Comments on Dateline's October 28th, 2001 show on nuclear power plant vulnerabilities

To: "NBC Dateline" <>
From: "Russell D. Hoffman" <>
Subject: Comments on today's Dateline show on nuclear power plant vulnerabilities
Cc:,, California Senators

To: Producer, Dateline, NBC
Date: October 28th, 2001
From: Russell Hoffman, Concerned Citizen
Re: Comments on today's Dateline show on nuclear power plant vulnerabilities

To The Producer:

Your report on nuclear power plants which aired today, Sunday, October 28th, 2001, was weak and unfair.  It minimized the reality of the many vulnerabilities, which it is our duty -- both yours and mine -- to point out to the public.  You didn't do your job and you stand in the direct way of me doing mine.

For example, Dateline gave Ralph Beedle of the Nuclear Energy Institute (an industry sponsored-group, as you pointed out) the cover of legitimacy by allowing viewers to assume that you've researched the subject of nuclear power plant security.  Why did you let your reporter, Victoria Corderi, let Ralph Beedle say things which are unrealistic, unsubstantiated, and/or personal opinion, and not let anyone refute them, and not ask him to name names if he feels anyone in the so-called "anti-nuclear" side has misstated the situation for any reason, let alone for the evil intent he suggests?  He has slandered many good scientists as well as activists, philosophers, humanitarians, etc. etc. etc.  But who exactly?  He paints us all with a broad brush, and you provide him with millions of dollars worth of free "advertising time" to spew his slander.

The reality is that nuclear power is dangerous, dirty, and inefficient.  There is no "anti-nuclear" viewpoint.  There is a pro-nuclear viewpoint, and a reasonable, sane, safety-minded, realistic viewpoint.  I'm pretty sick of seeing Ralph Beedle be given air time (and print space) to unquestioningly promote his herd of deadly dinosaurs.  To balance that, you need to give equal time to the doctors who oppose nuclear power, and to the economists who have become convinced not to invest in it, and to all the engineers, geologists, statisticians and other experts who each oppose nuclear power for different, valid reasons.  And you need to give equal time to the housewives who are tired of being terrified, and to the insurance companies who won't invest in nuclear power, forcing the U.S. Government to insure the plants with the absurd Price-Anderson Act.

It's hard to undo the crime of misleading the public.  "Equal time" is not enough.  The "reasonable" viewpoint needs to make up for more than 50 years of lies by the government, the nuclear industry, and the media, not just Ralph Beedle's many moments in the spotlight since September 11th.  His pulpit should be the dock of a court.

Why don't you visit my web site, and start reading?  There is no way Beedle, or anyone else in the nuclear industry, can refute the many reasons presented there for why we need to not just increase security and add anti-aircraft guns, but why we need to completely shut the plants down:

You need to do another show -- and quick.  I'm sure Scott Portzline had a lot more to say (you didn't even tell the public about his web site, ), and there are plenty more waiting in the wings to talk to the American media, to help you (and through you, all of America) to recognize that this is the most important story in America today -- yes, even, and especially, today.  Some of us have been trying to bring up the issue of the vulnerability of Nuclear Power Plants to terrorism and airplane crashes (intentional or otherwise) for years, but have been ignored by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, our complaints invariably and utterly denied.  The NRC's refusal to talk to you for your report stunk, and was unfair to the public whose interests they are supposedly protecting.  Their excuse was hollow, but maybe you just didn't try hard enough.  Dateline NBC has a lot of clout.  Use it.  Time is not on our side; the terrorists will wait for no one.

We need to shut down the nuclear power plants immediately and permanently, and convert to renewable energy solutions.  Piano tuners know it.  Computer programmers know it.  Doctors know it, engineers know it, and millions of other America know it, too.  It can be done, and it must be done.  But even after the plants are shut down, we will still need to greatly increase security.  Besides airplane strikes, here's a list of "25 simple ways terrorists can destroy a nuclear power plant".  It is no joke:

There is NO WAY Ralph Beedle, the NRC, or anyone else in the "Nuclear Mafia" can possibly resolve all these issues without shutting the plants down and storing the waste in guarded underground facilities (note: I am not advocating Yucca Mountain as a solution).


Russell Hoffman
Concerned Citizen
Carlsbad, CA
P.S. #1 Have you taken another look at those timelines you presented a few weeks back, for the fighter jets that were scrambled on September 11th, as I suggested earlier?  You had them flying backwards or something.  I mean, for a name like DATELINE, you ought to be able to catch impossible timelines when they are handed to you by the military!  Specifically, can you now tell us how it was possible that fighter jets could have taken off from Langley AFB, bound for Washington, DC, at 9:30 am on September 11th, but 13 minutes later, at 9:43, when the plane struck the Pentagon, those jets were said to be "12 minutes away"?  Langley AFB is about 130 miles from DC. So at the speed these planes fly at, even allowing for acceleration and takeoff, they are less than 7 minutes away from DC to begin with.  You should be ashamed, but hardly lonely -- the stated timeline from a number of media for the fighter jets bound for New York is that they were 8 minutes and 80 miles away when the second jet crashed into the second tower -- also ridiculous.

P.S. #2 If you ever do get to talk to the NRC, please ask them what exactly they did from approximately 9:02 am on September 11th, when it was clear to the entire world that terrorists were attacking America, until 10:00 am when THEY SAY they contacted the 103 operating nuclear power plants and told them to go on "high alert", whatever that means (not much).

The following letter was sent to NBC Dateline by Jack Shannon:

Date: Mon, 29 Oct 2001 13:43:26 EST
Subject: Re: Comments on today's Dateline show on nuclear power plant vulnerabilities
To:, (NBC Dateline),,,,,,,, (Beth Hills),,,,,,

Producers of Dateline:

Dateline serves no National Patriotic service if it's only purpose is to
mouth the standard nonsense as laid down by the NRC/DOE, or their minions.

Neither of these agencies has told the truth in fifty years and they are not
about to start doing so now. The lack of truth from these so called
"oversight agencies" are, in fact, the reason for this debate at this time.
They have never performed their oversight in anything approaching a
professional or objective manner.

Mr. Beedle is not being honest when he tells the American people that Nuclear
Power, in the present day environment is safe. It is not safe and has,
furthermore, a host of problems in a non terrorist environment that have
never been debated in an open and objective manner. The terrorist environment
of today requires, in fact demands, an open debate on this subject. It is
unconscionable to keep the plants running and exposing the spent fuel to an
attack, of any kind, and not keep the public fully informed as to the dangers
associated with the nuclear industry.

Nuclear Power Plants are not now nor have they ever been safe!

I have spent 30 years in the Nuclear Business and can tell you that I know
more about the business than Beedle or anyone in the DOE or the NRC, and I,
furthermore, have no reason to lie.

I designed the most widely used nuclear power plant in the United States
today. It is referred to as D1G Core 2 by the United States Navy and is used
on all High Speed Nuclear Attack Submarines and most, if not all, of the
nuclear-powered Cruisers [previously referred to as DLGN's destroyers].

It was I who eventually got the Navy to shut down two Nuclear Power Plants
near Saratoga Springs, NY because they were being operated for years without
containment vessels. They were closed down one day after I appeared on local
TV [WRGB Channel 6, Schenectady, NY] telling the local population of the
dangers associated with such reactors even in a non terrorist environment. In
a terrorist environment it was unforgivable to keep these plants running.

Mr. Beedle does no patriotic or good service to the American public by
downplaying what may be the single biggest danger to the public in this
Country today. It doesn't even have to be a 737 airplane, a large bore
antitank weapon could do the job. Maybe a "tow" or a 3.5 inch rocket launcher
would do the job and most of New York City would have to be evacuated, if
Indian Point 3 were the target, probably forever.

I would like to know Mr. Beedle's credentials as a Nuclear Engineer,
explosive expert mechanical engineering or an expert on weapons. I qualify in
three of the four areas and have done some work as a mechanical engineer. I
will, furthermore be willing to take on Mr. Beedle or any other NRC/DOE
employee in a debate on the safety of nuclear power containment vessels. 

So let's have a debate. Nothing less will do. This is too important a matter
to be left up to the likes of an NRC talking head.

John Shannon Major USMC [Retired]
Nuclear Physicist/Nuclear Engineers.

11th hour protest against nuclear power:

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First posted October 28th, 2001.

Webwiz: Russell D. Hoffman