Those who are killing me are doing so with the utmost diligence and pride
To: ketoj <email@example.com>
From: "Russell D. Hoffman" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Those who are killing me are doing so with the utmost diligence and pride
Cc: Tim Steadham <email@example.com>
At 04:52 AM 7/17/01 , Jerry Keto wrote to Russell Hoffman:
Over a period of time I've patiently read many of your letters and respectfully consider your concerns genuine. I do however take offense, as a nuclear proffessional (sic), to any attack of the hardworking men and women who tirelessly maintain our nations commercial nuclear power plants. From senior management to trade labor there is significant pride in what we do and concern, as you have, for nuclear safety. We live and raise our families in the communities of these plants and wish, no less than you, to keep our families, freinds and neighbors safe. Please keep this in mind as you continue to challenge our industry. Remember, we are people with values and pride, just like you.
Nuclear Project Manager/Contracts Manager
To: Jerry Keto, Nuclear Project Manager/Contracts Manager
From: Russell Hoffman, Concerned Citizen
Re: Those who are killing me are doing so with the utmost diligence and pride
Date: July 17th, 2001
Dear Mr. Keto,
Thank you for your email (shown above).
It takes all kinds of people to make up a large group. In every group of gentlemen, it's said, there are always a few cads masquerading as gentlemen.
I'm sure that there are thousands of diligent, hard-working, forthright workers at nuclear power plants. I did not mean to imply that there aren't. After all, would the industry even be alive today if that were not so? There would have been meltdowns in the United States by now if most of you didn't try really, really hard, all the time, to run the plants safely.
I don't think the average nuclear worker is flippant about what they do. But shoddy work happens -- the average nuke plant has what, about 1,000 workers, maybe more? Over 100,000 workers, nationwide? Among them, there are surely a few workers who should be kicked out of the industry by others in the industry itself.
In your letter, it appears that you wish to speak for all nuclear industry workers. But there have been plant workers -- licensed by the NRC -- who became "inattentive" while moving nuclear fuel (April 21st, 1997, San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station), bending the control rod assembly. God-only-knows what problems that nearly caused. I can show you reports where the control room operators didn't know what to do because they didn't understand what was happening inside the reactor because they couldn't reconcile all the different bits of information their gauges were telling them, and then they did the wrong thing and exacerbated the problem (this happened at Three Mile Island). I can show you where they left 32 shipping bolts on 8 vital bellows for the Mark 1-type reactor at Monticello for 30 years, apparently making the primary containment "inoperable" (NRC event #38130). How many people overlooked these bolts? How many regulations were violated when the plant apparently ran for 30 years without an inoperable containment? How many people think the Mark 1 has much of a containment anyway, come to think of it? How many "close calls" does it take? And how close do they need to be?
Here's what I can't understand, Mr. Keto: How come no one in your industry ever gives an inch?
Wind power? The Nuclear Industry tells me it's impractical -- try coal if you don't like nukes. I don't like coal either, but it beats nukes.
Chernobyl? -- Hey don't worry, we've got containment domes (okay, not the Mark 1s, but most U. S. plants do).
Low Level Radiation Danger? -- Hiroshima data doesn't show a problem, never mind how atrocious the data collection methods were, and never mind all the later analysis which indicates that allowable doses for the public should be 1000 more stringent than they are.
Accidents? We've never had one, so we never will. Three Mile Island didn't go all the way. No Spent Fuel Pool will ever get a load dropped into it, causing an explosion. No Dry Storage Cask will ever rupture, despite hydrogen gas problems that have already been identified. No no, nothing will ever go wrong.
Asteroids? How dare you even bring it up?
A conspiracy? It sure seems like there's always someone out there ready to attack me groundlessly. It's not like this is my first round.
But you are right: I have heard stories of workers walking up to other workers and suggesting better ways to do things. That's a good thing. I have heard, at my local nuke facility (San Onofre), of workers being upset because management is putting pressure on them to keep the station running when they know important maintenance tasks are being deferred to do this. And management feels that the civil authorities are pressuring them! That is a difficult climate in which to always do the right thing.
Nukes were supposed to provide us with so much cheap energy that they would never feel pressured to run when doing so would compromise safety. But it appears that at least in California right now, that is what is happening. They are being run ragged because of a politically-induced energy shortage. An abundance of decentralized, renewable energy sources would be a much better way to produce reliable energy in America, but it requires "micropayments", which needs legislative changes to happen. The situation is carefully adjusted to help keep the nuclear power industry in power.
I say, if the nuclear industry really cared about safety, here are some things they -- not the public -- would demand: For coastal reactors, they would have Tsunami sensors, electronic gizmos that measure the water height and alert the operators as gauges which are normally underwater suddenly emerge, as invariably happens before a large tsunami strikes, so that if the waters in the ocean in front of them recede, they SCRAM the reactor. Instead they built a 35 foot wall at San Onofre, which isn't nearly high enough, and that was it. Heck, they could man the beach 24 hours with a few lifeguards with hot lines, and the area could become a mecca for night surfers. But that level of monitoring would cost money.
To protect the nukes from asteroids the industry should be paying NASA to put asteroid-searching telescopes in orbit. (Powered by solar panels, of course.)
Instead we roll the dice. That is not a sound energy policy. It's a gamble with the devil. Nuclear materials are toxic in extremely small doses; most scientists seem to agree that any dose, no matter how small, is capable of producing a toxic effect. And worse than that (perhaps), is that the effects do not diminish as the dose diminishes. It's the same grotesque things -- cancer, leukemia, birth defects. Never a common cold or upset tummy, no matter how small the dose. It hits you hard or it doesn't have a measurable effect (which is not to say it has no effect).
Your industry does not want the American public to see what so many of the children who live around Chernobyl look like. It's gut-wrenching. If those pictures were put on the front page of the major newspapers in America, it would probably shut your industry down. But fortunately for you, much of the media is owned by nuclear power companies, so that will never happen.
In any event, your problem, your industry's problem, is that perfection is impossible, but failure is not an option. 99.99999% containment is impossible, and has never been achieved, yet your industry assures us they will achieve it. Every time there is a release we are told it is not significant. Yet the background radiation level keeps rising and rising. These "insignificant" releases -- plus a few Chernobyls, Kursks, Threshers, Scorpions, Three Mile Islands, Hanfords, and so on -- add up. It's all cumulative, and as we debate this matter, the waste from the nuclear power plants you support and procure stuff for, adds up. You can't procure a safe permanent containment for your nuclear waste because one doesn't exist.
There should be a LAW that it is illegal not to tell the public how many Curies were released each time there is a release or an accident. Let the public decide if it's significant or not -- just tell us the truth. If we don't understand the dangers, or lack thereof, explain it to us. Instead we are NEVER told how much was actually released whenever the unthinkable happens -- which is with surprising regularity -- and we are always told there is no danger, but it just isn't true.
Sure, there are thousands of hardworking professionals at nuclear power facilities. I don't doubt it. But how much do each of these hardworking professionals know about the way the ICRP and BEIR and so on have rejected scientific studies which point to their standards being about 1000 times too high?
How many of these industrious worker-bees (sacrificial lambs might be a better term) have even heard of Dr. John W. Gofman and his pioneering work?
How many have considered the possibility that renewable energy solutions could replace nuclear power plants, if given a fair chance in a fair marketplace (with micropayments to individual renewable energy producers)? Then we wouldn't be creating nuclear waste which we have no idea what to do with.
How many of these industrious workers have ever read even one of the opposition's books? I've read lots of pro-nuclear literature and books. I keep up on what arguments your side has in favor of nuclear power.
But I've also managed to be introduced to the dregs of your society. If I have become a bit jaded from those encounters, who can be surprised? For example Mr. Steadham staunchly defends your industry to me, bringing up the silliest and most tiresome arguments I ever hear (like about coal as an alternative), while calling me every name in the book (stupid, ignorant, neurotic, paranoid, a Jackass, dishonorable, dishonest, a liar, a moron, a censor...).
His type represents your industry far more frequently -- at least to me and others who oppose nuclear power -- than the type you say fills your ranks. Sorry if I have no way of seeing most of the good people that work in the nuclear industry. They don't seem to come out and debate much. We have one guy, for example, who seems to answer every letter against nuclear power in the local paper with his same tired lines. I think your entire industry is terrified of a fair debate. (I don't blame you in the least for that, frankly, as it would show up the weaknesses in your arguments.)
The only real tactic nuclear industry proponents seem to have is "hit and run". Mr. Steadham, for example, has proclaimed his intention to end our debates, despite the fact that our correspondence has barely even gotten down to figuring out what to argue about yet (he jumps all over the board).
And where, pray tell, does that leave you?
Have you read any of the following books, for example? Some are only indirectly related to nuclear power; all are related to the nuclear problem:
Irrevy by Dr. John W. Gofman (Committee for Nuclear Responsibility, 1979, ISBN 0-932682-00-6)
Mother Country by Marilynne Robinson (FSG, 1989)
Bombs in the Backyard by A. Costandina Titus (Univ of Nevada Press, 1986)
The War Against the Greens by David Helvarg (Sierra Club Books, 1994, 1997)
The Truth about the Neutron Bomb by Sam Cohen (Morrow & Co., 1983) (A pro-neutron bomb book, it shows the inventor's thinking)
Missile Envy by Dr. Helen Caldicott (Bantom Books, 1986)
No Place to Hide by David Bradley (Atlantic Monthly Press, 1948)
The Wrong Stuff by Karl Grossman (Common Courage Press, 1997)
Comments on Nuclear Power by Stanley Thompson (available online)
Of course, that's just a small sample of what's available, and I've read all of these selections. I have another 150 or 200 books, from both sides, on my shelves for reference and additional light reading. Maybe 10% of my library, which consists mostly of computer books, pump books, animation how-to books, electronics books, engineering books, war books, and a substantial collection of general reference books.
So where DOES that leave you? What is your understanding -- and where did that understanding come from -- of the dangers of low-level radiation in the environment -- a closed environment with 6.2 billion people in it, the vast majority of whom cannot afford any professional health care, let alone the expensive treatments necessary for lung cancer, leukemia, and other effects of nuclear waste in the environment (treatments which are often utterly ineffective anyway)?
Tell me, Mr. Keto: Can you bring back my brother, who died from complications from leukemia at age 39? With everyone apologizing for everything in the past, it's high time for the nuclear industry to apologize for the increased rates of leukemia, cancer, and birth defects the whole damned world knows it's causing. Steadham's (and ICRP's) crazy claims notwithstanding. And even your claims, that the workers are diligent, notwithstanding as well. Nazi butchers were diligent too.
What do you know about the dangers of what you are doing? Are you just following orders? What do you know about the politics which brought about our 103 nuclear power plants which are operating in this country? What do you know about the thousands of emails I've received in opposition to my views, from people who, when we scratch the surface, invariably admit that they don't know the answers to the hard questions? (Others simply run off, avoid the hard questions, declare that we should "agree to disagree" which I have never done, or, as with the case of Mr. Steadham, resort to calling me names.)
These people represent your industry, Mr. Keto. They represent it far more often than you do. So if you are right, that is, that the vast majority of people in your industry are good, hardworking, honest people, that's great. But those who groundlessly attack the opposition, who make up stuff and expect us to believe it, destroy your industry's reputation. And what do you think one meltdown would do? Will do, when it finally happens?
And the fact that instead of speaking out against those individuals who sully your industry's reputation, you chose to make your statement to me, indicates that you can't see the forest for the trees. The war for the battle. The battle for the skirmish. The facts for the propaganda.
Had you said even one word in denunciation of Mr. Steadham's groundless attacks, I'd take your letter much more seriously. But as it is, your letter appears to simply be an aside which has no purpose but to annoy me. I'm sure you feel the way you say you do. But look around you. I didn't invent Mr. Steadham, or Arthur J. Starling III, or Gary Robbins, or Kevin Geisler, or Bud Aaron, or Jeff Nyquist, or David Grinspoon, or Woody Smith, or Dr. Louis Friedman, or Dr. Jackie Alan Giuliano, or any of these other "debaters" and attackers of my integrity, my right to speak out, or my efforts to uncover the truth, or whatever the attack of the day happens to be -- whatever I happened to write about. They all denounced me for one reason: My detailed and persuasive opposition to nuclear power. It always seems that those who support nuclear power support all of it, and don't know when to quit. Very few are against one thing (like NASA's space probes with their 400,000+ Curies of Plutonium 238 on flimsy rockets) and for another. They want it all and deny all dangers. And ten months after Cassini was launched a similar rocket exploded, proving our worries about the dangers of the launch were well-founded. And within a few months of Cassini's flyby of Earth, two Mars probes were lost, including one on an "orbital insertion", which proved our worries about the flyby were correct as well. Yet I've never had an apology from any of Cassini's former supporters.
Please let me know where your own studies of the dangers of nuclear power have led you, and I'll then be able to give proper weight to your claims. I have yet to find, in your industry, among your scientists, at the NRC, DOE or NASA, or anywhere else, the comparable scientists for me to interview such as we have available on our side: Dr. Caldicott, Dr. Gofman, Dr. Sternglass, Dr. Gould, Dr. Poehler, Dr. Thompson, the late Dr. Karl Z. Morgan, and all the other doctors, nuclear physicists, nuclear engineers, and for that matter activists, whom I can interview and ask questions of. Who do you have for me to interview, from whom I could be reassured that plutonium is as safe as the industry proclaims? Who can address my concerns, because they themselves have conducted useful studies, studies which prove that plutonium and uranium and all their daughter isotopes are safe in the quantities being made and released into the environment? Let alone where can I find someone who can prove to me it's necessary? Who can prove that ionizing radiation in low doses is safe, or perhaps even therapeutic? I'll point out that many of the opposition scientists I have talked to are former nuclear industry workers. So I do believe there have been many good, honest people in the industry over the years. Many of them have seen fallacies in their earlier thinking and now work for the so-called "anti-nuke" movement, which I call the voice of reason.
No, Mr. Keto, there do not appear to be any scientists who could prove to a simple skeptic like me that what you are doing is safe. Not one. I've been searching for years. And add to that, no one on your side will debate it properly so that I can prove to the public (and perhaps to a few of you, too) that your industry is based on nothing more than hearsay.
Will you debate it? Or is your comment a "hit and run" attack as well, no matter how politely it is worded? For it is easy to be polite. But it is impossible to be easy, and polite, and gentle when talking about cancer and the ravaging effects it has on the body, and on those who watch others die that way. It is not easy to talk about deformed babies who exist just so that the nuclear industry can exist -- who are deformed because "ALARA" isn't good enough. It's very difficult to talk about what leukemia does, how it takes people we love away from us before their time.
All these things warn us of our own demise, yet you wish only to remind me that those who are killing me are doing so with the utmost diligence.
I will remember what you have written, as you asked me to. But I ask you this: If you have read, as you say, "many of my letters", why are you still in the industry? For its very existence is wrong, even if everyone in it is forthright, and merely honestly misguided. Where have I failed to prove this to you? I will gladly take on that topic next.
Again, thanks for writing.
Russell D. Hoffman
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First posted October 16th, 2001.
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