From: "Russell D. Hoffman" <>
Subject: Meserve speaks to reporters -- January 17th, 2002 -- a rebuttal by R. Hoffman
Cc:, governor of California, California Senators
Date: January 17th, 2002
To: Richard "Rich Rad" Meserve, Chairman, Nuclear Regulatory Commission
From: Russell D. Hoffman, Concerned Citizen, Carlsbad, CA
Re: Nuclear power plant safety issues

Dear Dr. Meserve,

You're right about one thing you said today -- let's not quibble about statistics.

Especially, let's not quibble about trivial statistics when blatant facts are available to us but are being ignored.  After all, Senator Markey wrote in 1998, "Almost half the plants tested under the cancelled program showed significant weaknesses in protecting against the design basis threat," and one could hardly claim the terrorist threat has been reduced since then.

So, instead of quibbling about statistics, let's start the wind farm revolution, which would be exciting and rewarding, before we are forced to start the recover-from-a-meltdown-revolution, which would be very painful and costly.

In your presentation to the National Press Club today, you talked at length about fears concerning information that is available on the Internet.  Personally, I'm far more worried about what information is NOT available on the Internet, because people -- citizens, that is -- need to know the truth so that they can make a balanced decision.

For example, they need to understand that the 10-mile evacuation radius for nuclear power plants is ridiculously small, and they need to recognize that the plumes from radioactive accidents are invisible so it's very difficult to know if you've escaped from one.  They need to know that greedy corporate pigs have covered up thousands of accidental releases by fudging the data they submit, and (for example), averaging the release amounts across months or even years to smooth over anomalies and spikes.  The public needs to know exactly where the nearest nuclear power plant is to them, and exactly what it releases on a daily, and on a cumulative basis, so they can know why their friends, family, livestock, etc. might be ill with cancers, leukemias, or birth defects.

People need this information and so much more!  I've tried to provide that information to the public at my web site, for example at this page, which lists every nuclear power plant in America:

But if you feel there is any information at my web site which should be removed to protect the public from terrorists, please feel free to make suggestions and I will consider removing that information, if a legitimate explanation is offered.

Also, since I understand from your speech today that the NRC is thoroughly looking at informational web sites to determine if anything objectionable is posted, I'll assume that since I haven't heard from the NRC on anything which is posted, it's all well known and hardly useful to anyone but an American who wants to understand the threats these power plants pose to us.  That, of course, is the reason any of the information is posted at all.

In a recent email to Glenna Shields of the EPA, which I "cc'd" to a small number of people whom I have reason to believe should be interested in these matters, I listed about 200 books about nuclear power and related issues.  If any of these books contain any information you think should be kept from the public, please let me know, and I'll rip out the appropriate pages if I feel your suggestions are reasonable.  Of course, I only own one copy and I'll expect you to make the same request of all other owners of these books, including government agencies.

It would certainly be an honor to know that the NRC had gone through my web site and determined that none of the information poses any risk.  I certainly believe all the information I've posted is common knowledge to the diligent researcher (and we've seen that the hijackers are very diligent), and it is all factual, and it is all important for the public to know.  I've worked with many other institutions, agencies, corporations, hospitals, etc. over the years, and it behooves you, and the agency you head, to work on this project with me.

One fact I'd particularly like to get straight is exactly when the NRC finally rolled into action on 9-11, and what happened before that moment but after the second plane hit the second tower.  The NRC claimed, in a press release you no doubt approved, to have swung into action at 10:00 am sharp.  The second plane hit the second tower at 9:02 am, nearly an hour earlier.  What exactly caused the delay?  I ask not so much to know the answer, but to point out that there was NO excuse, there could not possibly ever BE a valid excuse, and everyone that was sitting there wondering what to do should be FIRED, especially those who might have been worrying about the public relations nightmare you had just encountered instead of the threat to our health, which is the more important issue.  Why weren't the reactors near Flight 93, such as Three Mile Island, Calvert Cliffs also Salem, Hope Creek, Indian Point and many others, all SCRAMed at 9:02 am on 9-11, or even sooner, such as when a hijacked plane actually FLEW OVER Indian Point Nuclear Power Station (about 8:30 am)?  It's not crazy to close the nukes down, and it wouldn't be "giving in to terrorists", as you claimed in your presentation that it would be.  Instead, closing the nukes would happen because the NRC finally listened to a reasonable viewpoint which had been presented to them for years, but ignored despite all evidence.  If 9-11 finally causes the NRC to become receptive to truth, or at least causes you to be unable to respond to the relentless cries of a knowledgeable public who wants the plants closed forever, so be it.  In either case, it has nothing to do with "giving in to terrorists".  It's just being practical, reasonable, and prudent.

I'll remind you that in 1994, "the NRC staff concluded that a vehicle intrusion or bomb threat to a nuclear power plant could develop without warning in the future."  So in 1979 the NRC was already aware of the possibility of a hijacked airplane, although they at first ignored it, and then forgot about it, and in 1994 the concept of a threat without warning was finally accepted in theory, if not in practice.  (The text just quoted is from a page last seen here: .)

That means it shouldn't take an additional four months since 9-11 to study the matter, and you shouldn't have needed even 58 minutes to realize you should be SCRAMing the reactors on 9-11 while flight 93 was still in the air.  I understand that chaos and confusion reigned that day, and that we have had to deal with many more potential terrorist threats in the hours and months since 9-11, so obviously, you should have simply SCRAMed the reactors on 9-11, and left them to cool and slowly become less and less vulnerable.

On a related matter -- the NRC's ability to delay things to the point of being dangerous to the public welfare -- why exactly IS it taking so long for you to reassess the vulnerabilities of nuclear power plants to airplane strikes, since 9-11?  Can't find the old documents, or can't figure out how to update them for the bigger and faster planes, and weaker and more embrittled plants?  It's now been over four months, but on May 1st, 1979, the National Enquirer published an article (verified by other papers afterwards) showing that studies had been done even way back then, which showed that nuclear power plants were NOT protected from airplane strikes.  And those airplanes were smaller and slower than today's swift jumbo jets.  And there is no way the NRC could possibly not have known about the Sandia Labs studies.  So why you have to look at the matter again is beyond me, when the answer to the simple question, are they vulnerable to airplane strikes by large aircraft, is -- ABSOLUTELY THEY ARE.  So, other than to add in a calculation for the extra danger because the plants are embrittled and in danger of cracking open all by themselves without any help from terrorists, what are we waiting for?  Go ahead and tell the public the truth since it's already perfectly well known:  THE PLANTS ARE NOT PROTECTED AGAINST AIRPLANE STRIKES BY LARGE AIRPLANES.


The following costs are mainly NOT borne by the nuclear industry, but should be:

*** Security beyond the perimeter fence (if any).  Today, in your presentation, you tried to absolve the NRC of all responsibilities for protection against any acts of terrorism which some other branch of the government might be responsible for, because of more general responsibilities those other branches might have.  This obviously means that your idea of protection from airplane hijackings that result in planes being crashed into nuclear power plants is to let others handle it.  Similarly, protection from corporate jets, which can be rented by "anyone with a wad of cash and a credit card" as one expert put it, is to be provided by others, but no one is actually providing that protection.  And protection from crop dusters, which can release gasoline vapors around the plant and then crash and ignite it (best done on a calm day, of course), is simply not the NRC's responsibility, so you and the plant operators are absolved about worrying about that, too.  Similarly, stolen military planes, or crazed pilots, cruise missiles, flechettes dropped from balloons, off-course Cessna 172s -- these are all outside your concern, and the industry doesn't have to pay for any security costs associated with reducing the vulnerabilities from these threats.  I presume that with Space Command's help, you feel that we are properly protected somehow from asteroid impacts at nuclear facilities too.  But few people, if anyone, in those branches of the government you've suddenly assigned to this task, has the proper site-specific training that would be needed to defend the plant.  So your proposal right now is completely hollow and we are left unprotected.  Also, there's a serious problem with all this, which is that if you train lots and lots of people in how to protect a nuke, you are training each of them in how to attack one, too.  Thus, increased security, in and of itself, might turn out to be the weakest link in our nation's security system.  This, in addition to the dangers from "friendly fire".  I know of only one practical solution -- shut the plants down.

*** Waste costs.  Yucca Mountain is a technological nightmare and should never be approved, but it has already eaten all our funding for a solution.  What to do?  Well, stop creating more waste, that's the first thing.  Even if every milligram of nuclear waste was shipped to Yucca Mountain today, tomorrow there would be about 10 new tons of high level radioactive waste, spread out at 100 plants around the country.  So, moving all we had today would be of very limited value by even the very next day.  It should be noted that in 1979, Dr. Edward Teller was proclaiming that the nuclear waste problem had been solved.  He's just as wrong now as he was then.  Yucca Mountain is no solution and the sooner we admit it, the sooner we'll realize we simply have to close the plants down.  They are dangerous, dirty, and inefficient.

*** Research and Development costs (paid for by U.S. citizens in the 1940s -- 1960s).  Most research was paid through secret and secretive government contracts related to military nuclear weapons production.  Nuclear power plants would never have been built without massive government subsidies and allowances.  It's time to give renewable energy solutions the same level of government support that nuclear energy was given in error half a century ago.

*** Insurance costs.  Price-Anderson is an artificially low-cost insurance policy which the nuclear industry has been allowed to use for decades, despite the fact that it would pay only pennies on the dollar if a serious accident occurred.  Also, Price-Anderson has been irresponsibly used by NASA to insure plutonium powered space missions, which is absurd because the Act was for stationary objects in America, not objects which could fly over, and land on, other countries.  This is important because the other countries are limited to rewards totalling just $100,000,000.00 (one hundred million dollars) through Price-Anderson.

*** Cancers which cannot be unequivocally proven to have come from the plants (they seldom can be proven to have come from the plants on an individual basis, but the precautionary principle should apply in all cases).

*** Geiger-counters around the plants (only a few are used at each plant; there should be thousands of Geiger counters per plant in the surrounding community).

*** Safer short term storage of spent fuel.  Dry Cask Storage is not safe, nor are Spent Fuel Pools.  Vastly more money needs to be spent here, starting with new Earth-berms around all nuclear power plants.  Also, large windmills need to be built around the plants for added protection from low-flying planes and missiles.  The costs of these improvements should be borne by the plant operators.

*** Cost of informing the public properly about nuclear industry activities.  This is avoided for "national security" reasons, they say, but mostly it's to hide shoddy work, as far as I've been able to determine.  This failure to inform the public saves millions of dollars a year for the companies, which should be required to defend their policies and to explain their actions, monitor the plants, etc. etc..


Regarding your comments about KI today, you said that KI can be taken before OR AFTER exposure to radiation.  But you neglected to mention that taking it AFTER exposure is perhaps an order of magnitude less useful, and perhaps even less than that.

One last thing:  You said you are not more afraid now to go to a nuclear power plant than you were before 9-11.  (I'm sure very few people in America feel as you do, by the way, much to their credit.)  In any event, one has to ask just how close you would be willing to get to a nuclear power plant which was having a meltdown?  10 miles downwind?  20 miles?  Would you be sure to have your own Geiger counter with you, or would you just guess where the odorless, colorless, tasteless death plume was traveling?  Would you be willing to be the last person in line to get KI distributed to them after an accident, because it wasn't distributed beforehand, or do you have a supply on hand for personal/family use (like I do)?

Attached is a poem I wrote in 1979, shortly after Three Mile Island.  It certainly alludes to the National Enquirer report about jet crashes.  I thought you might find it interesting.


Russell D. Hoffman
Concerned Citizen
Carlsbad, CA

P. S. I haven't replayed the tape of your talks, so if there's anything you talked about which I've misunderstood, please let me know.  This letter will be posted online at my web site soon.


unfinished poem -- written June 8th, 1979 by Russell D. Hoffman

The problem with nuclear reactors
is they're dangerous and other factors
far to numerous to mention
but I will.
Originally we thought that they
Could turn our nighttimes into day
And there was no public tension
when they'd kill.
It could be said by one and all
"I've never seen a radiation fall -- "
Out somewhere in the oceans wide
we all knew that fishes died.
Science fiction showed us how
mutation made a purple cow
and giant cockroaches that could eat
a city's sanitation fleet.
We all knew these things would not attack us
But would a terrorist hijack us?
Terrified of just that fate
We produced our own police state.
We let our problems multiply
building satellites that spy
So at last we'd have no fear
Knowing it can't happen here.