Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The cartoon world of California State Assemblyman Chuck DeVore

To: "MWC. News" <>

July 30th, 2008

Assemblyman DeVore,

Regarding your response (shown below) to my previous comments, my facts are straight. I expressed the K-40 / tritium comparison in terms of relative biological activity. Did you actually read the essay?

I think you live in a cartoon world, beyond education, beyond conversation, beyond discussion, beyond debate.

Seriously: Has this conversation really removed itself from reality to the point where 747s can now bounce harmlessly off containment domes? Are you including the turbine engine shafts -- all four of them, and including coming in from a steep dive?

If so, you have a cartoon sense of danger, DeVore.

In your cartoon world, the control room, SPENT FUEL POOLS, dry casks, and other structures have magically been placed INSIDE the containment dome, for safety during the airplane strike. Even the NRC thinks terrorism is a real threat -- we differ only on whether a few extra guards, some concrete barriers, and some iron coffins are sufficient to deter a determined enemy flying a swarm of small planes each loaded with explosives and air/fuel bombs, for instance.

In your cartoon world, all radiation is good because your wife's radiation therapy was successful (thank God), and hasn't (yet?) given her a secondary cancer. Let's hope she continues to be lucky.

Hormesis was discarded long ago. Radiation therapy such as your wife's, is a desperate "last resort" and in no way suggests, as you want me to believe, that infants won't be harmed if they receive tritium through the placenta.

In your cartoon world, the government's own "RBE" (which attempts to create a measuring system for radiation damage) no longer applies because "radiation is radiation."

In your cartoon world, estimates of the potential deaths from tritium are guesses based on what? Mainly the biased and inadequate studies of Hiroshima and Nagasaki victims, often called the "healthy survivor" studies.

In your cartoon world, "reliable" means losing power from a dozen reactors in an instant because (reportedly) a tree fell on a line, as happened in the Northeast a few years ago. Nukes are anything but reliable, and when they go down, they sometimes stay down for years. AND they nearly always fail during emergencies, too, just when you need them the most, in part because it's dangerous to leave a nuke running during a tornado, fire, flood, earthquake, aftershocks, etc..

In your cartoon world, renewables cannot save us from coal deaths because they are too expensive. But you have no solution to the radioactive waste problem, so instead, you want to destroy a California law which simply says: "when a smart enough pronuker comes along who can solve the waste problem, then we'll allow new nukes."

In 60 years, the world still waits for that one smart pronuker. But in your cartoon world, that problem's already solved.

I strongly advocate reducing fossil fuel use. But eliminating nuclear power plants and halting the ever-growing waste accumulation is far more important -- if you care about the future.

The global increase in fission products is still in its infancy. Under current environmental policies, the radioactive burden from nuclear power plants will continue to grow. Each year those plants remain operational, they invite catastrophe and release numerous radioactive poisons which are NOT normally found in the environment, but which bioaccumulate in a variety of ways. The longer-lived isotopes (such as Pu 239) will be around for thousands of generations, as will their daughter products. Nevada has no intention of taking the waste, and if you think you can simply overpower the mayor of Las Vegas (for instance), good luck with that.

If you look at the entire nuclear fuel cycle (including waste storage, which has an unknowable cost) nuclear is a net loss on all fronts: economic, greenhouse gas / global warming, and humanitarian. To know this and still use your political power to promote new nuclear power plants is criminally negligent. I suppose if you keep proving that you live in a cartoon world, devoid of realistic projections of what might happen in the future, then perhaps later you'll be able to stay out of prison. Oh, that's right: "I knew nothing!" didn't work at Nuremburg; there's no reason for you to think it will work here. Or are you planning to plead insanity for your criminal (yep, I'll keep saying it) negligence?

I was a professional attendee at Comicon last week (the educational software I develop uses a lot of animation and the technology has a lot in common with game technology). I usually defend freedom of speech, such as by contributing to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, but I would testify before Congress that cartoons must have warped your brain. I cannot see any other excuse for your denial of reality.

Poverty is a big issue (trillion-dollar wars are probably the cause), but building new nuclear plants won't make it better, and never has, and never could.

I doubt many wind turbines go up that weren't built largely, if not entirely, with union labor. And it's alright with me if there's a law that all energy projects that get government subsidies must be built by union labor. This could be known as the "undoing decades of nuclear give-aways act."

In fact, economics is the least controversial argument against nuclear power. Subsidies like Price-Anderson are necessary because the insurance industry still refuses to insure these nightmares -- it's not a profitable proposition. Wall Street still refuses to invest in nuclear power, so the federal government must put tens of billions of dollars per year -- every year -- into it.

Where's the honest capitalism? Eking out a living making wind turbines, against the tide of cartoon solutions and science-fiction dreams. Tell me, Assemblyman DeVore, do you believe in warp drives, too?

The AFL-CIO should realize that losing members to cancer is not what they want to promote. The good jobs are in renewable energy solutions. If you and your friends in the nuclear industry would stop lying about the dangers from ionizing radiation, then perhaps we'll get somewhere towards mag-lev trains, offshore wind turbines, and all the other fun stuff humanity is capable of doing, but politicians are capable of stopping.

If you and your friends would stop pretending that San Onofre isn't killing people, greener worlds would be possible.

But as long as you want to be one of the plutonium-eaters, the DNA-haters, the baby-killers, and as long as you will not even take the time to read a few dozen essays, or a book or two by some of the experts I've mentioned, then I suppose there's no hope for you.

In your position of trust and responsibility, such willful ignorance constitutes criminal negligence.

Nuclear power really only has one possible end, but I guess we all hope it will happen to someone else first, not to OUR pair of nukes. The catastrophe is coming. A meltdown at San Onofre is not impossible -- only in your cartoon world is everything safe.

Before 9-11-2001, most politicians -- probably including you -- said what happened that day was impossible. Skies were safe. Terrorists had other plans.

But anti-nuclear activists -- including this one -- have documented proof that THEY worried about such an attack -- the takeover of a jumbo jet and the subsequent crashing of it into something on the ground -- decades ago. Activists tried to at least get the reactors built so they were protected against such things, but their concerns were dismissed. Even Edward Teller wanted reactors built underground, but that was mainly because of the danger from a steam explosion. He was not thinking about a 9-11 style attack.

But now that 9-11's happened, you have already forgotten the #1 lesson, which is this: Just because the terrorists have not done THIS before, or THAT before, doesn't mean they can't, or won't, do this, or that.

You didn't learn that lesson.

I suppose it blew right past you that they tend to like bigger, more dramatic, and as-yet-never-tried things. Another car bomb is ho-hum as far as the media is concerned, right? To get publicity, a terrorist attack had better be something "sweet." Don't forget that around Diablo Canyon they say they're safe because San Onofre is a juicier target. And yet you tell me it's simply (it's all so simple to you) not a target at all!

I don't believe you, and nor should anyone else.

And the containment domes you PRETEND are some sort of protection against terrorist attacks were, in fact, built to protect from internal steam explosions and the accompanying release of radioactivity -- the same reason Teller wanted the reactors underground. Go ahead, look it up (or ask your financial contributors -- see if they know). The domes may or may not withstand any particular crash from outside, but, with all that spent fuel to light on fire, what terrorist would BOTHER with trying to get past the dome, anyway? I've only pointed out that it would be possible -- it would even be possible to drop a depleted uranium SPEAR on the dome from a BALLOON and the spear would go through the dome and then it could easily destroy the reactor, especially if it were a gravity-bomb with radio-controlled fins and an explosive charge.

Oh, that's right. If the terrorists haven't done anything like that yet, then don't worry, they won't. Everything the terrorists will ever attack will be the targets YOU expect them to attack, right? And in the manner YOU expect them to come?

Sooner or later, Assemblyman DeVore, their targets will be our nuclear power plants. You've claimed that since that hasn't happened yet (as far as you know, even though numerous threats and attacks against our plants -- big threats but small attacks, so far, and poorly executed, thank God -- have, in fact, occurred over the years), it simply never will happen.

You think nuclear power is simple. Obviously, you think the terrorists are simpletons for whom simple solutions which defy the laws of physics will suffice.

Good luck with that.

Your cartoon world is crumbling as you speak.

Don't forget to buy duct tape so you can be "sheltered in place" for a few weeks or months after the truth starts to enter your brain. Authorities way higher up the ladder than you (and with full backing of the military) will make sure you can't even think about driving away from the fission cloud.

You'll be stuck. You'll be contaminated. If your family lives, no one will want to marry your children.

During the wild fires last year, I wrote about that sort of thing. I implore you to read it. Here's the URL:


Ace Hoffman
Carlsbad, CA

DeVore's follow-up response as posted at the MWC web site:

Assemblyman DeVore responds
I find the terrorism argument completely unconvincing. If nuclear plants were such inviting targets, with a world full of them, why haven\'t any been hit successfully? Of course, containment domes are very tough structures to defeat. A 747 would bounce off one, not causing a breach.

As for tritium, radiation is radiation. Your own body\'s potassium is a more persistent, larger, and more active source of radiation than tritium from SONGS ever could be. Get your facts straight.

Since fossil fuel burning causes about 3 million premature deaths per year in the world, according the WHO, you must be then willing to increase that to 3.3 million so as to save the 100 or so people who may prematurely die because of low level exposure to tritium. Mr. Hoffman, we live in a real world with real tradeoffs.

By the way, my nuclear power supporters in the AFL-CIO view poverty as a bigger issue and a bigger killer ­ poverty that is made worse by higher energy costs.

Lastly, labeling me "criminally negligent" several times doesn't make it so.

I'm sorry to hear about your cancer. My wife's thyroid cancer was killed and cured with radioactive iodine, so I have a different view of radiation informed by the life-saving aspects of nuclear medicine.

I see nuclear power as a significant source of reliable, low greenhouse gas emission energy. You do not, but you do not offer an affordable, viable, realistic alternative.

Chuck DeVore
California State Assemblyman, 70th District
chuckdevore@aol.comNOSPAM! ">Chuck DeVore