The California Coastal Commission (CCC) has the opportunity to take the car keys away from a drunk. But they have no intention of doing it.
The drunk is San Onofre Nuclear (Waste) Generating Station, which lies to the media and to the public, which hires executives (and others) who believe they're above the law, and which wants to keep generating enormous quantities of highly radioactive waste for at least another 20 years.
The CCC could stop this, but they claim their hands are tied, and they cannot consider "safety issues" when approving or not (but never "not") each permit request from San Onofre. But each permit is a little piece of the puzzle.
And piece by piece, the reconstruction of Units II and III is now being done, to the tune of an estimated $4 to 5 billion dollars (GULP!) altogether, including $1.2 billion in the past 12 months.
The more work that's completed and the more money that's spent, the more difficult it will be to STOP throwing MORE money into the nuclear cesspool at San Onofre. A lot of the work has yet to be completed, so NOW is a great time to shut these plants down FOREVER. Tomorrow, it will be harder.
The CCC will, instead, bend over BACKWARDS not to do it, but it's all ILLEGAL. They are avoiding a responsibility they CANNOT, legally, avoid.
A valet at a fancy nightclub, who retrieves a car for an obviously-drunk patron, bears a legal responsibility if that person crashes their car and kills an innocent third party. No contract or agreement between the valet and the nightclub patron can absolve the valet of responsibility.
The CCC is trying desperately -- like the valet acting as their own attorney -- to absolve themselves of responsibility entirely, even for the old steam generators, which are irradiated. There is nowhere to put them. The steam generators are not as irradiated as the reactor pressure vessel, let alone the spent fuel, but they are not fit for recycling and should be isolated from humanity for thousands of years. The CCC wishes, instead, to simply ignore them, letting Southern California Edison (SCE) decide how to dispose of them -- apparently letting them sit on the beach forever will be just fine with the CCC.
Instead, the CCC focuses on the new steam generators, which SCE wants to move along the beach after they arrive from Japan, so there's a lot of ink about the damage to the sand, and the mitigation requirements thereof.
But nothing about giving a drunk the keys to the car. The CCC doesn't care that by allowing delivery of the new steam generators, they are enabling the senseless production of millions of pounds of high level radioactive waste (and millions more of so-called low-level, or "diluted" radioactive waste) in California.
In a few years, SCE, the owner of the plant, will go to the various commissions and claim their plants have been rebuilt and are ready to run for another 20 years. A large portion of the plants WILL have been rebuilt, but large portions ALSO will NOT have been.
Vital structures have been irradiated and are failing sooner than expected. That's why the steam generators need replacing in the first place. They leak tritium and other radioactive isotopes into the environment.
Each steam generator has thousands of tubes, and SCE has to plug up each tube that leaks (AFTER it starts leaking, of course -- they have to wait until the next shutdown to fix these things, and they pollute the environment in the meantime).
But when the CCC is asked to rule on the replacement of the steam generators, which were supposed to last the life of the plant EVEN IF the licenses were extended, the CCC claims it cannot take "safety" into consideration!
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has proven itself time and again to be a "lap-dog" agency which cannot and will not protect the citizens. (Just Google "Davis-Besse 2002" for one example, or recall that on 9-11, with planes flying OVER Indian Point and NEAR other reactors, the NRC did exactly NOTHING -- they were, in the words of their commissioner, "glued to their television sets, watching events unfold.")
Yet the CCC will hand the car keys to the drunk. If he crashes into somebody -- if the plant melts down -- the CCC does NOT believe they, the commissioners, will have had ANY responsibility. That's what they claim!
But let's examine that claim, because it's false. The most recent example of the claim was made here (I've heard them say it for decades, in EVERY instance involving any nut or bolt at San Onofre or Diablo Canyon. Every single one.):
Claim: "Note: Federal law pre-empts the state from imposing requirements related to nuclear safety or radiation hazards. This report therefore evaluates only those issues necessary to determine conformity to policies of Chapter 3 of the Coastal Act and does not address the issues pre-empted by federal law."
By what maniacal twist of logic did we get from reality to this irrational and UNSUBSTANTIATED claim?
Try, just TRY to get the CCC to tell you where they got the idea that the above paragraph accurately reflects the legal situation. Probably you can't get an answer, but if you manage to get any answer at all from ANY state agency which similarly absolves itself of ALL responsibility for even UNDERSTANDING THE DANGERS OF NUCLEAR POWER, their answer might go approximately like this:
"We are an Agreement State with the Federal Government, so our hands are tied" they'll tell you. An "Agreement State" means that California (and New York, Connecticut, Georgia, and every other state with a nuclear power plant in it) has signed an agreement with the federal government which does, indeed, give SOME authority for such decisions to the Federal Government.
But NOT THAT MUCH!
Usually the original agreement was not even with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission or the Department of Energy, the two federal agencies which would handle such an agreement today. Rather it was with the Atomic Energy Commission, and hasn't even been reworded or updated to reflect the three-decades-old discrepancy of which agency it is with.
Each state's agreement is different. That's because EACH OF THESE AGREEMENTS IS SLEAZY, ILLOGICAL, AND ILLEGAL and had to be approved over the objections of people in the state legislatures who tried to use various, and different, state constitutional powers to STOP this abdication of responsibility.
But nobody fought too hard, because everybody was told it was UNAMERICAN to fight nuclear power. It wasn't, but that's what they were told. And they also didn't fight too hard to keep their "right to pollute" controlled within the state because very few, if any, legislators knew anything about splitting atoms or the dangers of radioactivity, and if they fought the agreements, they'd have to reveal that fact.
Let's look the actual wording of California's "Agreement." Let's look specifically at the "out" clause which was included. In a legally binding agreement, there is always an "out" clause of some sort. The whole purpose of an "agreement" (as opposed to a fascist dictatorial decision) is to say that one party MUST fulfill certain obligations or the agreement is nullified. Sometimes BOTH parties MUST fulfill various obligations, and if either party fails to do their part, the agreement is nullified, or at least opened to modification - and LEGAL DAMAGES can be sought for breach of contract.
Based on a link from the NRC's own web site, the California agency which actually ceded regulatory authority to the NRC was the Radiologic Health Branch of the Food, Drug, and Radiation Safety Division of the Department of Health Services. But it has been applied to all California agencies, usually willingly on their part.
The pre-emption of state regulatory authority was made in 1962, as described in Section 115230 of the California Health And Safety Code. But Article VIII of the California Health And Safety Code, Section 115235, states the following: "The Commission, upon its own initiative after reasonable notice and opportunity for hearing to the State, or upon request of the Governor of the State, may terminate or suspend this Agreement and reassert the licensing and regulatory authority vested in it under the Act if the Commission finds that such termination or suspension is required to protect the public health and safety." ("The Commission" here referred specifically to the California Resources Agency. See Section 114985 of the Code.)
In Article IX of the same section of the California Health and Safety Code, Section 115235, it is stated that after the agreement takes effect it shall "remain in effect unless, and until such time as it is terminated pursuant to Article VIII."
That clearly says that California MUST take back responsibility for the public health and safety IF the federal agencies to whom such responsibility has been ceded prove themselves incapable of providing for that public health and safety.
How can the State be assured that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (which took over the responsibilities ceded in 1962 to the AEC (Atomic Energy Commission)) is doing its job properly?
In other words, by what mechanism would the State know that the terms of the agreement have been fulfilled?
The answer is, of course, the state MUST provide some level of independent oversight AND, possibly, independent research -- whatever it takes to be sure the NRC, the DOE, and the nuclear industry are properly managed in California.
ANY level of oversight could, conceivably, be argued as being sufficient. But NO OVERSIGHT is unacceptable. And what has happened because of this utter lack of oversight is even more unacceptable.
By claiming safety is not their concern, the CCC is in effect saying to the drunk: "here's your car keys, get in and drive." Without new steam generators, San Onofre cannot continue to operate (with thousands of tubes plugged up, the old steam generators have become too inefficient). The CCC turns a blind eye to reliable reports of cancer clusters around numerous nuclear power facilities INCLUDING SAN ONOFRE, because, they say, they are "pre-empted by federal law."
Even if one ASSUMES the state agencies are pre-empted from ruling directly against the steam generators which will be used to produce poisons which will give our children leukemia (see new item from New Scientist, which is usually rather pro-nuclear, below), they were NEVER pre-empted from THINKING.
They could say, for example, "Because we calculate this project will leave a waste pile on our coast, possibly for hundreds of years, and that same waste pile will have to be moved eventually, at great risk, to be put somewhere where people have been forcibly removed forevermore, we, the commissioners of the CCC, cannot rule in favor of this project. We have not even addressed the "safety" issues we claim we cannot concern ourselves with, but we wish to note that these are serious liabilities for the owners of the plant, and therefore we do not believe SCE can be expected to remain solvent during the life of the radioactive waste, which is millions of years. Therefore, we completely reject this application."
They won't, of course. They'll just say their hands are tied, but they can't produce proof of that, because safety is the ONLY reason they exist. No one can preempt your right to protect yourself and your family from corporate greed. Every law has an "out" that says, basically, "if it's for the greater good, this law can be proven invalid."
For example, in war, you are NOT ALLOWED to obey illegal orders. In business, you cannot sign contracts which require anyone to do anything illegal. And in business, murder is considered illegal, as it should be in government contracts, as well.
Radiation kills. The facts are overwhelming: We have been too lax. Tritium releases and releases of every other radioactive element are too high. The dangers are far greater than anticipated or than admitted to by the nuclear industry. The failure rates due to human error are much higher than "anyone" admitted were possible. The amount of employee sabotage at a typical nuclear power plant these days is alarming, as is the amount of napping on the job, falsifying of records, and so on. Who needs terrorists to cause a meltdown when we have embrittlement problems which are probably far more likely to do so?
But the CCC will ALWAYS SAY their hands are tied. They are preempted from thinking about any of this. They are sorry, but it's outside their jurisdiction. And thank you for your two minutes, they might add. Next speaker, please. Hiccup.
P.S. One more thing to consider: "We face a challenge in ensuring the quality of the thousands of smaller parts and materials that are manufactured in other parts of the world" -- including pumps, valves, motors, fans, pipe "and even bolts," Lyons said. "The close scrutiny that regulatory agencies can enforce on major manufacturers to assure that quality components are produced is challenging to achieve for a vastly greater number of sub-vendors that supply parts and materials to the manufacturers." -- from http://www.manufacturingnews.com/news/07/0827/art1.html
("Lyons" is the commissioner of the NRC). Fact: Quality CANNOT BE ASSURED!
The author attended over 100 public hearings on nuclear issues, mostly in California, but has ceased doing so unless they are very local and the participants will be put under oath (which never happens anymore). He has interviewed more than 1000 scientists on nuclear topics and has a collection of approximately 400 nuke-related books. At 51, he is a bladder cancer survivor. He is the webmaster of the Shut San Onofre web site, and others.
New Scientist article: "REASONABLE DOUBT:"
From: Rachel's #956: Bridge at the Edge of the World
From: New Scientist, Apr. 24, 2008
By Ian Fairlie
Among the many environmental concerns surrounding nuclear power
plants, there is one that provokes public anxiety like no other: the
fear that children living near nuclear facilities face an increased
risk of cancer. Though a link has long been suspected, it has never
been proven. Now that seems likely to change.
Studies in the 1980s revealed increased incidences of childhood
leukaemia near nuclear installations at Windscale (now Sellafield),
Burghfield and Dounreay in the UK. Later studies near German nuclear
facilities found a similar effect. The official response was that the
radiation doses from the nearby plants were too low to explain the
increased leukaemia. The Committee on Medical Aspects of Radiation in
the Environment, which is responsible for advising the UK government,
finally concluded that the explanation remained unknown but was not
likely to be radiation.
There the issue rested, until a recent flurry of epidemiological
studies appeared. Last year, researchers at the Medical University of
South Carolina in Charleston carried out a meta-analysis of 17
research papers covering 136 nuclear sites in the UK, Canada, France,
the US, Germany, Japan and Spain. The incidence of leukaemia in
children under 9 living close to the sites showed an increase of 14 to
21 per cent, while death rates from the disease were raised by 5 to 24
per cent, depending on their proximity to the nuclear facilities
(European Journal of Cancer Care, vol 16, p 355).
This was followed by a German study which found 14 cases of leukaemia
compared to an expected four cases between 1990 and 2005 in children
living within 5 kilometres of the Krummel nuclear plant near Hamburg,
making it the largest leukaemia cluster near a nuclear power plant
anywhere in the world (Environmental Health Perspectives, vol 115, p
This was upstaged by the yet more surprising KiKK studies (a German
acronym for Childhood Cancer in the Vicinity of Nuclear Power Plants),
whose results were published this year in the International Journal
of Cancer (vol 122, p 721) and the European Journal of Cancer (vol
44, p 275). These found higher incidences of cancers and a stronger
association with nuclear installations than all previous reports. The
main findings were a 60 per cent increase in solid cancers and a 117
per cent increase in leukaemia among young children living near all 16
large German nuclear facilities between 1980 and 2003. The most
striking finding was that those who developed cancer lived closer to
nuclear power plants than randomly selected controls. Children living
within 5 kilometres of the plants were more than twice as likely to
contract cancer as those living further away, a finding that has been
accepted by the German government.
Though the KiKK studies received scant attention elsewhere, there was
a public outcry and vocal media debate in Germany. No one is sure of
the cause (or causes) of the extra cancers. Coincidence has been ruled
out, as has the "Kinlen hypothesis", which theorises that childhood
leukaemia is caused by an unknown infectious agent introduced as a
result of an influx of new people to the area concerned. Surprisingly,
the most obvious explanation for this increased risk -- radioactive
discharges from the nearby nuclear installations -- was also ruled out
by the KiKK researchers, who asserted that the radiation doses from
such sources were too low, although the evidence they base this on is
Anyone who followed the argument in the 1980s and 1990s concerning the
UK leukaemia clusters will have a sense of deja vu. A report in 2004
by the Committee Examining Radiation Risks of Internal Emitters (2
Mbyte PDF), set up by the UK government (and for which I was a member
of the secretariat) points out that the models used to estimate
radiation doses from sources emitted from nuclear facilities are
riddled with uncertainty. For example, assumptions about how
radioactive material is transported through the environment or taken
up and retained by local residents may be faulty.
If radiation is indeed the cause of the cancers, how might local
residents have been exposed? Most of the reactors in the KiKK study
were pressurised water designs notable for their high emissions of
tritium, the radioactive isotope of hydrogen. Last year, the UK
government published a report on tritium which concluded that its
hazard risk should be doubled. Tritium is most commonly found
incorporated into water molecules, a factor not fully taken into
account in the report, so this could make it even more hazardous.
As we begin to pin down the likely causes, the new evidence of an
association between increased cancers and proximity to nuclear
facilities raises difficult questions. Should pregnant women and young
children be advised to move away from them? Should local residents eat
vegetables from their gardens? And, crucially, shouldn't those
governments around the world who are planning to build more reactors
Ian Fairlie is a London-based consultant on radiation in the
This newsletter was written by Ace Hoffman:
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)
"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)
"Resistance to tyrants is obedience to God." -- Thomas Jefferson
"Please send this to everyone you know!" -- Ace Hoffman (original collector of the above quotes, January, 2008)
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