From: "Russell D. Hoffman" <>
Subject: North County Times Has A Contempt for Truth

October 1st, 2003

Mr. Sisson,

Your failure to return phone calls, or answer followup comments, along with your failure to quote a single local activist in either of your last two biased and misleading front-page articles about San Onofre, shows your contempt for truth or journalistic accuracy.  (And as usual, neither the September 26th or October 1st SON(W)GS articles in the NC Times have been posted online.  What, are you guys ashamed or something?  You should be!)

By the way, David Lochbaum is a former nuclear power plant engineer.  This was unmentioned in your September 26th article.  His biases are legendary; an example of how a REAL "whistleblower" feels is shown below.

Furthermore, his statement last summer, in sworn Congressional testimony, conflicts with your representation of the "Union of Concerned Scientists" as saying that nuclear reactors are "inherently unsafe" and that the UCS "advocate for their elimination throughout the United States".  A change of heart by Lochbaum and the UCS would be a good thing, but Lochbaum's own sworn testimony was specifically that the UCS did NOT advocate closing the plants, at least as of last summer.

That's one reason I refer to them as the Union of UnConcerned Scientists.

But he's hardly the most unreliable person in your articles. Your articles both quote Ray Golden extensively.  Golden is a blowhard, the official spokesliar for Southern How-I'll-Scorn-Ya Edison, and virtually the only person from SCE ever quoted in your paper.  The NC Times trusts Golden to explain everything from the dangers from meltdowns, to nuclear physics principles, to economics, to law, to what the so-called anti-nuclear folks are actually worried about (he thinks we're all afraid the plant will "blow up like a nuclear bomb" as he puts it, which it can't do), to what-have-you.  In fact, he not only clearly doesn't know a thing about the dangers of his paystub-maker, but worse, he has been shown up as a liar far more often than even the notoriously wishy-washy David Lockbaum has dropped the ball and failed to push for the elimination of this dangerous, expensive, and failed technology.

Why can't your paper insist on getting quotes from employees at the plant who actually have some responsibility for the things they say, and might actually be somewhat qualified to speak on the issues?  As I told you when you did your "due diligence" (as you called it) single interview with me a few weeks ago (but it seems not to matter to you), Ray Golden is free to say anything he wants to say to you, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission will not investigate its veracity, and he knows it.  When I asked them to, the NRC responded in a registered letter that, "Statements made by the public affairs officer of a NRC licensee are not regulated activities.  Therefore, the veracity of such statements will not be investigated by the NRC."

He has a license to lie, and he uses the privilege it entitles him to regularly.  You, on the other hand, as a journalist, have a solemn, if not sworn, duty to tell the truth.

Yet you've given Mr. Golden hundreds of thousands of "eyeballs" to tell us all about how the plant employees tape their pants pockets shut so nothing falls out, and every wrench is accounted for, and therefore we are all safe.

This B.S. took up a significant part of the final paragraphs of your September 26th article, and he's been given the "last word" in today's piece, too, to tell us the plants are safe when in fact, they aren't.

Regarding the taping of the pockets, first of all, the pockets are taped up at least as much to keep radioactive particles out as anything else (such particles are known as "fuel fleas", something San Onofre has had a long history of problems with).   Also, like in a rocket assembly plant, it's a good idea not to drop wrenches and the like onto the rest of the equipment, or let things fall out of your pockets.  So that's two good reasons to tape the pockets shut, the second one on the assumption that you can't just tell workers not to do something and actually expect them not to do it.  Oh yeah, and by golly, taping the pockets shut solves the sump pump problem, as well!

Except it doesn't solve that problem at all, because pocket-sized debris is not what we're worried about, by and large.

The real danger, which was not discussed in your September 26th article at all, is that debris which is created by the explosive leak itself (including, possibly, dead plant workers who were in the dome at the time, who are covered in tough (Tyvek, for example) "rad suits" with industrial-strength duck tape on their pockets) might clog the gratings of the sumps.

So the real worry is that a "meltdown" cannot be avoided if the sump pumps fail.  And this can happen even with the worker's pockets diligently taped shut (the assumption apparently being that you can get them to tape their pockets shut, but failing this, you CAN'T get them to not put things in those pockets.  Perhaps the real question is, why do these rad suits have pockets in the first place?)).

A meltdown is not like a bridge or a building falling down.  In a heartbeat, it could be 1000 times worse, or even 10,000 times worse.  But the word "meltdown" is thrown out in your article as casually as if it's describing a beach closed for a 10,000-gallon sewage leak, or a 300-point drop on Wall Street, or a widespread cell phone outage (as in "communications meltdown").

Regarding  your latest "offering" in today's paper, about nuke plant security, I can only ask this:  Have you actually been hired by San Onofre to write press releases for them, or does it just come naturally?

If you go out on the web, I'll bet you can find a copy of my article on terrorism, approximately titled: "25 simple ways a small band of terrorists can destroy a nuke plant in under 25 minutes, with less than 25 days of preparation, using less than 25 dollars in materials".   (Phil Diehl should have a copy stashed away somewhere, if you can't find it anywhere else, and some of it has been read into testimony at several public hearings.  Next time I'm reading it at a hearing, I'm going to start at the back and work forward, since in three minutes you can only read about half of the document out loud.)

The NRC and the nuke industry haven't got an answer for that list, and you and your puff-piece article doesn't either.

San Onofre is dangerous without the help of terrorists, but it is utterly vulnerable to any well-thought-out attack.

Under no circumstances would I be allowed to design the theoretical attack, or would one of my warnings from that essay be considered as what sort of thing needs to be defended against.  Hang-gliding suicidal terrorists, indeed!

Instead, we will cross our fingers, read your fawning praise, and hope that the plant the terrorists finally attack -- for it's well known, or at least (shall I say) widely assumed -- that they are already planning such an attack, ISN'T OURS, but SOMEBODY ELSE'S.

Afterwards, everyone will see how right people like Seigel, Shirani, Shannon, Thompson, Caldicott, and thousands of others were, while people like you, despite the overwhelming evidence, continued to help the nuclear industry hide their crimes behind assurances of intense scrutiny by so-called watchdog organizations, so-called regulatory agencies, and so-called reporters.


Russell Hoffman
Carlsbad, CA

Letter from Jack Shannon about David Lochbaum:

At 03:22 PM 1/25/2003 , "Jack Shannon" <> wrote:

I have been telling everyone who would listen that Lochbaum is a [. . . ].
He doesn't know crap about the Nuclear Business, but he is always called upon
to be a spokesman for the anti-nuke groups.
Furthermore I've always thought he was pro nuke.
Jack Shannon

Note about Lochbaum and Shannon's credentials; discussions about Lochbaum:

Note: Both Lochbaum and Shannon are former nuclear industry insiders and nuclear engineers.  Jack Shannon is also a nuclear physicist, USMC (ret.), and designed the U.S. Navy's DxG nuclear reactors (the most widely used reactors on the planet).  -- rdh

Lochbaum on Circular Cracks:

Lochbaum on Davis-Besse:

More on Lochbaum:


Russell D. Hoffman has interviewed hundreds of scientists, engineers,
doctors, lawyers, inventors, technicians and others on a wide variety of
subjects, and produced dozens of computer tutorials and essays based on
this research.  For example:

Author, NO NUKES IN SPACE computer educational animation:
or try:

Author, List of Nuclear Power Plants in America (one of the most complete
lists anywhere):

Author, San Onofre newsletters (many are posted here, others,
unfortunately, are only available by subscription):

Author, "The Demon Hot Atom" (A history of nuclear power):

Author, Renewable Energy Discussion:

Discussion of Embrittlement (Davis-Besse newsletter #7):

"Should be required reading in all legal and engineering schools" (Comment
by Bob Nichols regarding a letter to David Lochbaum):

Discussion of circular cracks in "nozzles" (to the NRC; flanges to the rest
of us) written PRIOR to the discovery of D-B's 900-lb hole in its head:

Author, animator and programmer for ALL ABOUT PUMPS and the Internet
Glossary of Pumps, the world's largest collection of pumps (which are a
major component of nuclear power plants):  Also, programmer and co-author
for Statistics Explained:

Programmer and co-author for The Heart: The Engine of Life:

Author, a widely read distributed on the effects of nuclear weapons:

Editor, STOP CASSINI newsletters:

List of ~350 nuke books and videos in my collection:

Hoffman's educational software web site is one of the oldest on the
Internet (his company was the first to distribute software through AOL, in
the late 1980's/early 90s).  Thousands of other sites link to Hoffman's web site from all over the world (including
numerous university engineering, math, science, humanitarian and legal
departments). It currently receives about 1,000,000 "hits" per month,
representing approximately 100,000 or more viewers.


Nuclear weapons and pollution linked to 65 million deaths By Paul Waugh
Deputy Political Editor, January 31st, 2003: