" <>
Subject: Davis-Besse Newsletter #12 -- May 15th, 2002 -- by Russell Hoffman, Concerned Citizen

Bang bang we're dead...
Davis-Besse Newsletter #12
May 15th, 2002
The latest news, views, and interesting correspondence.
Edited by
Russell D. Hoffman, Concerned Citizen

This newsletter is intended to be the most accurate information available anywhere.
Corrections welcome...

(1): Happy Independence Day -- bang bang, we're dead (I) (NY Times)

(2): NY Times looks at San Onofre

(3): Happy Independence Day -- bang bang, we're dead (II) (
Bill Gertz, Washington Times, May 13th, 2002)

(4): Corrosive Culture- The Davis Besse lesson: You just can't trust the NRC (

(5): Residents fume over reactor leak secrecy (
Rob Ryser, The Journal News, May 11th, 2002)

(6): Yucca:  It's just an insurance scam (by
Bob Nichols, Oklahoma City, OK, sent in by ReCarDeaux)

(7): The Bush war (against recalcitrant Governors) continues...

(8): State officials pretend to be concerned about the safety of nuclear fuel at Maine Yankee

(9): "
The framework was just a little off" OR, how the DTE chairman miscalculated his way into a top position in the Nuclear Industry (article by James V. Higgins, The Detroit News)

(10): Researchers Probe Depleted Uranium, Cancer Link

Stop the CPUC from Killing the Renewable Energy Industry

(12): Subscription information / contact information for the author of this document.

Previous Davis-Besse newsletters are available online here:

Please distribute freely.  Please contact the author (email address is given at the bottom) if you feel you have received this document in error or wish to unsubscribe.  Thank you for reading. -- Russell. D. Hoffman.

(1): Happy Independence Day -- bang bang, we're dead (I) (NY Times):

This was sent to me by a number of people:

      Strike on US Nuke Plants Threatened

      Filed at 3:06 p.m. ET

      WASHINGTON (AP) -- U.S. intelligence officials have received threats that terrorists will strike a U.S. nuclear power plant July 4, and are reviewing the information to determine whether it is reliable.

      The government is taking the threats seriously, though officials have preliminarily determined that the information is not credible enough to act upon, said officials familiar with the investigation.

      The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the alleged plot to attack on America's celebration of independence is one of scores of threats filtering through U.S. intelligence and is not considered serious enough to formally warn the public or change the nuclear industry's already high level of alert.

      The threat received last week suggested that an unidentified Islamic terrorist group is planning to attack the Three Mile Island nuclear facility in Pennsylvania or another plant elsewhere in the Northeast, the source said.

      Unlike some other recent threat information, the power plant threat did not come from Abu Zubaydah, the senior al-Qaida operational leader in U.S. custody. Abu Zubaydah's interviews with U.S. interrogators led a recent warning to banks, and heightened concerns al-Qaida was developing a radiation-spreading dirty bomb.

      Rep. Edward Markey of Massachusetts, a senior Democrat on the House Energy Committee, said that while he didn't know if the threat was credible, it indicated that ``al-Qaida is seriously targeting U.S. nuclear facilities for future attacks.''

      He said he is urging the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to take such steps as restoring a no-fly zone within a 10-mile radius of nuclear plants, federalizing the security force and conducting more extensive background checks of all plant employees.

      The Washington Times first reported the threat.


Comment on the above item by rdh:

This is so lame!  We know the plants are dangerous, vulnerable, and coveted. SHUT 'EM DOWN!

-- rdh

(2): NY Times looks at San Onofre:

From: "Sara Barczak" <>,
To:     "Robert Gaskins" <>,
        "Rita Kilpatrick" <>,
        "Jalaya Liles 'work'" <>
Cc: "Rochelle Becker" <>,
        "Russell D. Hoffman" <>
Subject: Nuclear--NYT--Atomic Plant Casts a Pall on Paradise 5-12-02
Atomic Plant Casts a Pall on Paradise

SAN CLEMENTE, Calif., May 11 - A Sunday on San Onofre State Beach is a step
into the idyllic 1960's Southern California of Gidget movies. Below a low
sandstone bluff, a half-mile of cars, many of them classics, line a
palm-fringed shore. Around thatched-roof huts, surfers strum ukuleles, grill
burgers or prepare to ride the celebrated waves.

This vision of paradise almost obscures another vestige of the 1960's rising
from the surf a few hundred yards south. There, two nuclear reactors quietly
split atoms and churn out 20 percent of Southern California's electricity.

It has been like this since the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station opened
in 1968. The surfers, campers and residents of San Clemente and other nearby
towns have largely accepted the plant as an unobtrusive, if unwelcome,
neighbor. But since Sept. 11, security concerns and a proposal for a
long-term repository for spent nuclear fuel have raised alarm.

"We want to believe San O is safe, and that the palm trees, blue sky and
waves are the reality," Steve Netherby said on a recent walk around the
plant. "Unfortunately, the reality is a lot more dangerous."

Mr. Netherby is a former editor at Field & Stream magazine and co-founder of
San Clemente's Coalition for Responsible Ethical and Environmental
Decisions. He points out that San Onofre lies amid six miles of popular
state beach and south of growing population centers of southern Orange
County. A quarter-mile to the east runs Interstate 5 and a coastal rail
route. Beyond that sprawls Camp Pendleton, a Marine base.

The plant's owner, Southern California Edison, and the Nuclear Regulatory
Commission say the plant is safe and secure.

At a public meeting, the regional chief of the commission, Kriss Kennedy,
said of plant security: "There have been examples in the past where we've
been very critical of facility operations, but in this case, San Onofre has
done a good job."

Yet Mr. Netherby remains skeptical. Despite the presence of guards wielding
M-16's, he walks unchallenged through an unsecured parking lot overlooking
the site, past several employees. He points out the enormous turbines and
transformers, and the functioning Unit 2 and 3 reactors, and what appears to
be a hole in the side of the decommissioned Unit 1.

He wonders what would happen if a van drove into the lot and a terrorist
launched a shoulder-fired missile. "It's a target down there. And that makes
all of us here in Southern California a target," Mr. Netherby said.

Unit 1 is being demolished at a cost of $600 million. Its site is now proposed
for a "dry cask" waste storage system that would hold spent nuclear fuel.

A San Onofre spokesman, Ray Golden, said the dry casks offer far greater
security and earthquake protection than the system used now, adding: "The
spent fuel is moving from a pool, which requires human intervention,
electricity and other features, to a completely passive design with no
mechanical components. If you painted that scenario, I think most people
would say, `Hey, it sounds like you should put it in the passive design.' "

Project opponents agree that the dry casks are somewhat safer, but question
assertions by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission that these systems can
withstand earthquakes. They also worry that the project would lead to a
vast, long-term increase above the several hundred tons of stored waste
already on site.

Mr. Netherby's group is beginning "an extensive effort" to make residents
aware of the security threats at San Onofre, the dangers of stored fuel, and
the risks posed by earthquakes and earthquake-spawned tsunami waves.

The group is also asking that local towns begin storing potassium iodide
pills as a radiation antidote, that Camp Pendleton troops be assigned to San
Onofre to augment security, and that a loudspeaker system be placed on area
beaches alongside existing sirens. They also want the Federal Aviation Admin
istration to revisit its recent lifting of a 10-mile no-fly zone around the

Meanwhile, on the beach the party is in full swing. But it appears that
after passing an unattended State Beach guard kiosk and driving to the south
end of the beach, the only thing that would prevent an attacker from
reaching the sea-wall road fronting the plant is a "no vehicles" sign.

Are beachgoers concerned?

Daniel Dowden, a San Onofre Surf Club member, points to two recent security
breaches at the plant and accidents involving a fire and a construction crane.

"It's a plant run by human beings who've made a lot of mistakes already,"
Mr. Dowden said. "I don't say they're dumber than anybody else, but they're
certainly as dumb as the rest of us, and they're going to make mistakes. I'd
rather those mistakes be out in the desert somewhere where nobody's around
than right here on the beach where we're completely exposed."

Paul Strau is a Hawaiian surfer who holds a mini-luau with his friends here
every Sunday.

"Even with the danger, you still come down to the beach to enjoy the ocean,"
Mr. Strau said. "It takes your mind off the stresses of the day-to-day world.

"But looming right over the bluff is this edifice that says, `I could take
all of you out real quickly.' It's scary."


Comment on the above item by rdh:

Project opponents do NOT "agree that the dry casks are somewhat safer [than spent fuel pools]"!  Both are extremely dangerous, and THAT's what project opponents agree on!

Besides, if dry casks are so safe, why did it take about four decades, and the filling of all their spent fuel pools, and the failure to build a Federal repository, for industry to come up with the idea?

The main purpose of dry cask storage is to keep the reactors going without having to build a new spent fuel pool or national nuclear waste repository.

Renewable energy is safe, clean energy.  Today IS the day to finally implement a NON-NUCLEAR ENERGY POLICY FOR THE SAKE OF THE PLANET.  Sure, it MAY be too late.  But it's still worth a try.

This writer spent more than an hour in conversation with the reporter from the NY Times who wrote the above article.  That is why I am dejected to read that this article states that project opponents "agree" that dry casks are safer than spent fuel pools.  I don't agree.  Safer would be a "dry" cask IN a spent fuel pool  -- but that would cost the industry a lot more money.  Safer still would be to put the fuel in casks in pools inside the containment domes!  That would require shutting the reactors down, of course, but that has to happen anyway.

-- rdh

(3): Happy Independence Day -- bang bang, we're dead (II):

This is the original article that the NY Times article above (Item #1) is based on (seen in DOEWATCH):

Date: Mon, 13 May 2002 10:48:57 EDT
Subject: [DOEWatch] U.S. weighs July 4 threat



May 13, 2002

U.S. weighs July 4 threat
By Bill Gertz

     Islamic terrorists are planning an attack against a U.S. nuclear power
plant to coincide with the July 4 celebrations, U.S. intelligence sources
      U.S. officials are taking the threat seriously, though they say it is
not necessarily wholly reliable.
     The claims of a plot were obtained by U.S. intelligence agencies last
week. It coincides with other recent reports indicating that two al Qaeda
terrorists are planning an attack inside the United States using radioactive
material in a conventional bomb.
     The nuclear plant threat obtained last week indicated that an
unidentified Islamic terrorist group is planning to attack the Three Mile
Island (TMI) nuclear facility in Pennsylvania, or another nuclear facility in
the state or elsewhere in the Northeast.
     The intelligence on the nuclear plant targeting followed earlier
intelligence obtained from Abu Zubaydah, 31, who was wounded in a shootout
with Pakistani police on March 28. He is considered a key lieutenant of Osama
bin Laden and the organizer of terrorist training camps inside Afghanistan.
     The captured al Qaeda operations chief revealed that two of his
terrorists were operating in a secret cell within the United States and were
planning an attack.
     Zubaydah disclosed that an American and an African national were
planning to construct a radiological bomb — a conventional bomb fortified
with radioactive material to increase its lethality — for the attack, the
officials said. The men were to obtain radioactive material covertly from a
nuclear power plant or other nuclear waste or weapons facility, the officials
     Some doubt has been cast on the Zubaydah claims.
     "He seems to be supplying some good information to enhance his
credibility," said one official familiar with debriefing reports on the
captured terrorist. "On the other hand, it could be part of a larger
deception effort."
     Zubaydah was captured in March during a raid on a terrorist safe haven
in Pakistan.
     Intelligence officials believe that the African national described by
Zubaydah is already in custody. He was among the hundreds of people arrested
in the United States after the September 11 terrorist attacks.
     These officials say the attack on the nuclear plant was initially
scheduled for May 1, but no attack was carried out on that date. Later
intelligence reports indicated that the mission was set to be carried out
July 4.
     "TMI was one of the places named in the threat warnings," one official
said. "The problem is the date keeps changing."
     Officials say, however, that there have been at least two instances in
the past several weeks where Middle Eastern nationals were spotted "casing"
U.S. nuclear facilities. In one, an Arab couple with a child was seen
photographing a building housing regulators of nuclear power plants. A second
instance involved an outdoor gathering of Arabs near a nuclear power facility.
     The intelligence report led to a recent warning to FBI counterterrorism
units around the country and to U.S. nuclear power facilities to be on the
alert for possible strikes related to nuclear plants.
     Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld told reporters last month that U.S.
military forces "control" Zubaydah and have provided him with medical care.
Mr. Rumsfeld said April 3 that "we intend to get every single thing out of
him to try to prevent terrorist acts in the future."
     Since September 11, the U.S. government has been engaged in major
emergency planning for a large-scale terrorist attack inside the nation.
     "Everything we are planning for involves a future attack with weapons of
mass destruction," one official said, referring to nuclear, chemical,
biological or radiological weapons.
     There are 66 nuclear power facilities in the United States, according to
the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The TMI plant is located 10 miles
southeast of Harrisburg, Pa. The Beaver Valley nuclear facility, about 17
miles west of McCandless, and the Peach Bottom nuclear facility, near
Lancaster, also are located in Pennsylvania.
     The TMI facility was the site of a serious nuclear accident in 1979. A
malfunction in a water system used for steam generators caused a meltdown
within a reactor core, setting off the release of radioactive gas. However,
despite a national frenzy of fear and speculation, there were no injuries due
to radiation exposure.
     One U.S. official said the nuclear power plant threats were not related
to the Zubaydah-identified terrorist cell believed to have planned a
radiological bomb attack. "We get lots of threat information all the time,"
the official said of the July 4 threat.
     A common feature of al Qaeda terrorists working in some 60 nations is
that most of them received military and terrorist training in camps in
     Zubaydah also told U.S. intelligence officials last month that al Qaeda
was planning attacks on banks in the northeastern United States and that
supermarkets and shopping malls are targets. The location where Zubaydah is
being held and questioned was not disclosed.


Comment on the above item by rdh:

We have to shut the plants down anyway.  9-11 woke up a lot of people, but some of us were well aware of these threats long before 9-11.  Now, six months after that awful day, some still think there is room for debate on these issues.  There isn't.

-- rdh

(4): Corrosive Culture- The Davis Besse lesson: You just can't trust the NRC (

This item was sent in by Hans Karow of Canada:

To: "Russell D. Hoffman" <>
Subject: Fw: (CMEP-list) Corrosive Culture- The Davis Besse lesson: You just can't trust the NRC

Russell, just in case if there is anything you can use, no need to reply, cheers and best, Hans.

Corrosive Culture
The Davis Besse lesson: You just can't trust the NRC

The hole in the reactor vessel head at FirstEnergy's Davis Besse nuclear power plant in Ohio casts suspicion on the entire culture at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and is grounds for halting the NRC's current practice of rushing through license renewals and power uprates.

Boric acid corroded a six-inch hole in the reactor vessel head at Davis Besse, leaving only a 3/8-inch metal cladding as protection against a reactor breach and a possibly devastating chain of events that might have culminated in a reactor meltdown. The corrosion was discovered in March. Just four months earlier, FirstEnergy, responding to a Nuclear Regulatory Commission request, notified the agency that prior visual inspections of the reactor had detected boric acid deposits. But those deposits were not cause for concern, and a more complete inspection could wait until the plant's scheduled refueling months later, the company assured the NRC. The NRC, as is its custom, agreed with industry.

At FirstEnergy's convenience, the reactor was finally inspected, and workers were surprised when a mechanism to control fuel rods "displaced (or tipped) in the downhill direction*until its flange contacted the flange of the adjacent" mechanism, according to NRC documents. In other words, it fell over. That in turn prompted dismantlement of components and a more thorough inspection, leading to the discovery of the six-inch hole in the head of the reactor vessel. That the hole was discovered at all was something of a fluke.

More power

The NRC takes tremendous pride in the trend toward nuclear plants running at higher energy levels and for longer periods of time between maintenance. The agency is thus on guard to avoid any unscheduled shutdown. The commercial nuclear establishment, which sadly includes not just industry but the NRC and politicians of both parties, has been beaming about the nation's nuclear plants running longer and running hotter. Reports of acid deposits notwithstanding, the NRC agreed with FirstEnergy that a more thorough inspection of possible degradation of reactor components could wait until the plant's scheduled maintenance, thus allowing the reactor to continue to operate-with, as is now known, a six-inch hole in the reactor vessel head

In addition to avoiding shutdowns, plant efficiency is enhanced by increasing power output at the reactor, with accompanying increases in heat, steam and pressure and additional stress on reactor components. The NRC routinely approves applications to increase power output at reactors-22 power uprates were approved in 2001 alone. The agency is currently considering a dozen more applications for uprates from operators, and the NRC anticipates receiving nearly three-dozen more applications in the near future-including an application from Davis Besse.

The easygoing regulatory response to acid deposits at Davis Besse suggests that the NRC's institutional push to increase plant efficiency is achieved at enormous risk to public safety. But the NRC must put public protection ahead of nuclear industry profit. The NRC must err on the side of safety and demand that operators shut down their plants for inspection and maintenance at the first signs of degradation, not when it is convenient for corporate earnings estimates. And all power uprate proceedings should be halted.

Longer licensing

The operators of Davis Besse and other reactors were asked to look for nozzle cracks after such cracks were discovered at Duke Energy's Oconee nuclear plant in South Carolina. Prior to that discovery Oconee had undergone presumably arduous technical and safety reviews as part of Duke's application to extend Oconee's license for an additional 20 years. In May 2000, the Oconee plant was among the first to win an extended license. Only months later, the nozzle cracks were discovered. By extending the license at an aging reactor with operational problems so great as to prompt reviews of reactors nationwide, the NRC put its regulatory negligence on blazing display.

In addition to Oconee, cracks were also discovered at Entergy's Arkansas Nuclear One-again, after the plant's license had been extended for another 20 years of operation. Two other plants where cracks were found, Duke's North Anna and Surry plants in Virginia, are currently going through the relicensing process. NRC Chairman Richard Meserve has repeatedly gushed that he expects the operator of every nuclear reactor in the nation to apply for an extended operating license. The NRC's projected schedule of renewal applications envisions Davis Besse beginning the license renewal process in 2004.

The NRC, having no new plants to license, is bursting with enthusiasm at the opportunity to do what is, for nuclear proponents, the next best thing: relicense old ones. Four plants have been relicensed thus far, and eight more applications are active.

The NRC's relicensing program should be brought to a halt. Licenses do not expire in most instances for another 15 or 20 years, and the only reason for plants to relicense now is to amortize plant debt further into the future, effectively padding corporate revenues today. The more pernicious, long-term effect of relicensing is that old nuclear power plants such as Davis Besse will operate even longer, under a regulatory regime that has proven itself quite capable of being blindsided by unanticipated dilapidation of nuclear reactors.

Stop regulatory rush jobs

At Davis Besse, the NRC demonstrated conclusively that it cares more about corporate profits than public safety. The same motives are driving the NRC's big hurry to relicense old power plants, rubber-stamp power uprates and allow plants to operate with known signs of reactor degradation. If the NRC can't or won't acknowledge how far the agency has strayed from its obligation to protect the public, then Congress or the President should step in and bring the NRC's dangerous regulatory rush jobs to a screeching halt.

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Comment on the above item by rdh:

It appears that only a severe accident will change American policy.  Too bad.

The NRC's uprate policy (increasing the megawatt output of the plants above the original design specifications) that's been going on recently causes the plants to run closer to the "edge of the envelope".  It increases their profits by increasing the risk of catastrophe.   A Loss Of Coolant Accident (LOCA) for the same size hole, like the one that nearly formed at Davis-Besse, might take, say, eight seconds instead of ten seconds.  Terrorists can use a smaller charge to blow up a reactor which is operating at a higher pressure and temperature.  Also, embrittlement of components occurs more rapidly.  (Note that just a 3 degree difference (602 versus 605 F) is being considered a possible cause of excessive nozzle degradation seen at Davis-Besse.)

Also, note that: "We get lots of threat information all the time" is NOT a reason to relax! 

Lastly, note that this article was probably released to compete with Jack Shannon's comments (published as Item #1 in Davis-Besse Newsletter #11).  (Those who might say that's ridiculous probably haven't studied how the media is fed mis-information and dis-information along with all the information they are given by the NRC, the DOE, and so forth.)

-- rdh

(5): Residents fume over reactor leak secrecy (Rob Ryser, The Journal News, May 11th, 2002):

This was forwarded to me by Jack Shannon:

Date: Sat, 11 May 2002 09:50:48 EDT
Subject: Fwd: [westcan] A company town gets a taste of reality...

To: "Don DeBar" <>
From: "Don DeBar" <>
Date: Sat, 11 May 2002 06:42:30 -0400
Subject: [westcan] A company town gets a taste of reality...
This is what happens when business and government operate in their own interests at the expense of the public interest. It happened with Con Ed, despite the protestations from our local politicians, and it will happen with Entergy. Hopefully, we will close the plant before greed and stupidity breed a disaster.
Ossining, NY 10562
(914)739-2700 days
(914)945-0815 eves
Residents fume over reactor leak secrecy

(Original publication: May 11, 2002)

Buchanan Residents struggled yesterday to understand why they weren't told that hundreds of gallons of radiation-contaminated water leaked into the Hudson River and the Buchanan water system in the days following the Feb. 15, 2000, steam generator accident at the Indian Point 2 nuclear reactor.

"If anything else like that happens in the future, I hope that they would let the people around the area know," said Johnny Rit Jr., owner of a popular bar and grill of the same name across the street from Indian Point.

Rit and his regulars usually know first about any Indian Point controversy from the convergence of reporters and camera crews outside the plant's entrance. There was no such commotion yesterday in Buchanan, one day after The Journal News reported that more than just radioactive steam escaped after the 2000 accident, contrary to claims by Consolidated Edison, which owned Indian Point 2 at the time.

"We now realize that was just a lie to the public," said the Riverkeeper activist, Kyle Rabin.

The media instead set up in Yorktown for a protest by a Nevada group that is trying to stop a federal plan to transport radioactive waste to a repository under Yucca Mountain in that state.

The protesters' appearance kicked off a national tour to build public resistance to the plan. To illustrate their point, they brought an inflated, elephant-gray dumbbell meant to represent the 125,000-ton steel and lead casks that will be used to transport spent fuel rods from Indian Point and other nuclear reactors to Nevada.

After the protest, a policy analyst from the Garrison-based environmental group Riverkeeper said the revelation that radioactive water leaked into the Buchanan environment was an indictment against Con Ed, which had maintained in public hearings after the 2000 accident that nothing other than a minute amount of steam was released.

Rabin also faulted the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission for lax oversight.

New York state Assemblywoman Sandra Galef, D-Ossining, said she would demand answers from the NRC in a meeting planned for June. She also criticized Con Edison, which sold the troubled Indian Point 2 plant to Entergy in September.

"Con Ed was so weak in its responsibilities to the plant," Galef said yesterday. "All this happened during Con Ed's ownership."

In a statement released yesterday by Con Edison spokesman Michael Clendenin, the company reaffirmed that it was upfront with the public and the government about the extent of the leaks.

"At no time was the public or the environment in any danger following the event of February 15, 2000," the statement read.

The NRC said both the radioactive steam leak and the radioactive water leak were not serious health or environmental concerns. In the case of the contaminated water, the NRC said it was so heavily diluted that there were no plans to decontaminate Buchanan's public water system.

Buchanan Mayor Dan O'Neill said he doubted any radioactive water entered the village's water system.

"It's an impossibility," O'Neill said. "The village sewer lines and the water used on the nuclear site do not have any connections, and we get our water from the Montrose Improvement District and Peekskill."

Send e-mail to Rob Ryser


Comment on the above item by rdh:

When a nuclear plant has problems that can be blamed on management or workers, rather than on a system, that's who they blame.  That way, they can fire people, or even give up and sell the facility to new investors (as was done with Indian Point recently) if there is too much public outcry.  The new owner promises that things will be better, and life goes on.

Also, note that this news item was probably released when it was, in the never-ending battle for the minds of the media, just to compete and conflict with the Yorktown event.

-- rdh

(6): Yucca:  It's just an insurance scam (by Bob Nichols, Oklahoma City, OK, sent in by ReCarDeaux):

Date: Sun, 12 May 2002 16:53:52 EDT

Sent by: Richard, Oklahoma City, OK  73118  Email:

From: "Bob Nichols (Cox Cable)" <>
Cc: "William Dooley" <>
Subject: Yucca? It's just an insurance scam ...

Yucca Mountain? It's just an insurance scam ...
By Bob Nichols
For many years it was a straight forward business deal. The nuclear power plant people made generous campaign contributions for "access" and diligent Congressmen and women would "work hard" to dream up new and creative "subsidies" for the nuclear power folks.
They all thought they had a sure thing with the scheme to transport very radioactive partially used fuel rods to Yucca Mountain, Nevada. At its heart it is a simple "cost of liability" transfer plan. "Centralized storage!" "Fix the waste problem!" No more "cost of liability". Sounds great.
You see, at the moment the federal Department of Energy takes the deadly fuel rods, the feds also get title and ownership to the fuel rods. Thank to legislation written by an obliging and willing Congress the cost of liability shifts, at that precise moment, to the feds. Y'know, all of us.
Then everything went crazy. First, there was the homegrown US Army trained terrorism of Timothy McVeigh. He and his friends blew up the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. Not good.
Then, as we all saw endlessly on TV reruns, Saudi Arabian Al Qaeda terrorists converted 100 ton 757 Boeing(c) aircraft into cruise missiles striking the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and an empty field in Pennsylvania. The Pennsylvania jet was on a course for Washington, so they say. The wealthy Saudis were heavily armed with ... boxcutters. Not good, especially for people who want to move 77,000 tons of deadly, kill you on the spot, nuclear reactor fuel around the country.
There were five nuclear power plants on the Pennsylvania jet's path to D.C. Who knows, the valiant passengers who took out the hijackers by giving their lives may have prevented a Chernobyl on US soil. The reactor containment buildings might withstand the impact of a small Cessana, but not a fully fueled, 100 ton, 600 mph jumbo cruise missile.
Then the Republican Governor of Nevada wouldn't play ball and actually vetoed the Yucca Mountain Plan on April 8. Said he wanted to "protect" the people of the United States. Congress has 90 legislative days to override the Governor's veto. The House has already done so by an Enron like 75% majority vote.
This enthusiastic "Yes to Yucca" vote included virtually all of the Republicans and half the Democrats in the House. Well, at least, you can say that the Representatives kept their word to a campaign contributor. Good for them.
When various people were interviewed in Oklahoma City and asked, "The Department of Energy plans on carrying millions of pounds of highly radioactive fuel rods through Oklahoma City in 534 real big, slow, easily identifiable trucks. Each truck carries over 400 times the radiation of Hiroshima. What do you think Timothy McVeigh or the Saudi WTC terrorists would do about that?"
People usually say something to the effect, "Why that is plain as the nose on your face! They would attack, of course! Duhh... You don't have to be a rocket scientist to figure that out!"
Let's see now, that would be the long sought after Al Qaeida "dirty bomb" wouldn't it? Built to order by the feds, to fulfill a campaign promise by Congress to the nuke power people about an insurance matter. Bought and paid for. Sounds perfectly reasonable to me.
The pained and awkward silence of the Repubs on the House floor at the hearing on Yucca Mountain about terrorism threats can only mean one thing. The decision is made.
The nuke power people have no doubt analyzed the terrorist threat. It's certainly real. But, better the terrorist strike in Duluth or Oklahoma City than at the secure, heavily guarded nuke power plants. After all, they have paid for their "access" and they sure don't want the inevitable terrorist attacks to occur at the nuke electric plants.
Get mad. Stay mad. Call your Senator. Tell the kids that answer the phone that the insurance premium is way too high. Tell them the Senator should act for you - Kill Yucca, Vote NO!
Senate Operator: 202-224-3121 


Comment on the above item by rdh:

If we continue to operate the plants, "inevitable terrorist attacks" will occur.  Those who oppose Yucca Mountain are two-faced and unPatriotic if they do not also oppose the continued operation of ANY nuclear power plants.  Kill Yucca Mountain?  Yes.  But kill nuclear power too!

-- rdh

(7): The Bush war (against recalcitrant Governors) continues...:

This was sent in by a number of people:

To: "Russell D. Hoffman" <>


BRIAN FALER, WASHINGTON POST -  The Department of Energy blasted South
Carolina Gov. Jim Hodges (D) last week for launching a television
advertising campaign criticizing the Bush administration's plan to move
more than 30 metric tons of plutonium to his state. "It is
well-established in this country that matters of national security and
foreign policy are viewed as nonpartisan and certainly should never be
politicized for personal gain," said department spokesman Joe Davis. "We
strongly urge Governor Hodges to pull his TV ad immediately out of
respect for this national security tradition." . . . Kevin Geddings, a
former Hodges staffer who helped produce the ads, said they will not be
pulled and accused the Bush administration of politicizing the issue.
"They're taking dangerous plutonium from Colorado to South Carolina
because George Bush is rampantly popular in South Carolina and probably
not as popular in Colorado," Geddings said. Sen. Wayne Allard (R-Colo.)
is also running for reelection this year.


Comment on the above item by rdh:

I think we are living in a military dictatorship.  To be fighting this hard over this one after-effect of a national, insane policy -- the one that created the 30 tons of plutonium in the first place -- should warn EVERYONE what will be happening as Yucca Mountain comes closer to reality.  Nevada won't take the waste, and many states probably won't even let it pass through.  That's one reason America Patriots know that we MUST shut down all the reactors NOW!  For the sake of our fellow and future Americans.

-- rdh

(8): State officials pretend to be concerned about the safety of nuclear fuel at Maine Yankee:

Subject: Demolition of Nuclear Plant Illustrates Problems Involved
To: Nuke Waste Task Force Sierra Club <>

May 14, 2002

Demolition of Nuclear Plant Illustrates Problems Involved


WISCASSET, Me., May 10 Power company executives, environmentalists and
state government officials fought for most of the 80's and 90's about
whether the Maine Yankee nuclear power plant was safe and economical. But
once the owners agreed that the plant should close, the debate turned
really complicated.

Suddenly, said Ray Shadis, who had fought for years to shut down Maine's
only reactor, "there were a lot more things to argue about."

How much radioactive building material could safely be left at the site?
Should nonradioactive concrete and concrete structures below the ground be
removed? What should happen to the highly radioactive spent fuel, which
the federal government is supposed to take, but, for the next few years at
least, has no place to put?

Now, more than five years after Maine Yankee split its last atom, the
cumbersome process of decontamination and demolition gives a hint of what
lies ahead for the 103 power reactors still operating around the country
whether economic problems close them, as happened here, or fear of
terrorism shuts them, a threat faced by Indian Point in New York, or
whether they run for years to come and retire at a ripe old age.

First comes the argument over how much radioactive material can be left.
Some experts have described as excruciatingly tough the Nuclear Regulatory
Commission's standard, which says the annual extra dose of radiation of
the person most heavily exposed should be no more than 25 millirem. People
who do not work with radiation are exposed to about 350 millirem a year,
counting cosmic rays, radon gas and radiation from medical procedures and
naturally radioactive rocks and minerals.

In the regulatory commission's calculation, the individual is assumed to
live 24 hours a day at the site. That is unlikely at many reactor sites
that will remain industrial as will probably be the case here where
workers typically spend eight hours a day. Maine Yankee, one of the first
big reactors to be shut, has rail service, town water and sewerage, access
to the electric grid, and a river full of water for barge traffic or
cooling, all of which contribute to its industrial appeal.

The commission's calculation also assumes the individual is a subsistence
farmer who drills a well in the most contaminated spot and uses its water
for drinking and irrigation. Coastal Maine has no such farmers, and the
water under the site is brackish, company officials say, making it
unsuitable for drinking or irrigation.

But after protracted debate, the state decided that the commission's
standard was too loose; it imposed a standard of 10 millirem a year. That
standard is so low that technicians have difficulty determining whether
dirt or concrete has enough radioactivity above natural background that it
will contribute to extra exposure. So hundreds of tons of material are
being shipped out to other states on the presumption of being slightly
radioactive, because shipping is cheaper than testing.

Not all environmentalists are convinced that this is sound.

"Parts of this can be depicted by others, outside the state of Maine, to
be pretty selfish," said W. Donald Hudson, who is the president of the
Chewonski Foundation, an environmental educational institution a mile from
the plant.

Moving the material does not make it any less radioactive, although it may
end up somewhere with a lower population density and less rainfall,
reducing the likelihood that contaminants will be washed into drinking

Mr. Hudson said plants decommissioned in the future might not be able to
ship out so much material, because states designated+ to receive the waste
might "put their foot down."

Nationally, only three low-level waste dumps are operating, and one, at
Hanford, Wash., accepts material only from the Pacific Northwest. The
other dumps are in Barnwell, S.C., and at a desert site about 80 miles
west of Salt Lake City, which is expected to receive most of Maine
Yankee's contaminated concrete. Thus one certainty of decommissioning is a
long trip.

About 65,000 tons of radioactive waste from the plant will require
shipment off site. More highly radioactive materials will go to Barnwell.
About 50,000 tons of material that is not radioactive will go to an
ordinary industrial landfill in Niagara County, N.Y. About 75 trainloads
of radiaoactive and nonradioactive waste have already been shipped.

If all goes as scheduled, it will take eight years to demolish the plant,
which took four years to build. The construction was easier, because at
that point all the material was clean, said Wayne A. Norton, president of
the company.

Demolishing the plant and shipping the waste will cost $500 million, more
than twice the $231 million the plant cost to build (although that was in
1972, when a dollar bought more concrete than it does today.) The job is
61 percent done and on budget, managers say.

Maine Yankee is a single-unit plant, about two-thirds the size of Indian
Point 2 or 3 in New York, which suggests the cost of decommissioning a
plant the size of Indian Point could well exceed $1 billion,

Another factor in deciding how thoroughly to clean up the site is
radiation exposure to workers performing the decommissioning. The more
exhaustive the operation, the more that level will rise. Maine Yankee has
a "budget" of no more than 1,150 rem of exposure to all of its workers
collectively during the entire cleanup, although the actual exposure will
probably be somewhat lower. In contrast, 200 rem to 400 rem was typical
for a year in which the plant was operating.

But neither Maine Yankee nor any other power reactor can really be fully
decommissioned now because there is no place to put spent fuel. So a major
policy issue that remains is how to store the fuel, which is now kept
mostly in spent fuel pools around the country.

At Maine Yankee, workers are preparing to put the fuel into 60 giant
stainless steel canisters, which will be dried out and filled with an
inert gas to prevent rust. Each will be loaded into its own giant concrete
cylinder, with holes to allow air circulation. Those will go on concrete
pads, surrounded by razor wire, motion detectors and armed guards. The
casks are licensed for 20 years by the regulatory commission and
guaranteed by the builder for 50 years, but their stay at the site could
be a lot longer. An application by the manufacture to license the casks
for shipping is pending.

The fuel must be loaded into the canisters under water, because in open
air, the radiation it gives off would be lethal. But the plan is that
after loading, workers will dismantle the pool, so the site will lose the
ability to repackage the wastes if something goes wrong with a canister in
a few years.

State officials say the casks may be vulnerable to terrorist attack.

Copyright 2002 The New York Times Company


Comment on the above item by rdh:

State officials do their part by stating the obvious -- that the casks "may be" vulnerable to terrorist attack.  Then they commit dereliction of duty by letting the work proceed anyway!

Also, note that Maine Yankee's fuel is still "splitting atoms".  The rate is slower than when the fuel was in the reactor, that's all. (That ain't lead in them thar tubes, Mr. Wald!)

Also, note that spontaneous combustion of spent fuel is possible for many years after the fuel has been removed from a reactor, if the fuel comes in contact with air, or is simply dropped, pushed, crushed, smashed by a plane full of fuel, etc..  The "inert gas" is NOT just to prevent rust!  The zircalloy fuel cladding aggressively corrodes in air, releasing the fuel inside.

Also, note that spent fuel which HAS somehow managed to catch fire (perhaps, say, by an airplane crashing into it) is virtually impossible to put out.  A dry cask fire could cause a million casualties or more.

-- rdh

(9): "The framework was just a little off" OR, how the DTE chairman miscalculated his way into a top position in the Nuclear Industry (article by James V. Higgins, The Detroit News):

This item was seen on DOEWATCH and is more than a little hokey in the pokey:

Subject: [DOEWatch] DTE chairman doesn't see more nuclear reactors in near future-->Yucca and beyond


DTE chairman doesn't see more nuclear reactors in near future

By James V. Higgins / The Detroit News
   In 1979, when Anthony F. Earley Jr. wrote his master's thesis at Notre
Dame on how to dispose of nuclear wastes, he figured the nation would solve
that problem in just a few years.
   "The time frame was a little off," the chairman of DTE Energy said with a
chuckle the other day. Now, Earley is gratified, and not just academically,
that a resolution finally is in sight.
   The U.S. House last week voted 306-117 in favor of a national nuclear
waste depository at Yucca Mountain in the Nevada desert 90 miles northwest of
Las Vegas. Approval by the U.S. Senate this summer is judged a little less
than certain, but very likely.
   Science and engineering are solidly in favor of the deep underground site,
Earley says. Politics are coming around, prompted by 20 years of technical
validation and the reality that the sympathy vote among the states in favor
of Yucca Mountain is 49-1.
   But safe, centralized, permanent disposal of spent fuel probably is not
the key to the ultimate fate of nuclear electricity generation in the United
States, he says. Along with technology and public sentiment, bare economics
will be a decisive factor.
   Few would know better. In addition to his studies at Notre Dame, Earley
served in the U.S. Navy as an officer on nuclear-powered submarines.
   A lawyer as well as an engineer, he also has worked extensively in
licensing and rule-making actions before the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
And as a top executive of the Long Island Lighting Co., an electric and gas
utility in New York, he supervised what is currently one of the most hotly
debated issues in nuclear disposal: transportation of wastes on public
   But intimacy with the issue hasn't made Earley a blind advocate of
expanded nuclear power. DTE's Fermi 2 reactor near Monroe has operated
effectively in recent years after a spate of problems, and will remain a
prime asset for the company's Detroit Edison subsidiary for decades.
   The technology of nuclear generation continues to improve, and some people
believe that public opinion is swinging in favor of nuclear power amid
concerns over domestic energy security. Earlier this year, U.S. Energy
Secretary Spencer Abraham said he favors expanded nuclear generation as part
of an overall national energy policy. Up to that point, the department had
officially predicted there would be no more nukes.
   "That has all led to speculation that somebody in the next couple of years
is going to order a nuclear plant," Earley said. "The real challenge in my
view as to whether people order a new nuclear plant is not technical or
political. It's really economic -- can you build these things at a cost
that's competitive in a time frame that's reasonable, given the restructured
environment in the electric industry."
   But DTE doesn't see additional nuclear reactors in its future, now that
it's likely that Fermi and some 130 other sites around the nation will
finally be relieved of their temporary waste storage problems.
   They're too expensive, Earley said, and the prospect of recovering that
investment in a deregulated, market-based utility environment is too
   "If I were to go to my board and say I want to spend a couple of billion
dollars and that we may start to get a payoff 10 years from now, they'd throw
me out the door," he said.

You can reach James V. Higgins at (313) 222-2749 or


Comment on the above item by rdh:

James Higgens should be ashamed of himself.  Science and engineering are NOT solidly behind the Yucca Mountain project (has Higgens forgotten the 293 unresolved technical issues?).  The recent House vote did NOT bring Yucca Mountain any closer to reality.  It just kept the debate going, which benefits the nuclear reactor companies and no one else.  Local sites are NOT about to be relieved of their spent fuel inventories.  And lastly, Earley may not be a "blind advocate of expanded nuclear power" but he is clearly a blind advocate of nuclear power that already exists.  That's bad enough.  His early projections were WRONG, not just "a little off", but that's exactly why the nuclear industry likes him.

-- rdh

(10): Researchers Probe Depleted Uranium, Cancer Link:

Subject: [DOEWatch] Researchers Probe Depleted Uranium, Cancer Link

Researchers Probe Depleted Uranium, Cancer Link

May 9, 2002
By Rossella Lorenzi

FLORENCE, Italy (Reuters Health) - A link between depleted uranium and
Hodgkin's disease could be biologically proven by the end of the year,
according to researchers at Modena's Policlinico Hospital in Italy.
Appointed by the Ministry of Defence, researchers led by Dr. Giuseppe
Torelli have started a study on 16 Italian soldiers who developed
Hodgkin's lymphoma after returning from the UN peacekeeping mission in
Bosnia and Kosovo.

Depleted uranium was used to harden the tips of tank-busting shells
fired by NATO (news during its mid-1990s Bosnia action and again during
the air war to drive Serbian forces out of Kosovo.

"At the moment we are focusing on possible p53 mutations. This gene is
often defective in cancer, but not in Hodgkin's disease. Finding
variations in the soldiers' p53 gene or in other genes particularly
receptive to environmental changes would imply a carcinogenic exposure,"
Dr. Mario Luppi, one of the hematologists working on the project, told
Reuters Health.

The controversy over the high incidence of cancer among Italian soldiers
resurfaced on Tuesday as Defence Minister Antonio Martino announced that
a scientific report on the issue will be published shortly.

"Hodgkin's lymphoma is more widespread among the Italian soldiers who
were in the Balkans than in the national population and even more than
in soldiers from other countries who were in the same area," Martino
told reporters. It is the first time that the government acknowledged
the unusually high number of cancer cases among the Italian peacekeepers
in the Balkans.

"The anomaly must be very serious and evident if the Defence Minister
finally admitted it. Obviously, he wanted to prepare us for a shocking
report," Falco Accame, president of the Ana-Vafaf Association for people
killed or injured in the armed forces and former president of the
Defence Committee of the Italian Chamber of Deputies, told Reuters

At least 13 Italian soldiers have died of cancer since serving in
Bosnia, Kosovo and Macedonia, sparking a national outcry that caused the
defence ministry to set up a commission of enquiry on 22 December 2000.

The investigative panel, headed by Dr. Franco Mandelli, studied 28 cases
of cancer from December 1995 through January 2001 in 39,450 soldiers.
Last year, the commission report concluded that blood and lymph system
cancers were no more common in Italian troops in the Balkans than in the
national population, and that there is no proven link between depleted
uranium and cancer in soldiers.

"Those findings were marked by gross statistical mistakes. Enough to say
that they calculated the risks for all the soldiers who went to the
Balkans during that period, and not in those military really exposed to
the risk. The reason why so many are sick is simple: in Bosnia as well
as in Somalia and in Kosovo for the first 5 months, our soldiers were
left in T-shirts, totally unprotected," Accame said.


Comment on the above item by rdh:

Allied soldiers were not told of the dangers they faced, no doubt about it.  And they should not have been asked to use or handle Depleted Uranium.  But if you think Allied forces got a lot of D.U. exposure, just imagine what an Iraqii baby has to go through after millions of D. U. shells were fired in their vicinity during the Gulf Oil Company War.  But who's studying THAT?

-- rdh

(11): Stop the CPUC from Killing the Renewable Energy Industry:

(Note: This was item #1 of 3 items in Greenpeace's Positive Energy Newsletter, and is particularly relevant to nuclear issues.)


Greenpeace's Positive Energy Newsletter
May 5 - 12, 2002
v 2.16

Time for Greenpeaces CLEAN ENERGY NOW! campaigns weekly
good news update!!!

Inside this edition:

Stop the CPUC from Killing the Renewable Energy Industry
Help stop the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC)
from killing the renewable energy industry in California!
The CPUC is currently discussing the possibility of
charging "exit fees" to "departing load" customers. This
means that the CPUC are debating whether or not to charge
people who invest in renewable energy systems for their
homes and businesses an extra $0.04-$0.06 per kilowatt
hour. These extra charges would derail the renewable energy
market at the retail level in California, which is just now
starting to boom.

Send a fax now to the commissioners telling them not to
kill renewable energy in California, by going to:


Comment on the above item by rdh:

Having most of our energy come from sources which are artificially priced (Coal, Oil, and Nuclear ("CON")) does not allow renewables to take hold, because renewables cannot be artificially priced except by massive (and unwelcome) government subsidies.  The "CON" sources can be made cheaper than reality should permit, without government subsidies.  (Oil, for example, has no "replacement cost" associated with it, while nuclear never pays for the cost of nuclear waste storage for thousands of years, and none of them pay for environmental damage.)

-- rdh

(12): Closing remarks / Subscription Information / Contact Information for the author of this document:

The creation of 10 NEW tons of High Level Radioactive Waste EVERY DAY in America (about 50 tons around the world) is the #1 environmental issue today.

EVERY DAY enough NEW nuke waste is created for terrorists to destroy hundreds of cities if they get their hands on JUST the NEW waste!  Mother Nature also gets a new target.  And "Murphy" ALSO gets a new target.  In short, GOD (or whatever benevolent forces there might be in the Universe) gets yet more things to worry about for the next million years or so. 

Why do we keep creating more waste every day and not switch to renewable energy?  Because we don't have the moral willpower to say "ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!", that's why!  So instead, while we debate Yucca Mountain and 1000 other unworkable ideas, THE TERRORISTS ARE FREELY GIVEN MORE WAYS TO KILL US.

One day's output from America's nuclear generators isn't very big.  It's only a couple of cubic yards.  Anthrax and other poisons come in small packages too, it's true.  But you can destroy anthrax, and the danger is GONE.  Radioactive waste cannot be rendered harmless.  And we don't have an anthrax-based energy system.  Most (if not all???) anthrax is in a few highly secured government laboratories.  And the world supply of anthrax is probably not going up, as more and more nations renounce bioterrorism (and hopefully ours will too, soon).  And it's certainly not going up by 50 tons a day!

EVERY DAY, America's nuclear reactors run on the verge of catastrophe.  They are vulnerable, they are old, they are poor.  YES, THEY ARE POOR.  You see, the owners keep taking all the excess money, and on a day-to-day basis, the plants have little money for investing in things like new equipment.  Nearly everything is replaced only AFTER failure -- including pumps, pipes, valves, switches, bearings, straps, hooks, hydraulic lines, control room electronics, etc. etc. etc..  There are litanies of accidents at nearly every plant.  Many plants have earned reputations for poor operation over the years.  It's an endemic problem in the industry, caused in part by the price of alternative energy which is very competitive to coal, oil, and nuclear.  The cost of running nuclear power plants has to stay low, or renewables will be a clear alternative to nuclear -- but that means there is less money to actually run the nuke plants!





If America changes to green energy, who LOSES?  Only the world's most corrupt, secretive, dangerous AND lucrative "industry" -- the NUCLEAR MAFIA.  The rest of us WIN.  Nuclear isn't vital.  It never was.  Now, it's vital that we get rid of it.  Terrorism got you down?  Try a meltdown.



Just suppose I'm wrong.  What happens if people listen anyway?  Dependency on foreign oil soon goes DOWN as we turn to renewables, "clean coal" becomes the next-worst environmental challenge for activists, and our dangerous waste piles and terrorist targets stop GROWING DAY-BY-DAY.

I certainly WISH that I was wrong in every particular, and that we could snap our fingers and make the problem go away.  But we can't.  HOWEVER, we CAN "snap our fingers" and STOP MAKING THE PROBLEM WORSE.

Isn't it time, America?  BEFORE an accident or a terrorist attack?

This newsletter was written by Russell D. Hoffman, a concerned citizen.
Please include a personal comment of some sort -- anything will do, but preferably who you are and why you want to subscribe.