From: "Russell D. Hoffman" <>
Subject: "Sanitized view of Davis-Besse" (+ NYT article + jet impact comments)
FYI: This letter was sent to several "world-renowned experts" in alloys, embrittlement,Wigner's disease, etc. This is part 3 of a 3-part email.  Please forward it to politicians, media, etc.  Thank you in advance) -- Russell D. Hoffman, Concerned Citizen


To: Media, interested citizens & government officials:

The following document is exactly as I received it this morning (now a few days ago), typos and "material deleted" and all, and should be of interest to anyone who is concerned about the Davis-Besse near-catastrophe in Ohio.  A snip from a second document is included below the first document.  Below that is a Mathew Wald article in the NY Times yesterday, which I do not believe is technically very accurate, and serves to minimize a number of significant issues.  Below that is an article about the NRC's latest news (from yesterday (March 28th, 2002) about airplane strikes (the NRC finally admitted that NONE of the reactors were designed to withstand jumbo jet strikes, and only 4% of our nuclear reactors were designed to (possibly, maybe, hopefully) withstand any airplane strike at all, even from a slower, smaller airplane.  Also, more on Davis-Besse, including a generic comment by Jack Shannon, and an article about Ohio congresspeople being upset about what's happened.


Russell Hoffman
Concerned Citizen



From: "elbogart" <>
To: "Russell D. Hoffman" <>
Subject: Sanitized view of Davis-Besse
Date: Tue, 26 Mar 2002 08:59:54 -0800

Dear Colleagues:

As you know well, the U.S. Nuclear Power Industries are facing one of the
most serious safety issues in the Devis-Besse Nuclear Power Station (PWR),
called Reactor Vessel Head Degradation.  It is segnificant becasue the
3/8-inch cladding inside the reactor vessel had essentially became the
reactor coolant pressure boundary near the affected reactor head nozzle
after the base maetal of the reactor pressure vessel head had degraded.  The
licenssee estimated that the total amount of metal lost amounts to 40
pounds.  I am motivated to write this e-mail, since this issue seems to
share a part of root causes with AOA through depassibation and primary side
corrosion phenomena.

If we make an analysis from top down, the erosion of the base metal occure
by wastage due to corrosion of meta-boric acid.  More specifically, if we
have a leakage of the hot primary water, the steam will flush immediately
from the primary cooling water leaving behind ortho-boric acid (H3BO3).  It
also contains lithium hydro-oxide.  It will transformed into meta-boric acid
(HBO2) immediately at 169+/- 1 C.  The melting point of the meta-boric acid
is 236.1+/-1 C,  being much lower than the reactor core outlet temperature
of around 321 C.  NRC seems to be unaware of this fact that the deposited
boron will be in an liquid state, instead of crystaline state.  Just like as
in the case of molten salt corrosion, the molten meta-boric acid which
contains lithium hydrooxide mixture should be very corrosive, although I
have not looked into experimental data yet, and can likely case significant
errosion of the base metal.   Material Deleted. So the observation of
erosion-wastage is not surprizing at all for me.   However, how the primary
water leakage has first started is my concern.  It is said that it leaked
through J-groove weld at the inner surface of the reactor pressure vessel
head.   The welding used Alloy 182, on top of Alloy 82.  If the initial
crack started from the J-groove weld joint, it is likely the result of
thermo-hydraulic temperature fluctuation, called striping and
stratification, induced by uneven temperature distribution at the reactor
coolant outlet from the core and into the plemum region of the reactor
vessel.   This issue has been well known in fast breeder development
activities back in 1980.  Material Deleted, the plant I was heavily involved, we
spent a significant effort to mitigate these phenomena, motivated by the US
Clinch River project findings.   Now we came to the very bottom of the
issue.  The stress corrosion cracking (SCC) due to the primary water,
triggered by the temperature fluctiation.   Up to here nothing is
surprising.   However, now we came to the very bottom of this issue.   That
is why SCC is so much aggressive in the primary water?   I believe it is
because of depassivation mechanism, just as in the case of Material Deleted.  As you
know, I have looked into this issue for nearly two years just befor I was
recalled by Material Deleted. By doing a lot of
theoretical analysis, I am confident that the depassivation is at the very
bottom of all these, Material Deleted. as well as the PWSCC in PWR, if the initial leak
started from the J-grooved welding joint.


From:  Matt Cushman <>
As to what put the hole in the carbon steel portion of the containment vessel, it was boronic acid. The boron used in the reactor coolant helps to moderate the neutrons in the reactor. In the normal concentrations used, there is very little corrosively. However Davis-Besse had a crack in the reactor head in a hard to find place. That allowed coolant to very slowly leak and collect. The leak was very slow and most of the water evaporated as it leaked. Unfortunately, due to the evaporation, the boron concentration of the leakage was increased up to the point where it became very corrosive. That is what I believe caused the hole. Workers are said to have found boron crystals in the area, so it supports that hypothesis. Luckily, the stainless steel inner liner wasn't affected by the acid. Very luckily.
    (end snip -- the author (Cushman) noted that he gleaned this information from media reports)


March 26, 2002

U.S. Orders Checks for Corrosion at Nuclear Reactors


ASHINGTON, March 25 - Nuclear reactor operators have been ordered to check
their reactor vessels after the discovery that acid in cooling water had
eaten a hole nearly all the way through the six-inch-thick lid of a reactor
at a plant in Ohio. The corrosion left only a stainless-steel liner less
than a half-inch thick to hold in cooling water under more than 2,200 pounds
of pressure per square inch.

At the 25-year-old Ohio plant, Davis-Besse, near Toledo, the stainless steel
was bent by the pressure and would have broken if corrosion had continued,
according to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, where officials were
surprised by the discovery. They said they had never seen so much corrosion
in a reactor vessel.

The commission, which has warned plants for years to watch for any
corrosion, has ordered all 68 other plants of similar design -
pressurized-water reactors - to check their lids. The commission is
particularly worried about a dozen of the oldest plants and ordered them to
report by early April whether they were safe enough to keep in service. The
commission told these plants to demonstrate that technicians there would
have noticed such corrosion in their normal inspections, had it occurred.

If the liner had given way in the Ohio reactor, experts say, there would
have been an immediate release of thousands of gallons of slightly
radioactive and extremely hot water inside the reactor's containment

The plants have pipe systems that are meant to pump water back into a
leaking vessel, but some experts fear that if rushing steam and water
damaged thermal insulation on top of the vessel, the pipes could clog. In
that event, the reactor might have lost cooling water and suffered core
damage - possibly a meltdown - and a larger release of radiation, at least
inside the building.

Such extensive corrosion "was never considered a credible type of concern,"
said Brian W. Sheron, associate director for project licensing and
technology assessment at the regulatory commission.

Small leaks of cooling water are common, Mr. Sheron said, but engineers
always thought that if cooling water leaked from the piping above the vessel
and accumulated on the vessel lid, the water would boil away in the heat of
over 500 degrees, leaving the boric acid it contains in harmless boron
powder form. At Davis-Besse, however, it appears that the water was held
close to the metal vessel lid, or head, perhaps by insulation on top of the

Boric acid is used in cooling water to absorb surplus neutrons, the
subatomic particles that are released when an atom is split and go on to
split other atoms, sustaining the chain reaction.

Engineers are not yet certain why the corrosion occurred.

A nuclear engineer at the Union of Concerned Scientists, a nonprofit
watchdog group that is often critical of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission,
said the discovery was troubling.

"This is really something that shouldn't happen," said the engineer, David
Lochbaum. "You shouldn't get such a huge hole in a pressure-retaining

Edwin S. Lyman, the scientific director of the Nuclear Control Institute, an
anti-proliferation group based here, said: "This is a pretty serious issue,
and it has generic implications. And it was discovered by accident."

Workers stumbled on the problem in the process of fixing a leaking tube that
connects to the vessel head, which is 17 feet in diameter and weighs 150
tons. The tube is part of the reactor control system; inside it there is a
control rod, which operators can lower into the core to smother the flow of
neutrons and stop the chain reaction, or raise to allow the reactor to run.

Technicians discovered that the metal that supports the tube had mostly

The plant owner, FirstEnergy Corporation, is hoping to patch the hole, an
irregular opening about 4 by 5 inches. But the commission is skeptical about
whether this is possible.

No one in this country has replaced a reactor vessel head, although several
plants have ordered parts to do so. FirstEnergy ordered a new head just
before the extent of the problem became obvious. A company spokesman said
the company hoped to install it in the spring of 2004.

That date reflects how the industry, with no new reactor orders in decades
in this country, has limited production capacity for such parts.

The plant might also be able to use a vessel head from a reactor in Midland,
Mich., that was never completed, or from a similar plant that was retired in

Davis-Besse, which began operating in 1977, was not designed with the idea
that the head would be replaced; technicians would have to cut a bigger hole
in the steel-reinforced concrete containment building to get the new head
into it.

The company has not said what the job will cost, but Duke Power Company,
which operates three reactors similar to Davis-Besse, plans to replace the
heads of all three for about $20 million. FirstEnergy could spend nearly
that much each month for electricity from alternative sources if it must
wait for the replacement part.

Because of the discovery at Davis-Besse, the regulatory commission ordered a
dozen other plants to report back within two weeks and prove that
inspections they have done in the past would have found any corrosion.

The inspection cannot be done while the plant is running, and if the
utilities cannot convince the commission, they presumably face shutdowns of
perhaps several weeks just for the checks.

Such shutdowns occurred intermittently in the 1970's and 80's but have
become extremely rare as reactors have improved their reliability.

The industry is hopeful, however, that inspections it began under commission
orders several years ago, to look for leaks, would have found any similar
cases. Those inspections began after the heads of French reactors showed
signs of leaks and corrosion.

"It could be something unique to Davis-Besse," said Alexander Marion,
director of engineering at the Nuclear Energy Institute, the industry's
trade association. A goal for the investigation at the plant, he said, would
be to find out not only why the corrosion occurred but also why it was not
noticed sooner.

"The plants are getting older and we're starting to see these kinds of
problems," Mr. Marion said.

Copyright 2002 The New York Times Company | Privacy Information


Jet could wreck TMI, NRC admits

Designers didn't anticipate size, speed of today's planes

Thursday, March 28, 2002

By Brett Lieberman

Of Our Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON -- Government regulators have acknowledged for the first time that neither Three Mile Island nor any of the nation's other 102 operating nuclear reactors could withstand the impact of an airliner the size of those that crashed into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

Industry representatives and federal government officials downplayed the threat in days after the Sept. 11 attacks, insisting that nuclear containment buildings are "robust" and capable of withstanding explosions and natural disasters.

In newly released documents, however, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission concedes that even an accidental airplane crash was not factored into the designs of 96 percent of U.S. nuclear plants. At those plants where the threat was considered, design changes were aimed at smaller airplanes traveling at slower speeds.

"When the plants were designed, large aircrafts that are presently used were not in use," NRC spokeswoman Sue Gagner said.

The agency also acknowledged that critical systems that provide cooling, electricity and storage of spent fuel are mostly in nonhardened buildings that could not withstand an aircraft or missile attack.

The revelations were included in a report made available by U.S. Rep. Edward J. Markey, D-Mass., based on responses to his queries from NRC Chairman Richard A. Meserve. Markey, a frequent critic of the NRC, said the agency's acknowledgment shows additional steps must be taken to improve nuclear plant safety.

The "NRC has admitted that even an aircraft impact at the auxiliary electrical or cooling facilities could trigger a core meltdown at a nuclear reactor, and yet the NRC refuses to upgrade security, refuses to install anti-aircraft weaponry, refuses to ensure that security at decommissioned reactors is maintained, and refuses to ensure that foreign nationals employed at the reactors undergo security background checks," he said.

Yesterday, the agency maintained that reactors remain difficult targets although it has not evaluated the effects of a plane crash.

"Even though they were not designed to withstand aircraft crashes, they are extremely rugged structures," Gagner said.

While many nuclear plants, including those in Pennsylvania, have had additional protection from National Guard troops and state police since Sept. 11, the NRC has rejected the idea of deploying anti-aircraft weapons.

When most plants were built in the 1960s and 1970s, the NRC and plant owners never contemplated that a large airliner would intentionally be crashed into a nuclear plant. Consideration of an airplane crash was limited to accidents.

Fifty-five of the nation's 60 nuclear plants lie within 15 miles of public airports. Most are small airports, carrying fewer than 100,000 departing passengers a year, according to NRC and FAA data.

Nine operating plants, including TMI, are near airports that serve more than 100,000 passengers. Other airports near nuclear plants include international airports in Charlotte, N.C., and near Pittsburgh.

Three Mile Island in Londonderry Twp., three miles from Harrisburg International Airport, is the only nuclear power plant "constructed with special design features to protect vital areas from crash impact and fire effects," the new documents state.

However, those features -- reinforcement of outer walls, thickening of concrete sections, special fire protection and ventilation -- would likely be inadequate, according to the NRC.

TMI -- which was hit by the nation's worst nuclear accident 23 years ago today, on March 28, 1979 -- was designed to withstand the impact of 200,000 pounds at 230 mph. A Boeing 757 or 767 such as those used in the New York and Washington attacks on Sept. 11 weighs 272,500 to 450,000 pounds. The planes used in those attacks traveled at speeds of 350 mph to 537 mph when they struck.
TMI was not built to withstand the impact of a larger airplane because "the probability of an on-site crash was sufficiently low," the NRC stated.

Two other plants -- the Limerick nuclear plant near Pottstown and Seabrook plant in Portsmouth, N.H., -- incorporated more modest features to help them withstand the impact of an airplane weighing up to 12,500 pounds.

"With respect to the remaining sites, the probability of an aircraft impact was either estimated or judged by inspection to be sufficiently low such that the event need not be considered in the design basis," NRC documents state.

David Lochbaum, nuclear safety engineer for the Union of Concerned Scientists, said it would be difficult to retrofit existing plants, but new safety features should be incorporated in the next generation of plants.

"The plants are what they are," said Lochbaum. "It's too late to go back and install 6 more feet of concrete."

Brett Lieberman may be reached at (202)383-7833 or
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Copyright 2002 The Patriot-News. Used with permission.


My comment on the above:  Duh!  But here's some historic perspective on it as well:


More then duh! this is total BS!
The 747-100s first flight was in 1966 and delivered to its first customer in 1968
The model 200's first flight was in 1968 and delivered to its first customer in 1970.
In 1966 Lockheed had begun work on the L1011 which first flew in 1968 and was delivered in 1972.
In 1968 McDonald-Douglas began work on the DC-10 which was delivered in 1970
However there are NO operating NPPs that were licensed BEFORE 1966.
Thus every single NPP in operation was put into operation and licensed AFTER the Boeing 747 was flying around.
It should not have taken a genius to realize that this was where the industry was heading because by 1970 three different versions of jumbo jets by the major jet manufacturers of the time were in the sky.
To put weights & speeds in perspective:
While the 767 weighs in at 450,000 lbs and flies in the mid 500 mph range.
The original B-747-100 weighed 735,000 lbs and carried almost 300,000 lbs of fuel and cruised at 550 MPH.
The DC-10 weighed 440,000 lbs
The L1011 weighed 496,000 lbs.
Both carried similar fuel quantities as the 767 and both flew just as fast.
200,000 lbs at 230 mph is less then the weight of the fuel carried by a 747 at the time.
Planes out of control frequently (which would be the likely scenario of the time) impact at close to terminal velocity which is greater then the speed of sound. 600 mph+ impacts are not uncommon.
Repeat - this is self serving BS

[Note: Arthur is a monetary fraud analysis statistician, pilot, and researcher in aviation accidents.]


At 02:59 PM 3/29/02 , Paul Gunter (NIRS) wrote:


Regarding your comment "However there are NO operating NPPs that were
licensed BEFORE 1966."

According to the American Nuclear Society Publication, Nuclear News,
World List of Nuclear Power Plants the following commercial nuclear
power reactors WERE licensed for operation:

Big Rock Point (Charlevoix, MI)      11/65 to 08/97
Bonus               (Rincon, PR)            08/64 to 06/68
Humbolt Bay     (Eureka, CA)          08/63 to  07/76
Indian Point 1   (Buchanan, NY)       01/63 to 10/74
Shippingport   (Shippingport, PA)     12/57 to 10/82
Yankee Rowe (Rowe, MA)              07/61 to 09/91

Yours truly,
Paul Gunter, NIRS

[Note: Paul Gunter is the director of NIRS (Nuclear Information Resource Service): ]

Date: Fri, 29 Mar 2002 19:01:44 EST

Environment | Article published Friday, March 29, 2002
Kaptur: Shut Down Davis-Besse
Nuke Plant Threatens Public Safety

[Toledo Blade]

OAK HARBOR, Ohio - U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur last night expressed serious
reservations about the government's ability to inspect FirstEnergy Corp.'s
beleaguered Davis-Besse nuclear power plant and said she would like to see
the facility shut down permanently.

"I have zero confidence in the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. If it's
possible to have less than zero, that's what I have," the Toledo Democrat
fumed during a half-hour interview with The Blade, referring to the federal
agency in charge of regulating the nuclear industry.

She said America's rising energy needs cannot take precedence over public
safety and that, at a minimum, the regulatory commission should require a
new reactor head for Davis-Besse before allowing the utility to restart the

"At this point, the burden of proof falls upon the company and the NRC to
regain the public's trust, which they don't have," Miss Kaptur said.

As to the prospect of a permanent shutdown, she said: "I think right now
that would be my preference."

Five of 69 reactor nozzles developed cracks over a number of years, one of
which allowed boric acid to leak out and burn through the top six inches of
the steel lid.

The only thing that prevented a hole - one that would have allowed
radioactive steam to be released into the containment structure - was a
warped swath of stainless steel that is only three-eighths of an inch
thick. That is about the width of a pencil eraser.

Miss Kaptur is one of at least two Democrats from northern Ohio who want
the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to reject FirstEnergy's anticipated
proposal to fix the reactor head at a cost of up to $10 million. The
utility wants to do that so it can stick to its timetable of getting
Davis-Besse running again by late June.

"Any repair of the current lid is unacceptable," U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich
(D., Cleveland) wrote in a letter to the commission. "There is no
scientific basis that such a repair can withstand the environment of an
operating reactor."

Miss Kaptur and Mr. Kucinich have expressed anti-nuclear views in the past.

Keeping Davis-Besse shut down until a new reactor cap is installed is a
project that could idle the plant until spring 2004 and cost $20 million.

The regulatory commission has not ruled out that possibility.

FirstEnergy must convince federal regulators that it can operate the plant
safely before the government will authorize a restart, commission spokesman
Jan Strasma said.

"If it won't, we'll turn it down," he said of any restart proposal
submitted by the utility.

The issue will be discussed at 9 a.m. April 5 at Oak Harbor High School at
a public meeting during which NRC officials will release their preliminary
inspection results. Officials said they will take questions from the public
after their presentation.

Miss Kaptur sent a letter yesterday to commission Chairman Richard Meserve,
calling for the government agency to organize a "fact-finding session" at
Davis-Besse for members of Congress from this region, as well as those from
other parts of the country with similar nuclear plants.

The commission likely will comply, Mr. Strasma said.

"Any government official who has ever wanted to see our plant has been
afforded that opportunity just by picking up a phone and asking," said
Richard Wilkins, a FirstEnergy spokesman.

Both said they believe the regulatory commission has been diligent in its
role of regulating the nuclear industry.

"Certainly, there's a serious engineering issue at Davis-Besse. It needs to
be fully resolved and we intend to do that," Mr. Strasma said.

Mr. Wilkins said the industry's safety record speaks for itself.

As for Miss Kaptur's preference to mothball Davis-Besse, he replied:
"People who don't like nuclear power want nuclear power plants to be closed
down permanently. Given the amount of electricity [Davis-Besse] generates,
it doesn't seem to be a very sound idea."



Date: Sat, 30 Mar 2002 09:52:12 EST

The safety record of Nuclear Power plants has everything to do with the
genius of the Scientists and Engineers who conceived the concepts and the
Technicians who carried out those designs.

The NRC/DOE have never carried out their principle roles as inspectors and
auditors and that is why we have the near disasters still waiting to happen
at Davis-Bessie and at IP. Both of these organizations are loaded with
incompetent boobs who couldn't design a hat pin, now trying to take credit
for the work that went before them.

The NRC/DOE cannot carry out their role because they lack the intelligence
and training to do so and their bosses who own the industry will not let
them. We will have a terrible accident in this Country someday and than the
jackasses in Washington will point to everyone but themselves.
John Shannon

[Note: Jack Shannon is a Nuclear Reactor Physicist responsible for the design of the D2G Nuclear Reactor.  This Nuclear Reactor is the most widely used Nuclear Reactor in the Naval Fleet.  It is used on all High Speed Nuclear Attack Submarines and on all Nuclear Cruisers.]


From: "Dorothy Tennov" <>
To: "Russell D. Hoffman" <>
Subject: His name was Randy Robarge
Date: Thu, 28 Mar 2002 18:28:26 -0500


National Whistleblower Center
P.O. Box 3768
Washington, DC 20007
Phone: (202) 342-1902
Fax: (202) 342-1904

 Randy Robarge, litigant against NRC was on C-SPAN2 2/27/02 at program of
National Whistleblower Center -  He said nuclear plants not designed to
withstand  attack; govt not telling the truth. No fly zones ordered within a
week of his speaking up, but they are not enough. ...

Difficult days as a whistleblower.