Nuclear terrorism threatens our lives! America needs to examine these issues...

From: "Russell D. Hoffman" <>
Subject: Nuclear terrorism threatens our lives!  America needs to examine these issues...

To: Joe Jaffe <>
Date: September 20th, 2001, 9:00 pm PST
From: Russell Hoffman
Subject: Nuclear terrorism threatens our lives!  America needs to examine these issues...

Mr. Jaffe,

Regarding your comments which I responded to earlier today (shown below), what you wrote made no sense and your position on the issues is untenable.  If you feel I did not answer all the points you raised in your first letter, please let me know what you disagree with and what facts you have to back up your position.

However, regardless of your confusion regarding the vulnerabilities of nuclear power plants, I don't think your confusion about what you were responding to was your fault.  Laura Hunter selectively forwarded some of the information I've been sending out. Laura distributed, at most (as far as I know), exactly ONE of my emails (the one with the trio of comments).  She apparently removed my own heading from that email, which was a followup letter to Bob Aldrich, Webmaster for the Energy web site for the State of California. (Her version is shown below; my cover letter to Mr. Aldrich has been added at the bottom).  Laura cutting my own comments is particularly surprising, since one of the items is a personal letter to me from Jack Shannon (USMC (ret.), designer of the most common nuclear reactor on the planet, the Navy DxG reactor).

To give us a starting point for any further discussions, and to clarify the discussion for others who might read this email, I have included with this email two prior letters in the recent series of letters to the State of California.  (All were "cc'd" to Laura Hunter and others.  I will send the full set to anyone who asks.)  The whole series together prove that NO ONE IS WATCHING THE SHIP.  Certainly no one in California and if you can find anyone in the NRC who can answer my charges, I sure can't.

Over the past few days, there have been about 16 letters to three people at the State level.  It would be very good to have others pressuring our governor into acting upon these issues.  Your help would be appreciated, as well as Laura's, and everyone else's at Environmental Health Coalition.  Together I'm sure we can close San Onofre.

Mr. Jaffe, I believe this series of emails presents a compelling argument against nuclear power, especially in light of last week's horror.  One person in a New England state has asked to "borrow" the documents to try to convince their Senators in Washington to shut the nukes down.  We need all the help we can get from those who find my arguments (such as those shown below) compelling.  And from those who don't?  Now is a good time for a rational and public debate on the issues regarding nuclear power in America.  I'm ready for that debate, Mr. Jaffe.  Are you?


Russell Hoffman
Concerned Citizen
Carlsbad, California

Attachments (6):

1) Another relevant letter from Jack Shannon
2) Your email to me, containing the original three items, your letter, and my response to your letter
3) My original heading for the three items (cut by Laura Hunter)
4) The letter to Mr. Bob Aldrich which preceded the above item (previously sent to L.H. and others)
5&6) Two items, written September 11th, 2001 and September 6th, 2001, which were sent to Bob Aldrich on September 17th, 2001

Subject: Re: Opinions Editor for the North County Times bows out -- but not gracefully...

...... ....... 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?


At 07:10 PM 9/20/01 , Joe Jaffe <> wrote:
Hi Russell,

I thought I was commenting on what I understood had been written by Shannon, Wasserman and Carroll.  I had no idea what your concerns were.  There certainly may be differences in degree of the dangers you and I seem to differ on or the value of some of my suggestions. I am sure that we both want to minimize the catastrophic results of a nuclear attack and hope that everybodys suggestions are given careful thought.


To: "Barbara Byron" <>, Bob Aldrich <>, "Steve Woods" <>
cc: Governor Gray Davis, Senator Barbara Boxer, NRC, CPUC, etc.
Re: A response from Joe Jaffe to Russell Hoffman (with answers)
From: Russell Hoffman, Concerned Citizen
Date: September 20th, 2001 (2:00 pm PST)

To: Ms Barbara Byron, Mr. Bob Aldrich, Mr. Steve Woods:

Attached is an email from Joe Jaffe, responding to one of my letters which I sent you, which was also forwarded by Laura Hunter and others, to various people including Mr. Jaffe.  He raises many arguments against my concerns which I have answered below.  Please forward this document as well as all previous communications to the appropriate California State employees as quickly as possible, and to whoever at the NRC is the state's primary technical contact person on these issues.


Russell D. Hoffman
Concerned Citizen
Carlsbad, CA

At 12:39 PM 9/20/01 , "Joe J." wrote:
Hi Laura,

Russell did a great job in preparing these comments.  They provide a serious analysis of what we are faced with, 104 targets for terrorists.  Unfortunately the suggestions for preventive measures are not sufficient.

[[[ Of course they are not "sufficient".  They are only a start. Sufficient measures cannot be taken until the reactors are shut off and they begin to cool. -- rdh ]]]

Shutting down nuclear plants do not reduce their danger.

[[[ It does not eliminate all dangers, but it does reduce the risk very, very substantially right away.  All accident scenarios which would not allow the control rods to be inserted, for example, are eliminated if they already have been inserted.  It is absolutely incorrect to say the danger is not reduced if the plants are shut down.  Ray Golden (PR guy for SON(W)GS) might say such a thing but that doesn't make it true. -- rdh ]]]

Until they have been completely decommissioned, all nuclear materials removed including the fuel rods in cooling tanks they (sic) remain potential targets.

[[[ True, but shutting down the plants immediately is the logical (and only possible) first step.  The danger is immediately reduced and drops continuously thereafter, until after a few years it is possible to remove everything to a safer location and storage method (not that a very safe place has been found, but where it is is one of the worst places.  And not that truly safe storage containments have been found, either.  But Spent Fuel Pools certainly aren't it!) -- rdh ]]]

  Hopefully the suggestions for removing the causes that drive the terrorists will succeed long before the plants have been made completely nuclear free and replaced with alternate energy sources.

[[[ Wanna bet?  Terrorism is not new and it won't disappear any time soon.  The highest levels of the U.S. government are saying that we should not expect a short War On Terrorism.  It will last years, or even decades.  The plants could be dismantled in a year or two, after they have cooled sufficiently, which can't start until they are shut down.  Whatever our response to this action turns out to be, there is no way it will eliminate all possible sources of terrorism.  The only reasonable solution is to reduce our inherent vulnerabilities.  Electrical energy derived from nuclear power plants is no different from electrical energy derived from renewable, benign sources.  There are plenty of clean energy sources (wind, wave, tide, solar, geothermal, biomass, hydroelectric, etc.), so we could EASILY shut off the nukes.  I would wager that simply upgrading the turbines at Hoover Dam would provide us with enough energy to close several nukes.  I challenge anyone t o disprove that! The airline industry is in shambles.  Employ those same now-unemployed people in the renewable energy industry, and the problem of not enough energy by 14.6% in California because of the loss of the nukes would be quickly solved (that figure (14.6%) is according to Bob Aldrich, Webmaster for the state's energy information web site).   Every day San Onofre Nuclear (Waste) Generating Station stays open, another half a ton of High Level Radioactive Waste is created, which becomes new targets for terrorists. -- rdh ]]]

  So in addition to the improvements in ground security recommended by Shannon I suggest the following.

Instead of ordering aircraft to the middle east to prepare for bombing the countries suspected of harboring the terrorists why not use them to police no fly zones surrounding all nuclear facilities that are potential targets.

[[[ I don't think we'll solve this problem by bombing, but this alternative won't work either.  There are roughly 1000 nuclear targets in the United States.  Many of them are near population centers and thus, near air traffic routes.  Many others are under major air routes even if they are not especially close to a population center.  A plane traveling at 600 miles per hour covers 10 miles a minute or 100 miles in just ten minutes.  Obviously, 100% security from future hijackings is unreasonable.  Even the pilots themselves can go crazy.  It is quite probable this happened several years ago over Nova Scotia, with the loss of a jumbo jet and all souls on board.  But you hardly need a jumbo jet to catastrophically damage a nuclear power plant.  Private planes, singles and twins, and even private jets, can come in low and swift and suddenly.  Some nukes are just minutes from small local airports.  A well-aimed private plane could destroy lots of vital parts of nuclear power plants, especially if loaded with a fertilizer bomb to enhance the effect. --- rdh ]]]

We also have early warning system radar that is supposed to detect aircraft nearing the U.S. that are not on FAA flight patterns.  Such systems should be used to detect any aircraft entering the no fly zones with military planes immediately available to intercept them.

[[[ Why not ask the Drug Enforcement Agency czar (before we fire him) how many planes get through on an average day? -- rdh ]]]

Especially important to San Diego, all Naval vessels powered with nuclear reactors should be far enough away from the coasts so as not to represent a danger to any populated area.  Presumably these vessels are adequately prepared to defend themselves from attack.

[[[ Unless the nuclear-powered ships have suddenly all been deployed (I imagine a lot of them have or will be) they are indeed normally way too close to civilians.  Could they survive any terrorist threat, plus any accident they might themselves cause, plus all possible engineering flaws?  It is unlikely they are as invulnerable as the Navy would have us believe.  One has to consider the magnitude of the consequences, not just the percentages of a successful attack.  A successful attack on a non-nuclear warship is still a fairly localized event, buckets of paint and chemicals in the ordnance and so forth notwithstanding.  A successful attack on a nuclear warship would be a horrendous environmental disaster.  This would be true even if the warship were in the middle of the ocean. A successful attack on a nuclear vessel in the harbor could make San Diego, or a large portion of it, uninhabitable for millennia.  So the level of invulnerability must be orders of magnitude better than for, say, a non-nuclear battleship.  It is an inherently unachievable level of invulnerability.

In WWII, we lost battleships.  We lost carriers.  We lost subs.

-- rdh ]]]

I am sure the costs of these measures will be far less than the money requested for a missile defense system which would be completely useless in combatting terrorism as well as missiles.

[[[ I agree that Star Wars won't work.  As for costs, let's look at the full cost of what happened last week, and realize what a tiny, tiny fraction of the whole United States was actually physically effected by what happened.  The cost will be in the trillions.  Yet there is little doubt that America, and the rest of the civilized world, will survive.  So don't talk about costs, it's irrelevant. The dangers from nukes are too great, and those dangers are growing daily across the country, by about 10 tons a day for High Level Radioactive Waste, and four or five times that for so-called Low-Level Radioactive Waste (which is just HLRW with filler added, like iron, steel, brass, aluminum, rubber, cloth, glass, cement, water, air, etc. etc.).  Time ran out a long time ago.  Reality is setting in now. -- rdh ]]]


[[[ Here are four reasons military protection of nuclear power plants is not the answer (reprinted from an earlier email):

1) It might not work, and if it doesn't, the devastation would last for millennia and the death toll and suffering would be unspeakable -- several orders of magnitude worse than what we saw at the World Trade Center.

2) Using trained troops for this purpose 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), and 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 McViegh was a U.S. soldier before he became a terrorist.

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 NPPs from this day forward.  Thus, they are not and never will be economical to run (they never were before).


Russell Hoffman
Concerned Citizen
Carlsbad, California

P.S. Most places I've seen say there are 103 operational nukes, not 104. -- rdh ]]]

Attachment: Incoming email from "joe j."

Here are some important comments fyi.  Thanks to Russell for assembling
them.  This is a huge concern for our region.

[[[ Note:  The order has been changed by Laura Hunter. -- rdh ]]]

This next item is an article by Harvey Wasserman, AlterNet:


Date: Tue, 18 Sep 2001 01:17:41 EDT
Subject: AlterNet:  SHUT THE REACTORS!

Harvey Wasserman, AlterNet

Though few are now talking about it, atomic power is high on the list of
realities forever transformed by the terrorist nightmare of September 11.

Despite saturation media coverage, both the Bush administration and
mainstream commentators have been ominously silent about the most obvious
terrorist target of all:  our 103 licensed commercial nuclear plants.

The four jetliners hijacked September 11 flew perilously close to at least a
dozen operating reactors, from Pilgrim, Millstone and Indian Point, between
Boston and New York, to Surry, North Anna and Calvert Cliffs near
Washington, to Peach Bottom, Limerick and Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania.

Though the industry has claimed the containment domes on such plants might
withstand a jet crash, no credible engineer would agree. In fact, it's
inconceivable any of them could survive a direct hit followed by a long
jet-fueled fire such as the ones that destroyed the World Trade Center.

And had the terrorists chosen to target one of those reactors instead of the
World Trade Center or the Pentagon, we would be talking about tens of
thousands of dead, hundreds of thousands -- if not millions -- of long-term
cancers, and hundreds of billions of dollars in property damage.

In short, a holocaust from which this nation might never recover.

Such fearful realities have been integral to the debate over nuclear power
since its inception. Early reactor opponents argued as early as the 1960s
that reactors in populated areas might be terrorist targets. In the 1970s an
airline hijacker talked about crashing into a nuclear facility. In the 1980s
the Ayatollah Khomeini threatened to hit "nuclear targets" inside the U.S.
In the early 1990s followers of Osama Bin Laden are believed to have trained
within a hundred miles of Three Mile Island.

In recent years, ground-level security at U.S. reactor sites has become
notoriously lax. Journalists and anti-nuke activists have easily penetrated
the environs of operating nukes. In many cases, a simple bomb or someone
wrecking random havoc inside a hijacked control room could do
Chernobyl-scale damage.

But now the prospect of an attack from the air has taken things to a new
level. Even in the unlikely event a containment dome could withstand a hit
from a jetliner, the ensuing fire would almost certainly lead to a meltdown
or explosion. Nor would it be necessary to hit the dome at all. Pools
holding thousands of tons of high-level fuel rods sit at most reactors sites
with no containment whatsoever. Merely disrupting their cooling systems
could cause a melt-down, as might an assault on turbine housings, emergency
power generators, communications systems and many other parts of the
immensely complex and fragile infrastructure that keeps nuclear plants from
turning rogue.

At least one type of newly proposed reactor -- the pebble bed design -- is
being offered with no containment at all. Small wonder those proposing to
build new atomic plants want Congress to approve an extension of federal
liability insurance, insulating them from the consequences of a catastrophic
accident. In other words, because no private insurer will take them on, the
industry wants taxpayer protection against paying for a disaster, one we now
see could all-too-easily come from terrorism even on a far less demanding
scale than what happened September 11.

And what would be the real consequences of such a disaster? Most American
reactors sit in areas that were once isolated, but which have now been
surrounded by suburban sprawl. Evacuation planning is threadbare and
essentially unworkable. Most mass escape schemes are built around the
expected lead-time offered by a mechanical failure, a luxury no terrorist
attack would provide.

Chernobyl Unit Four, which spewed an apocalyptic radioactive cloud over much
of Europe and into the jetstream (the fallout was detected across the
northern U.S. within 10 days), had been operating only for four years. Its
internal radioactive inventory was thus comparatively small.

Most U.S. reactors have operated far longer, and have accumulated far more
deadly radiation, both inside their containments and in the nearby spent
fuel pools. An explosion in any one of them would almost certainly throw far
greater quantities of lethal radiation downwind and into the planet's

At Chernobyl, the death toll has been impossible to calculate, but may
ultimately stretch into the millions due to the long-term effects of cancer,
malformations and stillbirths. Hundreds of square miles remain permanently
uninhabitable. The financial cost estimates run in the range of $500
billion, and growing.

But in the U.S., surrounding population levels are far higher, and property
values are in another range of magnitude. In short, it is virtually
impossible to calculate the damage that could be done. But it would dwarf
what we have just experienced at the World Trade Center and Pentagon.

Today the U.S. gets about 20 percent of its electricity -- less than 10
percent of its total energy -- from atomic power. Ironically, the recent
electricity crisis in California has shown that a focused public can rapidly
cut into its use of power. Since prices skyrocketed, Californians have used
conservation and efficiency to chop as much as 10 percent of their
consumption, with more savings still coming in. Safe alternative forms of
generation, particularly wind power and photovoltaic (solar) cells, are also
now cost effective on a mass scale.

In short, we could turn off our nuclear plants today and get by. There may
be some short-term inconveniences. But nothing that would compare with the
ultimate horror of a nuclear disaster caused by the kind of terrorism we
have just seen.

Indeed, even though this administration doesn't seem to want to talk about
it, the unthinkable has now become tangible. In the name of national
security and of basic sanity, all U.S. reactors must be shut as quickly as

Harvey Wasserman is author of The Last Energy War (Seven Stories


This next item, by Eugene Carroll, was posted on various nuke-related


Published on Tuesday, September 18, 2001 in the St Paul Pioneer Press
Nuclear Plants Could Be Next Targets of Terrorists
by Eugene Carroll

In the wake of the attacks that destroyed the World Trade Towers in New
York and damaged the Pentagon, American security officials have begun to
think in earnest about some of the other targets that future terrorists
might attack.

Among those that come to mind are America's huge oil refineries, which
could be set aflame with catastrophic economic and environmental
consequences. Also in the crosshairs of terrorists saboteurs are the
country's communication centers and banking systems, which are essential to
domestic and international commerce. But by far, the most dangerous,
vulnerable and significant targets are the 104 nuclear power plants in the
United States.

While these plants are said to be secure, too much evidence suggests

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission administers a number of supervisory
programs to ensure security, chief among them being an Operational
Safeguards Response Evaluation inspection program.

Under the OSRE routine, a nuclear plant is warned that a simulated sabotage
effort will be made against their installation by a team of would-be
saboteurs in a force-on-force exercise. These teams are composed of both
NRC and private contractor personnel under the direction of a David Orrik,
a retired Navy SEAL.

In approximately half of recent tests, the intruders succeeded in defeating
the security measures, even reaching the central control room on occasion.
The NRC downplays these security failures by claiming that they always lead
to positive improvements and overall security is adequate. Indeed, so
sanguine are NRC officials that they are starting a pilot program to allow
private reactor operators to conduct their own security evaluations. Since
when have private companies voluntarily disclosed security shortcomings and
made costly improvements to their security systems and personnel training?

Compare this gentlemanly security program with the fierce determination of
a trained team of terrorists attacking a reactor without warning and taking
it over long enough to disable the safety controls. At that point, a major
Chernoble-syle disaster would be all but assured.

Now that the initial shock and sadness of Tuesday's horror have given way
to anger, many members of Congress are calling for aggressive military
action directed against not only the responsible terrorist organization but
against the nation providing them shelter and support. Though popular here
at home, such action will not provide any protection against further
terrorist actions. If anything, it may well intensify the cycle of attack
and reprisal.

Whatever action is finally taken, the first objective should be to protect
American citizens in the United States. But terrorists are not single
minded nor stupid. Seeing a major security effort in process at the
airports, they will simply look elsewhere for vulnerable targets -- like
the country's nuclear power plants. These need protection -- not by their
owners but by government forces.

The sad truth is we cannot guard everything in America all the time against
terrorist attack. The only realistic hope to reduce the danger of future
attacks lies not in violent reprisals by American forces, but in positive
preventive programs, taken in concert with other nations to attack the root
causes of terrorism by political and economic means.

Only by alleviating abject poverty and hopelessness in the poorest nations
in the world can we eliminate the spirit that breeds terrorists -- that
sense that even death is preferable to life under unbearable conditions.
This will not be an easy or inexpensive challenge. But it is far less
costly than the perpetual cycle of attack and reprisal and with targets
like nuclear reactors to aim at.

Carroll, a retired rear admiral, served as director of U. S. military
operations in Europe and the Middle East. Distributed by Knight
Ridder-Tribune Information Services.

2001 PioneerPlanet / St. Paul (Minnesota) Pioneer Press


These following statement is by:
John P. Shannon
Nuclear Physicist/Nuclear Engineer
Former Manager of Health and Safety at the Nuclear Navy's Knolls Atomic
Laboratory [KAPL]


At 07:57 AM 9/18/01 , Jack Shannon wrote:


Nuclear Power plants have never been designed to withstand the impact of
anything close to a 747 slamming into a Nuclear Power Plant. If the NRC/DOE
have such studies they are now obligated to make them public. I doubt that
the DOE/NRC has even investigated the effects of a 3.5 inch standard
hand held antitank rocket on a concrete containment. I haven't done the
calculations either, but I would bet that a 3.5 inch rocket, designed to
penetrate several inches of tank armor, would go through a containment
like a knife through butter. The American people cannot make decisions about
Nuclear Power in a vacuum, which is exactly what we have been asked to do
years. With the terrorists attacks we can no longer tolerate that kind of
phony security.

Furthermore, Boiling Water Reactors store several reactor core loads of
depleted fissile and fission products above the reactors, completely
unprotected. If a plane, any plane, crashes into these storage pools very
high radiation level material will be spread far and wide. The consequences
of such an accident are too horrible to contemplate.

We should also note that the track record of the NRC/DOE and many State
agencies have a somewhat less than stellar reputation when it comes to the
subject of Nuclear Power Plant safety

John P. Shannon
Nuclear Physicist/Nuclear Engineer
Former Manager of Health and Safety at the Nuclear Navy's Knolls Atomic
Laboratory [KAPL]

** Russell D. Hoffman, Owner and Chief Programmer
** Carlsbad CA
** Visit the world's most eclectic web site:

** Russell D. Hoffman, Owner and Chief Programmer
** Carlsbad CA
** Visit the world's most eclectic web site:


Below are my original comments which accompanied the above three submissions:

From: Russell Hoffman, Concerned Citizen
Re: Terrorist threats to Nuclear power plants
Date: September 18th, 2001

Mr. Aldrich,

Regarding your response to me yesterday concerning my fears of a terrorist attack on California's nuclear power plants, please read these three items by John P. Shannon (USMC (ret.), Nuclear Physicist/Nuclear Engineer), Harvey Wasserman (author of The Last Energy War (Seven Stories Press)), and Eugene Carroll, (Rear Admiral (ret.), served as director of U. S. military operations in Europe and the Middle East).

Your statement to me yesterday was hollow and meaningless.  I expect a proper response from my government.  The threat is real.  You need to get real too.


Russell Hoffman
Concerned Citizen
Carlsbad, CA

Below is the letter to Mr. Bob Aldrich which preceded the above item:


September 17th, 2001

Mr. Aldrich,

Regarding your comments (shown below), what if I told you that you are wrong about the State's jurisdictional duties?  Would it sway you?  Because you are wrong and it's your duty to understand why you are wrong.

You are wrong because the laws, statutes, resolutions, acts, etc. which ceded any jurisdiction concerning nuclear facilities to the federal government stated that authority would be TAKEN BACK if the public was being put in danger.  I discuss this in documents I've posted online, but you could also read the statutes yourself and see that I'm right.  I would be happy to come up to Sacramento and testify under oath and show you the documents the State itself has created to this effect.

So don't tell me the State has no "direct jurisdiction over nuclear power plants".  California most certainly never ceded ultimate authority if safety is threatened.

The statutes with which California ceded jurisdictional authority to the Atomic Energy Commission (the Federal Government) did not specifically spell out the conditions by which authority would be taken back.  They merely said that authority would be taken back if the safety of the public was threatened.

They do not say ANYTHING about the idea that if the Nuclear Regulatory lies to you and to the public, about the robustness of these plants to survive every conceivable attack, that California will lap up the NRC lies and ignore the truth, which is PLAIN AND OBVIOUS.

That brings us to your next inaccurate concept.  That the nuclear power plants are engineered to withstand the sort of collisions we saw occur last week in New York, Washington D.C., and Pennsylvania.  THEY ARE NOT.  I am sending to you in the next several emails, various conversations which I have had with engineers, nuclear physicists, and others, who are people who certainly are aware of the facts, who can testify that there is no way these plants are as safe as the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has claimed in the past.  NO WAY.  Besides, the point is moot -- a single plant could be hit by multiple jumbo jets and/or missiles.  That is obvious now.  Are you going to claim otherwise?  The NRC NEVER, EVER calculated the consequences of a plant being hit by multiple jumbo jets in a four-way coordinated attack, but obviously, if that's what it would take, the terrorists are capable of carrying it out.

But it wouldn't take anything that complicated.  The nuclear power plants are vulnerable.  I know it.  Millions of people like me know it.  The terrorists no doubt know it too.  The official government facade you exhibit does no one any good and prevents us from taking action to reduce our vulnerability.

Turning the nuclear power plants OFF cuts the vulnerability substantially, and the safety factor increases as time goes by.  It's as simple as that.

Did you actually see, live on T.V., the World Trade Center's collapse?  A few minutes before the second tower collapsed it became clear to this author that the building was about to fall.  This was obvious from the evidence just presented by the other building.  The flames were growing.  Rows and rows of floors were virtually fully involved.  It was obviously so hot that the steel had to be melting, so it didn't matter what structural damage the impact had caused.  It was as simple as that.

What is your experience with nuclear power plants?  What is your engineering background?  The NRC can claim "security" all it wants, but it doesn't take access to a floorplan to realize there is NO WAY these plants can survive what we saw happen on Tuesday.

The nuclear industry itself now admits what many people already knew -- nuclear power plants could not survive a direct hit by a fuel-laden jetliner.  That was the point of the NYT/AP article which I quoted and included in my letter.  Did you read the full article?

As to tsunamis, the tsunami wall at San Onofre Nuclear (Waste) Generating Station is 35 feet tall.  I have already found and published at my web site (you can go there now and read these documents) numerous references which show that tsunamis of 100 to 200 feet are not unusual.  So 35 feet is not nearly tall enough.

14.6% of California's power is supplied by nuclear power, you say.  That's well below the national average, and that is good.  But I find it despicable to hear you say that we cannot eliminate 14.6% of our energy usage in the case of a national emergency.  In fact, Californians were offered a 20% rebate if they cut summer electricity usage (our peak usage time) by 20% (a greater amount than the 14.6% you say is supplied here by nuclear) in response to the so-called "energy crisis" of the past year.  Why offer a credit to consumers for saving energy, if you don't think they can do it?  And that was before the terrorist attack.  People will be willing to sacrifice, to change the direction of major industries, and to do whatever is needed to make America safe and strong.

According to news reports, the United States Gross National Product -- one might say the total value of our country -- dropped by $500 billion dollars today ($500,000,000,000.00).  The NYSE stock market lost about 8% of its value and had the biggest one-day point loss in its history.  Nasdaq lost about 10%.  Did America drop to its knees?  Of course not.  We are still a nation of industrious, hard workers.  Roughly 50,000 job cuts for airline workers have already been announced because of these attacks.  Probably a lot more workers, in many industries, will loose their jobs as well.  Congress authorized $40 billion dollars in immediate aid.

These sorts of numbers show that we could find the money to convert to renewable energy if we simply thought it was important enough.  It's time to start thinking that way.  To get that extra 1000 megawatts of capacity, how much money did the state promise to spend on renewables?  Because that's enough energy to close one of California's nukes.  So just four times that amount would allow us to close all four of them, AND it could go a long way towards rebuilding our shattered aviation industry, if the people who previously worked in aviation are immediately employed in the development of renewable energy resources.

How long do you think it would take to build renewable energy solutions to replace the 14.6% of California's electricity which is currently supplied by nuclear?  Three months?  A year?  How much would it cost?  $10 billion dollars?  $100 billion dollars?  Where would that money go, other than into the economy and as an investment in our future?

I am scared.  I have spoken to many, many experts and it is because of those hundreds of interviews and conversations that I am scared.  America has got to be realistic and honest with itself about our problems.  This letter will be followed by about half a dozen related items to back up the points I am making here.  I look forward to your responsible and patriotic response which adheres to the principles this country was founded on.  I am a Californian, an America citizen, and I still have rights.

It is my right to demand honest answers from government.  I'm demanding those answers of you and so far you have not supplied them.  Mr. Aldrich, you say YOU can assure me of the safety of California's nuclear power plants, but you cannot do so.  Indeed, I believe your answer is criminally ignorant.  What you have written is political trash and we don't have time for that.

Please pass this correspondence up the line to your manager or somebody in a position of authority who DOES have real answers -- not hollow assurances.

And if there are no real answers, then the prudent and responsible position follows my suggestion:



Russell Hoffman
Concerned Citizen
Carlsbad, CA

At 07:09 PM 9/17/01 , Bob Aldrich <> wrote:
Mr. Hoffman,

Thank you for your e-mail.  The state has no direct jurisdiction over nuclear power plants.  That falls the the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.  I understand, however, that the plants in California (Diablo canyon and San Onofre) are engineered to withstand a direct impact of a crashed plane or even a tsunami.  The NRC has directed that  ".. all nuclear power plants, non-power reactors, nuclear fuel facilities and gaseous diffusion plants go to the highest level of security. Details of the heightened security are classified."

Shutting down our two nuclear plants, would cripple the state's electricity system and cause even worse rolling blackouts that we've experienced. The 14.6% of total state power would have to come from somewhere.  We do not currently have enough excess or reserve electricity from other sources to simply shut them down.

As to renewable energy,  the state has long supported renewable energy.  Counting large hydro, more than 23% of our power comes from renewables, alomst twice as much as nuclear.   In the last three years, the Energy Commission has approved funding to put 1,000 megwatts of new renewable power on line....about the amount produced by a nuclear unit.  And the state is committed to adding much more over the next ten years.

Thanks for make some very reasoned, concerned observations.  I can assure you that the state and the operators or all energy systems are doing what they can to protect the public health and safety.

Bob Aldrich


Dear Governor Davis:

"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 (NPPs) and comes from a spokesperson for the International Atomic Energy Commission, speaking in Vienna, Austria this week (see AP/NYT article shown below).

Governor Davis:  The Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the Department of Energy, and our own Public Utilities Commission will not act to protect us.  You must step in and do so.

There is only one sure way to reduce the risk at NPPs:  Shut them down and move the nuclear waste to undisclosed locations underground. (I am not advocating Yucca Mountain as a solution to our nuclear waste problems, but I am advocating facing the reality about the immediate dangers.)

Protecting NPPs with weaponry fails on at least four counts:

1) It might not work, and if it doesn't, the devastation would last for millennia and the death toll and suffering would be unspeakable.

2) Using trained troops for this purpose takes those troops away from other defensive positions where the country could use them desperately.

3) Having so much weaponry so close to the reactors is unsafe as well.  "Friendly fire" is an extremely serious risk in any firefight.

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 NPPs from this day forward.

I understand that shutting NPPs down will not allow our security forces to abandon them right away.  We can't simply move the radioactive waste away from the reactors immediately.  Some of waste is still too "hot" (literally and radioactively) to be transported. But even in this time of emergency, we have to think long-term.  We have to start cooling the reactors.  We have to stop manufacturing High Level Nuclear Waste which just creates additional targets. Right now the radioactive waste is stored practically completely out in the open, vulnerable to even an accidental private plane crash or a few determined suicide bombers.   We must SCRAM the reactors (insert the control rods).  We must rethink our priorities.  Time has run out.

I know that we don't know where to put the waste, and that's certainly a problem.  BUT, a non-operational reactor is STILL vastly less likely to melt down in case of a terrorist attack, tsunami, earthquake, tornado, fire, flood, explosion, asteroid, bad welds, poorly trained operators, and the other 1,000 things that can go wrong.

Governor, we citizens CAN conserve enough electricity to compensate for shutting the NPPs down.  Maybe not without some hardship, but surely we can do it, especially if it is an effort in which the entire nation participates.

Boeing does not need to build any more commercial airliners.  We don't want them, we don't need them.  Boeing should build wind turbines instead, starting immediately.  We can get rid of these nuclear power plants and switch to renewable energy sources -- please help California to do so.



Russell Hoffman
Concerned citizen / independent researcher
Carlsbad, CA

Note to readers: Please distribute this message to others -- especially Californians.  Please contact our government officials over and over until they listen.  If one state shuts the nukes down, perhaps they all will.

Attachments:  2 related articles posted on the DOEWatch forum



September 17, 2001
Security Tightens at Nuclear Plants

Filed at 8:47 a.m. ET

VIENNA, Austria (AP) -- Security is being tightened at the world's nuclear power plants, an international watchdog agency said Monday, but it conceded that little can be done to shield a nuclear facility from a direct hit by an airliner.

Most nuclear power plants were built during the 1960s and 1970s, and like the World Trade Center, they were designed to withstand only accidental impacts from the smaller aircraft widely used at the time, the International Atomic Energy Agency said as it opened its annual conference.

``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,'' spokesman David Kyd said.

U.S. Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham was among delegates from 132 nations who opened the conference with calls to better safeguard nuclear plants and keep nuclear materials out of terrorists' hands.

Abraham brought a message from President Bush to the Vienna-based IAEA, urging the agency to keep pace with ``the real and growing threat of nuclear proliferation.''

The world ``must ensure that nuclear materials are never used as weapons of terror,'' Abraham said. ``We cannot assume that tomorrow's terrorist acts will mirror those we've just experienced.''

In the wake of last week's attacks in New York and Washington, governments have tightened security outside nuclear power and radioactive waste facilities worldwide.

But Japan, which is heavily dependent on nuclear energy and has 52 nuclear plants, warned Monday that although tighter security is needed, nothing can shield the plants from attacks by missiles or aircraft.

Conference delegates, who began Monday with a minute of silence and a song from the Vienna Boy's Choir in memory of the victims of the attacks on the United States, planned to meet behind closed doors Monday and Tuesday on ways to improve plant security.

In the West, nuclear power plants were designed more with ground vehicle attacks in mind, Kyd said. Although many were designed to withstand a glancing blow from a small commercial jetliner, a direct hit at high speed by a modern jumbo jet ``could create a Chernobyl situation,'' said a U.S. official who declined to be identified.

But the buildings that house nuclear reactors themselves are far smaller targets than the Pentagon posed, and it would be extremely difficult for a terrorist to mount a direct hit at an angle that could unleash a catastrophic chain of events, Kyd said.

If a nuclear power plant were hit by an airliner, the reactor would not explode, but such a strike could destroy the plant's cooling systems. That could cause the nuclear fuel rods to overheat and produce a steam explosion that could release lethal radioactivity into the atmosphere.



Comments by Russell Hoffman on the above article:

Kyd is still an apologist for the Nuclear Industry, despite his chilling and undoubtedly well-informed statements which I have quoted above.  Smaller targets?  Sure, they are smaller than the Pentagon.  But let's be realistic.  The buildings are in fact HUGE targets.  They are often clustered in groups of two or three or more.  And perhaps worst, numerous items in the surrounding areas are also capable of catastrophic releases of radioactivity!


-- rdh



To: "NECNP" <>
        "Maine Enviro Policy Institute" <>,
        "DOEWATCH" <>
From: "Raymond Shadis" <>
Date: Mon, 17 Sep 2001 10:42:43 -0400
Reply-To: "Raymond Shadis" <>
Subject: [DOEWatch] Purely Precautionary, No Threat, Prudent, Classified Recommendation

Just because you are brief doesn't mean you can't also be mealymouthed.....and here is an NRC Office of Public Affairs press release to prove it.            Ray

No. 01-109

September 11, 2001

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, purely as a precaution, has recommended that all nuclear power plants, non-power reactors, nuclear fuel facilities and gaseous diffusion plants go to the highest level of security. Details of the heightened security are classified.

While there has been no credible general or specific threats to any of these facilities, the recommendation was considered prudent, given the acts of terrorism in New York City and, in Washington, D.C.



** Russell D. Hoffman, Owner and Chief Programmer
** Carlsbad CA
** Visit the world's most eclectic web site:


Bob Aldrich
California Energy Commission
1516 Ninth Street, MS-29
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: 916-654-4993
Web Site:


Below are two items, written September 11th, 2001 and September 6th, 2001, which were sent to Bob Aldrich on September 17th, 2001:

To: Bob Aldrich <>,, "Barbara Boxer, Senator (CA, D)" <>
Subject: The Sky(scraper) Is Falling -- Commentary by Russell D. Hoffman

September 11th, 2001

Fellow Citizens:

If I had told you, yesterday, that today two commercial airplanes, loaded with passengers and fueled for cross-country flights, would crash into New York City's World Trade Center, one into each of the twin tower buildings, and that shortly thereafter both towers would come crashing to the ground, and also told you that the Pentagon would be hit at about the same time, and another plane would be brought down too, you would have called me "Chicken Little".

America's nuclear power plants are vulnerable.  And don't call me Chicken Little.

A structural engineer who appeared on CNN today said that the World Trade Center towers were designed to withstand a 707 crashing into them.  757s and 767s are somewhat bigger than a 707 (but with two less engines).  However, the airplanes probably aren't directly responsible for bringing down the towers.  The real culprit was most likely the fires they started.

My understanding is that the design criteria for the containment domes of America's nuclear power plants was that they should be able to withstand the impact of a 727, which is even smaller than a 707.

I don't know if the design criteria included that the plane would be full of fuel as these planes obviously were.  Whatever the design criteria was, it was never actually tested.   (Note that in a conversation by phone with me in June 2001, Charles Marschall, from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission Region IV office in Texas, claimed that a nuclear power plant's containment dome could withstand an impact from a 747.  He refused to put his claim in writing.  But regardless, would any of us believe it today?)

It should be obvious now that we have no reason to think the nuclear containment domes are safe from planes.  But in any event, many of the systems vital to keeping a nuclear power plant from melting down are located OUTSIDE the containment dome, including the control room, the primary coolant pumps, and other systems.  There are numerous holes in the containment dome for pipes, wire, personnel, and equipment to go through.  Accidents outside a containment dome can affect systems inside the containment dome, and a subsequent meltdown inside the containment dome WILL release radioactivity to the environment.

A meltdown at a nuclear power plant would be 1000 times worse than everything we saw today.

There should be no doubt in anyone's mind that a meltdown would have occurred if one of the hijacked airplanes had been flown into a nuclear power plant.  We can be thankful the hijackers passed over these targets.

The spent fuel pools are outside the containment dome, providing an even easier target than the containment dome.   And, spent fuel storage casks located near some reactors can also be potential targets, and thus add significantly to the danger at those facilities.

In short, America's nuclear power plants are extremely vulnerable.  And don't call me Chicken Little.

Our nation's firemen and other emergency personnel are NOT adequately trained or equipped for handling a severe nuclear radiation emergency, and the evacuation plans for nuclear power plants are absolute garbage.

Everyone recognizes what an incredible job the firefighters, police, and other emergency personnel must be doing, but their task today pales when compared to what emergency personnel would face if a nuke plant was attacked.

All nuclear reactors need to be shut down immediately and permanently, and their waste needs to be stored underground.  (However, I am not advocating Yucca Mountain as a solution.)

Clean, renewable energy solutions do exist, and they are far less vulnerable to terrorism and other calamities than our nuclear power plants, and provide cheaper energy as well.  Perhaps quickly switching to safe renewable energy solutions would cause some temporary hardship, but nothing is impossible for our great nation, if we recognize our vulnerabilities and seek to eliminate them as quickly as possible.

I for one, want to know who masterminded this wicked act of ignorance.  But even more, I want to know why we left ourselves so vulnerable in the first place, and why we continue to leave ourselves vulnerable to additional natural and man-made misfortunes?  Today it was an act of man.  Tomorrow it could be an act of Providence.  Perhaps an asteroid smashing into a nuclear power plant.  Perhaps an Earthquake.  Perhaps a Tsunami along Southern California's coast.  But whatever it is, we should no longer be able to say it came as a complete surprise.  Very little should surprise us now.


Russell Hoffman
Concerned Citizen
Carlsbad, CA

Attachment:  Last week (Wednesday, September 5th, 2001) I attended a hearing in Nevada on Yucca Mountain.  At that hearing I stated that nuclear power plants are potential targets of terrorists.  I have attached an additional commentary about that hearing, which was written as an Op-Ed commentary for the North County Times (San Diego, CA).  As far as I know the NC Times did not publish this item, but America MUST start to face these issues:


To: Editor, North County Times

September 6th, 2001

To The Editor:

The Department of Energy's Yucca Mountain Project (YMP) for permanently storing High Level Radioactive Waste (HLRW) is unlikely to ever open.  So, every nuclear power plant needs to get realistic about nuclear waste.  The nuclear reactors themselves are dangerous, the spent fuel pools are dangerous, and we have no place to safely put the waste.

Nuclear materials cannot simply be taken out of the ground, used, and then placed back in the ground.  It's not that easy.  Before nuclear fuel is used it's mostly uranium.  Approximately every 18 months, a third of the fuel in a reactor is removed as "spent" fuel.  Spent fuel contains hundreds of newly-created radioactive daughter products, including various isotopes of plutonium, strontium, cesium, iodine, and many other elements.  These new elements will continue to be created, and will themselves decay into other substances, for thousands of years.

Each day in America, another 10 to 12 tons of HLRW is created (mostly spent fuel), which must be stored away from humans and other living things for hundreds of thousands of years.  Spent fuel is susceptible to sabotage, earthquakes, tornados, tsunamis, bad welds, cracked fuel cladding, coolant leakage, train wrecks, and 1000 other dangers.

Most of the plans for YMP are just that -- plans. There have been very few experiments done with real nuclear waste.  Nearly everything is still on the drawing board.  And the YMP team have computer-drawn some very beautiful full-color renditions of things they think will work.  But they haven't tested very much of it.  And they keep rewriting the standards.  America's nuclear waste storage system was originally supposed to rely on natural barriers.  That was a design goal (or just another nuclear industry lie).  When that wasn't possible, more and more man-made systems were added.

I've looked at the YMP information that has been made available to the public, and there is so little real science there, that I find it incomprehensible that anyone without a financial bias would support YMP.  YMP is the last hope of a dying industry, which has lied to the American public for half a century.  We haven't built a new nuclear power plant in America in two decades because nuclear power isn't really financially viable.  Without YMP to take the waste, the nuclear industry should rightfully go bankrupt.  It was their last ditch effort, literally.

I was in North Las Vegas, Nevada, last Wednesday, September 5th, 2001, to attend the first of three scheduled public hearings on YMP (all in Nevada, although nuclear waste is a national problem).  I have been to scores of public hearings, but I've never seen anything like this one!

Nevada's Governor, Kenny Guinn, spoke first.  He opposes YMP, as do 80% of Nevada's citizens.  Governor Guinn left to a standing ovation.  Then Nevada's four Congresspersons (two Republicans and two Democrats) each spoke via live video feed from Washington.  They also oppose YMP.  Senator Harry Reid (D-Nevada) often points out that the transportation issues have not been solved, and pointed again to the recent Baltimore train tunnel fire as a warning to the nation.  YMP is supposed to take in 77,000 tons of HLRW. The shipments (50,000 to 100,000 are planned) will travel through at least 40 states, passing within 20 miles of about 70% of the population.

It's ridiculous.  A million things could go wrong and the mathematical projections are highly suspect.  The success of YMP depends on luck to an extent no reasonable human should allow!

And Nevadans, who make a living understanding the odds better than most Americans, aren't being fooled by the DOE.

To comprehend the vehemence that will have to be overcome for YMP to proceed, let me describe how the mayor of Las Vegas closed his speech.  Mayor Oscar B. Goodman began to pull something out of his pocket, and as he did so he shouted (this is from memory here, but I'm sure it's close): "They tell me I can't arrest someone who drives a truck full of high-level radioactive waste through my town.  The DOE says I don't have the authority.  They say I can't put that guy in jail.  Well, just watch me.  That guy is going to jail, and he's not getting out of MY jail.  One thing you should never do:  Never give a former prosecuting attorney one of these."

He then flipped out his badge, and walked away to a wildly cheering crowd.  These guys are ready for a fight with the DOE, and God Bless Them.  We should all be so brave.

YMP is a terrible solution to an intractable problem, and the DOE will stretch out this process as long as possible.  During that time, many tons of new HLRW will be produced.  Someone will be stuck with protecting humanity from that waste.  It will cost a fortune, and worse -- it may not work.  Even if the DOE permits YMP to be built and become operational, they can't legislate away accidents or write a document that prevents a natural disaster.

It's time for every American to stop believing the lies that have supported the nuclear industry thus far.  Yucca Mountain is only the latest lie (the first was: "it will be too cheap to meter").  There are clean energy alternatives available.  Wind, wave, tide, solar, geothermal, hydroelectric, biomass, and many others.  We have to change to these energy sources NOW, before another day goes by, and another 10 to 12 tons of HLRW is created.


Russell Hoffman
Carlsbad, CA

(End of Op-Ed written for the North County Times (San Diego, CA)

This web page has been presented on the World Wide Web by:

The Animated Software Company
Mail to:
First posted September 22nd, 2001.

Webwiz: Russell D. Hoffman