Re: Orange County Register News Article on Nuclear Power

To: "Letters" <>
From: "Russell D. Hoffman" <>
Subject: Re: Orange County Register News Article on Nuclear Power

To: Editor, Orange County Register
From: Russell D. Hoffman, Concerned Citizen
Re: Orange County Register News Article on Nuclear Power
Date: July 14th, 2001

To The Editor:

I have heard rumors that the Orange County Register is doing a multi-part article on the future of Nuclear Power in California.

Some problems society has uncovered so far with nuclear power:

* Nuclear power's energy is not "too cheap to meter", as was promised by the nuclear industry at its all-important infancy (1940s and 1950s; I can cite several examples if you need me to), it's the most expensive source of energy every devised.

* Nuclear power is prone to outages, both planned and unplanned.  Up-time for the year seldom exceeds 85% and one never knows when a simple thing will result in months of downtime.  Many small-scale energy sources are much more reliable even if the individual up-times for each one are less than for nuclear!

* No one wants the waste.  Nevada, this fall, will start a multi-million dollar media campaign to prevent Yucca Mountain, as if scientific grounds weren't enough to condemn the idea.  But the science against Yucca Mountain is very strong -- and the politicians against it are too.  And if you look at the half-foot of documents on Yucca Mountain which the government has prepared for the public, you'll find that before choosing Yucca Mountain, all other serious suggestions were also considered, from "glassification" (which has never been proven to work), to slurries, to undersea disposal, to polar-cap disposal, to rocketing the waste into space, to purposefully simply releasing it in diluted quantities into the environment.  Yucca Mountain was the best they could come up with and yet even it, probably won't happen.  And even if it does come about, it's going to be opened, filled, sealed, and then what do we do with the next big pile of waste?  The bottom line is this: No o ne has any idea of what to do with the waste although hundreds of ideas have been considered and billions and billions of dollars have been spent.  That's a clue your article better not ignore.  There is no solution to the waste problem.  None.  Zilch.  Zero.  Nada.

* Whatever we eventually do with the waste will cost a lot more than originally expected or promised.  Originally the waste problem wasn't supposed to be a very expensive problem at all.  We still don't know what the final costs will be but all the inexpensive options have already proven ineffective.  That probably leaves us with expensive options only.  The problem is that nuclear materials destroy the containers they are in at the molecular level.  A decay of a radioactive particle is for all intents an unstoppable, tiny nuclear explosion.  The particles which are shot off have energy levels which allow them to destroy whatever surrounds them.

* Nuclear proliferation is a constant threat.  Nuclear materials stolen from any point in the "nuclear fuel cycle" (I assume your article will explain what that is to the people) can be used by terrorists.  You don't need to be able to make a nuclear bomb to use radioactive materials as a tool for terrorism.

* Nuclear regulatory agencies usurp state and local authority as well as the regulatory functions of other federal agencies such as OSHA, EPA, etc..  I have written extensively about this in the past few weeks.  Here is an essay I wrote which explains the problem:

* There is no known minimum dose which cannot cause the full spectrum of health effects.  Low doses of radioactive materials cause fewer effects within a population, but those who are effected at all are effected with the full horrendous list of problems:  Cancer, leukemia, birth defects, chromosomal damage.  It's not like, a little gives you a headache, a lot makes you achy all over, and more will kill you.  It's like, a little will kill some people but not others, a lot will kill more people, but not everyone, and only extremely high doses will actually kill everyone.  But a little bit can kill, and then after that person dies and is cremated (for example), the plutonium can be inhaled by someone else, to irradiate their internal organs.

* There is no cost-effective way to "put the Genie back in the bottle"; radioactive particles in the environment cannot be easily cleaned up.  An accidental release renders areas uninhabitable for eons.  This is a closed system.  Planet Earth cannot sustain the ever-increasing levels of so-called "background radiation".  More than half the "background radiation" in the environment comes from man-made sources, and is ingestible and inhalable, because it is in particulate form.  You can't protect against radioactive waste once it is spread into the environment.  Instead, the government just keeps raising what they call the "background radiation level" -- it's what, 360 mRems on average in America now?  Up from something like 160 before the Atomic Age began in the 1940s?  I can verify the exact figures if you like.

* There is no cure for cancer.  Nothing works like prevention.  Even those cures that do exist are invariable for only a few types of cancer, they are major operations or expensive and nauseating things like chemotherapy treatments (which have additional problems, like causing cancer later in life (I can send you additional information on this if you like).

* Children are affected at about 10 times the rate of adults but regulations don't reflect this fact because it wasn't discovered right away and we still live (and die) under old regulations.

* Plutonium, a product of nuclear power production, may be fatal in doses of micrograms, certainly it takes less than a milligram.  The uncertainty is in many ways irrelevant:  The nuclear power option is a failure.  The nuclear power plants are potential sources for the release of devastating quantities of horrific pollutants.  For example, in the short time it takes to write this brief letter, our two local nuclear power plants will each produce several new pounds of High Level Radioactive Waste, and even more so-called Low Level Radioactive Waste, which is just HLRW with filler added, like steel, plastic, brass, aluminum, rubber, cloth, water, etc..  All nuclear power plants produce which is of any use to society is electrons, which are placed on a power grid and then used by the people.  But electrons can be developed many other ways, every one of which -- yes, even coal -- is better for humanity.  Coal is certainly not very good, and there are clean alternatives Califor nia should consider, and an operating coal plant puts out more radioactive effluent than a properly operating nuclear power plant -- but the nuclear waste generated by the nuclear power plant puts its dangers and problems in a class which even coal does not belong to.

In the next few hours I will be completing a document which answers in excruciating detail every point that a nuclear engineer who has recently challenged me to debate could think up in his answer to my prior letter.  I will forward that document to you.  I hope your staff, in preparing this report (if it's true that you are doing so at all) will each read that document, and see the flimsy "truths" on which the nuclear option stands.

I hope your staff will also visit my web site where I have posted numerous documents about the nuclear option which can educate you about these problems and which contain numerous links to other sources for both local, national, and international related issues.

There is a way to get California to switch to renewables.  It is called "micropayments" and it means that anyone who supplies the energy grid with renewable energy can not just "zero their meter" with the electric company, but can actually get paid a fair price -- comparable per electron to what the big utilities get paid -- for supplying electricity to the people.

With such a system, small-scale renewable energy systems will pop up all over, and the debate your article (if it's actually going to be published) will be on -- nuclear power's potential contribution -- will be settled by the marketplace, which will completely replace the four deathtraps currently operating in this state.


Russell Hoffman
Concerned Citizen
Carlsbad, CA

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First posted September 22nd, 2001.

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