July 29th, 2008 (follow-up to previous newsletter)
Below, typos and all, is how California State Assemblyman Chuck DeVore (R-70 (Irvine)) responded to my newsletter of earlier today, as published in MWC. His response came less than seven hours after I sent out the newsletter. I am honored by his sense of urgency in the matter, and the sense of importance he seems to have attached to my comments by responding in a way that is clearly not a form letter.
Below, top, is my response to Assemblyman DeVore. Then, bottom, his letter to me, as posted at the MWC web site.
If anyone wishes to respond to Assemblyman DeVore directly, please keep it civil, and please "cc" me, as well. Thank you in advance.
Letter to Assemblyman Chuck DeVore:
July 29th, 2008
Dear Assemblyman DeVore:
Your response to my newsletter, published today in Media With Conscience, does not have any substance. You didn't respond to my request for more information about your "<0.001 mrem" claim. Despite your allegations, my newsletter had several very important "numbers" which you have not disputed, and many more numbers were provided in the linked articles. Unfortunately, to both our detriment, the MWC edition of my newsletter did not pick those links up. They are included again below. (I'll add you to my subscriber list, and you won't miss a thing, ever again.)
But I wanted to mention a few things.
First, because of your position of responsibility and authority, your response regarding the terrorism issue was utterly inadequate and criminally negligent. I've read Bennett Ramberg. Do you even know who he is?
Second, because of your position of responsibility and authority, your response regarding the concern I expressed for the fact that tritium crosses the placenta was utterly inadequate and criminally negligent. I've read Rosalie Bertell. Do you even know who she is?
Third, because of your position of responsibility and authority, your response regarding my concerns about Genpatsu-Shinsai was utterly inadequate and criminally negligent, especially in light of today's 5.4 earthquake so near to SONWGS. Let's go together to Kashiwazaki, Japan, and see what happened there, and let's learn, together, why all those reactors are still closed more than a year after the Chuetsu Offshore Earthquake in 2007. The plant was located more than 10 miles from the epicenter. Such earthquakes apparently were not expected near there, since the earthquake produced ground motion more than twice the design basis. Are you sure our earthquakes won't exceed SONWGS's design basis, and are you sure SONWGS can withstand its design basis earthquake? If you are, I doubt you are studying the available global data on building failures during earthquakes. A certain percentage of buildings succumb much more easily than expected. Can you be sure the control rooms, or some other vital part of SONWGS, won't be one of those buildings, when it's our turn to experience a strong earthquake nearby, or even directly under one of our reactors? Can you be sure a tsunami won't overwhelm the puny little sea wall, following an underwater landslide offshore? No, of course you can't.
And fourth, just as an example: If your really want to talk about K-40 instead of just throwing out some claim about it, you are welcome to read my "expose" on the subject, which I wrote after another "formula pronuker" threw that silliness at me last year (see "It's all about the DNA," below).
As to your article in Ecology Law Currents, a quick glance through your tired arguments shows your solution to the plutonium production problem is reprocessing, like they do in France. Do you mean like at La Hague, where they pour fission products into the North Sea? Or the way they leak uranium into the streams at Tricastin, a name that will live in infamy among thousands of families, who now suddenly must wonder if they have been poisoned? Or do you mean the way the French ran the Tour de France again this year, where rider after rider crashed -- into guard-rails, trees, spectators, signposts, and other riders? Yeah, great job there, France. Great role model, Chuck.
You don't have a solution to the waste problem, or the plutonium production problem, and that's a fact.
And as for "hard numbers" on tritium, I'd like to see you tell me what number I missed in my main tritium presentation also linked to below, which is a lot more technical than your comments in Ecology Law Currents.
And please review the comments shown below by retired nuclear physicist Jack Shannon, regarding a previous newsletter. He's been on my subscriber list for about ten years. In a separate email I'll send the full newsletter he was responding to, from last week. It was about an opinion poll you think is important, according to your web site.
And by the way: Don't bother waving the flag and calling me a leftist. I'm a citizen. A U.S. citizen who had bladder cancer and wonders if the cause was the tritium from San Onofre, or the plutonium from SNAP-9A, or some other radiation assault, or DDT or something else -- maybe second hand cigarette smoke (or do you not believe in that, either?). I've written interactive human interface software to control military-grade weapons-capable lasers, and dozens of government agencies (and 100s of universities) continue to purchase my civilian and industrial educational software products. I vote green, and I'll bet Ben Franklin would have too, considering he really founded the "environmental" movement, as far as I can tell. The one you're rebelling against right now.
When I saw you speak, Dan Hirsch, your opponent that day, wiped the floor with you. And I should have started my column by mentioning your own ad hominem attacks on Jerry Collamer, to head off your -- dare I say pathetic -- opening salvo against me.
Lastly, the "1972/1976" error is duly noted; the reference I checked was wrong, but gee, I think it actually came from a pro-nuke web site. Maybe even yours.
Author, The Animated Periodic Table of the Elements; Author, All About Pumps; Co-Author, Statistics Explained; Co-Author, The Engine of Life
At 10:31 AM 7/24/2008 -0400, Jacksha1@aol.com wrote:
>I will lend my support to your comments plus any additional comments concerning Nuclear Power that you wish to add. You are more knowledgeable of this energy source, and more honest, than most of the Scientists and Engineers who I worked with at KAPL Please feel free to use my name and titles to anything you have to say, or add to anything you have said or done in the past.
>Nuclear Physicist/Nuclear Engineer for GE from 1959 - 1990., as well as Manager of Reactor Physics.
>Manager of Nuclear Criticality Safety, Environmental Safety and Industrial Safety at KAPL, Kesselring Site Operations, and Windsor sites of the Naval Reactors Program Run by GE.
>Designer of the DIG Core 2, cores 2 A and 2 B.
>A design Engineer for a still classified but never used plant designed for use on Nuclear Powered Submarines.[ I have many comments to make about this plant, but I am afraid it is still classified. Not because it was good, it was just dumb.
>In a message dated 7/24/2008 2:00:37 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time, firstname.lastname@example.org writes:
>To: Field Research Corp., San Francisco, CA ( email@example.com
Some additional reading with more information:
It's All About the DNA:
Tritium Explained (why "Low Level Radiation" can be disproportionately harmful):
My first tritium article is linked to from this animation I created a few years ago. It lists the actual number of tritium atoms in a teaspoon of tritium, for instance:
At 08:48 PM 7/29/2008 -0700, MWC wrote:
Ace Hoffman, allow me to respond to your
Mr. Hoffman, I find your article attacking my position on nuclear power so poorly written, I hardly know where to begin, but let me try.
As with many liberals you begin with a dozy of an ad hominem, writing, "…when he introduced a bill to allow new nuclear power plants in the state. He hardly knew a thing about nuclear power back then, made a fool of himself, and the bill was defeated." But badly researched personal attacks won't get you far. I did then and do now know a thing or two about nuclear power. As for "making a fool" out of myself – that hasn't happened yet in committee, in live debates with seasoned anti-nuclear activists or in press interviews. In fact, during my opening remarks in my first try at lifting California's 1976 ban (not 1972 as you erroneously wrote) the Chair of the Natural Resources Committee, a Berkeley Democrat, cut me off mid-sentence in my opening remarks. In the resulting news article, the San Francisco Chronicle was clearly unimpressed with her closed-minded approach to a major public policy issue.
As to your calling my letter to the editor of the San Clemente Sun-Post "…a calculated attack… …practically a form letter." I'm sorry to hear you don't like my writing style, a one fact you do make abundantly clear in your own "calculated attack." But, I did write the letter myself, so I stand behind it.
You then attack my calculations of the amount of radiation around the nuclear plant at San Onofre. But, in attacking my numbers, you offer none of your own. Perhaps because radiation is so prevalent around us and even in us all the time (ever eat a banana, Mr. Hoffman, they're loaded with radioactive potassium – one of the reasons your own body is probably emitting about 7,000 becquerels of radiation right now).
As for relative risks, since nuclear power is about 6.5 orders of magnitude more powerful than simple chemical reactions, the amount of waste to deal with is small compared to fossil fuels. Perhaps that's one reason why the World Health Organization estimates that three million people a year prematurely die from exposure to the products of fossil fuel burning. If nuclear power caused one hundredths of the deaths per year, I'm sure you would have gleefully cited the statistics, but you didn't, because the data does not support you.
Your fictional elevated bullet train rebuttal is amusing. First, where do we get the power for such a train? Second, how do we serve a place as vast as America? Third, you think environmental approvals are hard to built power lines to connect to wind and solar fields, imagine the years' delaying lawsuits for the train network you envision.
Wind power cannot supply our needs. Even Denmark is pulling back from their bullishness on wind, as is Germany (dirty little secret is that the Danes get fully 50 percent of their power from coal). I know all about Diamond Valley Lake, which you mention, but not by name – even took a tour of the facility two years ago. You cavalierly mention "…other reservoirs lower in the system" – and those would be? The fact is Diamond Valley Lake is connected to Southern California's water system by a very small canal. Your idea wouldn't work – and if it could on another lake, you have to account for efficiency losses that effectively triple the cost of wind energy on demand when linked to a hydro-based energy storage system.
As for the statement "Nukes are notoriously unreliable, from fires inside the plant, and from a thousand other causes." This is patently false. The U.S. nuclear industry is now running at about 90 percent availability – far better than California's wind turbines which produce power 17 percent of the time that it is needed.
As for earthquakes, nuclear power plants can be designed to withstand large earthquakes, while the containment domes themselves, due to the very nature of their construction, are immune damage from quakes. The same cannot be said of hydroelectric dams, by the way.
As for the costs of nuclear plants, the same exact cost escalators hit wind power as well – especially so as it take about 10 times the amount of steel and cement for wind power to produce the same amount of electricity as a nuclear plant.
I could go on and on, but would rather be assured that my reply would actually be published before spending another second on it. Much of what I would continue on about may be found in the scholarly piece I wrote for UC Berkeley's Ecology Law Currents in April, 2008 at:
One last observation though, if one of the dry casks storing used nuclear fuel at San Onofre were breached, there would be no "catastrophe" at all. Saying so clearly betrays an ignorance of radiation and how it propagates. In fact, if a hole were to be poked in a dry cask, it would be a non-event as the public would not be harmed in the slightest.
California State Assemblyman, 70th District
Contact information for Ace Hoffman appears below: