From: "Russell D. Hoffman" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Re: EPA Responsibilities to stop 1,000,000 deaths at San Onofre (followup)
Cc: email@example.com, governor of California, California Senators
Dear Ms Shields,
Thank you for your letter of this morning (shown below), and the exact reference for the document you mentioned previously. It is now clear to me how NRC and DOE hoodwinked EPA, but what's not clear is why the EPA let itself be hoodwinked.
As far as I can tell (since you didn't give me specific references within the 90+ page document), what you have shown me is little more than Madison-Avenue style "dumbed-down" explanations of how a travesty of justice was accomplished. It assumes the reader has zero knowledge about Constitutional matters and the purpose of government, which is (to be very brief), to protect our ability to have "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness".
The document you've shown me does not prove that justice has been served. It does not disprove my assertions. In fact, it strengthens them significantly. By laying out in writing the claims I have been making, that the NRC (and the DOE) have way too much authority, being judge, jury, and executioner all rolled into one. The document certainly does not in any way absolve EPA from the requirement to do whatever is necessary to protect the public from whatever is most likely to kill us in the environment, then the next most likely, then the next and the next and the next and so forth until, if you have the time and money, EPA can, in theory, with enough technology, protect us from everything in the environment that might harm us.
That truth, of course, should be self-evident and EPA's charter, while wording it differently for whatever reason, says as much.
According to the document you've suggested, Appendix B., "Federal Agency Radiation Responsibilities", "The mission of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is to protect human health and to safeguard the natural environment -- air, water and land -- upon which life depends on both national and global levels."
I don't see any exclusion in that statement which allows EPA to ignore the potential for harm from Nuclear Power Plants, do you?
It continues that under "AEA and related statutes" (unspecified -- can you nail them down for me, or do you just buy that dogma too?), "EPA develops generally applicable environmental standards for Federal and State organizations to incorporate into the development of their regulations."
So just as I supposed, EPA would definitely have a role in regulating emissions from NPPs, both in normal operating mode, and, more importantly, in "meltdown mode". Furthermore, EPA has every right to be involved in helping to determine energy policy because energy policy should be based on environmental considerations first, then all other considerations. Rather than excluding yourselves from the debate, EPA should be leading the energy debate, and NRC, for example, should just be a side show, like the coal industry, the oil industry, and so on are just side shows compared to the bigger picture of switching to renewable energy and building a global energy grid to distribute that renewable energy.
It's ridiculous to have the promotional agency, the enforcement agency, the standards agency, and all other related agencies all rolled into one agency which is also in charge of deciding if its pet industry should even exist at all, to compete with other, safer, benign industries. But that's what we have in the NRC.
Please, Ms Shields, can't we get away from the idea that NRC has been gifted with perfection, and nothing they concern themselves with need ever be looked at again by any other government agency? Dealing with reality is all I'm asking here. Nothing else.
The document you've shown me doesn't prove that EPA should have abdicated its responsibilities regarding NPPs, and nor does it prove that EPA should continue that abdication of its responsibilities after learning the truth about the NRC's failure to properly protect the public.
Another way to look at it, is that EPA is, among other things, an enforcement agency, capable, for example, of closing all the petrochemical plants in America if it could be proven that such a thing was necessary to protect the public. I can't imagine such a situation, of course, but legally, if EPA could imagine it was necessary, EPA could do it.
But not with NPPs, right? That's what you're saying. That for NPPs, EPA does NOT have the right to go in and shut down the operation if it is deemed unsafe!
Well, Ms Shields, that's madness. EPA not only has a right to protect us, it has a duty to do so, because it is charged with protecting our environment, and it naturally follows that EPA must therefore protect us from the most dangerous thing first, the next-most dangerous thing second, the third-most dangerous thing third, and so on down the line.
The nuclear power plants in America are BY FAR the most dangerous thing in this country. The 10 tons of high-level radioactive waste they produce each day alone are the most dangerous new waste in the country. This new waste is as bad as it gets, except for the 70,000 or so tons that's already been created. Please correct me if EPA has a different official opinion, and please cite the specific reference to a specific paragraph, clause, sentence, whatever, of any EPA regulation which would prove that EPA feels differently about that 10 new tons of high-level radioactive waste created each day than I do -- that it's "the worst stuff on Earth", except for that which already exists, which is just as bad.
Yet despite feeling that way, EPA ignores the things that create this waste, and does nothing to prevent the creation, tomorrow, of another useless 10 tons of high-level radioactive waste. You have not shown me any document which would permit such gross maleficence on the part of EPA. Yet you claim one exists.
On the same page of the PDF you've shown me, the NRC's mission is described thusly, "to ensure adequate protection of public health and safety, the common defense and security, and the environment in the use of certain radioactive materials in the United States. The NRC licenses commercial facilities including nuclear power reactors, non-power research, test, and training reactors, fuel cycle facilities, medical, academic, and industrial uses of nuclear materials, and the transport, storage, and disposal of nuclear materials and waste." It then continues, "Under the authority of the AEA, NRC is responsible for developing, implementing, and enforcing NRC licensing criteria, EPA standards and regulations, and other Federal regulations at these facilities."
Clearly the fox is guarding the hen house, which is what brought me to EPA in the first place. And note that clearly, EPA has the right to regulate in this area -- if they want to! And clearly, EPA has been charged with protecting us, according to its own charter. So we are back where we started, except I have even more proof than I did before that the NRC has hoodwinked other government agencies at the local, state, and worst of all Federal level, into relinquishing control of things which are naturally supposed to be under their jurisdiction.
Even after making some effort, you have completely failed to establish proof for your assertion to me that EPA has no responsibilities to protect the public from a rogue agency known as the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. EPA not only can protect us, they must, and I think my citations and examples have made that clear by now. If not, let's be very specific as to how it is possible that they haven't, because with knowledge comes responsibility.
I have imbedded some additional comments, in [[[ triple brackets ]]], into your letter, below, and used bold to highlight your original letter for clarification. Nothing has been deleted from your text.
At 05:28 AM 1/15/02 , Shields.Glenna@epamail.epa.gov wrote:
Dear Mr. Hoffman:
Thanks for your note. I had attached a link to the title, "Radiation
Protection at EPA: The First 30 Years, " for your convenience. You
should have been able to just click on the title and go straight to it.
My apologies for not typing out the address as well. It is
While I understand your concerns--wouldn't it be wonderful if there were
a super agency who could walk in and make everything all right!
[[[ There supposedly is such an agency, Ms Shields. You've directed me to it and
used it to absolve yourself of responsibilities. It's called the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
They claim they will indeed make the radioactive waste "disappear" in a mountain in NV.
They also claim to have taken complete authority away from every other regulatory
agency in the United States regarding NPPs and related matters. But according to the
way this country's government was set up, that's illegal. As you say, we operate within
the laws of the United States. The NRC DOESN'T. -- rdh ]]]
radioactive waste just disappear? However, we operate within the laws of
the United States. It would be illegal for us to do what you suggest.
[[[ How so? You have not made that clear at all and because your assertion has legal standing
and I demand that you back it up. The NRC is out of control, rogue, illegal, subversive
to the values and ideals of America, and destroying our economy and our land, and our
Constitution, with their actions. How dare you accuse me of suggesting YOU do anything
illegal? How dare you, Ms Shields? I have done no such thing. I am advocating that you
follow the spirit of the law, and if your lawyers can't find the letter of the law by which to
follow my suggestions, then I suggest you get better lawyers. -- rdh ]]]
Radioactive waste must be stored until it decays.
[[[ I don't need your lesson in half-lives, if that's what you're getting at. I've talked to scores
of extremely good scientists, interviewed hundreds of people, read dozens of books and
thousands of articles, debated the issue with hundreds more. Okay? The NRC, however,
could use a lesson. -- rdh ]]]
Each and every staff
member of the Radiation Protection Program at EPA cares deeply about the
environment. We wouldn't be here otherwise. We apply all the training
and skill we have to determining the best way to protect you and every
other citizen--including our families.
[[[ But you just told me you have completely abdicated responsibility for worrying about
radiation from NPPs -- both operational ones and melted-down ones. There is a huge
conflict in your statements. A huge one. Please take this sequence of letters to your
supervisor or to an EPA lawyer if you do not see that conflict yourself, because I'm really
not sure how to make it any clearer to you. Our lives are at stake because of that 77,000
tons of high-level radioactive waste, and the 10 new tons a day being added because we won't
build renewable energy solutions instead -- and what does RPP at EPA have to say about
it? NOT A THING! Then you have the nerve to (right after accusing me of suggesting that
you do something illegal) tell me you care deeply about the environment? About protecting
me and every other citizen (and your families) from radiation? You can't see the Elephant in
the Living Room, but it's there. -- rdh ]]]
We ask the hard "what ifs," we
apply the results of years of scientific research.
[[[ Wait! You just told me EPA ignores everything having to do with NPPs. Which is it? Because
deciding to shut the nukes would be a hard "what-if", wouldn't it? EPA hasn't got the nerve
to go up against the NRC and tell them they're crazy. Instead you shrink from the battle, letting
their little hoodwinking long ago with some illegal statute (which you haven't shown me yet, anyway) allow you to ignore the threat to our nation because EPA is afraid to tackle the big job of saving
America from nuclear destruction by meltdown due to terrorism, engineering failures, earthquakes,
tsunamis, operator error, and let's not forget disgruntled employees, lest they not be included as
"terrorists". -- rdh ]]]
We are often
criticized for being too careful, too stringent. I regret that many
members of the public do not understand that.
[[[ This is a generalization and has no place or relevance here. -- rdh. ]]]
Where citizens can help is to become knowledgeable about radiation and
radiation issues. (Is radioactive waste safer scattered around the
country, or is it safer in secure, specially designed containers deep
[[[ This implies that I haven't made a fair attempt at becoming knowledgeable about radiation
and radiation issues. If you feel that's the problem, why not spend some time actually
reading the letters I've sent to EPA? I doubt even 0.01% of the public has researched these
subjects -- the very topics you just mentioned -- more than I have tried to. I think your statement
is an excuse to get bogged down in details about rems, rads, whole body doses, roentgens,
mrem, and so forth, while I've clearly been trying to ask the big questions, like, now that
terrorists have proven their capabilities, and since they've threatened nuclear power plants
repeatedly, and since we've come a hare's breath away from disaster at these plants numerous
times, and since no one is minding the fort except that rogue and dastardly agency the NRC, I
really don't see your point here. Yeah, I know about this stuff. Probably better than you and
if I don't know it better than you, I'll bet I know some people who do, who are reading these
words at the same time you are (they are on my distribution list). So again I ask, what's your
point here? I'm asking the big questions. I don't need a lesson in civics. I've looked at
these issues and Yucca Mountain, by the way, doesn't put the waste away in "safe, secure" containers at all --the design includes the containers crumbling to dust in a few decades or,
at best, a few centuries. In 10,000 years if all goes right, Yucca Mountain will be a bubbling
cauldron of hellish fire. That's if it's doesn't spew it's deadly contents sooner... But the fact
that I know that and you don't is apparently going to be ignored, because I've written to EPA
about Yucca Mountain enough so you should know that I've looked at that basic question you asked,
and many others related to the project. Can't we ever get down to business and talk about what's
really going on, instead of always staying at a basic level where you (EPA) knows all the answers,
when the answers you've actually given me are contradictory and also contradict basic law in
America? The law says the purpose of government is to protect the citizens. -- rdh ]]]
Learn who is responsible for what.
[[[ I have. That's what eventually, after five years of trying to make headway at DOE and NRC, led
me to you and to EPA. Hopefully here, justice can be served at last because the buck has to
stop somewhere, and according to EPA's charter, environmental protection is your job. -- rdh ]]]
Consider the use of
energy in your day-to-day life, your use of medical procedures and
consumer products that use radioactive materials. Test your home for
[[[ I have written numerous essays on these matters. Have you ever seen a copy of Dr. John W. Gofman's seminal text on x-rays, Radiation and Human Health? It's one of about 200 books on
these subjects in my collection. I've attached, in a followup email, a complete list of books on
these subjects in my collection, which is also available here:
As to radon, we rent an apartment on the second floor, there is no basement, and the windows
are almost always open, and my understanding is Carlsbad, CA is a very low risk area for radon.
I suspect emissions from computer monitors is more of a worry for me, actually. But in any
event, my personal needs to test for radon or whatever, hardly compares with America's need
to never suffer a Spent Fuel Pool fire, whether caused by inaction on the part of the appropriate
regulatory agencies, or by an asteroid, or by a terrorist, or by design, or by a fool working at the
plant making a serious mistake or intentionally causing a disaster. Have you been in contact with
David Lochbaum, for instance, at the Union of Concerned Scientists? Or Dan Hirsh, of the Committee
to Bridge the Gap, who had a fine article published in the January/February 2002 issue of the
Bulletin of Atomic Scientists? The dangers I have written to EPA about
are very real, and talking about radon right now, to me, is ridiculous -- terrorists
have threatened to melt down our nuclear power plants, and accidents threaten
those plants every day. But terrorists have NOT threatened to increase the
public's average exposure to radon, and furthermore, no earthquake, tornado,
tsunami, flood, fire, or other natural or manmade disaster could possibly
increase the public's average exposure to radon. However, ANY of these things
could affect a nuclear power plant and thus, the public's average exposure to
radiation. Thank you, nevertheless, for your concern. -- rdh ]]]
Russell D. Hoffman
-- rdh ]]]
Note: Prior correspondence (attached in unformatted form by Glenna Shields in her letter shown above) is posted here: