From: "Russell D. Hoffman" <>
Subject: Davis-Besse -- Collected News and Views #8 -- April 28th, 2002

Davis-Besse Newsletter #8 -- Collected by Russell D. Hoffman, April 28th, 2002

Items are separated by two sets of "equals signs" (======).

Previous items in this collection can be found online by going here:

This collection is available online here:


1) Hear about the near accident at the Ohio nuclear plant? I'm not surprised. (Victor Gilinsky, Washington Post, April 28, 2002)

2) Here are some differences between Davis-Besse and Oyster Creek (Russell D. Hoffman, April 28th, 2002)

3) Independent look sought into woes at Ohio nuke plant (Tom Henry, Toledo Blade, April 25, 2002)

4) Reflections on technology and responsibility / Ideally, science is nothing more than truth, unmasked (letter to American Physics Society (APS), April 19th, 2002)

5) [JerseyShoreNuclearWatch] From the NYT: April 13, 2002 The Hole in the Reactor By DANIEL F. FORD (with comments by Raymond Shadis)

6) Correspondence with Dr. W. R. Corcoran, Ph.D., P.E., Nuclear Safety Review Concepts

7) U.S. Questions Nuclear Plant's Repair Plan (Matt Wald, NY Times, April 11th, 2002)

8) US finds no widespread corrosion at nuclear plants  (Reuters, April 10th, 2002)

9) Government officials, neighbors voice little fear over plant safety, cite economic impact (Jim Mackinnon, Beacon Journal business writer, April 5th, 2002)

10) Chernobyl's legacy of radioactive poisoning passed on (Elizabeth Piper, Reuters, 4/26/2002 (published in the Boston Globe))

11) 50 Questions about San Onofre Nuclear Waste Generating Station (by Russell D. Hoffman, 4/25/2002)


1) Hear about the near accident at the Ohio nuclear plant? I'm not surprised. (Victor Gilinsky, Washington Post, April 28, 2002)


In the article shown below, Victor Gilinsky, a former NRC commissioner (who was a commissioner during Three Mile Island) joins the cackle of complainers about Davis-Besse.  While this signifies that the news blackout is breaking slightly, Gilinsky is hardly an ally of the anti-nuclear movement.  He thinks reactors can be made safe with a little more regulatory control. Here's a quote from him from a PBS show which aired January 1st, 1999 : "The really important thing is that we don't become complacent about these things. We're doing very well. We're doing better. Most of the -- almost all the plants are doing much better. People know the equipment much better, understand the problems much better. But, I think it's important to keep it up."  Just over two years later, after Davis-Besse, he feels basically the same way.  He learned nothing from Three Mile Island and stands well on the way towards learning nothing from Davis-Besse.

-- Russell D. Hoffman


 FYI- A former US NRC Commissioner joins citizen advocates in asserting that today's US Nuclear Regulatory Commission too often tells itself, Congress, local governments, news media and the citizenry what the nuclear industry wants to hear.
Raymond Shadis
Staff Advisor
New England Coalition
on Nuclear Pollution   
Hear about the near accident at the Ohio nuclear plant? I'm not surprised.
By Victor Gilinsky
Sunday, April 28, 2002; Page B01

You wouldn't know it from the bland pronouncements of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), but the U.S. nuclear industry just had its closest brush with disaster since the 1979 Three Mile Island accident. The Davis-Besse nuclear power plant, located about 30 miles east of Toledo, Ohio, was operating with a rust hole in the top of its reactor pressure vessel -- a hole wide and deep enough to put your fist into. All that was left to contain the reactor's highly pressurized supply of cooling water around the reactor core was a three-eighths inch liner of stainless steel, and the liner had started to bulge ominously. If the liner had burst, it would have drained cooling water vital for safety and also threatened the reactor's emergency shutdown system.

The plant operator's neglect is bad enough. If this had occurred in Russia, we would be saying it could never happen here. Equally disturbing is the NRC's barely audible response.

The preliminary report of FirstEnergy, the nuclear plant owner, details what happened. During a routine refueling shutdown in February, the company inspected several dozen nozzles to check for cracks, as required by the NRC. The nozzles, located on the head of the reactor vessel, permit control rods to enter the vessel to shut down the reactor, quickly if necessary. A workman discovered the rust hole by luck -- when he happened to bang into one of the control rod tubes coming out of the top of the reactor and it moved. If the reactor had gone back into operation, as it very nearly did, the consequences could have been enormous in terms of public safety as well as the future of the nuclear industry.

It turned out that corrosion had reduced 70 pounds of steel, half a foot thick, to rust. The corrosion was caused by boric acid on the outside of the head. How did the acid get there? The water inside the reactor vessel contains dissolved boric acid, which is used to assist reactor control. Because boric acid corrodes carbon steel, the reactor vessel's interior is lined with stainless steel. The boric acid is not supposed to get to the vessel's exterior, which remains vulnerable to corrosion. But at Davis-Besse the reactor's water leaked through cracks -- it still isn't clear which ones -- and created a boric acid crust on the outside of the reactor head.

This accumulation and damage doesn't happen overnight. The company report explains the hole hadn't been found earlier because, "Boric acid that accumulated on the top of the [Reactor Pressure Vessel] head over a period of years inhibited the station's ability to confirm visually that neither nozzle leakage nor vessel corrosion was occurring." In plain English that means that the company watched the boric acid crust cover an increasing area of the head for years and did nothing about it. That's not all. Some of the reactor vessel rust became airborne and clogged the reactor building's air filters. The filters had previously been changed monthly, but from 1999 on they had to be changed every other day. The company's report says the possibility of corrosion "was not recognized as a safety significant issue by the staff and management of the plant." Obviously the NRC, which had inspectors on site, did not recognize it either.

How important is this? The reactor vessel head resembles a rounded lid that is bolted to the vessel. It's about 15 feet in diameter. The reactor vessel and the vessel head are designed and manufactured with exquisite care from special steel a half-foot thick (with the thin liner of stainless steel). The vessel and head of every reactor have to be monitored throughout their life to make sure that radiation has not caused the metal to become brittle. This is vital because the NRC licensed the plant on the assumption that a break in the reactor vessel is not credible. As a result, the reactor's safety analysis does not deal with breaks in the vessel wall. The reactor's emergency actions operators are trained to cope with breaks in pipes, not the vessel. Some safety systems might work for such a break; then again they might not. The problem was not studied. There would likely be unforeseen complications.

An obvious complication would involve malfunctioning of the control rod system that is supposed to stop the chain reaction in an emergency. There is no backup to the control rods for immediate shutdown. The plant's safety analysis considers the possibility that a limited number of rods, out of several dozen, could fail to drop. The control rod adjacent to the rust hole would have been one of these. But what about the damage that might be caused to other control rod drives above the head if a hole in the vessel unleashed a jet of steam and water coming out of the pressurized vessel? A telling sign that the industry understands the seriousness of the Davis-Besse problem is the silence from the Nuclear Energy Institute, the industry's lobbying arm, which is usually quick to spin a nuclear story. All in all, what happened at Davis-Besse was a narrow escape.

But that isn't the way the NRC has described it in public. The agency's spokesperson told the media that the rust hole didn't pose a safety threat. If the last bit of metal had failed and "allowed steam to escape," the NRC official said, safety systems would have immediately cooled the reactor. Anyway, he said, there would have been no danger to the public. "It's only when you get into the what-ifs that you would have had any leakage from the reactor cooling system." The man was talking through his hat. In reality, the NRC doesn't know what would have happened because the possibility has been considered too unlikely to plan for.

The failure to face up to reality reflects an unhealthy situation. Such spokesmen say what their bosses want them to say, and for several years, the NRC has been knocking itself out to please the industry. The situation worsened in 1998 when the NRC's Senate oversight committee, Environment and Public Works, with strong prompting from the industry association, threatened the NRC with a sharp budget cut. The NRC chairman got the message and revamped the agency's regulatory approach along the lines suggested by the industry. The current commission has by and large continued the same approach, but with a less experienced senior staff. The previous chairman had forced the resignation of the agency's most experienced and competent top officials, who had showed an unwelcome independence of mind.

Just before Davis-Besse's problem surfaced, the NRC gave the plant its quarterly rating under the new rating system. Davis-Besse got the top grade in all 18 categories. From my experience in two terms as an NRC commissioner, during which I visited most of the plants, including this one, I find it inconceivable that everything was fine at Davis-Besse except for one corrosion hole in the reactor vessel. If the plant managers let this problem go, they must have let others go, too. People working in nuclear plants are pretty smart and generally want to do a good job. But they stop asking questions about things that aren't right when they know what answer management is going to give them. At that point, danger lurks.

The NRC has investigated and has now asked other plants to check to make sure they are not suffering from the Davis-Besse problem, but on an unhurried schedule. To a greater extent than ever before we are relying for nuclear safety on the self-regulation of the nuclear operators. Most of them have done a good job, steadily improving their performance. But there are limits to the idea put forward by the industry that post-deregulation financial pressures make for better safety because the operators want to protect their investment. As we know, short-term bottom line orientation also leads some to overreaching, defer necessary modifications or neglect maintenance. Congress and NRC management need to acknowledge that private and public incentives differ.

The late Morris Udall, who as chairman of the House Interior Committee was the principal congressional overseer of the NRC in its early years, used to say that a forceful and respected NRC was an essential condition of nuclear power. It is still true.

Victor Gilinsky, a Washington-based consultant on energy, was an NRC commissioner from 1975 to 1984.

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2) Here are some differences between Davis-Besse and Oyster Creek (Russell D. Hoffman, April 28th, 2002)


To: Jersey Shore Nuclear Watch

Here are some differences between Davis-Besse and Oyster Creek:

As of 1995 Davis-Besse had 267 tons of spent fuel.  It currently is using dry cask storage.  Oyster Creek had 421 tons of spent fuel on site as of 1995, so that's probably over one million pounds of spent fuel by now, all located on site as far as I know.  They will be using dry casks soon if they aren't already.

Both sites have undoubtedly reracked and re-reracked their spent fuel pools already (they probably  "pioneered" some of these dangerous techniques).  One wonders how many times they've dropped things into or near the pools, weakening the structures.  For example, at another reactor similar to Oyster Creek in design, a 300 pound bolt was accidentally dropped into the spent fuel pool some years back.  The damage from such accidents might not show up for years and years, perhaps not until a nearby earthquake rattles the building.

Davis-Besse is a Pressurized Water Reactor.  Oyster Creek is a Boiling Water Reactor, a GE Mark 1, notorious old behemoths with their spent fuel pools located dangerously above the reactors themselves.  Oyster Creek is the oldest of the old: "The first large-scale commercial nuclear power plant in the United States" (as described at the owner's web site).  Ginna, a 490 Megawatt PWR in New York, also went online in 1969.  The Ginna plant's web site proudly claims that THEY are the most embrittled plant in the United States -- er, I mean, they say they are the "longest running" reactor in the U.S., which amounts to the same thing.  But perhaps Oyster Creek's sly use of the term "large-scale" was meant to cut Ginna from the competition, so that Oyster Creek could be the most embrittled -- er, again, I mean "longest running" -- reactor in the country.  Nine Mile Point in New York, another GE Mark 1, also went online in 1969, on December 1st.  A bunch of reactors went online in the 1970s.  It was the heyday of nuclear power in America, until Three Mile Island.  Reactors were completed for many years after TMI, but no new ones were ordered.  Some construction projects were abandoned, but not many.

The Davis-Besse incident is being called the closest near-miss in America since TMI.  But it took at least a month before officials began admitting it was even so much as a close call!  Even now, officials are still using terms like "leak" where "rupture" would be appropriate, "liner" where "cladding" is the proper term, "nozzle" for "flange", "accident" for "catastrophe", and even "SCRAM" (dropping the control rods and shutting the plant down) for "meltdown" (failing to drop the control rods and thus losing an area the size of Ohio).  And they are calling "gross negligence" a simple case of "corrosion".

(At an NRC public meeting recently, some NRC officials chastised me (in private conversation before the meeting) for calling the possible "rupture" at Davis-Besse an "explosion".  They also assured me the "liner" (normally called a "cladding" outside the nuclear industry) was in fact, 3/8ths of an inch thick, not 3/16ths.  Ho Hum.  We nearly had a meltdown.  We nearly had a meltdown.  We nearly had a meltdown.  Call it what you will.)

Other reactors near Oyster Creek have their own problems, including Salem and Hope Creek.  These three reactors (two at Salem and one at Hope Creek) were built on an artificial island (called Artificial Island) which will dance the Cha Cha (or maybe the Twist) in an Earthquake, a process known as liquefaction.  Even after last Thursday's real-world proof in New York, I suppose that pro-nukers still don't believe in earthquakes on the East Coast, or tornados (they are only in the Mid-West, they think), or terrorism (that's only in... hmmm...  What DO pro-nukers have to say about that?).

Every reactor has its own unique set of problems.  There isn't a human being alive (nor has there ever been) who understands ALL the issues involved, so it is very easy to be selective about what you will listen to regarding nuclear power.  And to thus give it your "guarded" blessing.  Wrongly.

In reality, America's nuclear reactors are old and embrittled, and destined to cause catastrophic GENOCIDE of American civilians because of our inability to get the reactors shut down through political willpower or by any other means.


Russell Hoffman
(Stop the Bush-Cheney Energy Plan -- Shut the Reactors Now -- Stop the Nuclear Mafia -- Save Planet Earth!)
Carlsbad, CA


At 05:55 AM 4/28/02 , "Eric Epstein" <> wrote:
     Davis-Besse-1 is located in Oak Harbor, Ohio, and came on line
in July, 1978 (began commerical operation November, 1977).
It is a  877 (or 874 depending on the source) MeW
PWR supplied by Babcok and Wilcox (now Framatome.)
The AE was Bechtel.

     Oyster Creek is a 619 (or 650 depedning on the source) MeW BWR
 supplied by GE and it came on line in December, 1969 . The AE was B & R.

    Shalom, Eric

    Mr. Epstein is the Chairman of Three Mile Island Alert , Inc., a safe-energy  organization based in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and founded in 1977. He is the Coordinator of the EFMR Monitoring group, a non-partisan community based organization that monitors Peach Bottom and Three Mile Island nuclear generating stations. Epstein is also the Vice President of the Sustainable Energy Fund of Central Eastern  Pennsylvania.   
[yahoo auto-tags clipped]


3) Independent look sought into woes at Ohio nuke plant (Tom Henry, Toledo Blade, April 25, 2002)


Date: Sat, 27 Apr 2002 10:14:01 EDT
Subject: [DOEWatch] Independent look sought into woes at Ohio nuke plant,1406,KNS_328_1109421,00.html

Independent look sought into woes at Ohio nuke plant
April 25, 2002

Fifteen citizens groups have jointly petitioned government regulators for an
independent, third-party review of unprecedented corrosion problems at
Davis-Besse nuclear plant.

The review, if granted, could further complicate FirstEnergy Corp.'s effort
to restart its beleaguered plant along the Lake Erie shoreline.

Even if the request is denied, FirstEnergy said the plant likely will not
resume operation until at least September, and it will cost investors $80
million to buy replacement power elsewhere this summer to meet consumer

The petition seeking an independent review as allowed by federal law was
submitted Wednesday to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's headquarters in
Rockville, Md., by the Union of Concerned Scientists, a Washington-based
anti-nuclear group.

Other groups known for their anti-nuclear views signed on, including the
Washington-based Nuclear Information and Resource Service, Greenpeace, and
numerous Ohio and Michigan groups.

The NRC can reject the request or order the review. FirstEnergy would be
required to pick up all costs if a review is ordered, but the government
agency would establish parameters of the study and decide who would serve on
that panel, NRC officials said.

"A neutral team of experts is the very least the people of northern Ohio
deserve to ensure the credibility of what FirstEnergy and the NRC are
saying," said a statement issued by one of the petitioners, Christine
Patronik-Holder of the Safe Energy Communication Council in Ohio.

"For too long we've taken their word that the facility was a safe, clean
neighbor. It was not. ... It's a violation of our trust," she said.

FirstEnergy acknowledged on March 7 that it had found corrosion on
Davis-Besse's reactor head. The NRC later said rust - the most extensive
found on top of a U.S. nuclear reactor head - was so thick in some places it
had to be pried away with crowbars.

Leaking boric acid from the reactor is believed to have eaten through the top
six inches of carbon steel over a number of years, leaving only a 3/8-inch
barrier of stainless steel to hold back the reactor's operating pressure of
2,200 pounds per square inch - something the NRC has said it was not designed
to do.

NRC inspectors issued a critical report earlier this month, saying the
utility had no excuse for letting the reactor head fall into such a
condition. The agency said the company failed to pick up on a number of
warning signs.

Petitioners said they are seeking a review of all equipment that might have
been damaged by leaking boric acid, not just the reactor head.


4) Reflections on technology and responsibility / Ideally, science is nothing more than truth, unmasked (letter to American Physics Society (APS), April 19th, 2002)


To Whom It Should Concern,  American Physics Society (APS):

"Publisher Randolph Nanna"  <>
"Judy Franz"  <>
"Gloria Lubkin" <>
"Brodski" <>
"Kenneth McNaughton" <>
"Kevin Aylesworth" <>
et al

From Russell D. Hoffman

April 19th, 2002

Regarding allegations of fraud in the alloys industry and its affect on America's nuclear industry, and related matters, attached below are links to some web pages which I recommend you review thoroughly.

There is no way that the nuclear proponents and the nuclear opponents are both right.  But there are renowned scientists on BOTH sides.  These scientists are usually something in the neighborhood of 5, 6, or even 10 orders of magnitude (WOW!) different in their opinions of things.

The question is: "Who's right?"   Who has been hoodwinked?  And who has done the hoodwinking?

APS is certainly NOT an innocent bystander to all this.  Either you are among the hoodwinkers, or you are among the hoodwinked.

To give you some examples of the varying opinions, Chernobyl is blamed, by the ENTIRE nuclear industry, for a maximum of 29 to 31 deaths (inclusive).  Yet the true figure is almost surely in the tens of thousands and possibly the hundreds of thousands, already, worldwide, and Chernobyl will keep on killing for many millennia to come.

Scientists, lawyers, engineers, inspectors, and yes, even (so I hear), computer programmers, can be, and have been, bought, but you can't buy truth at any price.  It simply waits to be expressed and accepted by humanity.

Another example of the orders-of-magnitude differences:  Although independent scientists disagreed, NASA estimated that the chance of an accident for the Cassini spacecraft, during its August, 1999 flyby of Earth, was less than one in one million.  Yet just one month later NASA lost a Mars probe (called MCO) in a nearly identical maneuver (an orbital insertion, which is mathematically not all that different from a gravitational flyby).  Cassini carried 72.3 pounds of plutonium dioxide, mostly Pu 238 (406,000 Curies).  A failure would have been catastrophic.

A careful look at the available literature suggests that the statistical methods the nuclear industry uses to predict failure rates, and to predict the potential size of the failures which will occur, are subject to wild speculation with numerous places to introduce personal bias into the equations.  Returning to the Cassini example, NASA estimated potential deaths at about 110 people worldwide from a Cassini catastrophe.  One can only speculate at how many orders of magnitude off that estimate was, but it surely was not one, two, or three, but "many" orders of magnitude.  NASA's guestimate was an averaged value, made-up of thousands of small accidents and one or two zingers, a number which was of exactly NO use to society.

Such mathematical flights of whimsy by the nuclear industry and its supporters has the general result that accidents which the nuclear industry predicts will not happen at all, actually happen with terrifying regularity.  Despite all the industry predictions to the contrary, catastrophes are bound to happen, unless we get off the nuclear addiction and switch to renewables.  It CAN be done.  To say it can't is to deny the usefulness of all those photons the Sun sends us each day, and to deny all the work Mother Nature can get out of all that energy, which we witness but don't, ourselves, harness.

Why do we turn to dangerous solutions when clean ones abound?  Perhaps because we have been misinformed.

Where does APS fit in this tragedy?  Right in the middle.

Your organization's repeated endorsement of a deadly industry proves only one thing on your part, but for a group of scientists, it's a pretty bad thing -- ignorance.

Do you have the courage to admit your errors?  If not, millions will die.

Please review the documents I have linked to below. You may recognize MANY of the names in the URLs I've included, including many famous scientists who HAVE had the courage to do what you should do too -- denounce America's nuclear industry as corrupt, replaceable with renewables, non-competitive (in a fair market), extremely dangerous (and all they do is boil water to make steam!), and worst of all:  They have been presenting BAD SCIENCE to the public for half a century, and the public, poor things, have -- slowly but most assuredly -- learned to HATE SCIENCE for bringing us this horror with no solution (and quite a few other horrors, as well).

Have you looked at the Yucca Mountain debate recently?  Nevadans are a tough bunch, and they've sworn not to take America's high-level radioactive waste.  Do you know what the alternatives are?  The debate among so-called activists is over vertical dry casks versus horizontal dry casks.

Maybe YOU should tell them that a careful engineering analysis, done with the fastest computers in the world suggests that stopping the more-than-twice-weekly production of a NEW dry cask's worth of radioactive waste in America would be a MUCH BETTER alternative to our current behavior, and that FURTHER COMPUTER ANALYSIS suggests that a 747, or just about any plane, could BREACH any suggested (or heretofore implemented) dry cask storage method.

You should tell the public that modern computer analysis of undersea "thrust faults" suggests that coastal reactors need to be shut down, because there are many such fault lines crisscrossing parts of every ocean, which could produce large waves which can combine and throw a phenomenal amount of water onto the land somewhere thousands of miles away from the fault.  But also, you need to tell them that the math becomes TOO COMPLICATED even for the fastest computers (in part because the data is insufficient, in part because the calculations are too intricate).

And you should tell them, as well, that offshore asteroids can happen anywhere and have the same effect as an earthquake in that they can create a huge wave which will inundate a coastal nuclear facility.  And, if even a relatively tiny asteroid actually impacts a nuclear reactor and its spent fuel pool, say, Indian Point or San Onofre, where there are vast, vast quantities of waste stored, the disaster could well be described as being of "Biblical proportions".  The death toll from an asteroid impact at a major nuclear facility near a major city could be greater than the combined total of all the wars so far fought throughout history.  This is a very interesting, cold, hard fact.  The nuclear industry equates it, however, with "impossible".  It is your duty to know exactly how possible this, and millions of other scenarios, really are.  The nuclear industry ignores all low-probability accidents.  The Yucca Mountain "scientific" team likewise ignored thousands of scenarios as being so unlikely as to be "impossible".  But there will be over 100,000 shipments, and each shipment will be an average distance of over 1000 miles, and their statistics just don't cover the magnitude of what they are proposing to do.

The reactor operators play a game of chance, and because nearly 50,000 tons of Spent Fuel already exists in America, all we can hope to do is improve the odds by stopping production, and building better containments for the spent fuel we've already foolishly created.  But to decide to do that, we must first face reality.  That's where APS is supposed to come in.

Someone has to be a reliable source of truth despite all pressures to the contrary, such as deep financial interests, close personal friendships, wanting to go-with-the-flow, or even fear of being denounced for having a concern for the environment (which you might not even have -- you might just be looking for the truth, but you will be denounced as an environmentalist anyway).

Honesty may require suffering many insults, but it is the only way to solve the problem of INCREASING the high-level nuclear waste pile by 10 tons EVERY DAY in America, while thousands of potential renewable energy sources go undeveloped.

That sort of honesty has been lacking for too long regarding the nuclear industry and those who pretend to observe it.  Media is largely afraid to tackle the complex technical issues involved, such as the ones discussed in many of the URLs given below: alloy embrittlement and fraud.  Mainstream reporters that do try to tackle the issue honestly are pounced on by industry "experts" who have a confused sense of industrial/historic failure rates of large technological "marvels" like the Titanic and Davis-Besse.

But surely APS members have access to the software tools needed for a THOROUGH analysis, and some of your members are experts in these fields and can immediately vouch for, at least in a cursory way, the things I've claimed.  My web site includes hundreds of statements by experts, as well.

Here then are some URLs you can start with for investigating the allegations against the Nuclear Mafia.  With reference to Davis-Besse, the allegations stretch back decades and result in one conclusion:  The alloys which our nuclear plants are made of are embrittled!  The welding alloys especially.  The old gray mare just ain't what she used to be!  She's now liable to break a leg when she gets up a head of steam.  Can we afford to wait?  No.  If Davis-Besse proves nothing else, it proves we've waited long enough.

Here are some URLs for documents I and some friends have been creating regarding Davis-Besse.  We will have additional material posted soon:

Eugene Wigner, Ed Siegel & Mark Hetherington and others identified it, now it's happening!

Technical details on near-catastrophe at Davis-Besse are profoundly disturbing (based on early information):

"Sanitized view of Davis-Besse" (+ NYT article + jet impact comments)

Dave Lochbaum's (Union of Concerned Scientists) "backgrounder" on Davis-Besse:

Executive Summary of Embrittlement issues and allegations with names, dates, places, etc:

Additional information will be posted here soon:

Here's an essay on Yucca Mountain from September 6th, 2001, preceded by a statement made on 9-11:

For a list of all nuclear power plants in America:

Dry Cask Storage or Spent Fuel Pool Storage:  Which is safer?

A response to the NRC's September 21st, 2001 Press Release:


Russell Hoffman
Concerned Citizen
Computer Programmer
Carlsbad, CA


5) [JerseyShoreNuclearWatch] From the NYT: April 13, 2002 The Hole in the Reactor By DANIEL F. FORD (with comments by Raymond Shadis)


To: "NECNP" <>,
        "NRC CONCERNS" <>, <>,
        "Jersey Shore Nuclear Watch" <>

From: "Raymond Shadis" <>
Date: Mon, 15 Apr 2002 10:17:49 -0400
Subject: [JerseyShoreNuclearWatch] DETAILS EMERGE ON DAVIS-BESSE (NYT).

Thanks to Anne D Burt, Friends of the Coast,  for sending this article on.

FYI-  More DETAILS EMERGE on DAVIS-BESSE.  This is the first article I've seen where the reactor pressure vessel head  material remaining at the base of the corroded hole is properly identified as, cladding. At Maine Yankee ( and it may be for Davis-Besse, as well) the interior of the reactor was coated with stainless steel by running bead after bead of  stainless steel arc-weld around and around the inside surface of the vessel, like coil-made pottery, until the surface was covered with the requisite thickness (about 3/8". Each pass of the welder requires cleaning and inspection before the next pass so to insure that the bead is continuous, contains no bubbles or slag,has a surface free of slag, and is uniformly melted into the beads of weld below and along side of the new bead. There are thousands of opportunities to include and cover flaws. While such flaws provide starting places for tears, cracks, or corrosion, not-to-worry because cladding is not meant contain pressure and it may be that credit for the strength of cladding is not  taken in pressure vessel analysis.  However, with the pressure vessel gone, the "built-up" character of cladding must, it seems to me, says something about depending on the strength and durability ( including sensitization and stress corrosion cracking) of the remaining material- stainless stel or no, relatively small cross-section or no.  Ray

The article Ray attached is included below and also available here:


From the NYT:

April 13, 2002
The Hole in the Reactor

This week the FirstEnergy Corporation, owner of the 25-year-old Davis-Besse
nuclear power plant near Toledo, Ohio, proposed welding a steel Band-Aid to
the top of the plant's cracked nuclear reactor, now so corroded that 70
pounds of steel have been eaten away. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission
expressed skepticism that this patch-up would be adequate to prevent a
dangerous leak in the reactor, but given this plant's history, skepticism is
hardly enough.

Problems at Davis-Besse aren't new. In 1986, after the nuclear reactor
meltdown at Chernobyl, Tom Brokaw asked me on NBC television which American
nuclear power plant I thought was most likely to experience a catastrophic
accident. One of my top picks was Davis-Besse - a unit with the same design
as the Three Mile Island plant in Pennsylvania that had a partial meltdown
in 1979.

Davis-Besse's current troubles began when technicians fixing a cracked
control rod nozzle earlier this year stumbled on a far more astonishing
safety lapse - the corrosion in the supposedly fortress-quality reactor. But
for this chance discovery and the immediate shutdown of the plant, the stage
was set for the hemorrhaging of cooling water and a possible meltdown of the
reactor, which could have led to a release of a large plume of radioactive

I was not making a wild guess when I pointed to Davis-Besse in 1986. For
more than a decade I had studied the records of American nuclear reactors
with the M.I.T. physicist Henry Kendall. Davis-Besse's underlying problems -
the plant was frequently cited for substandard safety practices - were
legendary, yet nuclear safety officials did little to rectify them.

That large steel pressure vessels might develop dangerous cracks after years
of operation was recognized in the 60's and 70's, yet the Atomic Energy
Commission forged ahead. It required all nuclear plants to install emergency
cooling systems for pipes connected to the reactor. But there was no such
protection possible for the reactor itself, and the commission simply ruled
that the rupture of these vessels was an "incredible event." Many at the
commission knew differently and were concerned about this and other safety

It's appropriate now, I think, several years after his death, to identify
the Deep Throat who helped acquaint Henry Kendall and me with the problems
in American nuclear power plants. In 1974, at the Cosmos Club in Washington,
Kendall and I were handed a briefcase full of papers by John F. O'Leary, the
director of licensing of the A.E.C. He believed in nuclear energy, he said,
but only if it were done right. And it wouldn't be unless more details of
the problems got out and better regulation was demanded. We studied the
papers and distributed them to journalists. Major reports ran in the
national press.

Maintenance, quality control, equipment testing and inspection - these had
been described as bywords of nuclear safety. But most nuclear plants,
according to the commission's own internal audits, were failing badly on all
counts. When we asked O'Leary how he could possibly sign off on more and
more plant licenses, he offered his personal rationale: Things would leak
before they broke. There would be some warning, and the surrounding area
could be evacuated in time.

Today we have dozens of aging (and corroding and creaking) nuclear plants,
licensed in the 1970's, operating close to our major cities. The reactor
with a hole in its head at Davis-Besse is proof that the reforms and safety
upgrades promised after O'Leary's revelations and Three Mile Island and
Chernobyl have not, to put it delicately, had full success. The Nuclear
Regulatory Commission has let Davis-Besse operate year in and year out with
documented bad maintenance. It may seem melodramatic but is probably
accurate to say the N.R.C. safety inspection program is on a par with our
hit-or-miss airport security.

With federal regulation having proved ineffective, it may now be time for
the attorneys general in states with trouble-plagued nuclear plants to take
potential meltdowns seriously. They could join together, as they did in
litigation concerning cigarettes, and some of those plants might just find
their licenses revoked.

Daniel F. Ford was executive director of the Union of Concerned Scientists
from 1971 to 1979 and is author of "Three Mile Island" and "The Cult of the
Atom: The Secret Papers of the Atomic Energy Commission."

Copyright 2002 The New York Times Company | Privacy Information


6) Correspondence with Dr. W. R. Corcoran, Ph.D., P.E., Nuclear Safety Review Concepts

The next section contains correspondence between Dr. Bill Corcoran, Glen Mills, and Russell Hoffman, separated by dashed-lines.  It is not in completely chronological order (my apologies). --rdh


To: "Dr. Bill Corcoran at NSRC" <>
Subject: Re: Management failures at San Onofre

cc: Dr. W. R. Corcoran, Ph.D., P.E., Nuclear Safety Review Concepts, Windsor, CT

Hi Glen,

I have a rather long list things which I think could be generally summed up under the heading of "management failures" at San Onofre, including that after the "crane drop incident", I heard from a reliable employee that management had said that the accident had cost about $5 million dollars, only about 10% of which was the cost of replacing the crane.  Replacing everything else that was worn, like straps and hooks, and giving brush-up training on things like how and when to use a spreader I-beam when lifting a load, and getting everything ready for inspection, made up to the rest of those costs, this according to someone who attended these classes along with about 60 other people (and there were multiple classes).  It's what management themselves was telling the employees at the classes.

Now sure, Dr. Corcoran and the nuclear industry can TRY to argue that obviously things are better at San Onofre now.  After all, he might say, they gave the riggers those classes, didn't they, so now everything must be okay.  And after the fire in February of last year, that resulted in an argument with the local fire department and then a four-month outage for one of San Onofre's two reactors (an outage which ended the very day they dropped the 80,000 lb crane about 50 feet), he would no doubt argue that at least the firemen and the plant employees all now know who's going to do what when there's another fire raging somewhere.  When seconds count, it's best to know this stuff beforehand.  You'd have thought, in the 30+ years since the plant was built, this would have all been worked out ahead of time.

Obviously, you'd be wrong.

(By the way, the firemen -- NOT the reactor employees -- were right about how to put out the fire and should have been allowed to do their thing.  But does that mean they've been properly trained for all possible accidents, like a dry fuel storage cask with an airplane sticking out of it? Not at all!)

There were still more explosions and fires to round out the year, and the same on into 2002.  An airplane nearly crashed into the plant on Christmas day (one of God's gifts to humanity that day was that the plane crashed, instead of into San Onofre, into the ocean less than a mile away).  An ex-long-time employee (17 years at the plant -- I bet he knew a trick or two regarding how to get past the guards!) threatened to shoot up the place (and had 300 powerful weapons with which to do it).  There's been at least one SCRAM since they dropped that crane less than a year ago, and the list goes on and on -- since those classes that resulted from the "crane drop" were offered at San Onofre, there have been plenty more indicators of wretched mismanagement and unnecessary public risk, including, for example, a sudden drop of the forks on "Big Bertha", their biggest forklift (or was it the one bigger than Big Bertha, I forget).  But the last guy to walk under the tines -- I bet HE remembers!).

At Davis-Besse we came 3/16ths of an inch, stretched out by 1/8th of an inch, of stainless steel away from a severe accident which would have been financially catastrophic as well as environmentally catastrophic.  Anyone who has made any inquiries into the matter knows we came very close to a major tragedy -- especially if the explosive ripping of the stainless steel liner caused the whole embrittled reactor head to fracture, causing the control rods to be blown away, causing a meltdown of epic proportions.

My point is, we came very close to having very little data left to go back and study!  Yet because the sh_t didn't QUITE actually hit the fan, all Dr. Corcoran and the whole nuclear industry, for that matter, can think of doing is looking at the records -- yes, I think every employee of Davis-Besse should be thrown in jail immediately pending the outcome of a thorough investigation, and all records should be seized, and all assets frozen.  But that's still a side-show.  There are 100+ other reactors around the country, all operating on the brink of meltdown, all capable in an instant, a fraction of a second, of tearing themselves and their so-called containment apart.

The shrouds on the reactor heads at San Onofre have never been removed, have they?  So who can tell if one of the San Onofre units is a Davis-Besse in the making?  And what about all the other embrittlement issues, including possible decades-long FRAUD at the highest levels of the companies selling the welding alloys to ALL the reactor builders?  The reactors are embrittled from thermal heat, and from vibration, as well as from radiation, but the industry pretends that thermal embrittlement doesn't happen.

Chernobyl's repair sarcophagus, built after its fatal meltdown, is cracking and in desperate need of replacement.  Is it because the cement wasn't properly mixed, or is it just expected radiation damage?  It would be the same with our so-called containments, which are only a few feet thick at the top and full of holes for coolant, more coolant, still more coolant, and wiring, and people, and fuel, and so on, and all the doors and seals and flanges have welds, and so on.

All these holes will leak.  The hot, bubbling contents of a meltdown would ooze out even if the start of the event was NOT a breach of the containment from, say, an airplane or missile strike.

Or, as I like to put it, "Containment?  WHAT containment?  You mean that large cement "colander"? It's full of holes!"


Russell Hoffman
Carlsbad, CA
(formerly of CT)

Included below: Glen Mills' correspondence with Dr. Corcoran


To: "Dr. Bill Corcoran at NSRC" <>
Cc: <>,
        "Russell D. Hoffman" <>
Subject: CREDIBLE?

In the mid 1960's in response to long term steam generator tube integrity
questions on SONGS Unit 1, Westinghouse said that steam generator tube
failure was not a credible event. We now know this to be wrong. The NRC and
industry have claimed that reactor vessel failure was not a credible event.
With the recent findings at Davis-Besse we may learn that reactor vessel
failure is a credible event and an unanalyzed safety issue. In any event
based on my correspondence with the NRC regarding LOCA, the NRC will argue
that even if the reactor vessel should experience a massive sudden failure
the public and plant workers would be protected by the containment and other
systems. The NRC always falls back on the containment to justify accepting
the unacceptable.

With regards to boric acid damage to the vessel, several things maybe over
looked. The damage may start from the inside so a visual inspection of the
head area is not adequate. Areas other than the head area maybe affected and
these areas maybe inaccessible. The boric acid does not always exist as a
benign dry powder but in some critical areas could be in the liquid state
where it could do serious damage. There could be defects in the stainless
steel cladding which leak boric acid onto the carbon steel portion of the
vessel in areas other than the head. This is only a starter of things that
could be over looked or not understood. The experiment continues and the NRC
says do not worry we have the containment. OK, but I am getting to be an old
man who once tested containment isolation valves and was shocked at their
failure rate.And this was in nice no accident conditions. It time for
morning coffee and have a good day to everyone. It is time for the other
side to present their case for doing as little as possible to save money and
keep nuclear competitive. Having worked in the industry for over 30 years I
know what they are now thinking.


To: "Dr. Bill Corcoran at NSRC" <>,
        "millsglen" <>
Cc: "Paul Blanch" <>,
        "Russell D. Hoffman" <>,
Subject: Re: CREDIBLE?


At this time, I believe, the most important thing to be done is to get the
full story of the D-B episode.

How did the situation get as bad as it was? Who are the individuals and
organizations who could have stopped it? Why didn't they?

If it had not been detected when it was detected what could have happened?

The industry suffers from going to the next problem before the last one is

It's like MBDCC (Management by Dogs Chasing Cars).

What questions do you have about D-B?

Best Regards,

Bill Corcoran

W. R. Corcoran, Ph.D., P.E.
Nuclear Safety Review Concepts
21 Broadleaf Circle
Windsor, CT 06095-1634
Mission: Saving lives, pain, assets, and careers through thoughtful inquiry.

Check out our e-group  at
where you will find all back issues of "The Firebird Forum".

For a complimentary subscription to our e-newsletter on root cause,
organizational learning, and safety send a message to


To: "Dr. Bill Corcoran at NSRC" <>
Cc: "Russell D. Hoffman" <>,
Subject: Re: CREDIBLE?

When you talk to the management at SONGS they will tell you that maybe D-B
did not do things right but SONGS does do it right. And Dave Lochbaum will
tell you that SONGS is better management than D-B. So the question is: what
is the difference between SONGS and D-B that makes SONGS better? It should
be easy to answer that question. Just examine, audit, survey both, note the
difference and make D-B like SONGS. But some how doubt it is that easy.
Remember that the SONGS engineering organization has had some close calls
also but less well known. Could it be just better PR? A difference in
perceptive without a real difference? The questions and problems intrigue me
but I do not have the answers, at least none that I am willing to talk

You ask "Who are the individuals and organizations who could have stopped
it? Why didn't they? ....". I believe this is the wrong approach. You are
not going to get good answers from people went asking such questions. They
will feel you are on a witch hunt and will not be cooperative or they will
answer so as to promote their own interest. I feel a better approach is to
pursue the problem from an objective technical/engineering prospective. This
will give you an easier fix than trying to resolve the problem by changing
people. For example, in the early days of airplane flight most accidents
were caused by mechanical failure. That problem has been resolved in some
peoples mind and most accidents today are blamed on pilot error. But no one
has been able to eliminate pilot error. So we are back to solving the
problem technically instead of fixing the human pilot which no one has
succeeded. The computer now fly the most advanced aircraft. They can land
without the pilot seeing the runway. There are still problems with this
engineering fix but they are still easier to resolve than fixing the human


To: "Russell D. Hoffman" <>
Subject: Fw: [Root_Cause_State_of_the_Practice] RVH Update 04/11/02

----- Original Message -----
From: Dr. Bill Corcoran at NSRC
Sent: Thursday, April 11, 2002 9:44 AM
Subject: [Root_Cause_State_of_the_Practice] RVH Update 04/11/02

Please scroll down to see today's update.
It will undoubtedly be a long time before the whole story is known.
There seem to been many important lessons to be learned for many people and many organizations, but for now the questions have the answers outnumbered.
Best Regards,
Bill Corcoran
W. R. Corcoran, Ph.D., P.E.
Nuclear Safety Review Concepts
21 Broadleaf Circle
Windsor, CT 06095-1634
Mission: Saving lives, pain, assets, and careers through thoughtful inquiry.
Check out our e-group  at
where you will find all back issues of "The Firebird Forum".
For a complimentary subscription to our e-newsletter on root cause, organizational learning, and safety send a message to


Dear Sir,

Thanks for your email (shown below).

Linear failure rates in components of complex subsystems can, in and of itself, lead to exponentially-increasing failure rates of the larger system that the subsystems are a part of.  This is a serious problem at our nuclear reactors, which are among some of the most complex systems ever built.  Also, the most dangerous.

Last night I attended a local NRC-sponsored event in which my local utility was told they are doing fine, that no site-specific license is needed for them to add dry cask storage, that they have satisfactorily proven that all foreseeable security breaches can be contained, and that the licensee is confident their plants can survive a plane crash ala 9-11.

As to the question of vertical versus horizontal dry casks, I was told that it's like this:  Some people prefer one-story homes, and some prefer two-story homes.  I suppose it IS like that, too:  After all, neither would survive a plane crashing into it.

I would be happy to chat with you any time it's mutually convenient.


Russell Hoffman
Carlsbad, CA

At 01:36 PM 4/16/02 , you wrote:
Thanks for all the information and URL's.
I hope you will keep me on distribution for D-B-related material.
Maybe we can chat on the phone some time.
E-mail is such a limiting medium. It is easy to miss where people are really coming from.
Best Regards,
Bill Corcoran
W. R. Corcoran, Ph.D., P.E.
Nuclear Safety Review Concepts
21 Broadleaf Circle
Windsor, CT 06095-1634
Mission: Saving lives, pain, assets, and careers through thoughtful inquiry.
Check out our e-group  at
where you will find all back issues of "The Firebird Forum".
For a complimentary subscription to our e-newsletter on root cause, organizational learning, and safety send a message to


7) U.S. Questions Nuclear Plant's Repair Plan (Matt Wald, NY Times, April 11th, 2002)


April 11, 2002

U.S. Questions Nuclear Plant's Repair Plan


BETHESDA, Md., April 10 Officials from an Ohio nuclear power plant
assured federal regulators today that they could repair corrosion that had
eaten nearly all the way through a reactor lid, but faced a barrage of
questions from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff.

Executives of the Davis-Besse nuclear plant near Toledo met with
commission officials to convince them that they could repair the hole by
filling it with a 13-inch stainless steel disk, welded into place.

After a three-hour meeting, the executives left with a long list of
questions to answer, including how they would make sure that the heat of a
welder's torch would not further damage the metal.

Sixty-eight other reactors around the nation have a design similar to
Davis-Besse's, and the commission is trying to determine if any of them
have incurred the same kind of corrosion. All 68 have said they did not,
but some did not provide enough of a basis for their assurances, said Ken
Karwoski, a corrosion specialist with the commission.

At Davis-Besse, which is owned by the FirstEnergy Corporation of Akron,
Ohio, cooling water from the reactor leaked from nozzles on the reactor
head; boric acid, which is mixed into the water to control the nuclear
reaction, ate away about 70 pounds of metal, going through six inches of
exterior steel.

When the 25-year-old reactor was shut for refueling and repair of the
nozzles this year, all that was left was a thin layer of steel meant to
control corrosion inside the vessel.

The regulators were shocked by the extent of the corrosion. Leaks were
well known, but government and industry officials believed that when they
occurred, the temperature at the vessel head, more than 600 degrees, would
boil the water away and leave nothing but a harmless boron powder.

After investigating, the commission staff concluded that the Davis-Besse
operators had missed many opportunities to find the problem before it
became so serious.

Critics of nuclear power agreed.

"When you're using a crowbar to knock the stuff off the reactor head, it's
a sign you've gone too far," said David Lochbaum, a nuclear engineer with
the Union of Concerned Scientists. Workers had pried boric acid off the
head during a refueling shutdown in 2000.

At the meeting today, about a dozen commission staff members asked about
the "repair concept" that company officials presented.

"It's a first-of-a-kind repair," said Brian W. Sheron, associate director
for project licensing and technology assessment at the commission. "The
staff is very concerned that whatever we approve, they are confident it is
going to hold up."

One issue, Mr. Sheron said, was "just the sheer size of the weld" to
hold in place a piece 13 inches in diameter and about 6 inches thick.

FirstEnergy officials said the session had given them a clear indication
of what information their plan would need to include to satisfy the
commission. The company had hoped to submit that plan next week but
company executives said after the session that it might take longer.

If contractors cannot repair the vessel head, the company plans to replace
it with the head from a reactor in Midland, Mich., that was abandoned
during construction, or the head of a retired plant in Sacramento. They
have also ordered a new reactor head, but do not expect delivery before
February 2004.

Delays are expensive because the plant employs 780 people, whether or not
it generates electricity; property taxes alone run $500,000 a month.
Officials hope to have the reactor running by summer.

Opponents say that would be too soon. Christine Patronik-Holder, a
spokeswoman for the Safe Energy Communication Council, said that until
everyone agreed on exactly how the corrosion occurred, "plans to place
patches amount to little more than Russian roulette with the lives of
northern Ohioans."

But the company is proceeding to figure out repair details, including how
it will check for leaks when the work is completed.

Radiation dosage in the repair area is so high that a welder would absorb
in two hours as much radiation as the industry usually allows workers to
incur in a year. In two and a half hours, the welder would reach the
annual limit the commission sets. So the plan will rely on robot welders.

Indeed, radiation in the affected area is so high that it will be a
challenge just to X-ray the completed repairs to look for any flaws.
Framatome, the French reactor company that will do much of the work, said
it could compensate for the high background radiation.

Copyright 2002 The New York Times Company


8) US finds no widespread corrosion at nuclear plants  (Reuters, April 10th, 2002)


US finds no widespread corrosion at nuclear plants

WASHINGTON, April 10 (Reuters) -

A U.S. government-ordered review of more than five dozen nuclear power plants has not found any corrosion in reactor caps similar to that at the Davis-Besse facility in Ohio, a top U.S. energy official said on Wednesday.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission launched an investigation last month after a corroded cavity was found in the reactor vessel head of the 25-year-old plant owned by FirstEnergy Corp . The agency ordered 68 other similar reactors -- more than half of the nation's 103 nuclear plants -- to look for similar problems.

"I am not aware of any other problems they found," U.S. Energy Undersecretary Robert Card told Reuters, adding that he had been briefed by NRC officials on the matter.

"Thus far, there haven't been any surprises or safety issues in the nuclear plant review," said an NRC spokeswoman.

Card, who was attending a meeting of the National Petroleum Council, said the Energy Department was worried that if serious corrosion had been detected, some of these reactors could have been shut down for up to a year.

That was because the companies that make the huge metal reactor caps were already behind in filling other orders.

He also said the department was worried that shutting down nuclear plants would have caused a spike in natural gas prices, as utilities would be forced to ramp up generation at plants that run on natural gas.

"If half the nuclear fleet went down for six months, you'd nearly double the natural gas need. It can't be done," he said.

Natural gas provides 15 percent of electricity generation, nuclear power accounts for 20 percent and coal about 50 percent.

During a scheduled refueling outage at the Davis-Besse plant that began Feb. 16, FirstEnergy engineers found boric acid had leaked at the base of several of the control rod nozzles that penetrate the reactor.

Boric acid is used in the primary coolant bath surrounding uranium rods in the reactor core.

At one of the nozzles, the acid had eaten all the way through the vessel head, which was 6 inches (15-cm) thick. The vessel head is a massive piece of carbon steel 17 feet (5.2 meters) wide that is bolted down on top of the reactor to prevent any radioactive material from escaping.

The corrosion was so severe that a stainless steel liner 3/8-inch (1 cm) thick inside the reactor was the only barrier left between the reactor core, which operates under enormous pressure, and the metal shroud surrounding the reactor vessel.

FirstEnergy representatives met on Wednesday with officials from the NRC to discuss proposed repairs at the Davis-Besse plant. Agency approval is needed before work could begin.

The company wants to cut the most damaged area at the top of the reactor head and cover it with a stainless steel plate.

The plate would be 12 to 13 inches in diameter, about five inches thick, and weigh between 300 to 400 pounds. It would be welded in place using robotic equipment.


9) Government officials, neighbors voice little fear over plant safety, cite economic impact (Jim Mackinnon, Beacon Journal business writer, April 5th, 2002)


 14 Davis-Besse key to its area

Beacon Journal | 04/05/2002 |

Posted on Fri, Apr. 05, 2002

  Regulators report today on cause of damage

 Davis-Besse key to its area

 Government officials, neighbors voice little fear over plant
safety, cite economic impact

 By Jim Mackinnon

 Beacon Journal business writer
[The Davis-Besse nuclear power plant's cooling tower looms over
the Toussaint River just north of the village of Oak Harbor in
Ottawa County east of Toledo.]
  Bob DeMay / ABJ 
  The Davis-Besse nuclear power plant's cooling tower looms over
the Toussaint River just north of the village of Oak Harbor in
Ottawa County east of Toledo. 

OAK HARBOR - When Nuclear Regulatory Commission officials unveil
their preliminary findings this morning on how and why boric acid
damaged the Davis-Besse nuclear power plant, they will be in a
modern school auditorium built largely with revenue from that
The 9 a.m. meeting, open to the public, will take place in Oak
Harbor High School, several miles from the Lake Erie shore
location of Davis-Besse.
Indeed, a sampling of residents and public officials in the area
said that the FirstEnergy plant, built in the 1970s, is a major
part of the region's economic backbone. Without the plant, they
said, Oak Harbor and surrounding communities would still be
largely dependent on agriculture -- the flat land still boasts
numerous orchards and other farms -- and a lot poorer.
Ottawa County administrator Jere Witt said the plant, which has
more than 800 workers, is the county's largest employer.
Anti-nuclear groups in the state and around the nation have
loudly criticized the boric-acid damage that ate nearly all the
way through the reactor head vessel, a crucial safety component
that covers the radioactive fuel. They plan to attend today's Oak
Harbor meeting.
`It's got to be safe'
But at least some of the people who live close to Davis-Besse
said yesterday they aren't worried about their hulking neighbor,
although their views were not unanimous.
``It's built right on my grandparents' peach orchard,'' said Gary
Goldstein, a bartender for the last 15 years at the Oak Harbor
Hotel in the village's downtown. ``The cooling tower sits right
where they had the peach trees. I figure if there's that many
people working out there, it's got to be safe. I'm not worried
about it. I trust them.''
The 43-year-old Oak Harbor native said he counts plant workers
among his customers, and he hasn't heard a bad word about the
plant from them.
Even so, Goldstein said, he was glad the damage was discovered
before it led to an accident. ``They know what they're doing,''
he said.
Plant generates taxes
Gary Quisno is a math teacher at 700-student Oak Harbor High and
has coached the football team the last 23 years.
``I'm not a foe of nuclear energy,'' he said. ``This day and age,
you need all the energy sources you can get.''
The community has benefited from Davis-Besse in part through the
plant's property taxes, which finance modern school facilities,
Quisno said.
Besides being the county's largest employer, the plant is also
the largest taxpayer, said plant spokesman Richard Wilkins.
Davis-Besse pays about $9 million annually in property taxes,
plus about $3 million in payroll taxes, he said. The plant also
buys a large portion of services and goods in the area, part of
about $15 million a year it spends with 800 vendors throughout
Ohio, Wilkins said.
Paul Druckenmiller, who owns an insurance agency in downtown Oak
Harbor, said he does think about Davis-Besse.
``But not from the standpoint of any safety,'' the 47-year-old
said. ``It's such a large employer. It's certainly helped our tax
base here. The (loss) of that power plant would be devastating to
our economy.''
Many Davis-Besse employees live in the community and have
families here, he said. If the employees thought the plant was
unsafe, why would they let their families live here, he said.
``I have always lived here. I have no fear,'' Druckenmiller said.
``You always have people who are against nuclear power.''
While he was surprised to hear about the damage, the plant's
safety systems did what they were supposed to do, he said. ``They
did find it. It's being taken care of. I'm not concerned. I hope
they get it repaired and back up and running again.''
This morning's NRC meeting will include the release of the
preliminary findings of a five-person inspection team that looked
into how boric acid ate two cavities in the top of the reactor
vessel head. The first cavity that was discovered extended all
the way through the 6-inch carbon-steel outer layer; the acid was
stopped only by a thin lining of stainless steel cladding. The
second cavity is much smaller, officials have said.
FirstEnergy is hoping to repair the damage and get the plant
restarted by the end of June. Davis-Besse has been shut down
since Feb. 16 for refueling and a safety inspection that led to
the discovery of the cavities. Repairs could cost FirstEnergy as
much as $10 million, plus $10 million to $15 million in
additional energy costs each month that the plant can't make
The NRC investigation is independent of one done by a team of
FirstEnergy experts. They said the acid damage probably started
years ago and that plant workers didn't note the significance of
several telltale signs that indicated boric acid was damaging the
vessel head.
Kevin Raypole, a 45-year-old construction worker from nearby Port
Clinton, said he'd like to see Davis-Besse dismantled and put on
President George W. Bush's Texas ranch. He sat with a friend at
the Toussaint Restaurant &Lounge.
``If this would have corroded all the way through the stainless
steel, would it have caused a meltdown?'' he asked. ``How close
were they to really having a problem?''
Cindy Squire moved to Oak Harbor 2 years ago from Toledo and
said she's glad she doesn't live next to the plant.
The 37-year-old said she's not sure the public is being told the
whole truth about the damage. ``I think it's very scary,'' she
But she doesn't plan to leave, saying she likes the area,
especially in the summer.
Witt, who became the county administrator 25 years ago, about the
same time that Davis-Besse began generating electricity, said the
plant has been a good community citizen over the years. ``They
keep us very well informed,'' he said. ``Frankly, we ask them the
tough questions. They have been open and upfront with people. I
feel comfortable that they'll come up with a fix. I think in
general, (local) people are comfortable with it.''
Jim Mackinnon can be reached at 330-996-3544 or []


10) Chernobyl's legacy of radioactive poisoning passed on (Elizabeth Piper, Reuters, 4/26/2002 (published in the Boston Globe))


To: "DOEWATCH" <>,
        "Jersey Shore Nuclear Watch" <>,
        "NRC CONCERNS" <>,
        "Maine Enviro Policy Institute" <>
Cc: <>, "NECNP" <>,
        "CAN" <>
From: "Raymond Shadis" <>
Date: Sat, 27 Apr 2002 08:06:14 -0400
Subject: [JerseyShoreNuclearWatch] Chernobyl's legacy /Boston Globe

Chernobyl's legacy of radioactive poisoning passed on

By Elizabeth Piper, Reuters, 4/26/2002

KIEV - Ukrainian children born with genetic mutations or harmed by radioactive food form a new generation of Chernobyl victims who could pass the accident's tragic legacy on to the next, specialists warned yesterday.

On the eve of Chernobyl's 16th anniversary, specialists who have worked in the region since a reactor exploded and spewed clouds of radioactivity over much of Europe said the fight against radiation-related illness was far from won.

''Today, 16 years after the accident, there remain some huge problems in several regions ... especially in terms of children's health and in terms of food,'' Olga Bobylova, deputy secretary of Ukraine's health service, told a news conference.

''[In areas surrounding Chernobyl] meat and milk in the private sector have high levels of radioactivity. ... There are also problems with the mushrooms and berries in the forests. ... Such food can have a profound effect on health.''

Thousands of impoverished Ukrainians live in areas affected by radioactive contamination from the plant, which exploded on April 26, 1986 in the world's worst civil nuclear disaster.

To boost their meager daily meals they gather berries and mushrooms from fields and forests still contaminated by radioactive debris. Many are unaware or reluctant to think that the food remains a health risk so long after the accident.

''The state tries to give children good, clean food, but it cannot because of a lack of funds,'' Bobylova said.

''We need this in the future.''

The specialists urged Ukraine and the rest of the world not to allow Chernobyl to become a forgotten crisis - a term used first by the United Nations which hinted that funds could run out as interest in the disaster waned.

Evgeniya Stepanova, a specialist in radiation-linked illnesses, said children were becoming sufferers years after the explosion, which killed few people at the time.

The true casualty toll in the years since is a matter of intense controversy. Chernobyl has been blamed for thousands of deaths in Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia and for a huge increase in thyroid cancer.

''[Research] has shown genetic mutations in sufferers of Chernobyl, both adults and children. ... Those children and adults are more likely to get cancer and pass on mutations to their children.''

Radiation is known to cause genetic mutation, and the rate of certain cancers goes up in areas exposed to nuclear fallout, scientists say.

Stepanova said it was time to turn the world's attention to those who had no choice but to suffer the consequences and those who could unwittingly become the next victims of Chernobyl.

''We have not paid enough attention to those people who are suffering,'' she said, almost shouting.

''Among all the problems caused by Chernobyl, the genetic [mutation] problem should come first. ... It is a huge problem.''

This story ran on page A21 of the Boston Globe on 4/26/2002.
Copyright 2002 Globe Newspaper Company.


11) 50 Questions about San Onofre Nuclear Waste Generating Station (by Russell D. Hoffman, 4/25/2002)


To: Michael Dupray <>


Regarding your email (shown below), since you seem to feel you are knowledgeable about San Onofre, here's a few questions you should be able to answer:

How many of the welds (if any) at San Onofre are made from INCO 182?  From Hastalloy-X?  Is INCONEL-600 used anywhere at the plant?

Why did Davis-Besse's Reactor Pressure Vessel Head corrode?  How long did it take?  How much time did Ohio have left before a blow-out and possible meltdown?

How can you be sure San Onofre's reactor heads aren't also corroded, since the scuttlebutt is that no one's removed the shrouds at San Onofre Unit II or Unit III since the day they started operating?

How much radiation was released by San Onofre in the past 24 hours?  In the past year?  The past decade?  Since it opened?  For each release, can you specify the date and breakdown the radiation by isotopes?  Can you specify the fundamental cause of each release?

How much spent fuel is stored in the spent fuel pools at San Onofre (it's presumably well over 1,000 tons by now)?

Was there a celebration at the facility when they reached the 1000 ton level of waste stored onsite at the plant?

What are the chances of an asteroid impact somewhere in the Pacific producing a 100 foot wave at the San Onofre sea wall (which is 35 feet high)?  What is the margin of error in the estimate?  Where did this or an equivalent calculation appear in the builder's request for an operating license?  When was this information last updated based on new data from NASA or other research efforts?

What are the chances of a thrust-type underwater earthquake somewhere in the Pacific producing a 100 foot wave at the San Onofre sea wall?  When was the last study done?  Who did it?  What computers were used to do the calculations?  PDP-11s?

When was the last local earthquake study done and who paid for it?  Did it include a fresh engineering analysis of the plant, or only an analysis of the newly-discovered onshore and offshore faults in the area?

Since embrittlement is a "force multiplier" (in the vernacular of the military) and starts immediately, and progresses thereafter, what effect does this have on San Onofre's ability to handle design-basis threats?

Embrittlement can be caused by heat, vibration, radiation, and chemicals.  What else can cause embrittlement?

How many times has Unit II been SCRAMmed in its life?  How many times has Unit III been SCRAMmed in its life?

True or false: Linearly-increasing failure rates in complex systems can lead to exponentially-increasing failure rates for the larger system they are a part of.

How many circuit breakers similar to the one which exploded in February 2001 are still in use at San Onofre?

What protects the control room from airplanes crashing into it?

How large (in Megawatts) is the largest wind turbine available today?

Boeing recently announced a significant improvement in solar cell efficiency.  What was the improvement factor?

Why did the fork-lift tines on one of San Onofre's largest (and oldest) forklifts suddenly drop about 12 feet last year?

The Mafia had a big hand in the cement industry a few decades back.  How sure are you that the containment building is built as designed?  The spent fuel pools?

Why don't dry cask storage systems use Kevlar outer layers to protect against, say, 50-caliber machine gun bullets, grenades, truck bombs, etc.?

How much time would it take to evacuate everyone within 10 miles of the plant?  Within 50 miles?

For some evacuation scenarios, people within a 10 mile radius will be told NOT to evacuate, but rather, to stay indoors, because if they tried to evacuate they would be blocked by people further away who are also trying to evacuate, and would end up just sitting in their cars.  Officials would rather have them sit indoors.  How many pints of blood will be needed to treat these people in the following months?

How many of them would try to leave anyway, only to receive a fatal radiation dose while sitting in their cars on a blocked highway?

How much would an accident which required a permanent evacuation of a 10 mile radius around the plant cost the public in lost real estate costs alone?  For a 50 mile radius? 

In your opinion, what effect would such an accident have on Southern California's tourism industry?

If the farmlands around San Onofre become contaminated with radioactive particles released during a catastrophic accident at the facility, as happened to the farmlands around Chernobyl, what would it cost in ill will for all growers from Southern California who want to export their produce around the world?

If the Pacific Ocean were used as the "Ultimate Heat Sink" (as the term is used in the technical specifications for the plant) after a meltdown (and for the next 100,000 years or so), what effect would it have on real estate prices in Long Beach, San Diego, and Tijuana, Mexico, let alone in San Clemente?

In your opinion, will tourism go up, or down, in San Clemente, Oceanside, Carlsbad, etc. in the event of a meltdown at San Onofre?

When you say there has been a 60-year "media paradigm" can you cite examples, from 1942 especially, to prove your point (whatever it is)?  What is a "media paradigm"?

Shortly after Three Mile Island, the National Enquirer (!) was the first to break the news that, according to government studies, nuclear power plants could not survive an impact from a large commercial airplane.  This fact, although non-surprising to any engineer worth their degree, was in fact, promptly forgotten, and it remained forgotten until a few weeks after 9-11, when the NRC and the licensees were all finally forced to re-admit that the plants could NOT survive such an impact.  Two months earlier, Charles Marschall of the NRC had assured me over the phone that, in his opinion, a nuclear power plant COULD survive such an impact.  What study am I referring to?

Since, as you say, the control room is on the West side of San Onofre, that means it's more easily attacked from offshore with, say, Rocket-Propelled Grenades, missiles, submarine-based hang-glider-suicide-bombers, and 17-year disgruntled San Onofre veteran workers recently fired, coming in from the sea with a large cache of assault equipment, including RPGs and about 300 other weapons.  Is a train landing on the control room after an accident on the tracks, which are to the East side of San Onofre, more likely, or less likely, than a terrorist attack from the sea?

What is the likelihood that the plant will be attacked by a determined, well-trained, well-armed, suicidal force?  What changes were made to that estimate after 9-11?  After January 7th, 2002?

What amount of plutonium 239 causes cancer in humans virtually 100% of the time, if inhaled into the lung at the age of 50?  At the age of 5?  At the age of 5 weeks?  What studies prove the values you cite?

Define "human error" and explain why it can always be overcome at a nuclear power plant, despite the evidence to the contrary from Three Mile Island in 1979, from Davis-Besse in 2002, and from many other near-catastrophes within the nuclear industry in America, and from similar near-misses around the world, and non-misses (radiation releases and/or major nuclear accidents) such as Chernobyl, Kursk, Thresher, Scorpion, Shippingport, Idaho Falls, Windscale, Tokaimura, H.M.S. Tireless, Rocky Flats, Hanford's nightmare tanks, Paduka's poisonous pits, etc. etc., and from experience gained from every other industry on Earth.

Do you work at San Onofre?  If so, please feel free to share these suggested questions with the 26 teachers who reportedly will be visiting the plant tomorrow (Thursday, April 25th, 2002).  I'm sure they'll be just as interested in the answers as I am, and they might also be interested in hearing some of the questions which the local citizens have been asking Southern California Edison to properly respond to for years.


Russell Hoffman
Concerned Citizen
Carlsbad, CA

P.S. Did it ever occur to you that I purposely placed the Control Room on the wrong side of the plant so terrorists couldn't find it?  Now you've gone and spoiled it!  The point is still valid regardless, since, for example, many other vital parts are, indeed, on the track side.  And doesn't a rail line actually run right into the plant (they do at many plants)? Terrorists could flip the rail switch and send a mile-long freight train with dangerous chemicals straight into the plant!  Then what happens?


At 03:58 PM 4/24/02 , "michaeldupray" <> wrote:

You gotta be kidding

Do you have any information/education or any realistic knowledge at
all about nuclear power planst and how they operate as well how they
are built. I'll bet you're one of the millions of folks who have
allowed the 60 year media paradigm and the us versus them syndrome to
take over your life and cloud.....totally obscure reality. Do you have
any idea what the effects of radiation are?? Do you know what isotopes
are involved? How they are a hazard? For that matter, what is it that
makes you think you are qualified to make such an idiotic statement
like that?

C'mon back to reality

The control room is on the west side of the plant and protected by
many steel reinforced buildings. The spent fuel pool would be
undamaged due to its construction and location.

Your statements are vague and baseless in fact. Where do you get your
ideas? From comic books and the national inquirer or is it greenpeace


Below is the letter that Mr. Dupray was responding to:


Subject:  Train wrecks in CA and FL show need to slow rail traffic near San Onofre, other NPPs.

To All Whom Authority Has Been Granted by the Public to Set and Enforce Policies Related to Public Safety:

Today's fatal train wreck in Placentia, California, and last week's fatal train accident in Crescent City, Florida, show indisputably that train traffic MUST be slowed down as it approaches and passes San Onofre Nuclear (Waste) Generating Station, and any other nuclear sites which are similarly in close proximity to high speed rail lines.

Many vital parts of San Onofre are just two or three train-car lengths from the tracks, which are on a berm, increasing the kinetic energy available in an accident.

The Metrolink double-deck commuter train which was involved in today's collision (with a mile-long freight train) was traveling in the "cab-forward" arrangement, with the massive engine at the back of the train.  Many trains travel in the "cab forward" format along the route which passes by San Onofre.  If two trains, both in "cab-forward" format, were to collide at high speed near San Onofre, the relatively light front cars could be pushed and thrown by the engines sideways for hundreds of yards -- literally ONTO the control room at San Onofre, or perhaps into the spent fuel pool.

These are unacceptable risks for the citizens of Southern California.  I'm sure there's no line item in the engineering specifications for San Onofre which says "be sure every vital area of the plant is strong enough to withstand a commuter train landing on it."  But, such events can certainly happen.  Explosions of tanker rail traffic can also toss a train car clear across the power plant into the Ocean on the other side.  The severity of the results of these "unlikely" scenarios needs to be considered.

We are TIRED of our officials pretending that these types of accidents are impossible.  We risk catastrophe simply by letting the plants exist.  If we don't close them down and move the waste to some place safer, an accident becomes inevitable.

An accident which is INEVITABLE is no longer an accident - it's negligence.  Our government is negligent on this and many related nuclear issues.  It's time for a change.  San Onofre MUST be shut down forever, its radioactive "spent" fuel allowed to cool, and the waste moved to a safer location (but where?).


Russell D. Hoffman
Concerned Citizen
Carlsbad, CA

What is Embrittlement?
Executive Summary of Embrittlement issues at our nuclear power plants:

[Note: "Crazy Mike" sent several followup letters which appeared to be of little interest to earnest investigators.  In the first one he asked if I used to work at San Onofre, which should bring a laugh to a lot of people who read this!  He gave an alternate ("work") email address as: .]

12) Contact information for the author of this newsletter:

Russell D. Hoffman is the author of this newsletter.