From: "Russell D. Hoffman" <email@example.com>
To: Paul Leventhal, Nuclear Control Institute
From: Russell D. Hoffman, Concerned Citizen
Re: Your web site, public comments, etc.
Date: March 5th, 2002
I recently visited your web site and let me say I think you have a fine team working on it. The home page is loaded with information and is clear and well-organized. I wish I could be as complementary about some of your public statements about nuclear power.
Don't you think it's time to publicly state that you are opposed to nuclear power itself, and advocate, as I do, an immediate and permanent shutdown of all the reactors around the world?
I'm not sure which to fear most: terrorism by 1000 different methods (from air, sea, land, or a mixture, using mortars, truck bombs, suicide-hang-gliders, RPGs, guided missiles, infiltration, a stolen tank or "Cat", etc. etc.), embrittlement of the alloys surrounding the radioactive materials, acts of God such as earthquakes and tsunamis, human error in the control room or somewhere else in the fuel cycle, or, perhaps the most dangerous thing is public indifference to the 10,000 pounds (at least) of high-level radioactive waste created each day in America alone -- and many times that amount of so-called low-level radioactive waste, which is just high level radioactive waste with filler added, like brass, aluminum, copper, iron, gold, silver, plastic, cloth, rubber, glass, air, and water, etc. etc. etc. -- things that were once reusable, but now are less than useless -- they are dangerous.
There is talk of 10-kiloton nuclear devices having already been stolen from Russia, and being smuggled into America for possible use against our beloved New York City.
But what if it were used against a nuclear power facility instead? Even a small nuclear device would be enough to cause a radiological disaster if it were exploded near a Spent Fuel Pool, Dry Cask, or near a reactor -- or around multiple reactors.
We have to close the nuclear power plants permanently, and in your position as one of the most frequently quoted and interviewed spokespersons in opposition to the Bush administration's planned nuclear juggernaut, we need you to be unequivocal about this. America needs the plants to be shut down NOW.
Wind power, wave power, tide power, solar cells, biomass, hydroelectric, geothermal, and other renewable energy solutions are all vastly superior to nuclear power, yet we don't adopt any of them with any concerted effort. America has the ability to do better, but a substantial majority of us all have to agree that it's the right thing to do.
While it's true that a properly operating coal power plant actually releases more radioactive material on a daily basis than a properly operating nuclear power plant, a coal-fired plant could only be considered worse for society than nuclear if we make the crazy assumption that nuclear power plants will never suffer catastrophic meltdowns. But if we assume that there will be even just one such accident in America -- and that's a fair assumption considering all the threats (although two might be fairer, and three fairer still) -- then the equation goes the other way, and even those who despise coal energy should realize that nuclear is much, much worse.
Who do you think history will damn the most? Those who didn't know any better, and just let nuclear power happen around them? Or those, nearly as ignorant as the first group, who knowingly supported it because they could see that electricity is a very useful thing, but could not grasp the dangers from the nuclear industry's inevitable failures? Or will history damn most, those who knew the dangers, yet did not sufficiently alert others enough to stop it from happening?
The problem is that the nukes are still open, still running at full heat and pressure, and still generating many tons of new nuclear waste every day. A fuel assembly is at least a million times more radioactive after it has been used in a reactor than it was when it went in, just 4 to 5 years earlier.
More useful than anti-aircraft batteries around the plants, which you advocate, would be a huge pyramid of depleted-uranium armor around the spent nuclear waste -- instead of the cheap cement and steel they now use (or aluminum siding, in the case of GE Mark 1 BWRs).
Do you think society, 200 or 2,000 years from now, will care if an accident which spreads nuclear waste came from a running nuclear power plant or from the waste from one, which accumulates in quantities that could wipe out a state EVERY SINGLE DAY? Each new day's quantity of high-level waste is enough to kill millions if simply spread around. Department of Energy accident scenarios for nuclear waste transport, spent fuel pool accidents, dry cask storage accidents, and meltdowns, all assume the release of only a tiny fraction -- sometimes .00001% or less -- of the full payload of radioactive materials present at the time of the accident. This is an improper assumption for such calculations. Then, at the other end of the spectrum, the dose rate, they again improperly assume that low dose rates are many times less harmful than they really are.
You know this and I know this, right? Yet I hear you say, on CNN and CSPAN and elsewhere, that you are not against nuclear power. Why not?
Perhaps your advocacy position is based on political expedience -- but nuclear weapons threatening America's major cities means political expedience is useless -- we are all standing on the bow of the ship, heading into the land mines, torpedos, and shoals. Damn the torpedoes, Mr. Leventhal -- condemn these plants with all your vigor!
Tomorrow's nuclear technology isn't going to be any better than today's -- but in all likelihood, it will be grandfathered in at current nuclear licensee's facilities -- in other words, new nuclear plants will be coming with little or no public review!
Sure, it would be nice if Pebble Bed Reactors were safe, but they won't be. To be safe, all manufacturing processes for the "pebbles" need to be flawless, and of course, there's no containment dome. And the radioactive waste they will create is just more waste, which society doesn't need.
And another problem your advocacy position causes:
As long as we have to pretend that there is any money to be made in the nuclear industry, we are reluctant to put the trillions of dollars that is needed into the nuclear waste problem we have already created.
By keeping the plants open, the method of waste disposal -- whatever method is eventually chosen, and I don't expect it to be Yucca Mountain, on scientific grounds -- MUST fit into a financial scheme in which money is still made by the nuclear industry, which right now sets a small amount aside for waste disposal -- not nearly enough. (Accidents, however, will be paid out of a limited general insurance policy known as Price-Anderson, perhaps the most abominable piece of legislation ever devised.)
We live in a madhouse, don't you agree?
Your web site looks great, and I've enjoyed seeing you on television -- most of the time. But when are you going to advocate immediate closure of all nuclear reactors? After an accident? Or, like Beedle, Meserve, Cheney, and Bush, is it conceivable that even that tragedy wouldn't dissuade you from your implicit support for the "Demon Hot Atom" and the "Nuclear Mafia", when you state, as you often do, that the Nuclear Control Institute is not against nuclear power?
You SHOULD be against it, and the world needs you to realize that, and to state it publicly time and again, and post it at your web site. Nuclear power is a terrible way to accomplish the relatively mundane task of putting large quantities of electrons into wires. That can be done many ways. Simply reducing the losses in the lines, and using state-of-the-art switching technologies, would allow us to shut most -- if not all -- of the nuclear power plants in the United States all by itself. Building a few tens of thousands of windmills would likewise suffice all by itself -- and they could all be built offshore. Niagara Falls, if we simply diverted the part which still goes over the falls, could allow us to shut down another 5 to 7 large nuclear power plants. There is probably enough non-environmentally sensitive potential hydroelectric capacity in America to close the nukes 10 times over if we looked for it (and, of course, history will damn any environmentalist who opposed hydro while leaving others to fight against nuclear power in this day and age!).
There's no reason to keep the nuclear power plants open any longer, and all reasonable Americans should be demanding their immediate closure. There is no room for compromise, and no time for throwing the bums out of office in the next election. The plants should be closed today, because the longer they have cooled the safer they are, and because that way, they stop making more waste.
I hope your voice can be counted on from now on regarding this important issue.
Russell D. Hoffman