STATE OF CALIFORNIA must take back regulatory authority!
by Russell D. Hoffman June 30th, 2001
To: governor of California
From: "Russell D. Hoffman" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: STATE OF CALIFORNIA must take back regulatory authority!
Cc: "Barbara Boxer, Senator (CA, D)" <email@example.com>
From: Russell D. Hoffman, Concerned Citizen
Re: California law not being upheld by state agencies; proof obvious, urgency obvious.
Date: June 30th, 2001
To the Governor,
I have attempted to prove, with the attached documents, that the State of California and all its various agencies, such as California Occupational Safety and Health Administration (Cal-OSHA), the California Coastal Commission (CCC), the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), and other state and local agencies ceded too much power to the federal agency known as the Nuclear Regulatory Agency (NRC) and/or the Department of Energy (DOE), which together were formerly known as the Atomic Energy Commission.
The cession of state regulatory authority was made in 1962, as described in Section 115230 of the California Health And Safety Code. But Article VIII of the California Health And Safety Code, Section 115235, states the following: "The Commission, upon its own initiative after reasonable notice and opportunity for hearing to the State, or upon request of the Governor of the State, may terminate or suspend this Agreement and reassert the licensing and regulatory authority vested in it under the Act if the Commission finds that such termination or suspension is required to protect the public health and safety." ("The Commission" here means the California Resources Agency. See Section 114985 of the Code.)
I contend that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, as proven by their lack of regulatory interest in at least two events which happened at San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station in June 2001, as described in documents attached, has failed to adequately protect the public health and safety. That in fact, San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station is "an accident waiting to happen" and it is imperative that the State regulatory authorities immediately take back all the authority they ceded to the Atomic Energy Commission, now the DOE and the NRC, in 1962. The transfer of authority has not served the public good.
In Article IX of the same section of the California Health and Safety Code, Section 115235, it is stated that after the agreement takes effect it shall "remain in effect unless, and until such time as it is terminated pursuant to Article VIII."
Such a time has come, because it is the duty of the Commission (i.e., the Resources Agency) to protect the public. I have documented, through emails with state employees, letters from OSHA employees, conversations with high ranking employees of San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station at a public safety review of the plant (a sham conducted by NRC), and through statements made at public hearings by commissioners of various state agencies and their staffs, that every potential regulatory authority in California has ceded its power over safety issues at nuclear power plants to the NRC. (Additional cession of state regulatory authority occurs in Section 114740 of the California Health And Safety Code.)
And the NRC has failed to exercise the power it has been given by a trusting public to protect that public and ensure their safe access to clean energy. The NRC ignores accidents which happen at nuclear facilities, simply because they don't actually involve nuclear fuel, despite clear indications that those same accidents are indicative of a trend which leads to disaster. They, in short, disclaim all responsibility for non-nuclear areas of the facility, leaving a regulatory gap. This is a very unusual regulatory practice.
For example, compare the level of oversight NRC applies to nuclear power plants to the oversight exercised by Cal-OSHA -- where its authority has not been ceded to the NRC. For example in the California Labor Code, in section 7383 (a), Cal-OSHA requires: "...all crane employers to disclose all of their previous business identities within the previous 10 years..." and in section (d) it states, "The purpose of this section is to enable the division to get a complete safety record of crane employers when assessing penalties for the violation of safety orders." (My italics.) Similarly, Section 7376 (a),(1) states that the division shall suspend or revoke a license to certify cranes for: "Gross negligence, gross incompetency, a pattern of incompetence, or fraud in the certification of a crane." (My italics.)
To ignore a portion of what happens at a job site is ludicrous, yet that is exactly what the NRC does, while having taken regulatory authority for the whole facility away from all other potentially responsible government agencies (both state and federal).
The nuclear industry is based on a mature, even an aging, technology. The reasons, whatever they might have been at one time, whereby regulatory authority for nuclear facilities was ceded to the Atomic Energy Commission and its descendents, could not possibly be valid any longer for several reasons: First, there is no compelling reason to keep this unusual situation. It is, on the face of it, absurd. No other private industry, regardless of its complexity or danger to the public, is given such unusual regulatory treatment. Second, the current system has proven to be a regulatory failure because the NRC does not even look at a major portion of the plant's operations, in utter contradistinction to the standards of other possible regulatory authorities, such as Cal-OSHA, which, if they were the regulating entity, would look carefully at the entire plant's operation to determine its ability to operate safely.
Serious accidents at San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station can occur in the reactors themselves or in the Spent Fuel Pools, or while fuel is being moved to or around the reactor. Additional dangers will be posed if San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station is permitted to proceed with its plans to store spent fuel in Dry Cask Storage. Accidents can occur when moving fuel into Dry Cask Storage and then the casks themselves are at risk from earthquakes, tsunamis, terrorism, manufacturing defects, etc.. Yet, San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station was recently authorized by the California Coastal Commission to begin Dry Cask Storage as soon as necessary, the CCC having turned a blind eye to all serious questions of safety, deferring those topics to the NRC, who are a lapdog not a watchdog agency, and who couldn't care less about the dangers, and who will license anything as long as it pays its dues to them.
It is imperative that Cal-OSHA, the CCC, and all the other agencies, not only take back regulatory authority, but that they immediately staff themselves adequately to perform their regulatory functions. If they cannot do that (and I contend they cannot because the task would be too enormous) then Cal-OSHA, the CCC, and all the other agencies must revoke the licenses they have granted while acting with their hands tied, and must shut San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station down.
San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station cannot be regulated safely by California's agencies because they don't know how, if for no other reason. NRC has proven unequivocally, by their reactions to two separate accidents which occurred in June 2001, an explosion and fire in the switchyard for which only a "courtesy notification" was made, and a dropped load for which no notification was required, that they are not managing safety at the facility.
Therefore, no one can regulate safety at San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station. Therefore, the nuclear generating station must be shut down until such time as:
1) The "waste problem" has been definitively solved. While no new nuclear power plant is allowed to be built in California until the federal government solves the waste problem, nevertheless the nuclear power plants that exist are producing about half a ton per day of new High Level Radioactive Waste (HLRW) and about two tons of Low Level Radioactive Waste (LLRW). This means that the problem California is seeking to avoid by not licensing new plants is growing by tons and tons every day -- hundreds of tons a year! That is regulatory madness. After more than 40 years, the NRC and the DOE cannot be relied upon to EVER develop a nuclear waste solution, since they are at this point in time, not even close. Their best last hope is called Yucca Mountain, and the chance of it ever being built is minuscule at best, and years away. Meanwhile the waste, more dangerous than anything else on Earth and more useless too, piles up.
2) The threats from Tsunamis, Earthquakes, Asteroids, Terrorism, Mishandled equipment, Failed equipment, and all other problems are solved. This is of course, impossible, and these threats are very real and very dangerous.
3) The alternative renewable energy solutions have been proven to be ineffective. Instead right now we are told time and again that the renewable energy solutions (wind, wave, tide, solar, geothermal, biomass, hydroelectric, and others) are incapable of solving California's energy needs, even along with conservation measures mandated by law. This is simply untrue. I say it's high time we give these systems a fair try.
4) The so-called "anti-nuclear movement" is no longer harassed by undercover operators, agent provocateurs, "spies", infiltrators, and other such trouble-makers, and they are called by their proper name by all State and Local authorities: REALISTS. Citizens must no longer be lied to by the nuclear authorities, who keep claiming, for instance, that there is a solution to the nuclear waste problem on the horizon instead of facing the fact that there isn't, and who claim that the containment domes can withstand impacts from "747's", when in fact they can't, and who claim that renewable energy cannot solve our energy problems BETTER than nuclear power (which is unreliable) when in fact it can, and who claim that the so-called anti-nuclear activists are invariably uninformed, when in fact they are undoubtedly in the top 1% of all Americans when it comes to understanding these issues.
Section 114905 (b) of the California Health And Safety Code states that it is the declared policy of the State of California that: "state agencies retain their traditional jurisdictions wherever possible." Thus the regulatory void should be immediately filled at the state level, for the sake of public health and safety in California. NRC has already proven its inability and unwillingness to properly regulate nuclear power plants, so the time for action is now and the place for action is at the state and local levels.
Documents written mostly in June, 2001, linked to from this web page:
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First posted July 1st, 2001.
Webwiz: Russell D. Hoffman