To: Paul Lavely <>
From: "Russell D. Hoffman" <>
Subject: MAYDAY MAYDAY MAYDAY!!!  Davis-Besse #9 -- Collected news, views, and correspondence. May 1st, 2002
Cc: governor of California
MAYDAY SPECIAL!  Davis-Besse #9 -- May 1st, 2002

The latest news, views, and important correspondence.

by Russell D. Hoffman

(1): Industry Funded Study Says Shutting NPP Would Raise Costs -- but EXPERIENCE suggests otherwise (Comments by
Raymond Shadis + NY Times article by Winnie Hu, April 30th, 2002)

Nukes close, infant deaths go down - Tooth Fairy Project - NY Times April 30th, 2002

(3) Throwing good money after bad:  Davis-Besse to be reopened at any cost:
Reactor's restart is further delayed (
John Funk,  Plain Dealer Reporter, April 25th, 2002)

(4) Their fate WILL BE OUR FATE:
Radioactive dust is escaping from the Chernobyl sarcophagus (BBC news, April 26th, 2002)

(5) Spent nuclear fuel is a danger to everyone:
The Yucca Mountain Plan by
Bob Nichols (forwarded to rdh by Richard Geary)

(6) The Yucca Truck from GM (Gigantic Motors) (also by
Bob Nichols and forwarded by Richard Geary)

(7) Spent Fuel Train boarded by escaped convicts in North Carolina! (from
NC WARN via Molly Johnson)

(8) A look back at the NY Times' Week In Review on Davis-Besse, March 31st, 2002

(9) Correspondence between
Paul Lavely, Director ORS, UC Berkeley (and a former NRC inspector) and rdh regarding dangers of "reracking" spent fuel

(10) New book by
Dr. Helen Caldicott / PSR nuke conference in LA June 2nd, 2002

(11) Contact information for the author of this document.

Prior documents in this series on the near-catastrophe at Davis-Besse can be accessed online here:

Please feel free to distribute this to others.  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): Industry Funded Study Says Shutting NPP Would Raise Costs -- but EXPERIENCE suggests otherwise:

Re: [JerseyShoreNuclearWatch] Re: [NucNews] Industry Funded Study Says Shutting NPP Would Raise Costs

At 09:28 PM 4/30/02 , From: "Raymond Shadis" <> wrote:
Please pass this comment on "Industry Study"along to your lists. It is not
intended to argue with the NY Times, but to simply report what the NY Times
reporter saw and heard and what the NY Times reporter chose to lead with (if
she wrote any more at all) and what she chose to cover.
As one of three invited presenters, I addressed the same meeting of the
Health and Environment Committee of the Westchester Board of Legislators at
which this "industry study" was presented. When I arrived in the Council
Chambers, NY Times reporter, Winnie Hu, was surrounded by a half dozen or so
of the Entergy contingent and taking notes as they took turns explaining the
"facts" her. Lack of transmission capacity, lack of baseload capacity, costs
using multipliers from Planet Mongo, etc.  After the meeting, Winnie was in
the Chamber foyer getting more of the same treatment. Her article represents
very little of the dialogue of the meeting in  which Entergy assumptions in
the report were sharply questioned and Entergy assertions in their print
display ads were roundly criticized by board members.
I presented an advance summary of a report we are doing in Maine on the
economic effects of closing Maine Yankee. Real experience, not industry
predictions, reflected in state and federal statistics show no negative
trends in any of our state's economic indicators following the plant's
closing. Our residential electric rates have remained stable , with a recent
downtrend in cost, following the plant closing. According to industry
representations 800 MWTe Maine Yankee produced 1/3 of the state's
electricity. When voters were first given a chance, by activist initiative,
to vote on closing Maine Yankee, the industry and its supporters said the
Maine economy would crash and burn. They said electric rates would soar.
NONE OF THIS HAPPENED and so I reported to the Committee. I reported on the
tax crush in the host town and measures taken to mitigate a sudden closing
of the tax spigot. This did not interest Ms. Hu- the New York Times
journalistic sleuth. Entergy claims that if Indian Point is shutdown, 1500
workers will be thrown out of work. I reported that during Maine Yankee
operations, 480 workers were on site and that five years into
decommissioning there are 430 on site; meaning that there is replacement and
attrition, not instant dismissal of all workers. I explained that on
closing, Maine Yankee found workers leaving so quickly for jobs elsewhere
that the company had to institute a "Golden Handcuffs" program, bonuses to
retain needed workers. My report to the Westchester legislators included
comparisons of Maine (and Lincoln County where Maine Yankee was situated)
and Westchester populations, incomes, poverty rates, etc. In Q&A, we
compared workforces, plant capacity, tax rates, and more. This apparently
did not tickle Ms. Hu's curiosity sufficient to get her to ask one question
about any of it. The pattern appears to be that the NY Times reports the
industry's speculations as facts and the environmentalist's facts as
emotional fears or not all all. Clearly, Ms.Hu worked from her notes as
dictated by the gentlemen from Entergy and chose to report the industry
study, not the meeting at which it was presented.
Thank You, Raymond Shadis
                   Staff Advisor
                    New England Coalition
----- Original Message -----
From: "Bill Smirnow" <>
To: "Downwinders List" <>; "Nucnews List"
Cc: "Harvey Wasserman" <>; "Bill Smirnow"
Sent: Tuesday, April 30, 2002 6:53 PM
Subject: [NucNews] Industry Funded Study Says Shutting NPP Would Raise Costs

> April 30, 2002
> Study Says Closing Atomic Plant Would Raise Energy
> Costs
> WHITE PLAINS, April 29 - An economic study of the
> Indian Point nuclear power plant released today
> concludes that shutting down the plant would
> increase the likelihood of rolling blackouts and
> cost consumers an estimated $3.4 billion over the
> next four years to replace that lost electricity
> through other sources.
> The study was commissioned by the plant's owner,
> the Entergy Corporation, and completed jointly
> over the past three months by two independent
> research groups, National Economic Research
> Associates and General Electric Power Systems
> Energy Consulting. Two economists who helped
> prepare the study, accompanied by Entergy
> officials, presented their findings this afternoon
> to a committee of the Westchester County Board of
> Legislators.
> It is the first time that Entergy has released a
> study about Indian Point's economic impact since
> opposition to the plant began spreading after
> Sept. 11. Spurred largely by safety concerns, many
> state and local politicians, environmental groups
> and concerned residents have called in recent
> months for the closing of Indian Point, which is
> about 40 miles north of Midtown Manhattan.
> "It's fine to have discussions about closing down
> Indian Point," said Laurence P. Gottlieb, a
> spokesman for Entergy, who attended today's
> committee meeting. "But when you get to the point
> where you've shown it's safe and secure, then you
> need to go beyond that to the economics of it. You
> need real data to show there is not the
> infrastructure to bring that power in at the same
> cost that you're producing it here at Indian
> Point."
> The study said that shutting down Indian Point's
> two working reactors - which can produce up to
> 2,000 megawatts of electricity at any one time, or
> enough power for about two million homes - would
> immediately lower the electricity reserves in New
> York State to 8.4 percent from 14.5 percent. In
> New York, utilities typically try to maintain a
> reserve of 18 percent.
> In addition, the study said, replacing the nuclear
> reactors with natural gas or alternate sources
> would result in higher costs to provide the same
> amount of electricity. The study estimated an
> additional $3.4 billion in consumer expenditures
> by 2005 for the electricity alone, while Entergy
> officials said that building enough transmission
> lines to carry that electricity from other areas
> could cost hundreds of millions more.
> But Michael B. Kaplowitz, the chairman of the
> legislative committee, said he questioned some of
> the study's basic assumptions. For instance, he
> said, the study did not take into account all the
> natural gas plants in development, or that there
> was simply less demand for electricity because of
> the recession and the destruction of the trade
> center.
> "I think it was a good faith effort to get to the
> economic question; I don't find as much good faith
> with Entergy," Mr. Kaplowitz said. "They did not
> address the jobs - which is a major concern - what
> they'd do with the site, and the tax
> ramifications."
> Mr. Gottlieb said that Entergy had decided to
> focus on the energy impact of closing Indian Point
> because Mr. Kaplowitz and others had raised
> questions about it. He said that Entergy officials
> had already addressed those other issues,
> estimating that as many as 2,000 jobs would be
> lost, as well as $34 million in state, county and
> local taxes.
> * NucNews Archives (by date) at *
>      *In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107*

[Yahoo ads clipped]


Comment on the above item, by rdh:

Recently I have spoken and corresponded with a couple of reporters at the NY Times.  I was favorably impressed, but so far I have not seen any articles that reflect those personal impressions.  Perhaps the truth is just too scary for even for the NY Times to see fit to print these days, and I'm dead serious.

In the above case, I believe Raymond Shadis' comments to be descriptive of typical media behavior on many issues.  Winnie Hu should be fired.  She had a chance to present the truth and ignored it.  Specifically, after allowing plant spokesperson Laurence Gottlieb to state in the nation's newspaper of record, "But when you get to the point where you've shown it's safe and secure, then you need to go beyond that to the economics of it..." she should have cut to the chase and reminded readers (and Gottlieb and everyone else at ENTERGY) that the public HAS NOT been shown that the plants are SAFE and the book is NOT closed on that subject!  But no.  She let him ramble on.  (The plants have never been proven to be economical, either, unless your analysis ignores things like long-term, scattered health costs to society, risks of catastrophic accidents and the costs associated with them, waste monitoring costs for thousands of generations, and many other items.)

-- rdh

(2): Nukes close, infant deaths go down - Tooth Fairy Project - NY Times, April 30th, 2002:
Re: [JerseyShoreNuclearWatch] Nukes close, infant deaths go down - Tooth Fairy Project - NY Times

At 06:11 AM 5/1/02 , Norman Cohen <> wrote: wrote:

> 020430
> ::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::
>                            TABLE OF CONTENTS
>                            ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
>       :::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::
> Date: 30 Apr 2002
> From:
> By Andrew C. Revkin, NY Times, April 30, 2002
>  Antinuclear campaigners plan to announce today that a new study shows
> that infant death rates downwind of eight American nuclear power
> plants dropped significantly after they were shut down.
>  Some plan to use the findings to support calls for closing the
> nuclear reactors at Indian Point, the plant closest to New York City,
> in Westchester County.
>  But federal officials, some radiation experts and representatives of
> the nuclear power industry said that there was no evidence to link
> illness and proximity to nuclear plants and that minute, occasional
> releases from such plants were much lower than natural radiation
> levels.
>  The new statistical study, which is being published in the next issue
> of The Archives of Environmental Health, was conducted by a group of
> scientists who for many years have purported to show a link between
> mortality and illness and low levels of radiation from power plants,
> bomb tests and other sources.
>  But their past work has never been replicated by federal health
> researchers, and the statistical analysis they used in some earlier
> studies has been challenged by the National Cancer Institute.
>  The study said the infant death rate in communities for two years
> preceding the plant shutdowns averaged 8.44 deaths per 1,000 births
> and, when all the mortality data for two years after the plant
> shutdowns were combined, the infant mortality rate dropped to 7.01 per
> 1,000 births.
>  The difference was statistically significant, the authors said, and
> the drop was greater than the general drop in infant death rates
> around the country in recent years.
>  The scientists, from the Radiation and Public Health Project, a
> nonprofit group, defended their new findings and cited the need for
> much more research.
>  Joseph J. Mangano, a public health statistician and the national
> coordinator for the group, said a statistical link does not prove a
> cause and effect, but points to the need for more work.
>  "A lot of things could affect infant deaths," he said. "The list is
> literally endless. This doesn't mean we've proved anything beyond a
> shadow of a doubt, but what I will say is we really need to do more
> follow-up."
>  Among other things, the study examined statistics from counties and
> cities downwind of eight nuclear plants that shut down either for a
> prolonged period or permanently - in Connecticut, Maine,
> Massachusetts, California, Oregon, Colorado, Michigan and Wisconsin.
>  Dr. John Boice Jr., who directed a 1991 National Cancer Institute
> study of disease patterns around nuclear plants and other institutions
> using radiation, said no link emerged.
>  "There are so many other important things to worry about in terms of
> radiation - like what are we doing to do with the waste and the
> terrorism issue," he said last night.
> * * *
> Copyright 2002 The New York Times Company
> ::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

[Yahoo ads clipped]


Comment on the above item, by rdh:

The article gives a lot of space to those who oppose the study's findings.  But, in saying that the researcher's prior work had not been duplicated by "federal health researchers", the article neglected to mention how little EFFORT had been made by those same "federal health researchers" to actually FIND links between Low-Level Radiation and cancer, leukemia, and birth defects!  Researchers (invariably paid by the industry or government) have 1000s of ways to bias their own efforts.  How many large epidemiological studies have really been done by these "federal health researchers"?  Precious few!   SHAME on the NY Times for implying otherwise.

Also, it appears that while Dr. John Boice Jr. denounces this particular study, he is no friend of nuclear power.  Who is, these days?  I'll tell you who:  All those who still remain silent on the issue.  Silence plays into the hands of the nuclear power industry, and also, into the hands of the terrorists who covet the plants, their spent fuel pools, and their dry storage casks.  Silence on nuclear power issues is exactly the same as plotting genocide openly.  I cannot be silent and neither should you!

-- rdh

(3) Throwing good money after bad:  Davis-Besse to be reopened at any cost:
Reactor's restart is further delayed (04/25/02, John Funk,  Plain Dealer Reporter):

 14 Reactor's restart is further delayed

 John Funk
Plain Dealer Reporter

FirstEnergy Corp.'s problems with the crippled Davis-Besse
Nuclear Power Station grew yesterday with a later restart date
and a formal petition to have the power plant inspected by
outside experts.

        The company's top financial officers said that the rust
hole in the head of the reactor will not be repaired until at
least September and that they have arranged to buy replacement
power during the hottest days of the summer.

        Previously, the company has said the reactor could be
restarted by the end of June.

        The 925-megawatt reactor was shut down for refueling and
a safety inspection Feb. 16. The corrosion in the head, or lid,
of the reactor was discovered in early March.

        Replacement power is costing $10 million to $15 million a
month through June and $20 million to $25 million a month in July
and August, the company said.

        Because of a rate freeze, the costs cannot be passed on
to customers.

        Richard Marsh, the company's chief financial officer,
said the Davis-Besse repairs are likely to cost more than the $16
million estimated earlier, but he declined to be more specific.
He said the extended shutdown and repairs could reduce earnings
for the year by as much as 11 cents per share, a penny more than
previous estimates.

        Also yesterday, a coalition of 13 environmental groups
from Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania joined with the Union of
Concerned Scientists and Greenpeace to call for an independent
top-to-bottom inspection of the plant as well as a review of its
maintenance records and inspections.

        In a formal petition to the NRC, the coalition asked that
the government keep the Davis-Besse reactor shut down until the
inspection is made and noted that the government had authorized
such an independent inspection in 1996 of a nuclear plant in

        Rep. Dennis Kucinich issued a statement in support of the
petition, saying that "missteps" at Davis-Besse led him to
conclude that an independent review was critical for the 6
million people living within 100 miles of the plant. An NRC
spokesman said the commission was aware of the petition and would
publish it in the Federal Register as required by law and attempt
to promptly address its concerns.

        The NRC also late yesterday announced that FirstEnergy's
roving nuclear survey teams had found five additional radioactive
particles that got out of the plant in the clothing of
specialists assigned to the plant earlier in the month by a

        The new findings brought the number of radioactive
particles to 18, 16 of which were found in motel rooms near the
plant and in the homes of the workers in five states. Two other
particles were found in an area of the plant thought to have been

        The NRC said the tiny particles did not pose a health
hazard but should not have gotten out of the plant. The agency
has a three-person team at Davis-Besse investigating how the
workers were able to leave without being detected.

        The company must still submit its detailed repair plan to
the NRC. In an earlier public conference between the NRC and the
company, the government scientists and engineers made clear that
getting approval to weld a stainless steel plug into the 150-ton
lid will not be a cakewalk.

        Speaking to analysts yesterday, Marsh said the repair
plan might be submitted to the NRC in the next several days.

        Marsh referred to "alternatives" if the head cannot be
repaired. Previously the company has revealed it has looked at a
never-used head on a reactor in Michigan and a used head on a
shut-down reactor in California. A new head on order from Japan
will not arrive until 2004.

        The purpose of the Internet conference with analysts was
to discuss the company's earnings for the first quarter.

        FirstEnergy's net income for the quarter was $116
million, or 40 cents per share, compared with $98 million, or 45
cents per share, for the first quarter of 2001 - before the
company merged with New-Jersey-based GPU.

        This quarter's earnings also reflected a number of
one-time charges as well as a warmer than usual winter, they
said. The per-share numbers also reflected an increase in shares
from 218 million to 293 million as a result of the GPU purchase.

        Figured on a pro-forma basis - as if the GPU merger had
already been in place - last year's first-quarter earnings would
have been $111 million, or 51 cents per share, the company said.
FirstEnergy shares closed at $33.35, up 75 cents, in trading
yesterday on the New York Stock Exchange.

Contact John Funk at:, 216-999-4138

© 2002 The Plain Dealer. Used with permission. © 2002 All Rights Reserved.

Comment on the above item, by rdh:

It is interesting to note that both the above article and the one below it discuss radioactive dust particles in our midst. -- rdh

4) Their fate WILL BE OUR FATE:
Radioactive dust is escaping from the Chernobyl sarcophagus (BBC news, April 26th, 2002):

To: "Earthfirstalert@Yahoogroups. Com" <>
Subject: [EF!] Chernobyl radiation 'on the rise'

Friday, 26 April, 2002, 08:38 GMT 09:38 UK
Chernobyl radiation 'on the rise'

A minute's silence marked the time of the explosion

A Ukrainian scientist monitoring the site of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster
has warned that levels of radiation around the destroyed reactor are rising.
Dmytro Hrodzynskyy said the concrete sarcophagus placed over the remains of
the damaged reactor was failing.

Radioactive dust is escaping

Professor Dmytro Hrodzynskyy

In an interview published to coincide with the 16th anniversary of the
world's worst civil nuclear disaster, the respected scientist said the
remaining fuel inside the reactor was heating up.

But other experts said there was no need to worry about further explosions
at the site in the Ukraine.

Professor Hrodzynskyy, who heads the Ukrainian Government's commission on
radiation security, told the Izvestia newspaper that 24% of babies now born
near Chernobyl have birth defects.

Thyroid cancer in local children is now 1,000 times more likely than before
the disaster, he said.

Concrete poured over the ruins to seal them is cracking, Professor
Hrodzynskyy says

The situation could get worse because increasing levels of radiation have
been detected leaking from the site's unreliable casing, he claimed.

"There is more than one kilometre [0.6 mile] of holes and cracks there," he

"Fuel is starting to heat up inside the ruined reactor... and radioactive
dust is escaping."

The concrete sarcophagus - designed to encase the ruins and hundreds of
tonnes of nuclear fuel remaining from the 1986 disaster - was built too
hastily and is now failing, the professor said.

Ukraine is dependent on Western financial aid to maintain the sarcophagus
and has complained that is does not have enough to do the job properly, a
BBC correspondent says.

A spokesman for the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna said the
agency was aware of the general problems of Chernobyl but could only
register official reports filed by national agencies.

There is no chance of a chain reaction inside the reactor

Volodymyr Kholosha, exclusion zone official

The head of the Chernobyl exclusion zone, Volodymyr Kholosha, said there was
no reason to talk of new dangers.

"The Ukrainian and foreign experts who permanently monitor the shelter
facility see no cause for concern," he said in response to Professor
Hrodzynskyy's interview.

"The same has been confirmed by the data received from monitoring

He denied that fuel was heating up inside the crippled reactor.

He said the sarcophagus had been designed to allow air in and would be
replaced as planned in 2007.

"There is no chance of a chain reaction inside the reactor," he said.

About 250 people gathered near the ruins on Friday to observe a minute's
silence at 0123 (2223 GMT Thursday), the exact time when Chernobyl's nuclear
reactor number four blew up 16 years ago.

Continuing contamination

The explosion spewed clouds of radioactive smoke that spread over much of

Between 15,000 and 30,000 have since died and the United Nations estimates
that nearly six million people continue to live in contaminated areas.

A 30 km (18-mile) exclusion zone around the site is still maintained though
there is some talk of trying to generate tourism opportunities in the area.

Chernobyl's other three reactors continued to be used after the accident but
the plant was closed down for good in 2000.

[yahoo ads clipped as usual]


Comment on the above item, by rdh:

There are so many different values for the number of deaths from Chernobyl!  It might be an order of magnitude higher than the figures given in the article shown above.  No matter where on the planet you live, you might be next to suffer from Chernobyl's radioactive effluent.

Anyone promoting nuclear power in today's global terrorist threat environment is seriously deluded.

-- rdh

(5) Spent nuclear fuel is a danger to everyone:
The Yucca Mountain Plan by
Bob Nichols (forwarded to rdh by Richard Geary):

Subject: Yucca Mountain Plan
by Bob Nichols
"Spent Fuel Rods" used in nuclear reactors are poisonous. They contain uranium and plutonium, the most poisonous stuff on the planet. They do duty in any one of the 131 nuclear reactors in the US. Their job was to heat water for electricity. Plutonium is capable of producing temperatures of 50,000,000 degrees, water boils at 212 degrees.
Even when they are "used" and come out of the reactor core the rods must be cooled on the grounds of the reactor building for two years in a big swimming pool full of radioactive water. Standing next to these "used" uranium rods for 10 seconds is enough for a killing dose of radioactivity, a horrible and painful way to die. The rods are still so hot that if exposed to air very long, they catch on fire. When they  catch on fire, the highly radioactive uranium and plutonium floats skyward for many miles, only to fall on unsuspecting downwind citizens. By the very act of breathing people capture the tiny particles in their lungs and can claim an "internal radiation source".
Our beloved government has decided, after 50 years of storage, that the 77,000 tons of uranium rods must be moved now, saying, "The rods are too dangerous to store at the reactors". The government wants to put 125 tons of rods into concrete and lead "casks" to move the rods to Yucca Mountain, Nevada, 90 miles from Las Vegas. Each cask's deadly cargo equals 400 times the radiation from the Hiroshima A-Bomb blast.
It will take 25 years to move the stuff. The government states that they are going to put the 96,000 casks on open trucks and flatbed railroad cars to move it to Nevada. They want to truck the big easily identifiable casks on hundreds of trucks and trains through cities like New York, Chicago, St. Louis, Muskogee and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The governments own experts predict at least 330 "wrecks".
Oklahoma gets the curse of 536 casks down two rail routes. One is in the eastern part of the state, another cuts through western Oklahoma. In the tests the government conducted on the casks, armor piercing rounds and shoulder held rockets go right through them like a knife thru butter. An attack would contaminate a city or countryside for centuries. And, they want to transport the stuff for the next 25 years. Osamas as yet unborn have plenty of time to wipe out Muskogee, Oklahoma.
Oh yea, they can't even bury the stuff in Yucca Mountain fast enough to keep up. The casks will sit in the desert for years before they are all buried.
Sounds like it is a SciFi story, doesn't it. Sadly, every word is true. The Governor of Nevada was elected on a platform of "No Nuclear Waste". He is going to Veto the plan. It then goes to the Congress to see if they can override the Governor's veto.
Support the Governor of Nevada. Go to the the Public Citizen website to send a free fax to your Senators and Representatives.
Bob Nichols


Comment on the above item, by rdh:

The mayor of Las Vegas plans to throw anyone in jail who tries to drive spent fuel through "his" town -- "and they aren't getting out!" he adds angrily.  As a former prosecuting attorney, and a lawyer, who, as mayor, is now the top cop in Las Vegas, I think he knows what authority he has, or will dare to exert.  The U.S. Government has a fight on its hands in Nevada -- and many other places -- over nuclear waste.  The only reasonable solution is to STOP MAKING MORE WASTE!  NO NUKES!

-- rdh

(6) The Yucca Truck from GM (Gigantic Motors) (also by Bob Nichols and forwarded by Richard Geary):

Subject: The Yucca Truck Fleet
The Yucca Truck from GM (Gigantic Motors)
An astute reader wrote in after the second story in this series to report what they took for an apparent misstatement:
"Your articles on the radioactive material are absolutely frigtening, to say nothing of timely and particularly relevant for us in Oklahoma". " ... check out the first sentence of this article. I think the "80 tons each" may be incorrect ... 18 wheelers usually have a GVW of 80,000 pounds. 80 tons would be an extraordinarily heavy load."
Seemed like that to me to, when I first heard the quote. That must be the kind of load NASA moves on the Space Shuttle crawler. Then some facts came out on the Truck that carries these 80 ton loads (160,000 Lbs). There are occasions when the load tops 125 tons (250,000 Lbs). But then, nothing is as it seemes with the Department of Energy.
The following information is from a hearing in the House:
The Mother of All Pickups.
The trucks are 220 ft long.
The trucks weigh 220,000 lbs empty.
The trucks weigh 360,000 to 470,000 lbs loaded, give or take.
The "convoys" to guard the highly radioactive cargo trucks are 400 ft long.
Top speed is 30 MPH. More likely travel will be limited to 20 MPH.
Lots of tires.
A convoy leaves a reactor site every 4 hours for the next thirty-eight years.
 - House Transportation Committee Hearing on Transportation of Nuclear Waste, April 25, 2002
Engineers in the Transportation Departments of several states were speechless. These truck weights are truly breath taking. All State Transportation Departments routinely write special permits for overweight limit loads. The permits are usually for special loads of around 200,000 Lbs.
As one person observed, "Is the Department of Energy going to pay for upgrading thousands of bridges, or is this another 'unfunded mandate'from the federal government on the states and counties?"
Who knows? This gets stranger all the time. If you are convinced that this foolish federal bureaucratic plan must be stopped in its tracks, call your Representatives in the House and the Senate. Tell them to kill the Yucca plan.

Comment on the above item, by rdh:

At a Yucca Mountain hearing in Nevada last September, I counted 78 tires in the "concept drawing" for this truck which the DOE displayed.  Terrorists will have little trouble spotting (and aiming for) these articulated behemoths as they creep, crawl, or barrel along our nation's roads.  Many of these trips will be thousands of miles -- totaling more than 100,000,000 miles of travel.  One fire involving spent fuel could wipe out a city and cause hundreds of thousands of gruesome deaths.

 -- rdh

(7) Spent Fuel Train boarded by escaped convicts in North Carolina! (from NC WARN via Molly Johnson):

To: me <>

NEWS RELEASE                                                             
Contact:  Jim Warren
April 30,2002                                                            
Security Breach on  Nuclear   Waste Train

Inmates Jump Wrong Train, Revealing Vulnerability of CP&L Shipments

DURHAM, NC ­ A train carrying high-level nuclear waste between plants
owned by CP&L/Progress Energy was recently boarded illegally by one or
more inmates in Richmond County, NC.  The incident, which occurred last
month, has serious implications for a long-running battle over shipments
of the “spent” nuclear fuel in the Carolinas, as well as the growing
national debate over the safety of sending thousands of similar transports
to a dumpsite in Nevada in future years.
Evidence of the security breach was discovered by David Lochbaum of the
Union of Concerned Scientists, who found an NRC cover letter for a
classified report on the mishap and forwarded it to North Carolina
environmental group NC WARN.  The Associated Press was later told by CP&L
that two or more “escapees” or “inmates on work release” had jumped the
train by mistake, and shortly afterward left the train after seeing a
number of armed guards on board.  The NC Highway patrol later said only
one inmate from a nearby probation camp was involved. 
The train was en route from CP&L’s Robinson plant in South Carolina,
carrying waste to be stored at the Shearon Harris plant in central North
Carolina.  CP&L also ships waste to Harris from its two reactors near
Wilmington, NC.
A CP&L spokesperson indicated to AP that the event proved its security
methods are sound. However, NC WARN said today that the breach is more
evidence that waste trains are not protected from terrorists.  “If these
people had been intending to cause serious harm, they were in perfect
position to do so,” said Nora Wilson, an organizer with the group. “Being
scared off by armed guards after they were already on the train?  That’s
too late.”
Lochbaum commented, “Terrorists would not have boarded the train unarmed.
The defenders didn’t succeed in denying access, which could have led to a
real problem if these had been attackers carrying explosives.” An attack
situation could also involve people willing to sacrifice their lives,
which would make them even more dangerous.
High-level waste fuel is among the deadliest materials on Earth, and a
number of federal and private studies have shown transport casks to be
vulnerable to attack by various weapons ­ some from very long distances.
An attack could release radioactive particles into the air, potentially
exposing thousands of people in a populated area to levels to levels
causing serious injuries, latent cancers, and possibly immediate deaths.
Also, a release could cause property damage in the tens of millions of
dollars over dozens of square miles.  CP&L’s shipments sometimes exceed
one million curies of radioactivity.
CP&L also told AP that its waste trains were a closely guarded secret, but
Wilson countered that the shipments have been coming to the Harris plant
for 13 years ­ and arrive each month.  CP&L/Progress is the only U.S.
utility shipping the waste fuel, and does so to avoid buying casks for
storage at each generating reactor, as is done at nearly a third of the
nation’s reactors.  For three years, the corporation has been under
intense pressure from citizen groups and local officials to halt the
transports, which they see as an unnecessary risk.
Recently, the Bush Administration and a number of state politicians have
joined the nuclear industry in pressing for approval of the Nevada site.
Scientists and environmental groups argue that politics is trumping
scientific problems at Yucca, and groups such as NC WARN are demanding
measures to protect the waste onsite without delay.  Wilson added, “This
waste is too dangerous to now be moving through Carolina communities ­ and
too dangerous to send thousands of nuclear trucks and trains to Nevada in
order to bail out the nuclear industry.” 
N.C. Waste Awareness & Reduction Network
P.O. Box 61051
Durham, NC 27715-1051
919-493-6614 fax


Comment on the above item, by rdh::

What's left to say?  How come these plants are still open, creating more waste?  American patriots are fighting nuclear power everywhere, but the boss-man has us all on the nuclear chain-reaction gang!

-- rdh 

(8) A look back at the NY Times' Week In Review, March 31st, 2002:

| March 31, 2002, Sunday

By Matthew L. Wald (NYT) 138 words
Late Edition - Final, Section 4, Page 2, Column 2
- At Davis-Besse, a 25-year-old nuclear power plant near Toledo, a chemical used to control the chain reaction was found to have eaten away 40 pounds of steel in the five-inch-thick lid. If the lid had ruptured it would have created a leak far larger than any yet experienced, although probably still theoretically manageable by the plant's emergency system. The lid did not burst, but was on its way; the only remaining steel was half an inch thick, and it was bent. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission ordered the nation's 68 other pressurized-water reactor plants to check for corrosion. Matthew L. Wald


Comment on the above item, by rdh:

The above contains the following errors, according to more recent news items:  Corrosion ate through 6 inches of steel, not 5 inches.  It ate about 70 - 80 lbs of steel, not 40.  The remaining stainless steel cladding (or liner) was 3/8ths inches thick, not 1/2 inch (also reported as 3/16ths), it wasn't "bent" it was bulging (by 1/8th inch).  And the NRC didn't exactly order the other 68 PWRs to be visually inspected, tested for magnetism (which can indicate corrosion or embrittlement), x-rayed, or anything else.  Instead, all the NRC did was order the licensees to submit some documents to the NRC.  Then, whenever the plants happen to be shutting down anyway, the operators -- not NRC or outside experts -- might "take a look under the hood".  In some cases -- one of San Onofre's two reactors, for instance -- the inspections could be as late as next year (2003).

And lastly, precisely what does "probably still theoretically manageable" really mean?

-- rdh

(9) Correspondence between Paul Lavely, Director ORS, UC Berkeley (and a former NRC inspector) and rdh regarding dangers of "reracking" spent fuel:

To: Paul Lavely, Director, ORS, UC Berkeley, (former NRC inspector)
From: Russell D. Hoffman, Concerned Citizen

Hi Paul,

Thanks for writing -- I inserted some responses to your comments below.  For easier identification, I have converted your original text to bold maroon, and my original text to italics.

-- Russell D. Hoffman

At 12:47 AM 4/29/02 , Paul lavely <> wrote:

To: Jersey Shore Nuclear Watch

Both sites have undoubtedly reracked and re-reracked their spent fuel pools already (they probably  "pioneered" some of these dangerous techniques).


May I ask what is dangerous about re-racking?

Response by rdh:

Reracking (and re-reracking) is dangerous for at least three reasons:

1) According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, the baffles (impregnated with boron) -- which are used to stop neutrons so that the fuel assemblies can be packed closer together -- also reduce water circulation. Thus, if the circulation pumps failed, a pool that had been reracked would heat up faster than one which retains its original configuration (I'm sure the article is posted at the UCS web site).

2) Reracking by itself increases the risk of a fuel handling accident because you're moving fuel an extra time (or two times, or three times...).  A number of fuel-handling accidents and close calls have already occurred.  The plants are old, and the owners are greedy, so everything in the plants is old, over-used, and embrittled, including the hooks, straps, chains, pins and so forth on the lifting equipment.  (See below for several relevant incidents.)

3) The increased fuel load in the pool means it's a more tempting target for a terrorist and it also means that more damage could be done if an airplane crashes into the pool or some other event causes a rupture and subsequent drainage of the pool, resulting in a spent fuel fire.  One also wonders how long the reactor could be kept from melting down if the spent fuel pool or a dry cask was burning next to it.

When America decided to build nuclear reactors, spent fuel pools were described as temporary storage areas.  Spent fuel was supposed to be moved offsite, presumably to be reprocessed or buried somewhere "safe".  That was the original plan (or lie) that was foisted on the public.

But, instead, the pools were first re-racked for tighter spacing of older fuel, and in some cases re-racked again, and now they are all filled -- or nearly filled -- to capacity, and so now they are no longer just sitting ducks, they are sitting elephants with the fragility of ducks.  Many have additional sitting elephants (with the fragility of ducks) nearby, in the form of dry casks.  And the reactors themselves are vulnerable to a wide variety of catastrophes.

-- rdh


 One wonders how many times they've dropped things into or near the pools, weakening the structures.  For example, at another reactor similar to Oyster Creek in design, a 300 pound bolt was accidentally dropped into the spent fuel pool some years back.  The damage from such accidents might not show up for years and years, perhaps not until a nearby earthquake rattles the building.

I would like to know the site where the bolt dropped into the pool. Why? Because I am not aware of any bolts that heavy that ever make it to the spent fuel pool area.

What damage do you expect? The example of the bolt is a concern because it could strike an element and release gases (not much of a problem in old fuel).

The bolt striking the pool liner could cause a leak; however, liner leaks are repairable. There is a system that monitors for and tries to localize pool leaks.

Remember, the pool liner is stainless steel over concrete. The pool is designed to withstand damage from items like the bolt. A 300 lb bolt falling into the pool and hitting the liner is somewhat similar to a stone hitting the front paint of your car. Sure, the paint may be chipped; however, the rock will not penetrate the sheet metal.

To cause structural damage by dropping something into the pool does not appear to be a possible event because there is nothing that heavy over or near the pool.


Response by rdh:

I think it was Hatch.  In any event, here are two points you should note: 1) The cement behind/underneath the liner is not very ductile and should not be struck with heavy objects, and anyway, that's not the primary purpose of a liner by any means.  You're not supposed to drop things into the pools, right?  Especially because you never know what might be crushed that's already sitting at the bottom of the pool, like pieces of broken fuel assemblies.  2) Even an extremely cursory look at the publicly available history of spent fuel handling (at least, what was available pre-9-11) will reveal numerous serious incidents.  FYI, Maine Yankee is said to have, in its fuel pool: "66 failed fuel assemblies and +/- 200 damaged fuel assemblies".  Another example: In the early 1980's at Connecticut Yankee there was a seal rupture in the fuel transfer canal.  It would have been disastrous if fuel had been in the canal at the time.  Another example:  Licensed reactor operators banged a fuel assembly into the reactor itself at San Onofre in 1997 when they became "inattentive" while operating the winch.

Last summer at San Onofre, they dropped an 80,000 pound crane about 50 feet.  Okay, they weren't moving it over the Spent Fuel Pool at the time, thank goodness, but they didn't use an I-Beam ("spreader bar"), they used old straps (and not enough of them), they used old hooks, the crews were improperly trained, and the incident wasn't even reportable to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission,  even though OSHA doesn't have any jurisdiction at nuclear power plants and CAL-OSHA won't admit to visiting the joint in years (according to their response to my FOIA request).  So who cares?  Only the millions of people who live downwind!  By the way, CAL-OSHA's crane licensing regulations specify that the entire history of lifting operations at a site should be taken into account when making license compliance determinations at sites they regulate  But the Nuclear Regulatory Commission doesn't care about the loss of the 80,000 pound crane, which fell about three stories, simply because it didn't fall in the "nuclear area" and supposedly the lift didn't involve any licensed nuclear operators (I heard that it DID actually involve licensed nuclear operators, but of course, I can't get the records to prove it).

Obviously, as a former NRC inspector, you would have overlooked these sorts of incidents entirely, and not noticed any catastrophic trend in the industry.  Such thinking was, and is, wrong, but it's standard nuclear safety inspector behavior.  In fact, such thinking is not only encouraged, it's mandated in the way the laws are written!  ENTIRE AREAS OF THE PLANT are under ZERO regulatory control because of this way of thinking.  Here's some suggested reading (for starters) so you can see what I mean:

"A loophole you could drop a crane through":

Letter to California Coastal Commission regarding the "crane drop" incident:

More information regarding the industrial-strength loophole our reactors operate under:

If we wait long enough, or continue to argue rather than act, a catastrophic nuclear accident WILL happen in America. Then what will you say? What will your argument be?  The thickness of the cladding or liner?  The weight or location of a dropped bolt?

If Davis-Besse wasn't close enough for a knowledgeable person like yourself to finally begin to denounce the whole rotten industry as it now exists (without asking the purely theoretical question of whether a safe nuclear industry could EVER exist, in a "perfect world"), then NOTHING is likely to wise you up or cause you to help set this country straight.  (By the way, I'd feel remiss if I failed to mention that, considering your level of knowledge, failing to help America stop this awful nuclear juggernaut is a high crime, not just a misdemeanor.)

-- rdh


 Russell Hoffman
(Stop the Bush-Cheney Energy Plan -- Shut the Reactors Now -- Stop the Nuclear Mafia -- Save Planet Earth!)
Carlsbad, CA

Thanks for the info.
Paul lavely <>


Russell Hoffman
Carlsbad, CA

(10) New book by Dr. Helen Caldicott/nuke conference in LA June 2nd, 2002:

For information about Dr. Caldicott's new book:

(This next item was forwarded to rdh by Carol Jahnkow):

From: Jonathan Parfrey <>
what would happen if Los Angeles were attacked
by a chemical or biological weapon?
or what if downtown LA was hit
by a small nuclear bomb or a radiological "dirty bomb"?
what would happen if our local
nuclear reactors were seized and destroyed?
! Physicians for Social Responsibility -- in conjunction
! with UCLA Extension -- are hosting a major symposium to
! address these five "unthinkable" scenarios that haunt
! America today -- and may visit Los Angeles tomorrow.

you are cordially invited

! Attend the June 2nd symposium at UCLA -- hear from DRS.
! what we can do today . . . to protect the future.
weapons of mass destruction
public health summit
sunday | june 2 | 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
university of california at los angeles | ackerman hall
to register--> &
enter registration number: # N4184U
or download a form from
or by phone, use mastercard, visa, discover, american express
call (310) 825-9971 or (818) 784-7006.
or by fax, send completed enrollment form with credit card
information and authorizing signature to (310) 206-3223.
fee: $25
* Herbert L. Abrams, M.D., Professor Emeritus and Member in
Residence, Stanford Center for International Security and
Cooperation (CISAC)
* Mary-Wynne Ashford, M.D., Co-President, International
Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War
* Helen Caldicott, M.D., President, Nuclear Policy Research
* Merav Datan, Ph.D., J.D., Director, United Nations Office
of Physicians for Social Responsibility & International
Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War
* Robert Gould, M.D., President-Elect, Physicians for Social
* James R. Greenwood, Ph.D., M.P.H, Director, Office of
Environment, Health and Safety, UCLA
* Daniel Hirsch, President, Committee to Bridge the Gap
* Peter Katona, M.D., UCLA School of Medicine
* Steven E. Koonin, Ph.D., Provost, California Institute of
* Edwin Stuart Lyman, Ph.D., Executive Director, Nuclear
Control Institute
* Matt Petersen, President and CEO, Global Green USA
* Mark Ridley-Thomas, Ph.D., Los Angeles City Council,
President Pro Tempore
* Paul F. Walker, Ph.D., Legacy Program Director, Global
Green USA; former staff, House Armed Services Committee
--- offered in cooperation with:
> UCLA School of Public Health
> UCLA Burkle Center for International Relations
> Los Angeles County Department of Public Health
> Southern California Public Health Association
> Southern California Association of Governments
> Global Green
> UCLA Extension Department of Humanities, Sciences,
Social Sciences and Health Sciences

Public officials and state emergency management
personnel will be on hand to answer questions.

 !   By the day's end, attendees should feel empowered by
 !   learning about the policies and decisions that can
 !   best protect America.

For a brochure and complete program information contact
Physicians for Social Responsibility at (213) 386-4901 or UCLA Extension at (310) 825-7093.

PARKING ON THE UCLA CAMPUS is $6 per entry. Attendants
will be at designated gates to collect the parking fee.


Jonathan Parfrey
Executive Director, Physicians for Social Responsibility-Los Angeles
3250 Wilshire Boulevard, Suite 1400
Los Angeles, CA 90010-1604
213 386 4901/work * 310 261 0832/cell * 213 386 4184/fax


Comment on the above item, by rdh:

I hope media will publicize this event and I hope that everyone will attend.  Unfortunately, of course, it does not appear to be a SHUT SAN ONOFRE AND DIABLO CANYON NOW rally, so I don't see how anyone is likely to feel empowered after attending (especially compared to what is happening in New York regarding Indian Point these days).  However, Dr. Caldicott is always worth hearing (and reading) and she certainly doesn't want the nuclear power plants to remain open.

But don't think other people are going to solve this problem.  Don't think the attendees at this conference are going to get the job done.  Don't think I will, with these newsletters and their supposedly-wide distribution (which may, or may not, be true).

Stopping nukes is up to YOU, dear reader!  The rest of us have already proven ourselves to be incapable of SAVING YOUR LIFE.  The nuclear mess YOU are in is of OUR doing -- all us "activists" who came before you.  You'll have to save yourself!  Contact your Congresspeople -- tell them to shut the nuclear power plants down NOW!  Learn about the issues!  TELL YOUR FRIENDS THE TIME HAS COME TO CLOSE THE PLANTS DOWN FOREVER!

-- rdh

(11) Contact Information for the author of this letter:

The creation of 10 NEW tons of Nuclear Waste EVERY DAY is TODAY's #1 environmental issue!




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