From: "Russell D. Hoffman" <>
Subject: Why do you give a forum to corporate spokesliars?

November 20th, 2003

Mr. Henry,

In your article shown below, you claim that Richard Wilkins, a FirstEnergy spokesman, said that "the sequence of events leading to a two-to-five-hour window of time to evacuate would not be realistic".

What does that mean?  Anybody can say anything, but as a reporter, you owe the public the full story -- what FACTS did he offer to dispute that given scenario?  All it took was a meltdown during a blackout.  How did he counter that scenario?  Does FirstEnergy plan to hand out flashlights to all the traffic cops so they can stand at the intersections and direct traffic (they'll  need expensive respirators, too)?  I mean, there must be something he's planning to do to mitigate the situation, or his statement is utterly hollow.

I suspect it IS utterly hollow, but it doesn't matter, because you dutifully reported it and passed it off on the public as a proper response -- a closing argument, in fact.

And by the way, the "hundreds, maybe thousands" of deaths should be "thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands" IF the intent is accuracy.  Lochbaum tends to underestimate the potential dangers, just not as badly as the FirstEnergy spokesliar does.


Russell Hoffman
Carlsbad, CA


20 Toledo Blade: Report: Besse shutdown dodged disaster

Nov. 19, 2003


Northern Ohio could have experienced Americaís worst nuclear
accident during the Aug. 14 blackout if Davis-Besse had gone
back into service last year with its severely corroded reactor
head, a report issued yesterday by a nationally known watchdog
group claims.

But the Union of Concerned Scientists, based in Cambridge,
Mass., said it didnít conjure up a nightmarish scenario just for
the sake of scaring people.

Its goal is to push the Nuclear Regulatory Commission into being
as aggressive toward fixing long-standing design flaws at 68
other nuclear plants as it has been at Davis-Besse, David
Lochbaum, the groupís nuclear safety engineer, said.

"These reactors are one broken pipe away from turning this
narrative into a tragic prophecy," he wrote. "Congress must
ensure this clear and present danger is removed before our
collective luck runs out."

Davis-Besse was taken offline for refueling Feb. 16, 2002. Three
weeks later, a football-shaped cavity was found in its reactor
head. Tests show the steel liner beneath the head was starting
to crack.

Recent laboratory tests at the U.S. Department of Energyís Oak
Ridge National Laboratory suggest the reactor head could have
been closer to blowing open than previously thought.

The sudden loss of offsite power at several nuclear plants
during the August blackout could have been catastrophic for
northern Ohio if the problem with Davis-Besseís reactor head
hadnít been caught.

Thatís because the weakened head would have made the plant far
more susceptible to a loss-of-coolant accident, Mr. Lochbaum

His theory maintains that the power loss would have resulted in
a sudden upward pressure spike, which would have popped open the
head and allowed radioactive steam to form in Davis-Besseís
containment structure. If the sump and the reactor pumps had
clogged, as expected, a meltdown would have been inevitable, he

The region would have had two to five hours to evacuate, but
that would have been complicated by inoperable warning sirens
because of the power outage. "Hundreds, perhaps thousands" would
have died of radiation-induced illnesses in a few years, the
report claims.

Richard Wilkins, a FirstEnergy spokesman, said he believes Mr.
Lochbaumís scenario is flawed because Davis-Besse has emergency
diesel generators that can temporarily supply backup power to
plant operations when the nuclear station loses offsite power.
That likely would have mitigated the effect on reactor pressure,
he said.

He also said the sequence of events leading to a
two-to-five-hour window of time to evacuate would not be

Davis-Besse is one of 69 U.S. nuclear plants - two-thirds of the
nationís 103 nuclear plants - that have pressurized water
reactors. The other 34 are built differently.

*For earlier stories on Davis-Besse, go to*