Re: LA TIMES Article shows Ray Golden is a liar, nuclear plants are vulnerable, NRC is a lap-dog agency

To:,   "Barbara Boxer, Senator (CA, D)" <>
From: "Russell D. Hoffman" <>
Subject: Re: LA TIMES Article shows Ray Golden is a liar, nuclear plants are vulnerable, NRC is a lap-dog agency
Cc:,  "Russell Wise, NRC" <>,  "Elmo Collins" <>,   "Pat Gwynn" <>,  "Clanon, Paul" <>,   "Ajello, Julian E." <>,   "Wong, Zee Z." <>,   "Clark, Richard W." <>,   "NRC" <>,"Barbara Byron" <>, Bob Aldrich <>, "Steve Woods" <>, "Bob Kahn, Op-ED editor, NC TImes" <>

To: Governor Gray Davis
From: Russell Hoffman, Concerned Citizen
Date: September 22nd, 2001
Re: LA TIMES Article shows Ray Golden is a liar, nuclear plants are vulnerable, NRC is a lap-dog agency

Dear Governor Davis:

Shown below is an article in today's LA TIMES which indicates that the things I've been writing to you for the past few weeks about nuke plant vulnerabilities are entirely correct (as I knew, and as your staff should have known as well).



The LA Times article contains one significant error.  It says, "no one could have predicted" the manner of these terrorism attacks.  This is untrue.  If you call Charles Marschall at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (Region IV office in Texas) you'll find (if he's feeling honest and tells the truth) that in June, 2001, I spoke to him about that very issue, in a series of conversations.  He was stubborn in his assurances regarding the safety of the plants.  You'll also find that I wrote about those conversations, and published those documents online and submitted them to the State of California for consideration.  So you have had plenty of warnings, and I've tried very, very hard to discuss these matters with your staff.  Thus, Governor Davis, you are as culpable as Ray Golden and the lying Nuclear Mafia for failing to protect the citizens of California.  I can think of no worse charge to have on your record.

Thank you in advance for now considering my opinions more carefully, as I'm confident you will do.

Russell Hoffman
Technologist, Futurist, Concerned Citizen
Carlsbad, CA
Note to readers: PLEASE SEND A COPY OF THIS LETTER TO THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA TODAY!  Add your comments so they know it's from someone else besides me. Thank you.


September 22, 2001 -- LA TIMES
Federal Regulators Reviewing Security at Nuclear Power Plants
 Terrorism: The NRC concedes that facilities could not withstand a jet crash. Preparedness for ground attacks has also been questioned.
By DEBORAH SCHOCH, Times Environmental Writer

Federal nuclear regulators said Friday that they will review anti-terrorist safeguards at the nation's 103 commercial nuclear plants.

Even before the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, security procedures at many nuclear power plants had been criticized as seriously inadequate by government inspectors.

On Friday, Nuclear Regulatory Commission officials said they were revisiting a range of security issues, not the least of which is the vulnerability of nuclear facilities to airplane crashes. The NRC acknowledged that nuclear plants were not built to withstand the impact of aircraft such as Boeing 757s and 767s, and that "detailed engineering analyses of a large airliner crash have not yet been performed," according to a news release.

"Given the situation has changed in ways no one could have predicted--no one had envisioned airliners being used like kamikaze bombers--it does raise questions that had not been seriously looked at before," William Beecher, the NRC's director of public affairs, said Friday evening.

The NRC's statements did little to reassure critics who have said for several years that federal regulators were not doing enough to protect plants against terrorist attacks from the ground.

David Orrik, director of the NRC's Operational Safeguards Response Evaluation program, said Friday that from 1991 to 2000, anti-terrorist exercises showed "a potential vulnerability" at nearly 50% of the 68 plants tested. In simulated sabotage exercises, government employees or contractors attempt to breach plant security and get close to the reactor core. Severe damage to a core could allow the release of enough radiation to endanger the public.

A self-policing program by the nuclear power industry is scheduled to start this fall, in which plant operators themselves would test their facilities for anti-terrorist readiness, with NRC officials reviewing results.

The NRC in July approved the one-year pilot of the so-called Safeguards Performance Assessment Program. During the pilot period, the agency insists that it will continue to do its own security testing. It plans to conduct exercises at only six plants this year, however, instead of the usual eight.

An industry spokesman defended the pilot program, saying that testing would occur every three years, compared to every eight years for the current NRC-run operation. Federal regulators would still review results, said Steve Kerekes, spokesman for the Nuclear Energy Institute, a policy organization for nuclear plant owners and operators.

Since Sept. 11, environmental groups that monitor the safety of nuclear power plants have renewed criticism of NRC plans to give the industry more responsibility for testing plant security.

"It's shocking that [NRC officials] continue to stick their heads in the sand at a time like this," said Dan Hirsch, president of the Committee to Bridge the Gap, a nuclear watchdog group based in Los Angeles.

"There's not the slightest indication that they're taking this situation seriously and implementing appropriate measures," said Hirsch, who believes the commission should recommend that the nation's governors call out the National Guard to protect plants and institute other urgent safeguards, such as fresh background checks on plant employees.

Meanwhile, NRC officials reversed earlier assurances that plants could withstand the crash of a jumbo jet.

Spokesmen for both the commission and two Western U.S. nuclear facilities had said Sept. 11 that domestic plants were built to withstand the impact of a Boeing 747. But officials said Friday that is simply untrue.

The San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, the nuclear complex closest to Los Angeles, "is not designed for plane crashes," said Ray Golden, spokesman for Southern California Edison, which operates the plant.

"We're not on any of the flight paths, so that was not considered a credible threat," Golden said Friday.

Since the attacks in New York and Washington, concern about nuclear plant safety has mounted among nuclear critics and some elected officials.

In New England, Vermont Gov. Howard Dean and Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) on Thursday wrote NRC Chairman Richard A. Meserve with concerns about anti-terrorist protections.

Dean called for reassessing security at the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant on the Connecticut River near Brattleboro, which, he reported, was cited for security lapses in 1998 and again early this year. Even though he has been told these deficiencies have been corrected, Dean wrote, "I would like the confidence that an overall review of Vermont Yankee security and security culture has been undertaken."

Markey's letter is more wide-ranging, raising such questions as why the NRC only recommended Sept. 11 that plants nationwide go to their highest state of readiness, rather than issuing an outright order.

The congressman also questions the pending changes in the way the NRC tests the readiness of commercial plants to withstand terrorist attacks.

The self-policing program "lowers standards, it lowers costs and it increases profitability of shareholders," Markey said.

For information about reprinting this article, go to

Below is a previous letter sent to Governor Gray Davis and others (slightly revised):

To: Governor Gray Davis (California)
From: Russell D. Hoffman, Concerned Citizen
Subject: Recent quotes on the vulnerability of nuclear power plants to airplane attacks.
Date: September 21st, 2001

Dear Governor Davis:

At the end of this letter, I have collected some recent quotes from specialists regarding the vulnerabilities of nuclear power plants to airplane attacks.

Even a private plane, especially one loaded with, for example, a fertilizer-type bomb like what Timothy McVeigh used in Oklahoma City, could destroy our nuclear power plants.  A hijacked gasoline truck-bomb could destroy them as well.  Insider-caused damage is another significant risk.  And the plants are old and falling apart anyway, as witness the litany of accidents at San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station this year alone, including fires (2), explosions (2), a dropped load (80,000 lbs), a hydrazine spill (20 gallons), and more.

The nuclear plants are not safe.  The companies that run them lie to the public and to you.  Furthermore, society's net gain from keeping the plants running is negative:  The cost of security negates any profit there might have been -- and there is STILL (after 50 years and 50 billion dollars in research efforts) no solution to the problem of what to do with the nuclear waste which is being generated.  Please reduce our risk by shutting these plants down now and building a renewable energy infrastructure in California.

I think nearly everyone now knows that we should have built renewable energy solutions in the first place.  But just because your predecessors made the wrong decision is no reason you have to follow in their folly.  I implore you to lead the nation by reducing California's vulnerability not only to terrorism, but to natural disasters and human error as well.


Russell Hoffman
Concerned Citizen
Carlsbad, CA


"I'm not sure, you know, that that's something that was considered 20 years ago."

This was heard just now on CSPAN - 1.  The speaker was Thomas Kuhn, President, Edison Electric Institute.  His statement was made regarding airplane strikes such as what we saw last week, but at nuclear power plants.  Contrast this frank and terrifying statement with Ray Golden's statement from last week (published in the North County Times).  Ray Golden is the PR person for San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station in Southern California.:

>>>>> From: >>>>>

The plant's concrete and steel domes that contain its reactors and primary
pressurized systems are designed to withstand plane crashes such as the
ones that occurred in New York, Golden said.

"We are confident that if a plane crashed into it ... that (the plane)
would just break into pieces and not penetrate the structure," he said.



Here's Jack Shannon's comments on the same subject, sent to me yesterday:



...... ....... and I were discussing the possibility of a letter written by the
three of us, with some technical detail pointing out how vulnerable these
plants are. With the widest possible distribution of course. I am personally
fed up with the lies coming from the DOE/NRC. I think the people have a right
to know that a terrorist could turn a Nuclear Power plant into a bomb that
would render living conditions in certain parts of the Country unlivable.
What to you think?


John "Jack" P. Shannon is a retired U. S. Marine Corps Major, a Former Nuclear Physicist/Nuclear Engineer, a Former Supervising Nuclear Physicist/Engineer and Former Manager of Nuclear Safety, Industrial Safety/Industrial Hygiene at Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory.  He is the designer of the DxG U.S. Navy nuclear reactor, the most common reactor on the planet.  Here's the URL of his web site:


"If you postulate the risk of a jumbo jet full of fuel, it is clear that their design was not conceived to withstand such an impact." This quote refers to nuclear power plants and comes from a spokesperson for the International Atomic Energy Commission, speaking in Vienna, Austria after the terrorist attack. Here's the URL of the AP/NYT article (free registration required):


The following quote was seen in this article:

Dean calls for NRC to review VY defense -- MONTPELIER

By MEGGAN CLARK, Reformer Staff (Vermont), September, 2001

"Now that regulators say nuclear power plants weren't designed to withstand an impact from a commercial airliner full of fuel, [VT Governor] Dean has refocused on past security concerns at the Vernon reactor."





Governor Gray Davis
State Capitol Building
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: 916-445-2841
Fax: 916-445-4633


Four reasons military protection of nuclear power plants is not the answer:

1) It might not work, and if it doesn't, the devastation would last for millennia and the death toll could be three or more orders of magnitude worse than what we saw at the World Trade Center.  That means millions dead instead of thousands.  The suffering of those who do not die rapidly but are slowly poisoned by the radiation would be unspeakably horrific.  If you have nuclear power plants, your enemy doesn't need a nuclear bomb.

2) Using highly trained troops for nuclear power plant security takes those troops away from other defensive positions where the country could use them.  There are over 1000 nuclear hotspots in this country, including nuclear power plants (103), research reactors (~40), training reactors (several), closed reactors (~50), weapons manufacturing facilities (dozens) and nuclear waste dumps (lots and lots).  Hanford alone is about the size of a small state, and just has a fence around it -- very difficult to protect.  All nuclear sites are vulnerable to one degree or another, most of them are extremely vulnerable.

3) Having so much weaponry so close to the reactors is unsafe prima facie.  "Friendly fire" is an extremely serious risk in any firefight.  Also, there is no guarantee that those manning the guns will do what is expected of them.  Timothy McVeigh was a U.S. soldier before he became a terrorist in 1995.  So was the lunatic who stole a tank in San Diego in 1996, and drove it unobstructed for about 10 miles (he tried to jump the highway barrier and run over oncoming highway traffic, but got the tank stuck midway).  In 1997 an Air Force pilot on a training mission suddenly broke formation, dropped below radar, and flew his A-10 Warthog 800 miles (from Arizona to Colorado), where it ran out of fuel and crashed into the side of a mountain.  The Depleted Uranium bullets the Warthog "tank buster" aircraft normally carries could slice through a Dry Fuel Storage Cask like a knife through butter.  The plane was carrying four 500-pound bombs and magnesium flares (use d for decoys for heat-sinking missiles).  An attack on a nuclear power plant by a single A-10 Warthog would be devastating.

4) It's extremely expensive to protect the plants and the expense will not go away as time goes by.  We will need to protect the nuclear power plants from this day forward.  Thus, they are not and never will be economical to run (they never were before).  And if they aren't even economical, why in the world should we continue to risk the dangers they pose?


The risks are significantly reduced as soon as the control rods are inserted and the dangers continue to diminish every day thereafter.  Every day these plants remain open, more nuclear waste piles up which is a security risk and an environmental hazard, as well as being hopelessly expensive to deal with.

-- Russell D. Hoffman, Concerned Citizen, Carlsbad, California, USA, Planet Earth


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First posted September 22nd, 2001.

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