Sunday, January 31, 2016

San Onofre Nuclear Waste Generating Station shut down permanently four years ago today

Four years ago today San Onofre Nuclear Waste Generating Station shut down forever.

Nobody had any idea it would be forever the day it happened: The public was told it was a "small" leak in one of the new replacement steam generators, that forced operators to quickly decide to drop the control rods, that brought the reactor safely to a stop. That didn't put out the lights anywhere. The nuclear plant was never started again, and it turns out we never needed it after all!

Of course, nothing "small" ever happens at a nuclear power plant. Highly radioactive coolant which had just flowed through the reactor was GUSHING out of the primary coolant loop, flashing to steam into the secondary coolant loop. When that loop's steam was condensed by the cool ocean water of the tertiary coolant loop, radioactive nitrogen was released. Nitrogen does not condense and remains a gas, so it bubbled out and was detected by sensors inside the Unit 3 reactor turbine building. The radioactive gas was then released to the atmosphere -- to the public -- through the building's venting system. This author does not know the estimated quantity of radioactive nitrogen that was released, but with a half-life of only about 8 minutes, someone driving by on the highway nearby might have gotten a dose, but it presumably would have been quite small. I doubt anyone would even have experienced a metallic taste in their mouth (a classic symptom of breathing in a medium or high dose of radiation).

The leak occurred in a thin metal tube, with wall thicknesses thinner than a dime. One tube leaked, out of over 19,000 such tubes in each nuclear reactor, which are inside of the replacement steam generators (9,727 tubes per steam generator, four steam generators for two reactors (two RTGs per reactor)). The primary coolant came gushing out at about 2200 pounds per square inch of pressure into the secondary coolant loop, which was at about 1000 pounds per square inch lower pressure. The primary coolant immediately flashed to steam, and if the operators had waited much longer to shut the reactor down, the steam could have created both a bigger hole in the tube it was leaking out of, and/or a hole in an adjacent tube.

Worse yet, all the tubes in that area were vibrating back and forth in the "in-plane" direction, vibrating together in a coordinated pattern that was only going to stop when something broke -- not just leaked, but actually broke off. That didn't happen, the reactor was shut down first -- but we came very close.

One tube breaking off could have caused a second tube to break off just by banging into it, especially because the nearby tubes were already worn and weakened. Or the jet impingement of the steam from the leaking tube could have caused one or more nearby tubes to break off. There's only so much water available before more is leaking out than can be pumped in -- two tubes breaking away might well be more than enough (regulations are imprecise), three tubes certainly would be too many. These tubes are only about the diameter of a human finger, but the pressures are tremendous.

To prevent a meltdown, the operators had to recognize that a serious event was occurring, not just a simple leak (some leaking steam generator tubes eventually clog up with crud and stop leaking. This leak kept getting bigger). Then they have to shut down the reactor, but if the leak is bad enough that won't be enough. They would also have to isolate the steam generator. Most Pressurized Water Reactors have three or four steam generators, but San Onofre only has two massive steam generators per reactor.

But isolating a leaking steam generator can fail: The massive valve used to isolate the steam generator can stick, for example. That's why three tube failures with a concurrent isolation valve failure can cause a meltdown with a magnitude like that of Chernobyl or Fukushima. Both Chernobyl and Fukushima were different designs from San Onofre with their own set of failure points, but all designs have 100+ tons of nuclear fuel which can overheat, meltdown, or even explode in a massively violent steam explosion. Such an explosion could be far worse than the hydrogen explosions at Fukushima, a steam explosion of a nuclear reactor can throw the reactor pressure vessel head (which weighs some 20,000 pounds) half a mile into the air! (Calculations were done by Dr. Richard Webb.)

So it's great that San Onofre is permanently closed.

But we're left with a terrible mess, that is still capable of wiping out all of southern California! There is a large committee, with nearly two dozen members, known as the Community Engagement Panel, that is pretending to try to deal with the waste that San Onofre Nuclear Waste Generating Station left behind. But it consists of hand-picked (by Southern California Edison) "volunteers" (mostly local government wonks with a few pro-nuclear industry "environmentalists" thrown in) who have no desire to go up against the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the Department of Energy, or even Southern California Edison, who provides them with contacts in the industry who confirm the various standard nuclear lies, and media contacts, who have dutifully reported SCE's press releases for years, and dinner before the show, which occurs every three months (the next one is March 24, 2016 to be held on the hard seats in Oceanside, once again).

But before talking about what to do with the waste, let's talk about how we got here.

In reality, it wasn't so small a leak. In fact, southern California had avoided a Fukushima-size nuclear catastrophe -- or bigger -- by literally a hair's breadth.

Thousands of steam generator tubes -- vital parts of the barrier layer between the "hot" radioactive primary coolant side of the reactor and the secondary side -- had worn away as much as 99% of their wall thickness when one of those tubes started to leak, four years ago today.

The replacement steam generators in that reactor (Unit 3) had been in service less than a year. The old steam generators had been replaced at a cost to the ratepayer of well over a billion dollars when the additional cost of other replacement projects is added in. In the process of the steam-generator replacement, SCE also replaced many other parts, such as new reactor pressure vessel heads, new turbines and turbine blades, and many miles of new pipes and wires (but not nearly enough of either). None of these replacements would have been needed if the plant had not been blithely relicensed for another 20 years by the NRC, a crude lap-dog regulator. By "crude" I mean they don't actually understand their own industry. They regulate cranes, but have no knowledge of how cranes can be misused. They regulate waste, but have no idea how to store it for the hundreds of thousands of years it needs to be contained. They regulate steam generators, but don't check the thermodynamic calculations of the pressurized water reactors when those steam generators are replaced. They approve cement "islands" of nuclear waste in earthquake zones that can experience 7+, or even 8+ level earthquakes, without any understanding of the problems of inspecting that cement island for 5, 10, 50... let alone, the full 300 years they expect to use them. They fantasize that a permanent repository for nuclear waste is just a few years away. Almost everyone on SCE's CEP fantasizes that, too.

This author has been tracking the Yucca Mountain project for decades. Currently, Yucca Mountain has some 300 technical, scientific, legally-admissible contentions, and there's no guarantee more aren't coming (in fact, it's a sure bet even in Las Vegas that more ARE coming!). So far only one of the contentions has been resolved. The Department of Energy held a couple of hearings on water contamination issues regarding Yucca Mountain late last year. The problems certainly run deep! These were tribal lands that tribal history tells were once fertile, and that may become wet again what with global warming and its changes in weather patterns. There are earthquake issues, volcanic eruption concerns, titanium drip shield design problems, and perhaps most of all: Transportation concerns.

Some of the stainless steel casks that are being used at San Onofre can be transported "as is" by placing them inside special transport casks to reduce the radiation dose to workers (including guards and drivers) and to the public during transport, and to enhance protection from accidents or attacks.

But it's one thing for a government agency to say that a dry cask is "safe from all foreseeable accidents" and another for the casks to actually BE safe. The government defines "safe" by whether or not a cask can meet certain test conditions: Immersion in fire for a certain length of time, a drop onto a pedestal of some sort from a certain height, an impact into a brick wall at a certain speed.

The problem is that none of these tests are extraordinary accidents: A Baltimore Tunnel Fire type of event, a bridge falling on the cask, a tall bridge collapsing. Rolling down a 10-foot embankment might be included, but rolling across the George Washington Bridge at the moment Al Q blows it up is certainly NOT included. Neither is someone flying a modern jumbo jet into the cask while it's crossing the open plains -- a rather easy aerial maneuver, which would spread death and destruction as far as 500 miles away, depending on the wind currents. Actually, it would spread death and destruction globally, but it's been estimated by experts that you could get statistically significant deaths (instead of just random deaths in large populations) 500 miles from a spent fuel accident.

So people don't want nuclear waste transported THROUGH their communities, and they don't want it stored IN their communities. So the net result is that the communities that have it -- can't get rid of it.

This is the most crucial issue people living near operating reactors need to face: Do we want to have MORE of this waste problem or do we want to stop making more waste?

California currently has two reactors that need to close, both located at Diablo Canyon, a Nuclear Waste Generating Station near San Luis Obispo. The lesson from San Onofre, four years after we escaped a massive accident by the skin of our teeth, is this: Shut down before meltdown. The lap-dog NRC will relicense anything, any old bucket of bolts, at any time. The California Public Utilities Commission was corrupted decades ago and has yet to be completely cleaned up. Perhaps public outcry is the only thing that is left, but by all means, don't settle for thin stainless steel casks! Thin metal has been the nuclear industry's downfall here at San Onofre once already. Let's not make that mistake again.

Ace Hoffman
Carlsbad, CA

The author has attended more than 100 Nuclear Regulatory Commission hearings, either in person or via phone or web connection, as well as dozens of CPUC, CEC, CCC, DOE and local hearings on San Onofre, Yucca Mountain, and other nuclear issues. He has interviewed numerous experts and whistleblowers as well as veteran nuclear workers. He has a collection of over 500 books and videos on nuclear power and nuclear weapons. Ace lives about 20 miles from the San Onofre Nuclear Waste Dump.


Quotes collected by Ace Hoffman:

"Nuclear war must be the most carefully avoided topic of general significance in the contemporary world. People are not curious about the details." -- Paul Brians (author; quote is from: Nuclear Holocausts: Atomic War in Fiction)
"When fascism comes to America, it will come wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross." -- Sinclair Lewis (first American Nobel Prize winner in Literature, 2.7.1885 - 1.10.1951)
"There is no such thing as a pro-nuclear environmentalist." -- Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa, 1992)
"Know thy self, know thy enemy. A thousand battles, a thousand victories." -- Sun Tzu (Chinese general b.500 BC)
"Stupidity is the same as evil if you judge by the results." -- Margaret Atwood (Canadian poet/novelest/environmentalist/etc.)
"The sun shows up every day and produces ridiculous amounts of power." -- Elon Musk (5.1.2015)
"The most intolerable reactor of all may be one which comes successfully to the end of its planned life having produced mountains of radioactive waste for which there is no disposal safe from earthquake damage or sabotage." -- A. Stanley Thompson (a pioneer nuclear physicist who later realized the whole situation)
"Any dose is an overdose." -- Dr. John W. Gofman (another pioneer nuclear physicist who saw the light (9.21.1918 - 8.15.2007))
"Choose your leaders with wisdom and forethought. To be led by a coward is to be controlled by all that the coward fears. To be led by a fool is to be led by the opportunists who control the fool. To be led by a thief is to offer up your most precious treasures to be stolen. To be led by a liar is to ask to be lied to. To be led by a tyrant is to sell yourself and those you love into slavery." -- Octavia Butler (science fiction writer, 7.22.1947 - 2.24.2006)
"If you want real welfare reform, you focus on a good education, good health care, and a good job.

If you want to reduce poverty, you focus on a good education, good healthcare, and a good job.

If you want a stable middle class, you focus on a good education, good health care, and a good job.

If you want to have citizens who can participate in democracy, you focus on a good education, good health care, and a good job.

And if you want to end the violence, you could build a million new prisons and you could fill them up, but you never end this cycle of violence unless you invest in the health and the skill and the intellect and the character of our children. You focus on a good education, good health care and a good job.

And other than that, I don't feel strongly about anything."

-- Paul Wellstone (US Senator, D-Minnesota, 7.21.1944 - 10.25.2002)
"There are no warlike peoples - just warlike leaders." -- Ralph Bunche (8.7.1903 - 12.9.1971)
In the execution room, Troy [Davis] used his last words to proclaim his innocence one final time. He then made a call for his movement -- all of our movement -- to bring about [an] end of the death penalty for good. And then, in his final breath, he asked God's mercy upon those about to kill him.
"Resistance to tyrants is obedience to God." -- Thomas Jefferson
"Officials from the San Onofre nuclear reactor said the warning siren that went off yesterday was just a malfunction and no one should worry. Hey, I worry, if they can't even get the siren to work right, what the hell are they doing with the reactor??" Jay Leno 1/20/10
"Please send this to everyone you know!" -- Ace Hoffman (original collector of the above quotes)

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An Expose of the Nuclear Industry
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Thursday, December 31, 2015

Re: SONGS story to air (my response to David Victor)

Here's my opinion of Mr. Victor's management of Southern California Edison's Citizen's Engagement Panel, prompted by his dressing-down of a local reporter over an upcoming news item (expected to be aired this evening).

Best regards,

Ace Hoffman
Carlsbad, CA

Postscript: Here is the news story on the internet:


Mr. Victor,

Outside your ivory tower, today was a work day for most working-class people. And the news never sleeps.

It's a lot like rust in that respect -- something that should concern you greatly, since you are helping "authorize" (although you claim to have no "authority" and no power) the storage of extremely large quantities of extremely poisonous, extremely delicate, extremely "hot" (radioactively and thermally) nuclear waste in our midst (in rust-prone "stainless" steel containers).

The waste is dangerous for hundreds of thousands of years and could remain at San Onofre for centuries (or longer). You say you want it moved out of here, of course, but that's not the reality. And you've done nothing to prevent a catastrophic release at Diablo Canyon, having learned nothing about how much LESS dangerous nuclear waste is even just a few years after the reactor is shut down. Can you imagine being responsible for something that is a thousand times more dangerous than spent fuel, and a thousand times more likely to suffer an accident? That's the sorry situation at Diablo Canyon, but you've said nothing to them about what a mess you have on your hands here -- a mess that grows every day in San Luis Obispo, but fortunately, is no longer growing here.

My humble opinion, having attended (and filmed) many of the CEP meetings, and watched all but one of the rest of them, is that you were picked for the job because someone at Southern California Edison was sure you would do their bidding. And they have no intention of getting rid of you, I'm sure of that.

From early on, you've been cutting off discussions you don't like. From early on, you've helped SCE ignore the fact that by delaying demolition of the reactor site for up to 60 years, SAFSTOR reduces exposure to radiation, for both workers and the public. The cumulative dose (especially to workers) is much higher if we demolish the plant sooner rather than later. But SCE doesn't want to wait, so...neither do you.

SCE wants to move forward, but probably for financial reasons. What's your reason? SCE also has willing workers (who presumably are unaware of the full extent of the dangers). Who knows who they'll be able to find to do that dirty work in the future?

One thing there is unlikely to be in the future is a cheap place to store the waste. Few options are available for long-term storage of the radioactive debris from decommissioning, and those options are becoming more and more rare, and more and more expensive. So Edison certainly feels it's in their best interest to dismantle SanO quickly, but is it in ours (including the workers who eagerly wish to be irradiated)? And what's best for America? To "solve" one nuclear waste problem by creating another one somewhere else?

Google "Cactus Crater Marshall Islands" to learn what a mess nuclear "experts" have made of long-term storage of irradiated debris in the past. The cement dome is cracking, water is leaching in, radionuclides are leaching out, and the radioactive metals dumped in the middle of the lagoon are being brought to the surface for scrap by poor natives, and then sold to unscrupulous buyers who recycle the metal into everyday things.

So even the broken-up radioactive cement -- and the dust -- will have to be guarded for centuries! And you're in charge. Can't work holidays? Somebody's got to do it.

But the debris from decommissioning, and the worker exposures during the process, are minor worries compared to thinking about the spent fuel. 365 days a year -- for what is essentially an eternity (thousands of years), it will have to be guarded. Someone will have to not be with their families, not just holidays, but day and night, 24/7, as long as it's here and probably a lot longer than that. In thin casks, in a corrosive environment (our beach).

You say that the spent fuel is "just one of many issues" and evidently don't seem to grasp that it's almost the ONLY issue.

Every day that waste sits here, it's vulnerable to earthquakes, tsunamis, airplane strikes (accidental or otherwise), terrorist attacks, and decaying, cracking, embrittling metallurgical issues. For a couple of hours every three months, you control a room full of people, most of whom haven't got any idea of the biological consequences of their decisions. Nor are they aware that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is practically clueless about what condition the cement will be in, or the metals. Nor does the NRC know of any way of inspecting the casks on the inside -- or much of the outside. They know of no way of burrowing below the cement base to check on the condition of the Holtec Honeycomb-Style Waste Storage Pits without risking structural damage, water intrusion damage, etc.. Cement experts weren't invited to your CEP meetings, but they were invited to speak at some NRC hearings this past summer (which is how I know the NRC is practically clueless). I don't think you were in attendance then, nor, as far as I can tell, are you at most of the NRC hearings on San Onofre issues (I attend (and record) as many of them as possible). You certainly don't speak up if you do attend.

Holtec has decided not to use reinforced concrete overpacks in the spent fuel "islands" (ISFSIs) they want SCE to buy (with ratepayer money, of course). No demolition experts were invited to the CEP to knock holes in that decision!

You never allow enough time for public comment, and it's far too rigidly controlled. If a lot of people show up, you act like you're running some sort of government hearing and cut down the minutes each person gets to speak. You actually have used the lamest excuse of all -- that the room was only rented for so long, and no longer! (The seats are dreadfully uncomfortable in Oceanside, so I guess when the meetings are held there, it's just as well they're short.) SCE can afford better. The CEP chairman should demand it.

Any lost time during the "main" portion of the meeting invariably comes out of the public comment period at the end. Panelists will not respond to questions they don't like -- just like a government hearing.

You act like you think you're king of something -- and you are: You're king of the most deadly substance in California. Your efforts are a major factor in determining how that deadly waste will be guarded -- or not -- for the next 300 years -- or longer.

You're forcing it down our throats. And don't say it's not your fault that the waste is (still) here. I've attended more than 20 years of hearings on San Onofre. Never saw you at one before the plant closed. So you had decades to help shut the plant down sooner, knowing -- as we all knew, who bothered to look -- that there was no place to put the waste once the plant closed. So yes, of course it's your fault as much as anybody's.

In short, you've done little since the beginning except push SCE's agenda -- and you ignore criticism. Regarding the upcoming NBC news item, it's very specifically concerned about statistical shenanigans Southern California Edison has apparently been playing for years -- that directly relate to their ability to properly and safely dismantle a nuclear power plant! Specifically, the allegation is that they co-mingle measured samples from highly contaminated areas with measurements from lightly contaminated areas in order to achieve a passing level in the NRC's far-too-lenient allowable releases. Such behavior leaves a lot of room for bias, if not outright cover-up of accidental large releases. It's a serious allegation which evidence clearly suggests was happening.

So I find it strange that as head of the Citizen's Engagement Panel, you would have no comment yourself!

Except, of course, that all this was to be expected. The very purpose of the CEP has been, and IS, to block activists from "controlling" the conversation. With your efforts the CEP has done far better than SCE, NRC or NEI could ever have imagined -- SanO's public participation system for decommissioning a reactor is being held up nationwide by the nuclear industry and even the NRC as a great example of how to do it right! You've even traveled across the country to talk about it, haven't you? (The only time you've spoken at an NRC event, as far as I can recall. Correct me if it's what bothers you about this letter, of course. Was it NEI you spoke to? Or both?)

In the two years during which you've almost completely controlled the post-near-apocalyptic-steam-generator-failure discussion about San Onofre's terrifying legacy of nuclear waste (pun intended), you've accomplished nothing that has helped get the waste removed, and blocked activist's attempts to get better, thicker dry casks and stronger cement overpacks (steel reinforced, for starters, with drainage systems for jet fuel to be removed in well under 20 minutes).

Citizens attempting to work with SCE through the CEP have found it a fruitless endeavor in large part due to your attitude towards opinions you don't share. You've listened to nuclear industry representatives for many hours -- not experts (except Dr. Singh, of course) but merely salesmen -- tell bald-faced lies to the CEP panelists and said nothing. But you control the conversation immediately when any activist -- or even other panelists -- try to speak out on any subject you don't agree with.

Ace Hoffman
Carlsbad, CA

At 12:05 AM 12/31/2015 +0000, David G. Victor wrote:
>Dear JW August
>At 11:14am this morning you sent me an email requesting comment from me and the Community Engagement Panel on a story that, I gather, your station has already completed and intends to air tomorrow evening. Barely two hours later, at 1:01pm, you sent an email to 39 people (to which I am replying all) that elliptically suggests that the Community Engagement Panel (which I chair) has failed to comment. That is an extraordinary claim that has no basis in fact nor does it reflect any reasonable standard for professional news reporting.
>Nearly the entire nation (myself included) is on vacation this week and we are not sitting next to our email, ignoring our families waiting to respond to your random requests for information. You have been working on this story for months and yet you demand, in the middle of a holiday with no advance warning, responses to a complicated story for which the facts really matter. And your offer a schedule that allows no realistic opportunity to do a thorough review of all the materials and solicit feedback from a wide array of sources so that we can help provide to the public truly accurate information about the decommissioning process. I saw your earlier (Sept 22, 2015) story and was deeply disturbed by your reliance upon unnamed expert sources as well as on-camera interviews with individuals who are engaged in other legal actions that clearly raise questions about the reliability of their information. For such reasons I would want to be doubly careful before commenting that I had seen all the materials you allege to have on hand and read the full reports—not just pluck phrases out of context here and there. My interest is in accuracy—not sensatiionalism.
>Your email to me this morning referred to earlier requests for information on 11 December and 18 December. Yet those emails were addressed “To Whom it May Concern” and sent to a list of people (copying me) with sprawling, unfocused questions that referred to unnamed “experts” regarding how "SCE does damage control.” You also demanded to know if SCE or the Navy were “lying.” These questions are the stuff of gotcha campaigns and not a serious, focused and professional exchange of information aimed at obtaining the truth. Moreover, those questions seemed to be addressed to SCE and other officials on your email list—not to me. You should not,, in any way, pretend that because I happened to be copied on those messages, which were not addressed to me, that I or the Community Engagement Panel has been unresponsive. If you report that in your new story you will be reporting information that is willfully inaccurate.
>The Community Engagement Panel is not a watchdog agency. It does not investigate SCE, NRC or any other body that has formal decision making and regulatory responsibilities at the plant. Nor is our job to defend or promote those organizations. We are a group of 18 volunteers who are providing a conduit of information. We help provide SCE with information about what concerns the public—informmation that has led to an array of tangible changes in how SCE is implementing its decommissioning process. And we help provide the public with information on the process of decommissioning—including information that iss often steeped in jargon and technical detail that we help translate so that it is accessible to everyone. We are particularly focused on the plant itself whereas much of your reporting seems to be focused on events back in the 1980s on the Mesa site—across the road from thee main plant. Mindful of our role as a conduit for information, we have circulated links to your earlier reports and discussed them and also circulated copies of responses from SCE to your reporting. And we will do the same as new stories appear. Beyond that, I don’t see that there is a specific role for us in your story.
>With best wishes for the New Year,
>David Victor
>From: "August, J.W (NBCUniversal)" <>
>Date: Wednesday, December 30, 2015 at 1:01 PM
>To: Maureen Brown <>, "Saunders, Lee H CIV NAVFAC SW" <>, "" <>, "" <>, "Donovan, Stephanie" <>, "" <>, David Victor <>, Dan Stetson <>, "" <>, "Smith, Steve" <>, "Lightfoot, Anita" <>, "August, J.W (NBCUniversal)" <>, "Walsh, Lynn (NBCUniversal)" <>, Michael Aguirre <>, Bart Ziegler <>, Ace Hoffman <>, Daniel O Hirsch <>, Vinod Arora <>, Mark Sauer <>, "" <>, "" <>, "" <>, Jamie Court <>, Jamie Hampton <>, "" <>, Diane Takvorian <>, "Adams, Andie (NBCUniversal)" <>, "Galindo, Ramon (NBCUniversal)" <>, noverflo <>, "" <>, JW August <>, "Giametta, Salvatore" <>, "Ernie Cowan (" <>, "Goldstein, Daniel" <>, PEACE RESOURCE CENTER <>, "" <>, Bree Walker <>, "" <>, "" <>
>Subject: SONGS story to air
>As of this date, December 30, 2015, neither of the principals in this story, SCE & SDGE, have commented.
>The first request for comment was e mailed on December 11th, a follow up on the 18th of December. The request for specific comments to allegations is shown below and was sent to both SDGE and SCE as the responsible parties on the lease of the SONGS
> Of the agencies copied on this request for comment, only the NRC provided any feedback.
>The Community Engagement Panel, which is tasked with being the public’s eyes and ears on the shutdown of SONGS, has also been asked for comment. Several members of that panel are included in this e mail.
>You will find in the attachments with this e mail the criticisms of our original story.
>That story can be seen at:
>The updated story on the SONGS land will air in the 6pm broadcast tomorrow night on KNSD in San Diego. In addition, on the KNSD website will be the companion story with links provided for
>documents used in producing this story.
>Here is the request for comment:
>From: "August, J.W (NBCUniversal)" <>
>Date: December 18, 2015 at 5:15:16 AM PST
>To: JW August <>
>Cc: "" <>, "" <>, "" <>, "" <>, "" <>, "" <>, "" <>, "" <>, "" <>, "" <>, Steve Schmidt <>, "" <>, "Walsh, Lynn (NBCUniversal)" <>
>Subject: Re: 2nd request for comment on KNSD report on SONGS, second story in series
>On Dec 11, 2015, at 3:48 PM, JW August <> wrote:
>To whom it may concern
>We are preparing to â€&lsqauo;broadcast and webcast a story regarding the SONGS plant â€&lsqauo;in the near future regarding SDGE/SCE lease with the US Navy and the condition of the land around the plant that was under the control of SCE/SDGE partnership.
>Our initial story resulted inâ€&lsqauo;no response from SDGE and SCE did not provide any specific comments for the story even though they had a advance copy of the story and ample time to respond. We were referred to the SCE website press releases andvideo press conferences where various unrelated comments and statements were made. Eventually SCE’s public information â€&lsqauo;office did provide a more through response â€&lsqauo;accusing KNSD of scare tactics, shoddy reporting, calling the story sensational and inaccurate. The utility requested corrections to be made to the original story. For the record, â€&lsqauo;KNSD never did a correction as requested by SCE â€&lsqauo; because we believe our sources and the information we have compiled are accurate and factual given the information we have.It was â€&lsqauo;ten days after the story aired before the utility did respond to specific issues and we note the letter was sent not just to KNSD but throughout the stakeholders community. One of our experts told us this was the typical way SCE does damage control. Would you care to comment?
>â€&lsqauo;In regards to the story now in production, a key â€&lsqauo;element in the story is a statement from SCE contained in their letter criticizing the coverage; “There is no current radiological contamination on the Mesa property we plan to return to the Navy, as you implied; all Mesa survey readings are normal background radiation levels”â€&lsqauo;That is from the letter sent to KNSD from Maureen Brown of the SCE.â€&lsqauo;However, a response from a FOIA request â€&lsqauo;made by KNSD â€&lsqauo;to the United States Navy in regards to the Mesa â€&lsqauo;radiation â€&lsqauo;
>readings says, quoting from Mr. David Bixler of the Engineering Command, “The Mesa site may be contaminated from activities conducted during SCE’s occupancy and use” This letter is dated August 20, 2015â€&lsqauo;, just days before our story would air. â€&lsqauo;
>Was the Navy lying? â€&lsqauo;We are also reporting when SCE employees gathered samplesâ€&lsqauo;to check for radioactive levels from various locations on the Mesaâ€&lsqauo;, theymixed them together . According to our expert Dan Hirsch â€&lsqauo;this is a common practice by utilities when sampling to “average them together and try to find a way to force the numbers lower than they should be” We also reference in our new story an incident from NRC inspection records where contaminated soil, asphalt and concrete located close to a containment structure was moved to the Mesa. Sometime later it was removed—390 fifty five gallon druums were shipped off site. â€&lsqauo;Can â€&lsqauo;you tell me where the drums disposed of properly? Where were they shipped?
>â€&lsqauo;SCE's Media Relations Project Manager complained about our producer/reporters lack of knowledge about basic science saying “It appears your reporters and producers are unaware that radiation exists in everyday life” However after reviewing our documents and the SCE letter Mr. Hirsch said “the arguments that were made about radiation levels we are exposed to is completely irrelevant” He also added this sharp reaction is the typical â€&lsqauo;method of operation for SCE when they are questioned about their practices, saying SCE views this as a "public relations problem not a health problem."
>Please feel free to comment to one or all of these statements.
>Thank you
>J W August
>Investigative Producer
>o 619.578.0214 | c 619.992.2210
>225 Broadway, San Diego CA 92101
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** Ace Hoffman
** Carlsbad, California

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

New videos: Oral Histories and presentations of atomic veterans...

November 25th, 2015

Dear Readers,

I recently posted nine videos on You-Tube which were recorded October 24-26, 2015 at an Atomic Veterans Reunion event in Las Vegas, Nevada. The event was held at the National Atomic Veterans Museum, near the strip. URLs for all nine videos are shown below.

The videos feature three Oral History interviews and more than half a dozen presentations by atomic veterans. These are complete interviews and presentations, minimally edited (except for extensive audio cleanup, so that audience and moderator comments could be heard).

One of the most interesting presentations was by Peter M. Livingston, who proposes several suggestions about what to do with spent nuclear fuel. He believes (and has numerous credentials and patents to back up his claims) that America can invent a "gamma ray photon" laser which will be able to reduce the fission product content of nuclear waste (it can't do anything about the plutonium, unfortunately). This would actually produce additional useful energy from the fuel waste, while using up the most dangerous byproduct of nuclear fission: The fission products.

Dr. Livingston also has concepts for using spent fuel in pools for creating: "a surprising cornucopia of chemicals, such as alcohols, aldehydes, ketones, ketenes, carbon monoxide" and other chemicals from the radiochemical reduction of carbon dioxide using gamma radiation emitting from spent fuel -- at a profit. Spent fuel is "one to ten million times" more radioactive than a medical cobalt-60 source.

All the presentations were fascinating to listen to and I highly recommend checking out the whole set. Some of the storytellers are old and talk slowly, some talk about some pretty mundane things sometimes, but I still suggest you view (or just listen) to each one in its entirety (total a little over five hours).

Taken together, they present a picture of an important part of history that is becoming impossible to find eyewitnesses to. These men watched, between them, scores of nuclear blasts. They laid cables for tests, stood in trenches near the blast, sent out reports on the telegraph even parachuted into a radioactive drop zone within about an hour after the detonation!

Included is also one World War Two veteran's story presented at the same event, about landing on the beach in Normandy and the next four months he spent on that same beach, often under fire from German planes, never showering the entire four months, unloading equipment for the war machine (including my father) which was marching across Europe.

You'll cry, you'll laugh, you'll disagree with something, you'll be horrified by many things, but you'll be glad you viewed these tapes of these amazing gentlemen, who each just randomly ended up having something to do with The Bomb (or, in Gaetano Benza's case, ended up on the blood-soaked, body-littered beaches of Normandy on D-Day).

Ace Hoffman
Videographer/interviewer/film editor
Carlsbad, California

Videos from National Atomic Testing Museum Atomic Veterans Reunion 2015:

Wally Lyons (Oral History and Presentation, 33:28):
(Signal Corps)

Roger Stenerson (Presentation, 37:14):
(Measured radiation effects of half a dozen blasts)

Gaetano Benza (Presentation, 14:32):
(D-Day landings)

Bud Hinshaw (Presentation, 17:39):
(Airplane mechanic)

Al Tseu (Oral History, 49:57):
(82nd Airborne)

Al Tseu (Presentation, 33:47):

Peter Livingston (Oral History and Presentation, 55:41):
(Atomic blast EMP and x-ray studies)

Leo "Bud" Feurt (Presentation, 13:34):
(Saw dozens of blasts while stationed on the U.S.S. Boxer aircraft carrier)

Al Gettier and Larrie Adams (Presentations, 1:02:14):
(Enewetok cleanup)



** Ace Hoffman, Carlsbad CA 92018
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