Why Environmental Health Coalition (EHC) won't help close San Onofre (as explained by Lissa Adams, with a response by Russell Hoffman)
To: "Lissa Adams" <LissaA@environmentalhealth.org>
From: "Russell D. Hoffman" <email@example.com>
Subject: Why Environmental Health Coalition (EHC) won't help close San Onofre (as explained by Lissa Adams, with a response by Russell Hoffman)
Cc: firstname.lastname@example.org, "Barbara Boxer, Senator (CA, D)" <email@example.com>, firstname.lastname@example.org, "Russell Wise, NRC" <email@example.com>, "Elmo Collins" <firstname.lastname@example.org>, "Pat Gwynn" <email@example.com>, "Clanon, Paul" <firstname.lastname@example.org>, "Ajello, Julian E." <JEA@cpuc.ca.gov>, "Wong, Zee Z." <email@example.com>, "Clark, Richard W." <firstname.lastname@example.org>, "NRC" <email@example.com>,"Barbara Byron" <BByron@energy.state.ca.us>, Bob Aldrich <firstname.lastname@example.org>, "Steve Woods" <email@example.com>
September 24th, 2001
Re: Why Environmental Health Coalition (EHC, San Diego, CA) won't help close San Onofre (as explained by Lissa Adams (her letters are shown below), with a response by Russell Hoffman)
Dear Lissa Adams, EHC,
Thank you for your response (shown below). I'm glad to hear you are an opponent of nuclear power, but it's not clear from your letter why you don't think closing all nuclear power plants is a priority at this time.
You say you are aware of thousands (we'll just call it 1000 for this discussion) of other dangers to San Diego from terrorism, which are at least as important as the threat from the nuclear power plants at San Onofre -- threats which we as citizens can stop if we try hard enough, which we SHOULD be willing to try very hard to stop. Our descendants will thank us even if our neighbors haven't figured out that they should, too.
If you can't list all 1000, let alone solve each one, then one can slip through. Which one? What should we do to protect ourselves from terrorism? Not fly? Lots have decided to do that. But what else can we do? The magnitude of the many tasks which face us is no reason to step back from those tasks. Your letter seems to be saying that it doesn't matter what we do to protect ourselves. That we have to get at the reason people want to attack us. I agree, we need to do that too. For example, the so-called "Third World Debt", which is keeping those starving millions starving as much as anything else, is probably, in aggregate, smaller than the amount of money lost in the WTC horror (certainly smaller, if you count the net stock drop since the attack).
The point is, that we have to get our priorities straight.
What are some of the things you think have more capability of destroying SoCal than San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, either from airplane impacts, or ground assaults, or from some other method? If the terrorists get into the control room of an nuclear power plant, they can pretty much call any tune they like. Before that happens, the plants should be shut down and made unstartable.
I wish you would try to list these other dangers you speak of, and determine which of them, in your opinion, have a greater lethality than Spent Nuclear Fuel and its 300 or so different radioactive elements, various isotopes of plutonium, uranium, cesium, etc.. Show me a greater threat to our global community or our local community, and I'll put even more effort into it than I have ever put into the nuclear issue. I fight this battle because it is the most important and most correct environmental battle I know of. If you know of a more important or more correct battle for us civilians to fight than keeping our homeland (relatively) radiation-free despite the threats against us, please let me know. But you've given me no hint, only proclaiming there are thousands.
What are some of the things you think are more important threats -- things which you, and the Environmental Health Coalition, are putting an extra strong push on right now, in light of the tragic attacks on September 11th? Besides any calls for peace, which I of course applaud. I oppose Depleted Uranium weapons as well, which are almost sure to be used in any attack involving U.S. Military forces. But the D.U. hazard to Afghanistan pales in comparison to the radiological hazards from a nuclear power plant meltdown! D.U. weapons could cut through a Spent Fuel Dry Cask like butter, by the way. Or through the control room, the primary coolant pumps and pipeworks, etc. etc. There are about 430 nuclear power plants around the world. 103 of them are in America. Two of them are in San Diego county. This is our problem -- yours, mine, and EHC's -- and I'm only reminding you of that fact. It was true all along.
Each nuclear power plant is far more vulnerable while operating than when it is stopped. It's waste pile grows day by day, and that too is extremely vulnerable. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission does nothing.
It's our duty to force San Onofre to close forever, and to ensure that its energy is replaced with renewable alternatives, like wind, wave, tide, solar, geothermal, hydroelectric, etc. etc..
Now is unquestionably the time for you to apply everything you've learned in those 30 years you say you've considered the dangers of nuclear power. Now is the time for action.
NBC, the standard phrase for this sort of thing, means Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical. And yes, the terrorists could attack us using any of these as you suggest. But for most serious chemical and biological attacks they need to physically manufacture, or bring into the country from elsewhere, significant quantities of material. Obviously, stopping this isn't your or my job. We have professionals for that. But for the threat from nuclear, all the terrorists have to do is attack San Onofre Nuclear (Waste) Generating Station. Weapons for that can be obtained locally. And they don't even need a fully-fueled commercial jetliner to destroy San Onofre, either. They could do it with a private plane. Sure, they are more likely to be successful with a larger plane, but they could fill a private plane with incendiaries to increase its effect (some experts think that's actually what they wanted to rent crop dusters for). They probably wouldn't even need to increase the incendiary effect if they hit one of the control rooms or the spent fuel pools. It's pretty easy to rent a twin-engined private jet (or at least it was prior to September 11th). Renting a truck or piece of heavy construction equipment is also a piece of cake.
On the other hand, small-pox virus, for example, has to be carefully cultured. And besides, while you and I can do nothing to stop that kind of attack, we CAN do something about an attack on our nuclear facilities. We can get the plants shut down permanently.
Eventually, a moment comes when The People must take a stand on things they know a thing or two about. You say you know something about the problems with nuclear. Well, now is the time to act on that knowledge. As Bush said, "either you are for us, or you are for the terrorists". Who is threatening us with nuclear disaster? Those who operate the plants, that's who! And those who permit them to run -- the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. And most of all, those of us who know better and do nothing. With public pressure, the plants would be shut down. It's as simple as that. It always has been.
We do not control the times in which we live. But we do control the legacy we leave. If you are as aware of nuclear issues as you say, then you know that bad though a biological or chemical attack on the citizens of San Diego might be, it would probably not be long before other people could move back in and live here. But if San Onofre melts down, our coast is toast. That's "legacy". There is a pile of rubble in New York City some 7 stories tall. But it can -- and will -- be hauled away, and a new set of buildings will be built there. Even the thousands of bodies become merely dust. Radiation pollution does not go away so fast. It continues its unstoppable lethal disintegrations according to radiation principles. It cannot simply be cleared away. It cannot be scrubbed or burned off. And if you do move it elsewhere, it just threatens someone over there.
If you question whether a small plane could cause a Spent Fuel Pool accident, or even a meltdown, then please read some of the statements I've collected in the past few weeks, from Jack Shannon, who designed most of the Navy's nuclear reactors (the ones EHC protests against), and from Glen Mills, who worked at San Onofre for 30+ years, and from others around the country.
Here's where Mr. Mills' statements can be found:
You can find Jack Shannon's statement below and also at the following URL, along with a few other statements which might shake you into taking action:
You say "it is unrealistic to think that we can ever protect ourselves against determined individuals who want to cause us harm". If you feel that way, then don't you think shutting the nuclear plants down immediately to reduce our vulnerability to such individuals IS a realistic thing to do? Today, it is unrealistic to pretend there are no individuals out there who wish to cause us immense harm. That is the lesson everyone got when those planes struck their targets so successfully. And we don't even know of any specific "demands" these terrorists have! They just seem to want war!
Whoever it is hasn't made any demands that we know of -- evidently they just wanted to terrify us. I'm certainly terrified, aren't you? One of the planes passed over Indian Point nuclear power plant, on the Hudson River, on its way to New York City. If they had chosen that target, millions would now be dead and New York City would be abandoned, because the Hudson River is what's known as the "ultimate heat sink" for Indian Point. San Onofre's "ultimate heat sink" is the Pacific Ocean, which EHC tries hard to protect. If San Onofre melts down, ocean water will be poured over the remains at the rate of hundreds of millions of gallons a day, for millions of years, to keep the radioactive pile from melting down further -- that's what an "ultimate heat sink" is. It might work, but San Diego would be abandoned, and Los Angeles too, and all points in between.
EHC's work would be finished then, to the dissatisfaction of everyone.
We have had warnings, conveyed from the terrorists by our friends in Russia recently, and by many others over the years, that nuclear targets are not only acceptable, but preferred, by some of our enemies. Do you doubt those warnings now? What will YOU do to convince the pig-headed NRC to shut the reactors down? All this fuss just to prevent the country from changing to renewable energy sources -- I don't understand the nation, Lissa, but I also don't understand your attitude and I hope you will explain it to me.
Hopefully, the suddenly greatly increased terrorism threat will eventually pass. But many experts -- and President Bush -- warn us against thinking that way. To assume the threat will weaken, and use that as a reason to do nothing to protect society, is woefully immoral. Yet you said -- and I quote -- "I believe that the only way to truly address the threat of terrorism is to look at its root causes, and develop and implement policy changes on a major scale - beginning right here in the good ole U.S. of A. by changing our insane foreign policy of the past several decades." The ONLY way (my emphasis, but your words)? How can you say that, while working at Environmental Health Coalition? They do not involve themselves in foreign policy but in local environmental issues as long as it's not San Onofre. This policy is wrong, and it needs to change.
I absolutely agree with you that United States foreign policy needs to change. It foster hatred and oppresses people worldwide. Beating "Communism" in Vietnam didn't work and nor did beating "communism" by proxy in Afghanistan -- that's why the Taliban is so well armed and in power there now. But we must fight on many fronts and shutting down the nukes would greatly increase the chances that there will be something left to fight for. And allowing a discussion of this issue to occur among the populace -- or even just among those who work at Environmental Health Coalition -- would go a long way towards restoring Democracy in America.
Understanding the threat from San Onofre is your duty. Do you even know the litany of accidents they've had there THIS YEAR? Two explosions, two fires to go with them, a dropped 80,000 load, a 20 gallon Hydrazine spill, and more. Are you aware of the problem with circular cracks in Pressurized Water Reactors (PWRs), which is reason enough to shut San Onofre down at least long enough to x-ray the reactor vessel? Environmental Health Coalition hasn't commented on the problem. Why not? It's extremely dangerous -- an accident like that would definitely make the WTC disaster seem small! I wrote a whole essay on it, but the local papers wouldn't publish it. I'll send it to you if you want to get caught up.
Or, not to be too blunt about it, would you just want those circular cracks to suddenly pop out some day and irradiate the hell out of all of us? Because that's what they might do any day now. The NRC should force San Onofre to shut down and do an inspection, but they won't. But the point is, we don't need a terrorist here because we already have Southern California Edison.
This is the homefront, and it is the citizens' duty to try to defend the homefront. That means reducing our risks as much as possible. This is something we, the people, can do, and must do. It won't happen without us, the NRC has already proven that. But you haven't read my recent emails on that subject, have you? I hope you're reading this one.
If we get these plants closed now, then we can all go on to the problem of what to do with the nuclear waste. But each day San Onofre remains open, another 500 pounds of High Level Radioactive Waste is created at the two reactors, and about a ton of so-called Low-Level Radioactive Waste, which is just HLRW with filler added, like steel, brass, aluminum, copper, glass, cement, rubber, cloth, water, air, etc.. -- things that were once useful, but which now will threaten our health for thousands of years.
And there's other things the citizens can force to be done if we try hard enough and all pull together. We can demand a 25-mile "no-fly" zone around the plant -- this would make sense even for a plant that's been shut down. We can demand triple-barbed wire fencing be added immediately, and new concrete barriers, and so forth.
But you say you already know all this stuff. You say you've known it for 30 years (same as me). You said you have written letters about this to our Governor. Do you mean our current governor? Do you mean you wrote him since September 11th, 2001? I wish you would share that letter with us.
The bottom line is, shutting the reactors down reduces our risk substantially and is a good idea anyway. Have you written to Governor Davis to support that concept? If not, now is the time. If you don't think now is the time, perhaps you have been getting your facts from the wrong sources.
No problem: The following URL will bring you up to speed, I assure you:
Russell and Sharon Hoffman
I have included our previous correspondence and a relevant news item seen on the Military Toxics Project list. Jack Shannon's quote mentioned above is also shown below, and a statement from Klaus Schumann regarding Diablo Cyn.
At 05:17 PM 9/24/01 , "Lissa Adams" <LissaA@environmentalhealth.org> wrote:
Russell and Sharon,
I believe that the only way to truly address the threat of terrorism is to look at its root causes, and develop and implement policy changes on a major scale - beginning right here in the good ole U.S. of A. by changing our insane foreign policy of the past several decades. I have been working on this issue for a number of years, though now it seems even more urgent in light of the terrorist attacks two weeks ago. I feel that there is absolutely no more critical issue today, because no matter how vigilant we are about shutting down our nuclear reactors and trying to safeguard our nuclear waste storage facilities (not to mention the thousands of other ways a terrorist might attack) it is unrealistic to think that we can ever protect ourselves against determined individuals who want to cause us harm. Unless we take a hard look at the world (not just within our country's borders), understand our (very large) role in creating global injustices, and make immediate and major efforts to amend our mistakes, terrorists and terrorism will continue to escalate against the United States.
FYI - I have been an active opponent of nuclear power since I was old enough to understand its inherent dangers (nearly 30 years now) and have written many letters and attended numerous protests against our equally insane domestic energy policy. For what it's worth, I certainly didn't mean to downplay the importance of what you are doing - it is critical, and I have sent letters to Gov. Davis, as well as to local, state and national elected officials.
- -----Original Message-----
- From: Russell D. Hoffman [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
- Sent: Monday, September 24, 2001 12:47 PM
- To: Lissa Adams
- Subject: RE: NRC's Friday press release was full of lies and quarter-truths
- September 24th, 2001
- Dear Lissa Adams,
- What other issues are you working that you feel are more critical than terrorist attacks on San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station? That facility remains open only because you've been lied to by the nuclear industry, who have spent millions convincing you that you need its electricity to read your email. If you are on other lists that are discussing these issues, why not post some of my material there, and let me know which ones you've done that with and what people's comments are?
- So thanks for your "appreciation" and hope for "best of luck", whatever help you think those thoughts might be. A "cc'd" letter or short note to our Governor supporting my position would be much more useful.
- Russell and Sharon Hoffman
- Carlsbad, CA
- (Censored by the San Diego Union-Tribune and the Environmental Health Organization equally. We are judged by the company we keep.)
At 12:08 PM 9/24/01 , "Lissa Adams" <LissaA@environmentalhealth.org> wrote:
Not sure how you got my name on your list, but please remove me. I appreciate your research and dedication, but am just overwhelmed with so many other lists and messages.
Thanks and best of luck to you -- Lissa Adams
From: "Steve Taylor" <Steve@miltoxproj.org>
Date: Mon, 24 Sep 2001 16:31:52 -0400
Subject: [mtpbases] Nuke vulnerability
From today's Greenwire:
"There's not the slightest indication that they're taking this situation seriously and implementing appropriate measures"
Activist Dan Hirsch on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's response to vulnerability at nuclear power plants. (#7)
NRC officials say the nation's nuclear plants were not designed to withstand attacks by terrorists using commercial airliners as missiles, and they do not know whether such an attack would lead to a deadly escape of radiation. "The NRC did not specifically contemplate attacks by aircraft such as Boeing 757s or 767s, and nuclear power plants were not designed to withstand such crashes," the commission said in a statement. "Detailed engineering analyses of a large airliner crash have not yet been performed" (Jeff Long, Chicago Tribune, Sept. 23).
Air attacks are not the only place the nation's nuclear plants are vulnerable. David Orrik, director of NRC's Operational Safeguards Response Evaluation program, said Friday that from 1991 to 2000, exercises showed that 50 percent of 68 plants tested are potentially vulnerable to sabotage from the ground.
But NRC's acknowledgement of vulnerabilities on Friday added fuel to the arguments of anti-nuclear activists who have said for years that federal regulators do too little to safeguard the nation's nuclear plants. "There's not the slightest indication that they're taking this situation seriously and implementing appropriate measures," said Dan Hirsch, president of the Committee to Bridge the Gap, a nuclear-watchdog group. Hirsch believes the commission should recommend the National Guard protect plants and institute other urgent safeguards.
Meanwhile, Vermont Gov. Howard Dean (D) and Mass. Rep. Edward J. Markey (D) wrote NRC Chairman Richard A. Meserve on Thursday with concerns about nuclear security and criticism of the self-policing program (Deborah Schooch, Los Angeles Times, Sept. 22).
Military Toxics Project
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The following statement is by:
John P. Shannon
Nuclear Physicist/Nuclear Engineer
Former Manager of Health and Safety at the Nuclear Navy's Knolls Atomic Power
At 07:57 AM 9/18/01 , Jack Shannon wrote:
Nuclear Power plants have never been designed to withstand the impact of
anything close to a 747 slamming into a Nuclear Power Plant. If the NRC/DOE
have such studies they are now obligated to make them public. I doubt that
the DOE/NRC has even investigated the effects of a 3.5 inch standard military
hand held antitank rocket on a concrete containment. I haven't done the
calculations either, but I would bet that a 3.5 inch rocket, designed to
penetrate several inches of tank armor, would go through a containment vessel
like a knife through butter. The American people cannot make decisions about
Nuclear Power in a vacuum, which is exactly what we have been asked to do for
years. With the terrorists attacks we can no longer tolerate that kind of
Furthermore, Boiling Water Reactors store several reactor core loads of
depleted fissile and fission products above the reactors, completely
unprotected. If a plane, any plane, crashes into these storage pools very
high radiation level material will be spread far and wide. The consequences
of such an accident are too horrible to contemplate.
We should also note that the track record of the NRC/DOE and many State
agencies have a somewhat less than stellar reputation when it comes to the
subject of Nuclear Power Plant safety
John P. Shannon
Nuclear Physicist/Nuclear Engineer
Former Manager of Health and Safety at the Nuclear Navy's Knolls Atomic Power
To help you decide what is most important to worry about, here is a quote about poisons which I found this morning on the Internet. It's short, but very succinct:
"what matters is the dose, which makes the poison. Dose is set by volatility, release levels, toxicity, uptake in food chain, and body retention time. "
By those criteria, San Onofre is definitely THE thing that locals should be worrying about.
>>>>> Below are comments from a letter from Bill Smirnow to me today: >>>>>
The media are really astonishingly
disinformative, mostly via lies of omission. Maybe
we individually should call media affiliates like
ABC, FOX, CBS, NBC, PBS, NY Times, W Post, LA
Times as well as local newspapers, radio & TV
stations & tell them that they should be warning
the public of the dangers of NPP
sabotage/terrorism and give them some URLs like:
http://www.tmia.com/sabter.html Also being SURE
to tell them that this won't be giving terrorists
ideas, they already have threatened to attack
NPPs- the Ayatollah in 1983 made this threat,
Serbia did in the early 1990s if the west got
involved in the war & the the terrorists
affiliated with Bin Laden training 30 miles from 3
Mile Island in early 1993/late 1992 threatened to
attack nuclear facilities with 150 suicide
<<<<< (These comments were from Bill Smirnow) <<<<<
>>>>> Statement by Klaus Schumann: >>>>>
From: "jayklaus" <email@example.com>
Subject: risks at nuke plants
Date: Tue, 25 Sep 2001 09:25:00 -0700
below is my op-ed piece which a I have submitted to local/statewide
newspapers to kick-off our info campaign.
Talked to Guy Rathbun from KCBX this morning. He is interested in having a
show on this in about a month.
Today, on Morning Edition, NPR had a segment on "Security at Nuke Plants". I
believe that while all the attention is directed at the containment chambers
not enough is paid to the "soft targets", i.e. control room, cooling system,
power supply AND spent fuel pools (and dry casks where there are already in
place). We've got to get the info out on that 10/2000 NRC finding (see
below). Neither PG&E nor the NRC could possibly back away from these
findings: one out of two aircraft capable of damaging the pool walls to the
degree of uncovering the assemblies! Consequences comparable to a severe
reactor accident! The decommissioning argument doesn't carry that much
weight at plants where the pools are at or near capacity; in fact, operating
plants may be even worse off since the fuel on the whole is younger,
especially right after re-fueling.
If we get this message out, I believe, the "Minnesota model" will become an
easier sell. What do you think?
Please use my piece any which way you like.
"The real risk of terrorism at Diablo"
The heinous attacks on the Word Trade Center (WTC) towers and the Pentagon
have reshaped the American security landscape. From it has emerged the face
of an enemy with ruthless determination and an extraordinary ability to turn
regular institutions of U.S. life into weapons of mass destruction.
Immediately after the assaults, Vince Morici, head of the SLO County Office
of Emergency Services, stated in front of the Board of Supervisors that the
Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant (Diablo) is the first and foremost concern
of his agency as a target for terrorism. The next day, in an apparent
attempt to reassure to public, PG&E spokesperson Jeff Lewis claimed in the
TRIBUNE [ Page B1: "PG&E steps up security"] that the facility was built to
withstand a direct impact of a fully loaded 747 on the containment chambers.
Of course, similar claims were also made for the WTC towers. We know better
now. Just one week later, the director of public affairs of the U.S. Nuclear
Regulatory Commission (NRC) was quoted in the L.A. TIMES [ Pg. A 14, 9/22/'
01 ] as saying that the plants were NOT built to withstand the impact of
large airliners. Whom should we believe?
Just as worrisome, however, is what Mr.Lewis and the NRC have NOT told us.
Essential parts of Diablo's controls, cooling system and power supply, are
located OUTSIDE the containment chambers. Many nuclear industry critics see
these as more likely targets. Yes, Diablo is equipped with back-up/"fail
safe" systems, but would they work properly after a large airliner with 40
tons of jet fuel has crashed into the site at 600mph?
In my view, the most vulnerable target would be the two "spent fuel" pools
(SFP), housed in a simple warehouse-like construction which offers virtually
no protection. It has been estimated that the SFP's at Diablo contain in
long lived radioactivity the equivalent of 16,000 Hiroshima Bombs. Of
course, "bombs" is not to be taken literally but only as an approximate
comparison for the estimated amount of radioactivity .
"Spent or used fuel" is bundled in assemblies and stored in water filled
pools. Presently, Diablo's pools hold about 1,600 assemblies. The release of
a small fraction of the radioactivity contained in just one assembly is
capable of contaminating a 42 square mile area, 5 times the size of SLO. [
U.S. Department of Energy, 1985]. To keep the hot assemblies from
overheating, the pool water must be constantly cooled, filtered and
circulated by pumps. If the water level in the pools gets too low, the spent
fuel could ignite into a flash fire. According to a recent finding by the
NRC**, such a pool fire would release catastrophic amounts of radioactivity
to the environment. The finding concludes that the consequences of an SFP
accident could be comparable to a severe reactor accident. How would PG&E
keep the water circulating and the water levels up after an airliner
smashed into the pools?
All of the above scenarios have the potential to cause the dreaded
"meltdown" situation, also known as the "China Syndrome", with consequences
comparable to Chernobyl. Depending on the prevailing winds, vast areas, way
beyond our County, would suffer radioactive contamination.
In light of the recent horrendous events, it is imperative to get a
realistic and accurate assessment. Only then can we begin the process of
effectively protecting ourselves against such attacks.
[ Klaus Schumann is a member of the SLO GREEN Party. He has served since
1996 on the SLO County Nuclear Waste Management Committee ]
** NOTE to EDITOR please refer to:
http://www.nrc.gov/NRC/REACTOR/DECOMMISSIONING/SF/SFaccrisk 2000-10.pdf .
This NRC finding deals with decommissioned plants. However, it applies to
spent fuel pools at operating plants perhaps even more since the spent fuel
tends to be younger and contain more radioactivity, especially right after
each re-fueling cycle. Starting page 3-23, this finding addresses the
ramification of an accidental crash of an aircraft into the pools.
<<<<< (end of statement by Klaus Schumann) <<<<<
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