From: "Russell D. Hoffman" <>
Subject: Shooting blanks at decoys -- Davis-Besse Newsletter #11 -- May 9th, 2002 -- by Russell Hoffman, Concerned Citizen

CNN's CROSSFIRE is shooting blanks at decoys...
Davis-Besse Newsletter #11
May 9th, 2002
The latest news, views, and interesting correspondence.
Edited by
Russell D. Hoffman, Concerned Citizen

(1): Selling Nuclear Plant Safety (by Jack Shannon, USMC (Ret.)

(2): NRC Davis-Besse Oversight Panel to Hold First Meeting May 9 in Oak Harbor, Ohio (this item was seen in RADBULL)

(3) Events raise nuclear fears (seen posted on DOEWATCH)

(4): Reactor List and Repairs (this item was sent in by Molly Johnson)

(5): Radiation causes multi-generational genetic mutations -- researchers are surprised (the public isn't) (seen posted on DOEWATCH)

(6): She's got that right! (but what is she going to do about it?)

(7): NRC Chairman Richard "Rich Rad" Meserve comments on Victor Gilinski's comments on Davis-Besse (distributed by Ray Shadis, May 9th, 2002)

(8): Your lame Yucca Mountain debate today (letter to CNN's Crossfire, by
rdh, May 8th, 2002)

Nuclear Energy Institute suggests regulatory changes to nuke licensing

(10): Davis-Besse NRC report out (pdf)

(11): Conference on radiation dangers (seen on DOEWATCH)

(12): Subscription information / contact information for the author of this document.

Previous Davis-Besse newsletters are available online here:

Please distribute freely.  Please contact the author (email address is given at the bottom) if you feel you have received this document in error or wish to unsubscribe.  Thank you for reading. -- Russell. D. Hoffman.

(1): Selling Nuclear Plant Safety (by Jack Shannon, USMC (Ret.):

Date: Mon, 6 May 2002 15:37:27 EDT
Subject: Re: [westcan] Selling Nuclear Plant Safety

To Whom it may concern:

Security people at Nuclear Plants are no different from security forces at
any other government facility. Any other comment by the DOE/NRC is a lie.

I know -- I worked with the security people at the most dangerous Nuclear
Facility in the Nation for years. They are OK, not particularly bright, but
good enough to be Cops. Most of them were military MP's, which is not
security and is certainly not Infantry. I know that these security people
like to blow [pun not intended] themselves up to be real hotshots, but they
miss the mark by a mile,

Statistically they have the same probability of being addicted to substances
as any other segment of the population, which today is about 30%. Half of
these are addicted to alcohol, which is not an illegal drug and therefore not
legally a crime of addiction.

Any employee at any government facility can be dismissed if found drinking on
the job. If an individual is suspected of being an alcoholic he/she cannot be
fired, only counseled to get professional help. Failure to get help can, and
usually is, cause for dismissal. The recover rate after counseling is usually
about 10%, for adolescence it is about 1%.

The quality of the guards and the training [certainly not seals or rangers]
are not the issue, the weapons available to these people is the primary
issue. Not a single Nuclear Facility in the Country can defend against an air
attack or a well thought out ground offensive. Present and former military
men know, very well, how to mount these offensive operations.

I was a commander of a Marine Infantry Company, and I know that the men
trained under my command, as well as hundreds of other trained infantry
units, led by competent NCO's and Officers can breach the defenses at any
Nuclear Facility in the Country today, w/o resorting to air capabilities. I
furthermore believe that today's trained military are better trained than
those of 25 years ago, simply because the time is available to train the
men/women better

The stuff that the Nuclear Industry feeds to Congress is, in Marine Corps
parlance, "BUII$HIT".

If they want a real test, give a well trained Army or Marine Infantry Officer
ten days to pick the men and they can breach anything the DOE/NRC can put up.
A young Lieutenant or Captain can do the job very well.

If they give me all young men, I'll breach any facility and come out with all
the guards as prisoners and take all the weapons on site. I think all Marine
and Army trained Infantry can make the same boast.

We already know that the DOE/NRC never tells the truth. They have continually
lied about non military and military employee radiation contamination, about
storage facilities, about processing facilities, storage at Yucca Mountain,
River pollution, ground pollution, population radiation pollution. There is
not a single square inch of ground in the entire United States not
contaminated by fission products from bomb fallout or reactor operations.

The DOE [AEC], NRC have been lying to the public and Congress about
contamination matters for years.

Why would Congress, and the public, believe the DOE/NRC on issues as profound
and dangerous as security?

Perhaps the Congress and the Public somehow believe that the DOE, NRC are run
by people of high integrity and high technical capability.

Wrong on both counts? Corruption and sleight of hand are the mechanisms of
reward in the NRC/DOE. I can prove it. However, to date, the DOE, NRC, EPA,
DEC, Justice Department, FBI, Attorney General of NY and the Federal Attorney
General have refused to release the documents of proof.

John Shannon
Major USMC [Retired]
Nuclear Engineer/Nuclear Physicist


Comment on the above item by rdh:

God Bless America.  Land of the outraged heros.

-- rdh

(2): NRC Davis-Besse Oversight Panel to Hold First Meeting May 9 in
Oak Harbor, Ohio (this item was seen in RADBULL):
   NRC: Press Release Region III - 2002 - 24 -

Region III 801 Warrenville Road, Lisle IL 60532
  No. III-02-024           May 3, 2002 CONTACT:     Jan Strasma
(630) 829-9663 Pam Alloway-Mueller (630) 829-9662     E-mail: []  
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission oversight panel, set up to
coordinate the agency's activities associated with the corrosion
damage to the reactor vessel head at the Davis-Besse Nuclear
Power Plant, will hold its first meeting with utility officials
on Thursday, May 9, in Oak Harbor, Ohio.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission oversight panel, set up to
coordinate the agency's activities associated with the corrosion
damage to the reactor vessel head at the Davis-Besse Nuclear
Power Plant, will hold its first meeting with utility officials
on Thursday, May 9, in Oak Harbor, Ohio.        The meeting, open
to the public, will be at 7 p.m. in the auditorium of the Oak
Harbor Junior High School, 315 Church Street in Oak Harbor. The
meeting will include time for public comments and questions.
The Davis-Besse plant, operated by FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating
Company, is located near Oak Harbor. It has been shut down since
mid-February for refueling and maintenance. While repairing
cracks in control rod tubes which penetrate the reactor vessel
head, plant personnel discovered significant corrosion damage to
the reactor vessel head.
The purpose of the meeting is to introduce the panel members and
to discuss the process to be followed by the panel in its review
of the company's response to the corrosion damage and restart of
the plant once the damage has been resolved.
The oversight panel includes NRC management personnel and staff
from the Region III office in Lisle, Illinois, the NRC
Headquarters office in Rockville, Maryland, and the NRC Resident
Inspector Office at the Davis-Besse site.
The oversight activities will be conducted under the agency's
Inspection Manual Chapter 0350, which establishes the procedures
to be followed for the oversight of utility performance for
plants that are shut down as a result of significant performance
problems or events.
Documents on the Davis-Besse corrosion issue are posted on the
NRC's web site at:

Comment on the above item by rdh:

I hope the meeting is well-attended!

-- rdh

(3) Events raise nuclear fears (seen posted on DOEWATCH):

(This was also sent to me by several people -- thanks! -- rdh)

Events Raise Nuclear Safety Questions


WASHINGTON (AP) - Severe cracks found at one nuclear power reactor and the
stunning discovery of a hole that nearly breached the six-inch steel dome of
another facility are raising new questions about aging nuclear plants and
whether they are being inspected closely enough.
The hole that went through most of the heavy reactor cover of the Davis Besse
power plant in Ohio and the severity of cracks found about a year earlier at
a reactor in South Carolina surprised federal safety regulators and the
Both incidents have had plant operators scurrying to look for cracking in
reactor control rod nozzles and, more recently, for corrosive boric acid on
reactor domes. It was a government-ordered inspection prompted by cracks
found in South Carolina in early 2001 that led to the discovery of the David
Besse hole this past March.
A primary reason for the corrosion was the longtime escape through nozzle
cracks of borated water from inside the Davis Besse reactor vessel,
investigators have concluded.
So far, no one else is reporting the kind of corrosion found at the Ohio
plant. While 14 reactors on a close-watch list have reported at least 62
nozzle cracks, most of them have been fixed and the rest are on a schedule
for repair, industry and government officials said.
A spokesman for Duke Power says the 23 cracks found at its three Oconee
reactors at Greenville, S.C., have been fixed.
Still, the discoveries have prompted new questions about aging nuclear power
``It was material degradation that wasn't expected,'' acknowledges Alex
Marion of the Nuclear Energy Institute, the industry's trade group. Still, he
added, the problems should not affect relicensing since the problems are
identified and being dealt with.
Some industry critics disagree.
``The concern here is that with this inherently dangerous technology, when it
ages it becomes more and more unpredictable in terms of how rapidly things
can break, leak and crack,'' argues Paul Gunter, an anti-nuclear activist and
industry watchdog.
Most reactors have a 40-year license and a growing number of utilities are
planning extensions.
FirstEnergy Corp.'s 25-year-old Davis Besse reactor on the shore of Lake Erie
has been shut down since February, waiting for the hole in the reactor dome
to be patched.
Like the reactor nozzle cracks found at the 28-year-old Duke Power-owned
Oconee reactor, the hole at Davis Besse was discovered before anything
serious could go wrong, nuclear experts said.
Still, federal safety regulators view the findings especially at Davis Besse
so troubling that some senior officials at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission
privately have characterized the cracking and corrosion as the most
significant safety issue facing the nuclear industry since the Three Mile
Island accident 23 years ago.
The steel reactor vessel, which encloses the reactor's core, has always been
viewed as ``a sacred component'' that will not be breached, said Brian
Sheron, the commission's assistant director for licensing and technology
assessment. ``This really challenges that assumption.''
Only a thin noncorrosive stainless steel membrane kept the hole at the Ohio
reactor from bursting open. And nuclear experts say if the cracks at the
Oconee plant had been allowed to continue, the nozzle might have separated.
In both cases, thousands of gallons of radioactive water would have escaped
from the reactor, raising the risk of the core's radioactive fuel overheating
and - in a worst-case scenario - possibly a meltdown and a release of
radiation from the larger concrete containment building.
Industry spokesmen said they are convinced backup safety systems would have
averted more serious problems by pumping more water into the reactor than was
being allowed to escape to keep the nuclear fuel safe until the reactor could
be shut down.
But that's true if everything worked as planned, counters David Lochbaum, a
nuclear engineer and industry watchdog for the Union of Concerned Scientists.
If the emergency pumping systems becomes clogged with debris, if other
equipment is damaged or a gauge misread as workers struggle to keep the fuel
covered with water, a more serious accident might be unavoidable, he said.
The Davis Besse corrosion was caused by a buildup of boric acid from reactor
cooling water that had been leaking from nozzle cracks since the mid-1990s.
The first signs of corrosion appeared four years ago when rust began clogging
filters, investigators said.
Despite a 1988 NRC directive to keep reactor lids free of boron, the layers
of the powdery deposits hardened so much atop the dome - where access is
difficult because of space and radiation exposure - that workers couldn't pry
it loose.
``If this occurred in Russia we would be saying it could never happen here,''
former NRC Commissioner Victor Gilinsky wrote in a recent commentary on the
Davis Besse discovery, calling it ``a narrow escape'' from a potential
catastrophic accident.
But the company's engineers did not link the rust to safety-related corrosion
and were assured that the boron powder was harmless since they believed heat
from the reactor would evaporate any moisture.
But it is now believed the water leaking from the nozzle cracks, rather than
evaporating, settled beneath the hardened layers of boron, providing enough
moisture to turn the powder back into corrosive boric acid.
This produced ``a whole new phenomenon,'' says John Grobe, head of an NRC
task force investigating the incident. ``This kind of corrosion has never
been seen before on a reactor pressure vessel head.''
On the Net:
Nuclear Regulatory Commission:
Nuclear Energy Institute:
Union of Concerned Scientists:

   05/07/02 08:46 EDT


Comment on the above item by rdh:

No Nukes!

-- rdh

(4): Reactor List and Repairs (this item was sent in by Molly Johnson):

Subject: Reactor List and Repairs
To: "Russell D. Hoffman" <>

Reactor List and Repairs


Story Filed: Monday, May 06, 2002 9:20 PM EDT

Nuclear power reactors with the greatest vulnerability to cracking of
their control rod nozzles because of age and temperature conditions or a
history of cracking.

Plants have been subject to inspection for cracking and have committed to
making required repairs when cracks are found. (Number of cracks and
repairs as of April 9, 2002, according to Nuclear Regulatory Commission.):

Arkansas Nuclear Unit 1, Russellville, Ark. (1 crack, repaired)
Crystal River Unit 3, Crystal River, Fla. (1 crack, repaired)
Davis Besse, Oak Harbor, Ohio. (5 cracks, 3 repaired)
D.C. Cook Unit 2, Benton Harbor, Mich. (no cracks, but vulnerable)
H.B. Robinson Unit 2, Florence, S.C. (no cracks, but vulnerable)
Millstone Unit 2, New London, Conn. (3 cracks, all repaired)
North Anna Units 1 and 2, Richmond, Va. (11 cracks, 3 repaired)
Oconee Units 1, 2 and 3, Greenville, S.C. (23 cracks, all repaired)
Surry Units 1 and 2, Newport News, Va. (10 cracks, 6 repaired)
Three Mile Island, Harrisburg, Pa. (8 cracks, 6 repaired.)


Source: Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Copyright 2002 Associated Press Information Services, all rights


Comment on the above item by rdh:

Where is the data on the rest of the 68 PWRs?  What about taking another look at some of the reactors that have been shut down, to see if they were closer to catastrophic failure than we realized? (The fact is, all of the reactors should be shut down.  They are operating at great risk to society and supply no net gain, except to a few owners/operators.)

-- rdh

(5): Radiation causes multi-generational genetic mutations -- researchers are surprised (the public isn't) (seen posted on DOEWATCH):

Subject: [DOEWatch] Radiation Causes Mutations for Several Generations


Radiation Causes Mutations for Several Generations
May 6, 2002
By Ed Edelson
HealthScoutNews Reporter

MONDAY, May 6 (HealthScoutNews) -- Open-jawed about an unanticipated finding
and puzzled about its implications for human health, researchers report a
mouse study shows genetic mutations caused by radiation can continue into a
third generation.

The results, appearing in the May 14 issue of the Proceedings of the National
Academy of Sciences (news - web sites), were "totally unexpected," says Yuri
E. Dubrova, head of the research team.

The finding is "a complete nightmare," says Dubrova, a reader in genetics at
the University of Leicester in England. "I expected to find nothing in the
grandchildren" of irradiated mice, he says, "but no, they show exactly the
same increase in germ line mutation rate." Germ line cells are those involved
in reproduction.

The study was actually a double-check of results found in a previous trial,
in which one strain of mice was irradiated with high-energy neutrons, Dubrova
says. "To our surprise, we got a high mutation rate in the offspring of
males. But fission neutrons are known to be a powerful mutagen [something
that causes mutations], so we asked what would happen if we do the same thing
with more well-known X-rays."

So three strains of mice were exposed to both fission neutrons and X-rays,
and their offspring were studied to see if they had the same mutations as
occurred in the radiation-exposed generation.

"The bottom line is that first, all three strains show the same effects in
the offspring of irradiated males and second, both X-rays and fission
neutrons do the same thing," Dubrova says.

"The remarkable finding that radiation-induced germ-line instability persists
for at least two generations raises important issues of risk evaluation in
humans," the journal report says.

No human studies of the effects of radiation exposure on future generations
have been done. The Radiation Effects Research Foundation, a joint
Japanese-American effort looking at the effects of the atomic bombs dropped
on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, reported in 1991 that a study of 76,625 babies
born to survivors found "no statistically demonstrable increase in major
birth defects considered in total or in any specific type among the children
of atomic-bomb survivors."

However, it is possible that radiation exposure might increase the risk of
cancer, Dubrova says, stressing this is pure speculation.

"If we can speculate, if children of irradiated parents are unstable [have
inherited mutations], this might create a situation where they have a higher
chance of getting cancer," he says.

And the concluding sentence of the journal report says "the data raise the
important issue of trans-generational effects of ionizing radiation for
humans, providing, for example, a plausible explanation for the apparent
leukemia cluster near Sellafield nuclear plant." The plant is in England.

It is an almost unprovable speculation, says Richard B. Setlow, a senior
biophysicist at the Brookhaven National Laboratory (news - web sites), who
edited the journal paper. Proving that what happened in the laboratory mice
happens in humans would require a study that might last a century, he says.

"Think of how long it would take, following generation after generation,"
Setlow says. "I don't know if we will ever find out if it is acceptable to
extrapolate from mice to men and women."

The result of the study is "rather surprising," Setlow says, largely because
"no one has thought of the possibility. When you know the answer, you say,
'Why shouldn't it happen?' But people haven't looked."

It's possible that even if the same thing happens in humans, health effects
might be limited because "sometimes mutations that are deleterious don't get
transmitted," Setlow says.

What To Do

The report should not raise doubts about the safety of medical radiation,
because "the kind of doses you get medically do not cause mutations," Setlow


Comment on the above item by rdh:

Dr. John W. Gofman would certainly disagree with the closing comment about medical radiation -- "any dose is an overdose".  All medical radiation increases your risk, as does playing in the sun, especially without sunscreen.

The words "belief", "believes", and "believed" all appear regularly in NRC and nuclear industry statements.  Facts are much rarer.

Suggested reading: Mother Country by Marilynne Robinson (about Sellafield, specifically, but more generally, about duping the public).

-- rdh

(6): She's got that right! (but what is she going to do about it?):

(This item was seen in RADBULL, collected by Roger Herried)

Berkley Statement on Nuke Waste Shipment Security Breach
Congresswoman Shelley Berkley - Legislation: Press Releases 2001
(Washington, D.C.) U.S. Rep. Shelley Berkley offered the
following statement on hearing reports of a nuclear waste
shipment security breach. Reports of the breach detail how
escaped convicts illegally boarded a train carrying spent nuclear
"If prisoners on the run can hop on board a nuclear train, how
can anyone possibly suggest that these trains would be defensible
from committed terrorists. This event proves that we can't
protect these shipments of nuclear waste. They cannot be defended
and they pose a tremendous security risk to the entire country. 
If we are serious about the health and safety of the American
people, we need to immobilize the waste immediately and construct
reinforced storage facilities near the reactor sites themselves. 
By storing the waste on-site, we minimize security risks posed by
the transportation of nuclear waste."


Comment on the above item by rdh:

Sure, storing nuclear waste onsite is safer than transporting it -- during transport!  But on-site storage is not, and never will be, safe, so what's her point?

-- rdh

(7): NRC Chairman Richard "Rich Rad" Meserve comments on Victor Gilinski's comments on Davis-Besse (distributed by Ray Shadis, May 9th, 2002):

(Note: Victor Gilinski's original comments can be seen in Davis-Besse Newsletter #8 -- rdh)


To: <>, "NRC CONCERNS" <>,
        "NECNP" <>,
        "Jersey Shore Nuclear Watch" <>,
        "DOEWATCH" <>, "CAN" <>
Cc: "Maine Enviro Policy Institute" <>
Subject: [JerseyShoreNuclearWatch] Davis --Besse Merserve's Responds to Gilinsky

FYI- NRC Chairman Merserve apparently doesn't follow the pronouncements of
his agency; is in a state of denial, or simply a practitioner of
deniability. A review of NRC statements on Davis-Besse shows Gilinsky, not
Merserve, to be telling it like it is.                  Ray

Washington Post
 Sunday, May 5, 2002; Page B06

 I am responding to the piece by former Nuclear Regulatory commissioner
Victor Gilinsky [Outlook, April 28] concerning corrosion on the head of the
reactor pressure vessel at the Davis-Besse nuclear power plant in Ohio. We
agree the incident was significant. But we disagree that it has not been
treated appropriately by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).

While there was no accident, no injury and no release of radioactivity as a
result of the corrosion, there was a potential for a loss-of-coolant
accident. On learning of the corrosion, the NRC sent a team of specialists
 to the site to assess the problem and its causes. We informed all owners of
the 68 pressurized water reactors of the incident and directed them to
provide us information to ensure their plants were not experiencing similar
corrosion. None was. The NRC also assembled a special oversight panel to
monitor all corrective measures at Davis-Besse. The plant will not go back
 into service until the NRC is satisfied that everything that needs to be
done has been done.

 Contrary to Mr. Gilinsky's assertions, the NRC has sought to inform the
public fully. We have issued seven press releases, held six public meetings,
 answered scores of reporters' inquiries and established a special Web site
to provide timely, accurate information. We recognize the need to keep the
 public informed and we have done so.

 Readers should be reassured that the NRC takes its responsibility to
protect  public health and safety very seriously.

U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission


Comment on the above item by rdh:

Meserve is guilty of dereliction of duty -- the highest crime.  His duty is to see that all reactors are safely closed immediately and forever.

-- rdh

(8): Your lame Yucca Mountain debate today (letter to CNN's Crossfire, by rdh, May 8th, 2002):

Subject: Re: Your lame Yucca Mountain debate today

To: Crossfire & Guests, May 8th, 2002
From: Russell D. Hoffman, Concerned Citizen
Re: Your lame Yucca Mountain debate today

AFTER nuclear fuel has been used in a reactor, it's about a million times more radioactive and dangerous than when it goes in.  Instead of just a few radioactive isotopes (mainly U-235), spent fuel contains over two hundred different kinds of radioactive "daughter" isotopes, all of which are dangerous in varying degrees, and have varying half-lives.  The fuel is also very hot (temperature-wise), causing thermal embrittlement of everything around it.  It even is susceptible to spontaneous combustion if it comes in contact with AIR.  It's nasty, useless, dangerous stuff.

Despite these vast differences, on your show Wednesday, May 8th, 2002, John Sununu equated transportation of spent fuel OUT of a reactor to transportation of unspent fuel INTO the reactor.  This comparison shows that he is either blissfully (and dangerously) unaware of the enormous difference, or he's a liar.  He also stated there would be about 5,000 shipments of spent fuel -- this was off by about 100,000 shipments.

Yucca Mountain is bad science and bad politics.  Keeping the plants open and the nuclear fuel on site is suicidal.

So, ALL OF YOU should stop labeling those you don't understand as "activists" or, as Tucker Carlson put it, members of the "environmental industry" -- whatever that is -- and get an education about the facts.  Three of you could have corrected Sununu on his comparison of incoming fuel to spent fuel, or on his figure for the number of shipments, but apparently none of you knew any better.

Obviously, you all have a long way to go. As the Senate debates Yucca Mountain in the upcoming months, YOU FOLKS need to know the facts.  That way, when you jabber back and forth, the public gets educated.

Even the DOE admits that the Yucca Mountain plan has nearly 300 unresolved technical issues.  The outstanding technical points are very fundamental questions, from corrosion issues to security threats.  It's obvious, from the recent Davis-Besse near-catastrophe, that the NRC and DOE don't really know a whole lot about corrosion, and it's obvious from 9-11 that the Federal Government can't properly assess terrorist threats, either.  Even today, more than six months later, our nuclear power plants are STILL not properly secured BECAUSE THEY CAN'T BE.  But we CAN shut them down, which would make them safer, although they would still require protection.

One of the insidious problems with "let's just move forward" is that it increases the vested interest in an option, because we've already spent X billions of dollars on it (this was mentioned in today's House debate, which it appeared none of you watched).

The Yucca Mountain debate is not new -- it's decades old, actually, and these unresolved issues are very, very complicated -- or more precisely, they are intractable.  What is new is that all of America is looking at the whole nuclear issue in a new, post-9-11 light.  It's about time!  Here's an essay I wrote in June, 2001 on Yucca Mountain, terrorism, and related issues:

The REAL PLAN -- the "master plan" that has been going on for decades, is well-entrenched, and is unlikely to change REGARDLESS of the outcome of the Yucca Mountain Senate vote coming up soon.  That plan is to just keep the debate going, keep the issue alive, keep building the repository as slowly but inexorably as possible, and not STOP to consider that America MUST get off the nuclear juggernaut.  You have served that plan well today.

But can America really live with that solution?  I don't think so, although we keep trying.  After 50 years of research (and billions of dollars) there is still no accepted scientific solution to the waste problem for GOOD REASON.  But humanity has to accept the reason!

The reason?  The reason is that a half-life is an unstoppable nuclear "explosion", a very tiny one, yes, but absolutely unstoppable and unpredictable in individual cases -- that is, we can't say when a particular atomic breakdown will occur, or which direction the "ray" (alpha, beta, gamma, or x-ray, depending on the radioactive particle's particular properties) will head out in when it is ejected when the radioactive atom breaks down.  For their size, these "rays" have extremely high kinetic energy compared to most things in our universe, because of the great speed at which they are ejected.  So high is this energy, that these "rays" can destroy things they hit after they are ejected.

Cells, protein molecules, and even the nuclei of other atoms can be damaged by this "radiation".

Sure, it's a simple word.  Radiation.  It sounds like something almost magical.  "Nuclear Power!" sounds good -- looks good on paper, or in a computer animation of a power plant, with one little box labeled "pump", another labeled "valve", another labeled "reactor pressure vessel", and so forth.  But in real life, you can't reboot a city.  You can't even rebuild it after a meltdown.  If the Great Lakes are poisoned by a transport accident or a plant meltdown, or if the Mississippi River becomes the "ultimate heat sink" for one of the many reactors that get their cooling water from the Mighty Miss and her tributaries, America will be forever changed by that little, unstoppable atomic breakdown.  Radioactive particles in deadly quantities are tasteless, odorless, colorless and can be way too small to see.  Yet nevertheless, radiation is very real.  It destroys human flesh, it destroys steel, it destroys the environment, and it's very hard to contain because it destroys the very containers built to contain it!

That's precisely why, originally, Yucca Mountain was supposed to use an entirely "natural" containment system.  Because we had already figured out that we couldn't build a containment system for a reasonable price, if at all!  Yet here we are again, decades later, pretending we've designed 100-year safe "dry cask storage" systems we dare not even open to find out if they're actually working properly, or degrading inexorably, like Davis-Besse did!  Six months after 9-11, all our spent fuel pools, dry storage casks, and nuclear reactors remain vulnerable to terrorism, human error, and natural calamities.  Nearly 300,000 spent fuel assemblies are to be stored at Yucca Mountain -- if ONE of them catastrophically fails, it could wipe out a city or even a State, but worse, it could cause the spent fuel assemblies near it -- 20 or so in a dry cask, hundreds in a spent fuel pool -- to catastrophically fail as well, wiping out a whole region of the globe and forever changing history towards a more painful, sadder time.

Self-inflicted terrorism, one might call it.  The only way out is to close the nukes NOW.  Before they are attacked.  Before they fail catastrophically all by themselves.  Before we fill up Yucca Mountain, and discover the next day that we still have a nuclear waste problem.  Before Osama's followers find a spent fuel load being moved over a major waterway or through a major city.  Before a tsunami strikes a coastal plant, before an earthquake, or a tornado, or an accidental 747 airplane strike (it can happen!), or anything else, goes wrong.

We are heading for a heartache, with much pain and suffering, and great cost.  The only way to stop it is to shut down the nukes, and that only MIGHT work.  But it's not the best chance we've got -- it's the only chance.

That is why Yucca Mountain is a hollow debate.

Yucca Mountain is NO solution.  Continuing to run the reactors until they melt down, like Davis-Besse nearly did, is NO a solution.  Why don't you debate shutting all the reactors down instead of where to put the waste?  Is it because there really is NO logical debate left on that subject (yet still, somehow, the reactors remain open -- perhaps it's that $3 million dollars in campaign contributions to the Bush campaign which was mentioned on your show, but who knows, because it's been going on a lot longer than that)?

There are reasons both FOR and AGAINST Yucca Mountain.  But to categorize those outside Nevada who oppose Yucca Mountain as simply being "anti-nuclear" is lame indeed.  OF COURSE most of us also oppose nuclear power --  for VERY GOOD REASONS.  A bad idea doesn't get better if you move it around the country.  The creation of nuclear waste in America was, and remains, a bad idea.  2,000 tons a year is being created right now (a figure expressed (and unopposed) during today's House debate) -- Yucca Mountain or no Yucca Mountain.  Only a fool would think Yucca Mountain should ever open.  Only a fool would think our nuclear plants are safe from terrorists.  Only a fool would debate whether the rain will fall some day.  Or whether there will be a meltdown if we continue our present course.  There will be rainy days, and just as surely, there will be a meltdown.  Davis-Besse was mighty, mighty close to a meltdown, but didn't even get MENTIONED on today's show.  Why not?

As one of you pointed out, moving the waste to Yucca Mountain would not eliminate the waste at most of the existing sites.  Nobody had a response to that point, so the rest of you just ignored it and you all went on shouting at each other.  That's no way to conduct a debate.  It's a crucial point.  Only shutting down the nuclear power plants can prevent a meltdown, and it still takes a minimum of about five years for the nuclear waste to cool before anyone -- even a nuclear power plant owner eager to get rid of it -- dares to move it.  But we have to start by shutting down the plants.  That makes them less vulnerable and it increases the likelihood of leaving our country reasonably clean and safe for our progeny.

So wake up, all of you!  You have a job to do, and it's not prove your own ignorance before a national audience.  You've all done that now.  Now it's time to honor your profession and learn the facts.

Please visit my Nuclear Power Plants in America web page:

Here's a web page for my newsletters on Davis-Besse:


Russell D. Hoffman
Concerned Citizen
Carlsbad, CA


The above item was sent last night to Crossfire and to some of my friends and subscribers.  The comments below were received today.  I have not heard from anyone at CNN.

Comment on the above item, by Jack Shannon:

I have been told that Sununu has a PhD in Nuclear Engineering, I don't know
if it's true. If it is he is clearly a liar
Good Response

Here's activist Mitzi's comment on the same document:

To: "Russell D. Hoffman" <>
Subject: Re: Your lame Yucca Mountain debate today

Russell, This essay is magnificent.  Thank you.  It must be forwarded to
everyone.  At the People's Summit on High Level Radioactive Waste recently,
I learned that the fuel bundles in dry casks can't be replaced as presently
designed, when the casks and their valves break down.   With admiration for
your clear and powerful email,  Mitzi

This next comment is from Klaus:

Hi Russell,
Right on!! I've send exactly the same message to Crossfire during its
broadcast. Don't know what they did with it. Keep up the good work. All the

We also heard from Kim:

I was saddened to read this mornings paper. I continue to talk about the impacts
of such nuclear folly, but find that only the impacts one can see from their
residence's back yard compells them to act. As a whole, we are very bad at global
thought, having failed National Thought 101. Except for exceptions like you. So
much for American spirituality.

Still it is awareness like yours that roots mass education. And just so you know,
I've learned alot from your efforts, and in turn have passed what I learned on.
So there is hope, regardless of today's setback. And truthfully while lot sizes
are deminishing, American's are slowly enlarging the definition of their

Best,  Kim


My deep appreciation to Jack, Mitzi, Klaus, Kim, and others who might find that document useful. -- rdh

(9): Nuclear Energy Institute suggests regulatory changes to nuke licensing:

To: "Platts Updates" <>
Subject: [DOEWatch] Platts - Wednesday, May 08, 2002

Platts - Wednesday, May 08, 2002


Washington (Nuclear News Flashes)--7May2002

NEI proposes new reactor licensing framework

The Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) unveiled today a proposal
for a new NRC regulatory framework that could be used not
only for LWRs but also for gas-cooled high-temperature
plants, liquid metal reactors, and any new types of
reactors. NEI submitted a white paper that provided
"principles, baseline criteria, a complete set of proposed
regulations, and the foundations" for an optional, risk-
informed performance-based framework. The 139-page paper was
delivered at a meeting with NRC staffers today. NEI
suggested that the regulations be given a new part--10 CFR
Part 53--and be offered as an alternative to 10 CFR Part 50
for reactors. NEI said it would like NRC to hold a public
workshop on the proposal in July or August, issue an
advanced notice of proposed rulemaking in early 2003, and
set up a pilot program to test the new framework in 2005.


Comment on the above item by rdh:

It is not a good idea to let the industry being regulated design and propose the "regulatory framework"!

The NRC, and the AEC before it, have abdicated their mission of serving the public in favor of supplying the nuclear industry with billions of dollars in profits by looking the other way at any and all safety infractions.

-- rdh

(10): Davis-Besse NRC report out (pdf):

Subject:  Davis Besse AIT report

FYI- THe NRC Augmented Inspection Team Report on the Reactor Pressure Vessel
Head Corrosion at the Davis Besse Nuclear Power Station.

                                               Raymond Shadis
                                               New England Coalition


Comment on the above item by rdh:

It's a 39-page report, no doubt it came out May 8th just so that it could be buried in the Yucca Mountain Cacophony going on at the time -- timing is everything when you're screwing the American public!  We have posted the report here:

-- rdh

(11): Conference on radiation (seen on DOEWATCH):

Subject: [DOEWatch] ASA Radiation Meeting

Current Issues in Radiation & Health
[June 23 - 26, 2002, Howard Johnson Plaza Resort, Deerfield Beach, Florida]

The 2002 Conference marks the 15th convening of the ASA Conference on
Radiation and Health. During its history the Conference has focused
on such diverse topics as: Radiation Health Effects at Low Doses,
Epidemiological Methods in Ionizing Radiation, Environmental Sampling
and Analysis of Sampling Data, Analysis and Assessment of Ionizing
Radiation from Scientific and Statistical Perspectives, Health
Effects of Electric and Magnetic Fields, Ionizing Radiation Risks,
Radiation Risks and Interactions, Dosimetry and Risk Assessment,
Radiation Risk Assessment, and Statistical Methodology and
Mechanisms, and Temporal Factors and Radiation Effects.. 

The Conference offers a unique forum for discussing the qualitative
aspects of radiation health research in a multi-disciplinary setting.
The Conference also furnishes investigators in health related
disciplines the opportunity to learn about new quantitative
approaches to their problems and furnishes statisticians the
opportunity to learn about new applications for their discipline.

The focus of the 2002 Conference on Radiation and Health is Current
Issues in Radiation Health. The areas it will address include:

To educate and update epidemiologists, statisticians, and radiation
scientists on the status of the latest research in issues of
radiation health;
To provide an atmosphere for the exchange of ideas, encourage
critical review, and promote synergism between the various
disciplines represented by the participants; and
To identify key areas where additional research is needed and
stimulate interest in exploring new approaches to the key problems.
Summaries of the talks in Radiation Research will be published.

The Conference will include 20 invited speakers and discussants, who
will participate in two sessions per day, over a period of 3
(Sunday through Wednesday). Each presentation will allow extensive
opportunity for audience participation during and following the talk.
Sessions will be held in the morning and evening because past
experience shows that having the afternoons open for discussions
allows maximum interaction among Conference participants.

Sunday Evening, June 23 4:00 pm 6:00 pm
Residential Radon and Alpha Emitters: Jerome Puskin, Chair; Sarah
Darby, Discussant


4:00 p.m. Ethel Gilbert - "The Risk of Cancer from Exposure to
4:30 p.m. Jay Lubin - "Residential Radon and Lung Cancer in Gansu
Province, China"
5:00 p.m. Dan Krewski - "A Combined Analysis of North American
Studies of Lung Cancer and Residential Radon Exposures"
5:30 p.m. Discussant: Sarah Darby
5:40 p.m. General Discussion


Comment on the above item by rdh:

I hope it is a good conference.

-- rdh

(12): Subscription information / contact information for the author of this document:

The creation of 10 NEW tons of Nuclear Waste EVERY DAY in America, and about 50 tons around the world, is the #1 environmental issue in the world today.  EVERY DAY enough NEW nuke waste is created for terrorists to destroy hundreds of cities if they get their hands on JUST the NEW waste!  EVERY DAY!




This newsletter was written by Russell D. Hoffman.
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