A Wise Man Never Bets The Farm  --  A Fire, A Plume, A Meteor, A Train

To: grobbins@ocregister.com
From: "Russell D. Hoffman" <rhoffman@animatedsoftware.com>
Subject: A Wise Man Never Bets The Farm  --  A Fire, A Plume, A Meteor, A Train
Cc: governor of California, "Barbara Boxer, Senator (CA, D)" <senator@boxer.senate.gov>

Re: A Wise Man Never Bets The Farm  --  A Fire, A Plume, A Meteor, A Train
July 24th, 2001

To Whom It May Concern:

Here are four current events and a brief discussion of how they relate to nuclear power issues:


"Fire at UCI" screams the headline of the Orange County Register, Tuesday, July 24th, 2001.  A photo shows fire and smoke billowing from a window on the second floor of a chemistry and physics lab on the campus of the University of California at Irvine.

Drat.  I was planning to go to UCI today to look at the Public Documents for San Onofre Nuclear (Waste) Generating Station, which are located in the basement of the main library at UCI, not too far from where the fire broke out.  I decide to stay home.  Who knows what chemicals were released?

The building where the fire occurred has no fire sprinklers: "... except in the basement because older building codes do not require them, UCI officials said".  Imagine that!  A University smart enough to have a licence from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to operate a nuclear reactor (a Triga Mark I, Operating Licence #R-116, issued 11/24/1969, NRC reactor #50-326) ought to be able to figure out that chemical labs without fire suppression systems in the middle of tens of thousands of the worlds' smartest young people would -- well, you know.  Not be a good idea.  Can you say retrofit?  Does the law the UCI official was referring to in the article specifically cover student chem labs?  I bet not.


"Subject: DELIBERATE MISUSE OF PHOSPHORUS-32 On August 5, 1999, the state of California, Department of Health Services (CDHS), notified NRC Region IV of an incident involving the deliberate misuse of 0.555 - 1.110 megabecquerels (15 - 30 microcuries) of phosphorus-32 (P-32) by a researcher at the University of California - Irvine (UC-I). CDHS reported that the licensee determined that a researcher working at the licensee's facility had placed P-32 on a fellow researcher's chair with the intention of exposing that individual to radiation."

A later report let's us know this is "less than 10% of the annual limit of intake":

"The licensee determined that a researcher had placed approximately 15-30 microcuries of phosphorus-32, less than 10% of the annual limit of intake (ALI), on a fellow researchers chair with the intention of exposing that individual to radiation."


A Plume:

Mount Etna in Italy is erupting, and erupting, and erupting.  The plume is visible in "astonishing photographs", as described on MS-NBC today.  From space, the plume can be seen to go for hundreds of miles.  Radioactive plumes cannot be seen, tasted, felt, heard or smelled.  They just kill you silently.  But if there was a way to photograph the plumes from Chernobyl or Three Mile Island, they would look approximately like the Mt. Etna plume.  Some places get a huge dose.  Others get little or no radioactivity.  But when they calculate the dose and decide it will be below regulatory concern, they assume it spreads out in 360 degrees away from the source.  It's a lie.


A Meteor:

From North Carolina to Massachusetts it was heard, felt, and seen.  A meteor from space.  Obviously, to be heard over such a wide swath it must have come in at a fairly shallow angle, and perhaps it burnt up in the atmosphere.  But a meteor could smash through our so-called Containment Domes at our nuclear power plants, or just drop into the Spent Fuel Pools and cause a meltdown and/or explosion and radioactive fire there, or even smash into a Dry Fuel Cask and destroy it, releasing billions of Curies of radioactive death into the environment.


A Train:

The chemical fire in a Baltimore train tunnel has finally been put out, the Orioles are playing ball nearby again, even as real Orioles are no doubt still dying on the mountain above the tunnel from the noxious fumes.  Because of this fire, people will be that much less willing to allow nuclear waste to be transported through their states, cities, and towns.  Just ask Senator Harry Reid (D-NV).


What's next?  A tsunami?

What catastrophe, or string of catastrophes, would it take to wise the world up to the dangers of nuclear power, and seek a benign solution to our energy needs?

As time rolls on, there will be tsunamis, earthquakes, and asteroids.  There will be nuclear catastrophes the likes of which the world has never seen - -Chernobyl wasn't as bad as it gets, not by a long shot.



Russell D. Hoffman
Concerned Citizen

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Mail to: rhoffman@animatedsoftware.com
First posted September 22nd, 2001.

Webwiz: Russell D. Hoffman