Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Greenpeace saves Belgium, Sternglass passes, Caldicott symposium coming THIS weekend (Feb 28-Mar 1).

Greenpeace is demanding that all reactors worldwide be carefully inspected due to newly discovered cracks in the reactor pressure vessels of two Belgian reactors. Those inspections just might save your life. And even federal nuclear regulators (in Belgium) are saying it could be a "global nuclear industry" problem.

It's good news that the cracks were discovered. It's even better news if it gets reactors shut down permanently. However, it's not good news if something goes wrong: Cracks 7 centimeters in length, starting at the interior wall of the reactor pressure vessel, are serious matters.

Most of the cracks were shorter than 7 centimeters, but more than 13,000 cracks (that's not a typo: more than thirteen thousand cracks) have been found in ONE reactor pressure vessel in Belgium. More than three thousand (again not a typo) cracks were found in a second Belgian reactor.

Two things seem unlikely: First, that either of those two reactors will ever open again, and second, that they are the only two reactors in the world suffering from, or likely to suffer from, this newly-discovered form of cracking (called "material fatigue").

Remember that phrase and demand that your local nuclear power plant be examined for it!

Thank you once again, Greenpeace!

Ace Hoffman
Carlsbad, CA

Article about the cracks:

http://www.dw.de/cracks-belgian-nuclear-reactors/a-18271456


Attachments:
1) Dr. Ernest Sternglass, pioneer radiation researcher, dead at 91
2) Helen Caldicott leads another fantastic symposium everyone can attend!
3) Contact information for the author of this newsletter

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1) Dr. Ernest Sternglass, pioneer radiation researcher, dead at 91
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The New York Times' obituary of Dr. Sternglass was biased and unfair. They used a quote from their own writers to denounce his research into radiation dangers. They even managed to minimize his monumental work in developing methods for using radiation to observe the universe, from bone x-rays to stellar dust.

This man was great, one of the greatest they've ever written an obituary about (and they've written obits about just about everyone important who has passed, haven't they?). This was one of their most shameful.

Dr. Sternglass was one of two pioneering nuclear scientists who became famous for their "anti-nuclear" views, the other being Dr. John W. Gofman, who also lived into his 90s. There were, of course, many other great scientists and still are who speak out against nuclear power and nuclear weapons, but those two had far more than the usual credentials and helped usher in the nuclear age with their work in the industry. They were the ultimate whistleblowers.

I knew both of them, Gofman much more than Sternglass, but I had several conversations with Dr. Sternglass, especially about NASA's awful use of plutonium-238 on space missions (Pu-238 is nearly 300 times more carcinogenic than weapons-grade Pu-239, for a correspondingly shorter period of time). Dr. Gofman estimated that ONE Pu-238 accident by NASA in the early 1960s would result in a million cancers in North America. That was just 2.1 pounds of Pu-238, spread into the atmosphere at high altitude! Imagine the damage if one of NASA's rockets with, say, 72.3 pounds of plutonium were to crash in a late launch accident and spread its poison over a highly populated area, such as an African city (the post-launch climb-out trajectory made such an event quite possible). If Pu-238 is released at high altitude, as in the 1960s SNAP-9A accident or as can happen in a reentry accident during an earth flyby (Cassini did an earth flyby, successfully, and foolishly), it would be impossible to prove WHICH millions of people would get cancer from an accident (among the billions who will get cancer anyway in a global population).

These were the sorts of issues I discussed with Drs. Sternglass and Gofman. Gofman, who isolated the first working quantities of plutonium for the Manhattan project, among a long list of nuclear and other achievements, believed that radiation's medical effects were linear, and that's pretty much proven to be the case over the decades.

Dr. Sternglass, on the other hand, believed that some radiation effects are worse at low doses, which has been more difficult to prove conclusively in all cases. However, the NY Times' obituary made it seem as though Dr. Sternglass's concerns were fantasy.

This is hardly the case. For example, consider the effects of the beta particle that is released from tritium.

This beta particle is (rightly, sort of) described by the nuclear industry as a "low energy" beta particle, and you'll often see the word "harmless" attached to the sentence describing it as "low energy." But "low energy" is relative (and so is "harmless") and it turns out a so-called "low-energy beta particle" can do a lot of damage.

Radiation damage is often measured in the amount of radiation (i.e., energy) that is released per kilogram of living tissue. Tritium's beta particle is considered a "low energy" beta release. What's the connection?

The connection is known as "Bragg's hump" or "Bragg's curve." What it describes is the damage done by a beta particle at any particular speed.

Beta particles are ejected from the nucleus of atoms at the moment of decay and after they slow down, they are common electrons. When tritium (and many other fission products) decays it releases beta particles. (Plutonium releases alpha particles. Radioactive decays also can emit x-rays and gamma rays.)

When a beta particle is first ejected from the nucleus of an atom, a neutron in the nucleus becomes a proton. At first, the beta particle is traveling very near the speed of light. It will slow down tremendously as it flies by hundreds of thousands of charged particles at the atomic scale of matter -- a couple of millimeters at the human scale.

When the beta particle is first ejected and traveling very fast, it is not near anything long enough to seriously disturb other electrons or molecules. (Imagine moving a magnet (instead of a charged particle) very quickly past an iron object. Nothing happens. But move the magnet along the same path slowly, and the iron object will move towards the magnet.)

A beta particle does nearly ALL it's damage at the end of its track, when it's slowed down enough that it stays near other electrons and molecules long enough to spin them around and knock thing out of orbits and so forth.

So each individual so-called "low energy beta release" is just as dangerous as any other beta release. But "total energy dump per kilogram" is considered the standard way to measure ANY radiation damage (with some adjustments for tissue sensitivity, if enough data is available to make such adjustments). And by that measure, tritium's "low energy" beta release means you'll get a lot more beta particles released into the body per total amount of energy released, compared to other typical beta emissions. So the industry's oft-repeated reassuring assertion is actually the worst thing about tritium.

Tritium, with a half-life of a little over 12 years, is probably a lot more dangerous than regulators in many agencies and countries believe. And while I don't recall talking to Dr. Sternglass specifically about his thoughts on tritium exposure to the human body, it could certainly be argued that low doses of tritium are likely to be more dangerous than higher doses of a higher-energy beta release.

Dr. Gofman and Dr. Sternglass were very close friends and I talked to Dr. Gofman about Dr. Sternglass's assertions. The mutual admiration they had for each other despite this seemingly enormous chasm of opinion on a crucial subject was one of the many things I admired about these gentlemen. That they both had to live their lives largely in obscurity for their accomplishments, having been shunned by the industry they helped nurture, is one of the great tragedies of the nuclear age. Everyone should know these giant's names and backgrounds, as much as we should know George Washington Carver did for peanuts, Thomas Alva Edison did for lightbulbs, Nicola Tesla did for electricity, and Westinghouse did for air brakes.

Ace Hoffman
Carlsbad, CA


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2) Helen Caldicott leads another fantastic symposium everyone can attend!
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Along with giants who were pioneers of the nuclear industry, there is Dr. Caldicott, who probably knows more about radiation damage to the human body than anyone else alive. And nobody shares their knowledge as well as she does!

Tireless (seemingly), her Helen Caldicott Foundation is putting on a unique two-day symposium on "The Dynamics of Possible Nuclear Extinction." Ouch! It's being held February 28 to March 1, 2015 at The New York Academy of Medicine and will be live-streamed, and the public is welcome (URL below).

The list of leading experts who will appear is awesome (shown below), although Caldicott by herself for two days of education would probably be even better! :)

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Moderated by:
Day One: Kennette Benedict, Executive Director and Publisher, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
Day Two: Ray Acheson, Director, Reaching Critical Will

The Presenters (confirmed speakers, this is not the speaking order):

Theodore A Postol- Professor Emeritus of Science, Technology, and National Security Policy, MIT. Striving for Armageddon. The US nuclear force modernization program, rising tensions with Russia, and the increasing danger of a world nuclear catastrophe

Seth Baum- Global Catastrophic Risk Institute, will address the catastrophic risk of nuclear war

Max Tegmark ­ Professor of physics at MIT and author of "Our Mathematical Universe," will discuss artificial intelligence and the risk of accidental nuclear war.

Hans Kristensen ­ Federation of American Scientists, will address the current size of the global nuclear arsenals

Bill Hartung- Center for International Policy, will discuss the inordinate power and pathological dynamics exercised by the US military industrial complex

Greg Mello -Los Alamos Study Group, the role and funding of the nuclear weapons laboratories inherent within the US nuclear armament dilemma

John Feffer ­ Institute of Policy Studies will compare the money spent on the US military industrial complex compared with the paltry amount spent on the prevention of global warming

Alex Wellerstein- Assistant Professor of Science and Technology Studies, Stevens Institute of Technology ­ NukeMap, Personalizing the Bomb- what this means for young people today.

Bruce Gagnon ­ Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space, will elucidate the ongoing and dangerous militarization of space

Bob Alvarez ­ Institute of Policy Studies, will discuss lateral proliferation and describe how a small nuclear exchange could trigger a global holocaust.

Robert Parry ­ Investigative Journalist, Consortium News. Will discuss Ukraine and the Human Factor: How propaganda and passions can risk nuclear conflagration.

Steven Starr­ Associate of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, a board member and senior scientist for Physicians for Social Responsibility. Nuclear War: An Unrecognized Mass Extinction Event Waiting to Happen.

Holly Barker ­ Department of Anthropology, University of Washington, Medical, Teratogenic and Genetic pathology related to US nuclear testing in the Marshall Islands.

Alan Robock ­ Distinguished Professor, Dept. of Environmental Sciences. Rutgers University, will outline his pioneering work on Nuclear Famine and Nuclear Winter.

Janne Nolan ­ Elliott School of International Affairs ­ Hooligans at the Gate: The Checkered History of Arms Control

Mike Lofgren ­ former congressional staffer and author of Anatomy of the Deep State, will describe the merger of corporations and the US government as an underlying cause of the current nuclear situation

Susi Snyder- (PAX, the Netherlands), Author of the 2013 & 2014 DON'T BANK ON THE BOMB reports

Hugh Gusterson ­ Professor of Anthropology and International Affairs, George Washington University will describe his anthropological research over many years studying the culture of nuclear weapons scientists at Livermore and Los Alamos.

Robert Sheer ­ author of STAR WARRIORS will describe how years after his research into the young men who work on nuclear weapons development at Lawrence Livermore Labs "The Madness Persists.

Noam Chomsky, Institute Professor and Professor of Linguistics, MIT will present the pathology within the present political system that could lead to catastrophic results if not cured

Dave Krieger ­ Nuclear Age Peace Foundation on what can we do? How the Marshall Islanders are speaking truth to power. The Nuclear Zero Lawsuits Brought by the Marshall Islands Against the 9 Nuclear Nations.

Tim Wright ­ Campaign Director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) some potential and exciting solutions

Helen Caldicott ­ President of The Helen Caldicott Foundation ­ An urgent prescription for survival

Go here for more information:

http://helencaldicottfoundation.org/symposium-the-dynamics-of-possible-nuclear-extinction-l-february-28-march-1-2015-at-the-new-york-academy-of-medicine/

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3) Contact information for the author of this newsletter
=========================================================

-----------------------------------------
Ace Hoffman, computer programmer,
author, The Code Killers:
An Expose of the Nuclear Industry
Free download: acehoffman.org
Blog: acehoffman.blogspot.com
YouTube: youtube.com/user/AceHoffman

Subscribe to my free newsletter today!
Email: ace [at] acehoffman.org

Please conserve resources: Do not print this email unless absolutely necessary.

Note: This communication may have been intercepted in secret, without permission, and in violation of our right to privacy by the National Security Agency or some other agency or private contractor.
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Monday, February 2, 2015

David Victor, the SCE Community Engagement Panel, and the Darrell Issa Nuclear Waste Dump...

The comments below were left at the KPBS web site in response to their report on SCE's CEP meeting last week.

Ace Hoffman
Carlsbad, CA

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Southern California Edison's "Citizen Engagement Panel" (CEP) has been a cruel joke from the beginning (which is why I stopped attending their meetings as of this year). David Victor has learned little about what the concerns of the citizens really are. Rather, he has done all he can to steer the panel towards approving SCE's plans, whatever those plans might be at any moment. Victor's heavy-handed "chairmanship" of the CEP has included cutting off discussions and silencing activists when the activists refuse to listen to lies. Even when SCE was willing to respond to activist's questions, Victor has cut them off! Engagement? Where? When?


Frankly, the most important thing the CEP could learn -- but hasn't -- is that the nuclear waste at San Onofre is NOT SoCal's biggest problem with nuclear power: Diablo Canyon is. David Victor surely could have learned that by now if he wasn't so busy kissing up to SCE's Tom Palmisano and Chris Brown.


And the so-called "national experts" that were brought in by the CEP to "inform" them are anything BUT "experts" on nuclear waste issues. For example, one was on Obama's utterly useless "Blue Ribbon Commission" (BRC) which could not resolve a single thing about nuclear waste except to suggest that democracy should be thrown out with the waste (in other words, we should force states to accept waste if small communities or tribal areas within the state want to accept money along with the waste). He did not even know that stainless steel canisters can suffer from stress corrosion cracking within just two years, and yet he's considered an "expert" helping the CEP to make decisions for soCal which could impact us for hundreds or even thousands of years!


There is no place in California that is isolated enough to safely take the waste. Transporting it there (wherever "there" turns out to be) would also be extremely risky. But keeping the waste where it is, among millions of people, is utter lunacy. Nevertheless that's exactly what the CEP is really pushing for, with their pie-in-the-sky dreams of an "in-state" solution somewhere, somehow, sometime. If they assume it will be moved soon, then they'll allow less sturdy "temporary" storage in the meantime (when the waste is by far the most dangerous, by the way). The canisters SCE proposes to use are only 5/8ths of an inch thick! 20-inch thick canisters are available but SCE doesn't want to purchase them. They like the thin, cheaper ones, figuring tomorrow's citizens will be the ones to pay for repackaging the waste in a few years, not SCE. Or they figure there really will be an in-state or national solution, even though in 70 years of producing nuclear waste, not one soul has solved that problem or even gotten close to solving it. (There's a scientifically sound reason for that: Ionizing radiation destroys any container you put it in.)


Admitting what a terrible mess we've gotten ourselves into is the first step, and the CEP hasn't even done that yet. If the CEP came out with a strong statement suggesting Diablo Canyon shut down because they're just making their waste problem worse and we here near SanO know that's a bad thing, then the CEP will have at least accomplished something. Right now the CEP is destructive to the goal of engaging the community.

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Comments about the above newsletter:
=======================================================

At 08:22 PM 2/2/2015 +0000, David Bear wrote:
Hey Ace,
Here's my comment:
It will cost $1.00 per atom fissioned to pay for shutdown, decommissioning, and disposal of all the nuke plants.
What's that you say?  That's too high a number? There isn't enough money on the planet to pay for that?

Okay, how about this: It will cost $0.10 per atom fissioned. Still too high?

Okay, how about $0.01 per atom fissioned. No?

How about 1/1,000th of a penny?

1/1,000,000th of a penny?

1/1,000,000,000th of a penny?

1/1,000,000,000,000th of a penny?

Still too high?  Yep.
There isn't enough money on the planet to do it right.

- David Bear
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From Penny McCracken:

Hi Ace:

I have a correspondent who lives near Diablo Canyon. He furnished the info that, in case of it being necessary to evacuate the citizens, there is only one, two-lane road! It would quickly turn into a mass of stuck cars going nowhere, and its occupants would, I assume, get viciously irradiated along with their cars. And there's also a newly-discovered earthquake fault off shore, very likely to produce a Fukushima-like problem. We saw how quickly the tsunami overwhelmed the Fukushima tsunami wall - and there, in the most technologically capable nation in the world, they didn't stand a chance. So, possibly, the people trying to evacuate could be drowned before they died of radiation poisoning!

=================================================

-----------------------------------------
Ace Hoffman, computer programmer,
author, The Code Killers:
An Expose of the Nuclear Industry
Free download: acehoffman.org
Blog: acehoffman.blogspot.com
YouTube: youtube.com/user/AceHoffman

Subscribe to my free newsletter today!
Email: ace [at] acehoffman.org


Note: This communication may have been intercepted in secret, without permission, and in violation of our right to privacy by the National Security Agency or some other agency or private contractor.
-----------------------------------------

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Attending Spent Fuel Storage PRA discussion via phone link...

To: "Kevin Coyne" <kevin.coyne [at] nrc.gov>

Dear Sir,

This email is to let you know I've been listening, and am listening, to the discussion available via phone link at:

>NRC DCS meeting .....9505 Passcode: ...41

(They are on lunch break right now and will resume at 1:15 EST. I understand that discussion will end after this afternoon's session.) I was asked that I send you an email identifying myself when I made a comment yesterday. I am a citizen, and a co-author and programmer of a college-level statistics course available online. I represent Nuke-Free North County (San Diego, California) and reside in Carlsbad, CA.

My comment was to the effect that I'm not sure you (the planners for this new PRA, of which I understand you are the lead person) intend to take into account the added risk from a 75% through-wall crack in the dry cask's 5/8ths inch-thick stainless steel sides (75% being the current allowed standard for such cracks to progress in the first place), and that in any case, with well over 10,000 dry casks necessary for the spent fuel already in existence, either in spent fuel pools now, in reactors, or in the 2,000 dry casks that already exist, there's bound to be fabrication/workmanship/fraud issues. Will the PRA authors be assuming manufacturing will always be perfect, more than 10,000 times? Because in the San Onofre Steam Generator Debacle (for which the NRC is as guilty as anyone (if for nothing else, for not checking Southern California Edison's engineering changes properly)), I was told by an official from the NRC (in writing) that proper fabrication/manufacturing of the product was assumed when doing the risk assessment for a steam generator.

Yet just a few years earlier, the late Oscar Shirani had identified numerous fabrication errors in dry cask manufacture, including purposefully inadequate inspections, and I myself spoke to a "whistleblower" from San Onofre with 25 years' experience at that plant -- and time at Los Alamos and in Vietnam (as a sniper) before that -- who said the fabrication of the dry casks at San Onofre included improper welding (wrong speed settings for the automatic welding machine, for example) and intimidating of workers not to report problems.

In addition to those topics, I am seriously concerned that the methodology being used (PRAs) is unlikely to be realistic. PRAs require making thousands of "educated guesses" about the risk factors of contributory trees of events. That's what's being discussed in this meeting, really: How to group the trees of events, and what those trees are. More specifically, a lot of the discussion seems to be about how to apply operating reactors' PRA's to a dry cask storage PRA -- in other words, how to reduce the workload of the people who will later attempt to apply real numbers to each event possibility (hopefully not laughably out to three decimal places, as someone at the meeting pointed out yesterday (unfortunately, people don't identify themselves when they speak)). Events such as earthquakes, tsunamis, asteroids (wow! plural!), terrorists, or what-have-you.

Someone pointed out yesterday that Fukushima had altered the fundamental process you are attempting to do: It showed that a worst-case scenario "beyond design basis" can happen. Previously, the nuclear industry could conveniently ignore such events, but that's not considered reasonable (or legal) any more. The NRC and the nuclear industry has had to admit that beyond-design-basis accidents can happen. This PRA will have to either admit that too, or rephrase the concept, whatever that concept is supposed to be.

But can any PRA truly solve the high-consequences-but-low-probabilities dilemma faced by the nuclear industry?

No. And I dare say, of course not.

When you (the NRC) thinks 10,000 dry casks can only release a millionth of their toxic payload in a "worst case" scenario because you've eliminated more than a 1000 unlikely-but-not-impossible events, you (the NRC) are not facing reality! Yet that seems to be where this PRA discussion is going: The release amounts that are considered possible (or rather, probable enough to be considered) all are small enough so that permanent evacuations of large swaths of America -- perhaps populated cities -- are considered so unlikely, that the entire process can and should continue. And when a caller tried to bring up such issues as large evacuation zones, the caller was told that such large releases as, for example, everything at a dry cask "farm" or on an ISFSI pad, are not being considered.

If you eliminate consideration for all the highly unlikely, one-in-eight-million-or-less possibility of events, and you do it 1000 times (asteroid impacts, for example) then sure, you might be able to justify the existence of the nuclear industry, its "right" to manufacture this waste and then give it to the public (via the Department of Energy). Actually, you still would not be able to justify it, because any fool knows by now there's never going to be a permanent disposal solution that makes sense. It's never going to be safe to transport this stuff around the country, or to manufacture fission products and plutonium in the first place.

What I'm implying, to be frank, is that the whole idea of PRAs for such common, everyday things as piling up so many tens of thousands of dry casks around the country (every 30 years or so, another 10,000 dry casks will be needed), with the plan to transport them somewhere, sometime, with no such location in sight is ludicrous.

But what's more ludicrous is that the participants in the process are expecting the nuclear industry to continue to operate based on the results of this PRA! And "outside" peer reviewers will be hand-picked by the NRC, and will undoubtedly NOT include people like Arnie Gundersen, Marvin Resnikoff, Kevin Kamps, Arjun Makhijani or other critics of the nuclear industry as a whole. If they are considered "biased" it is only because of the inherent bias the NRC operates under to begin with.

What it sounds like you're going to create is a fictionalized statement of risk, based on ignoring "human factors" including terrorist risks, war, government breakdown, etc. and pretend that corporate entities will always do their jobs right, bridges won't crumble under the weight of the 200th or 2,000th dry cask transported across them, states won't have to be evacuated because of the failure of a dry cask containing nuclear waste that was created not yesterday, which you can do nothing about, but tomorrow, which you can.

Thank you in advance for considering these issues in any resultant Probability Risk Assessment done on dry casks, spent fuel pools, or any long-term nuclear waste policy.

As an aside, many of the speakers on the phone line are very hard to hear.

Best regards,

Ace Hoffman
founder,
Nuke-Free North County (San Diego, California)
Carlsbad, CA


-----------------------------------------
Ace Hoffman, computer programmer,
author, The Code Killers:
An Expose of the Nuclear Industry
Free download: acehoffman.org
Blog: acehoffman.blogspot.com
YouTube: youtube.com/user/AceHoffman

Subscribe to my free newsletter today!
Email: ace [at] acehoffman.org

Note: This communication may have been intercepted in secret, without permission, and in violation of our right to privacy by the National Security Agency or some other agency or private contractor.
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