Thursday, December 24, 2009

Courts rule: Fed "experts" always right in the eyes of the law

December 24th, 2009

Dear Readers,

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan ruled Monday (12/21/2009) that it must defer to the so-called expertise of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) -- a small cadre of pro-nukers which sort of pretends to regulate the nuclear industry.

And it gets worse: The court could have, perhaps, somehow, rejected the case, or claimed they didn't have jurisdiction. Instead they took on the case, and then abdicated responsibility. They said, in effect: "We'll rule, but we'll rule in favor of the NRC every time." Such momentous things are often reserved for holidays, when the fewest people are paying attention.

The specific topic was an attempt by several states to force the federal government to admit that spent fuel pools at nuclear reactor sites are a serious environmental threat. But even that was too much for the courts.

When we were young, we were taught the following (or should have been):

"Ignorance is no excuse in the eyes of the law."

Well, it appears that, as unbelievable as it may sound, the law itself (i.e., the court system) is allowed to be ignorant!

As long as there's a government agency which claims to understand something, the legal system no longer has to understand it. Not the nuances. Not the scientific foundations. Not the political ramifications. Not the economic factors. Not the alternatives. They just don't have to understand stuff anymore. Calling in so-called "expert" witnesses won't be allowed -- unless they work for the Federal Government and are stating the opinions (taken to be facts by the court) of the agency they work for within the government.

And they can telegraph that opinion to the court by their actions -- they don't even have to show up.

And you can't fight it -- the court will rule in favor of the opinion of the federal agent in every case, without further exploration of the facts.

That's what happened in regards to the opinions of the Attorneys General of three states -- Connecticut (where this author was born), New York, and Massachusetts. The lawsuit was based on a request by Massachusetts and California (where this author resides). The four states involved represent about 1/5th of the population of the United States -- about 65 million people.

About 65 million Americans are not entitled to an opinion. And neither are the rest of you -- you just didn't try to offer one, so you didn't find out you're not entitled to an opinion, either.

Taking the NRC's opinions as fact is essentially the same as allowing the nuclear industry to define the so-called "facts." The U.S. nuclear industry is almost entirely self-regulated, which means it hides things from the federal inspectors, who don't have time to look at more than about 1/10th of 1% of what goes on at the plants. These so-called "experts" are stretched thin as ice, as they ponder dozens of new designs to replace our aging and dilapidated "fleet" of 104 reactors -- aging, collectively, at the rate of 104 reactor years per calendar year. As Neil Young said, "rust never sleeps."

New reactors are not permitted in California, after a landmark case fought decades ago by Jerry Brown against the federal government of the time. Brown won for California the ability to stop NEW nuclear reactors in the state until the spent fuel (aka nuclear waste, "quap," and many other names, some not nearly so benign-sounding, and thus, more appropriate) problem is solved.

This landmark case has stood the test of time in the courts thus far. The latest challenge came just a few years ago by a crazed group out of Fresno who want to build a new reactor, and who have a state assemblyman -- a know-nothing who bases his opinion on campaign contributions instead of facts -- who wants to help them.

That attempt failed (so far; it could be revived), but there have been a few problems -- a few chinks in the armor -- which the nuclear industry has capitalized on to the fullest extent of the law (and beyond). When the California law was enacted it was believed by the duped and, for the most part, ignorant citizens that in a few years, the operating reactors would get too old to operate and be shut down.

One chink is that old reactors can be rebuilt over and over again umpteen times -- forever, if it's okay with the NRC (those "experts" who have just been given a free hand by the courts).

But here's another chink. San Onofre Unit 1 was shut down in the early 1990s for various reasons, but mainly because it simply wasn't cost-effective to operate. But Unit 3 can be reopened. The license can be restarted. The reactor itself cannot -- so-called dry casks sit on the hallowed ground on which it stood, and the reactor dome has been demolished, ground up, hauled away, and washed out to sea. The reactor pressure vessel sits attached to nothing, like a heart removed from a body, shielded by a specially-constructed building and its own 8 inches of steel, the inside being far more radioactive than the outside, but none of it good.

Meanwhile, you're worried about health care reform? It's better not to get sick in the first place. Nuclear waste is so dangerous, that millions of people could be wiped out in a spent fuel fire. Millions more would suffer lifelong debilitating illnesses. Crops, water, soil -- all would be nearly permanently damaged by a spent fuel fire. Damage estimates are that health effects will occur as much as 500 miles "downwind." Trillions of dollars would be lost if San Onofre or Diablo Canyon, or Indian Point, or any of the others were to have an accident in their spent fuel.

Never mind the reactors, we're JUST talking about the spent fuel. The part that's growing, in California alone, by about a thousand pounds PER DAY on average (we have four reactors in California, with a constant threat of a fifth and perhaps a sixth (Humboldt County had a reactor at one time, and could legally be "restarted" although like SONGS' Unit 1, it doesn't actually exist much, anymore).

Spent fuel cannot be transported safely to an offsite repository located some place where there are very few people. Such a place does not exist. Even "desolate" Nevada, where Yucca Mountain is located (the nation's most recent suggested place for the waste) has too many people who live too close to let it happen. Las Vegas alone has about a million opponents to Yucca Mountain, and good luck getting elected from Nevada while openly supporting the project. And at the moment, it's officially stalled by the Obama administration because even pro-nuclear Energy Secretary Chu cannot ignore the science that shows Yucca Mountain is not a safe repository. (It should be noted that the Yucca Mountain team of scientists was allowed to suggest any alternatives they thought were better. They could not.)

The Nevada Test Site (NTS), where Yucca Mountain is located, isn't as big and vast as you might think. Sure, hundreds of nuclear weapons were exploded there above the ground, and hundreds more below it. But they tried to conserve space as much as possible: Bomb blast craters frequently overlap each other at their edges, and many of them are small, as atomic bomb craters go. I flew over it once. It's terrifying, but it doesn't go on "forever."

The radiation from those bomb blasts will go on for millions of years, which is close enough to forever for all reasonable economic, political, and most other projections.

Hundreds of thousands of American soldiers were harmed by that radiation when they were forced to walk through the radiation fields soon after a bomb had gone off, or forced to witness a bomb blast up close (or, more frequently, told to look away and cover their eyes with their hands, in which case they would see the bones of their hands when the bomb went off, from the x-rays running through them). Millions of ordinary citizens were exposed to the fallout from those tests, too.

A nuclear power plant has a thousand times MORE radiation than a nuclear bomb! If a spent fuel fire occurs, the radiation content of DOZENS of refills of the reactor -- thousands of nuclear bombs worth of radiation -- could be released into the world. Millions would die, and millions more would suffer. Trillions of dollars in real estate and other property would be lost forever.

Experts by the thousands have tried, over the years, to solve the problem of what to do with the nuclear waste. But believing it can be solved at all is a bit like believing in Santa Claus.

No, actually, it's a lot like believing in Santa Claus. Sort of a reverse-Santa, who can magically come and take away your icky garbage that you don't know what else to do with. The "solution" to nuclear waste has defied mankind for 60+ years, and this "trend" will continue forever. That's not exactly a prediction, any more than predicting that gravity will continue is much of a prediction.

The reason there is no solution to nuclear waste storage is that radiation destroys ANY container you put it in. Containers are made from chemical bonds, which are much weaker than radioactive decay forces are. Case closed.

Ah, but wait! The case -- the legal case -- cannot be opened, because the courts have ruled that they don't have to understand this stuff. They don't have to understand the energy spectrum, or the nature of matter, or elements, isotopes, molecular biology, or why infants are more at risk than adults from radiation damage.

Nope. Instead, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is the ONLY expert the U.S. court system will accept -- yet the NRC doesn't have a single medical doctor on its staff, let alone one who is an expert in the health effects of radiation on fetuses. The agency is woefully deficient in understanding metallurgy, too, which is why they have let reactors be built with parts that fail far sooner than expected. It's an industry-wide ignorance, costing hundreds of billions of dollars all around the globe, even without an accident.

And as for human engineering factors -- the NRC will let you get away with anything. They basically just keep on thinking -- no matter what evidence there is to the contrary -- that workers at the plants, who have passed a variety of security checks to be there in the first place, will all do good work all the time. The NRC assumes that any errors that do occur will be caught by the regulators (themselves), and all such errors will be innocently made, and not intentionally covered up. The NRC fervently believes that nothing significant will be overlooked for any reason: Overworked staff, intentional cover-up, ignorance. The NRC has infinite faith in human nature, despite all the evidence they've collected over the years, such as welders who use incorrect computer-control inputs to set the speed of a welding machine's advance while fabricating a spent fuel dry cask on which the lives of millions will rely.

The NRC has done everything it can to ignore the obvious consequence: EVERY WELD, at least every weld by that welder, needs to be re-inspected. But the dry storage casks that were welded incorrectly are now already in use -- full of extremely hazardous nuclear waste.

Worse than that, the NRC isn't even trying to punish San Onofre's owners, where the incident occurred. The worst thing that happened in regards to the incident wasn't even the incident itself. It was the cover-up.

Southern California Edison didn't really mind hearing from one of its senior managers that one of his workers had entered the wrong data. They just blamed the manager for not keeping an orderly operation.

What SCE didn't like hearing was that the welder had intentionally used numbers he knew were outside of specifications. The manager who reported that had approximately 25 years' experience at San Onofre, and before that, worked at one of our national weapons labs (Los Alamos). He was considered one of the best dry-cask fabricators, if not THE best fabricator in the business. Yet SCE chose to try to destroy his career for reporting something the NRC would come down on SCE for, rather than face the problem he reported, take the heat, and let whatever the lap-dog agency, the NRC, decides to do, happen. Even if it cost SCE millions and shut them down.

Instead, Southern California Edison's senior management decided to make the manager not use emails for his complaints (he had to submit them as hand-written documents ONLY), they excluded him from virtually all contact with even his boss, let alone other senior plant officials, and they tried to cover up the very existence of the original complaint by wording all reference to the incident incorrectly, and in such a way that the manager, not the worker, was entirely to blame, and then only for sloppiness, not for any intentional wrongdoing.

The manager, Rick Busnardo, had wanted the welder fired.

Everyone at the NRC and in the nuclear industry always says that where nuclear power is concerned, we can't cut corners. But we do.

In America, as of Monday, December 21st, 2009, winter solstice, knowing the law, knowing the facts, and knowing the science, is not good enough. To be an expert on nuclear waste, you have to work for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and by so doing, you are automatically an authority on all issues you choose to adjudicate on, or that the courts feel are too complex for juries and judges to understand and thus throw at you, whether you like it or not. The NRC's opinion stands next to God's as the final word, and no scientific understanding of the facts matters. There are no experts but the appointed and anointed officials of the NRC.

Merry Christmas! You might as well believe in Santa Claus!

Sincerely,

Ace Hoffman
Carlsbad, CA

The author has written about nuclear issues for several decades and has interviewed hundreds of top experts in the field. For a background on the science behind this article, see his book THE CODE KILLERS, a free download from www.acehoffman.org

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The AP article about Monday's court decision:
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

At 06:31 AM 12/22/2009 -0500, BG wrote:
>What's a little nuke fire here and there?
>
>BG
>thinkcivic@aol.com
>
>
>
>Court: nuclear spent fuel can be stored at plants
>
>
>Posted at 03:21 PM on Monday, Dec. 21, 2009
>
>The Associated Press
>
>NEW YORK -- A federal appeals court has refused a request by several states to force the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to declare spent fuel pools at nuclear power plants a serious environmental threat.
>
>The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Monday in Manhattan. It denied appeals by New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts that it review the NRC's rejection of a request by Massachusetts and California that it raise the risk level.
>
>The states had argued that spent fuel causes a greater risk of fire than previously appreciated. The appeals court said it must defer to the regulatory agency's expertise.
>
>Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said he will continue legal actions to force the agency to create a central national site to store nuclear waste.
>_________________________________________________________


========================================
Quotes collected by Ace Hoffman:
========================================

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"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)
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�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)
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"There is no such thing as a pro-nuclear environmentalist." -- Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa, 1992)
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"Know thy self, know thy enemy. A thousand battles, a thousand victories." -- Sun Tzu (Chinese general b.500 BC)
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"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)
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"Any dose is an overdose." -- Dr. John W. Gofman (another pioneer nuclear physicist who saw the light (9.21.1918 - 8.15.2007))
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"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)
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"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)
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"There are no warlike peoples - just warlike leaders." -- Ralph Bunche (8.7.1903 - 12.9.1971)
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"Resistance to tyrants is obedience to God." -- Thomas Jefferson
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"Please send this to everyone you know!" -- Ace Hoffman (original collector of the above quotes, January, 2008)
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This email was sent by:

"Ace Hoffman" <rhoffman@animatedsoftware.com>
www.animatedsoftware.com
PO Box 1936, Carlsbad, CA 92018
(760) 720-7261

Friday, December 11, 2009

Every year, it's cheaper to keep 'er...

December 11th, 2009

How in the world DOES the NRC measure risk?

The Penn State Breazeale Reactor (PSBR) has been relicensed for another 20 years (see World Nuclear News article, shown below).

It's only used part-time. It does not power the campus. It does not provide medical isotopes. Much of its use now is just for "operator training" which is better done at other, more modern facilities (PSBR is the nation's oldest operating reactor).

Many university reactors are only operated part-time, because there really aren't that many people who want to go into nuclear reactor operations these days. Some so-called "basic research" is done with the Penn State reactor, but that research could easily be done elsewhere (if it's even worth doing). Like any university, Penn State wants to be on the forefront of everything. But this?

In 2005, during the reactor's 50th anniversary, the university applied to renew PSBR's license for another 20 years. If the license application hadn't been made during the hopeful Bush era, perhaps the trusties of the educational institution would have let it lapse in 2009, since the nuclear renaissance has been exposed for what it really was: Just another attempt to steal hundreds of billions of dollars from the public, by the utilities who won't pay a dime themselves for new reactors, or for insurance, or for waste management, or for terrorism protection, or for metallurgical studies, or for health studies, or for new evacuation assessments in view of new population figures, or for modern earthquake studies, and on and on and on. What renaissance, indeed?

But in 2005 the show was in full swing. We were told that scores of new reactors were going to be built all over America, and hundreds more around the world. Most of those schemes have already fallen through, and most of the rest are in big trouble, because financially, NO ONE CAN JUSTIFY A NEW NUKE. If you don't believe me, you only need to read the Wall Street Journal's many articles more carefully... Or many other financial assessments.

So who needs Penn State's old reactor? Nobody, that's who. But in any given year, as with all the old commercial reactors, it's easier to just keep it going than to close it down and decommission it once and for all. And the trusties probably wonder: What if, say, next year, there IS a nuclear "renaissance"? Penn State might be left behind!

And so, Penn State's old reactor will continue to create nuclear waste so that a few scientists can use it during regular school hours, and a few reactor operators can be trained, and if a terrorist wants to destroy State College, where I used to live, the reactor will be there as a sitting target. For nothing.

It appears that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission grants license extensions for so-called "research" reactors just as automatically as it grants renewals for commercial power reactor licenses. The agency has NEVER failed to give a commercial license renewal -- I believe the current number is 57 out of 57 requests. They've granted 100% of the requests for onsite dry fuel storage, as well -- nearly 40 of those have been issued so far, despite well-documented cases of fraud in numerous parts of the dry cask fabrication industry here and abroad!

But on and on it goes.

Where WILL it all end? It will end in accidents and fury.

Sincerely,

Ace Hoffman
Carlsbad, CA

The author began studying nuclear issues around the time he was briefly at PSU, in the 1970s.

--------------------------------------------------------------
From:
http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/print.aspx?id=26754
--------------------------------------------------------------

Regulation and Safety
Another twenty years for USA's oldest reactor
11 December 2009

After over half a century of operations, the oldest research reactor in the USA has been licensed to operate for a further 20 years.

The Penn State Breazeale Reactor (PSBR) first received an operating licence from the US Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) in 1955 and went critical on 15 August that year. Its licence number - R-2 - belies that it was in fact the first research reactor to be licensed by the forerunner of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). Licence R-1 was reserved by AEC and granted retrospectively to a reactor at the North Carolina State College which had started up in September 1953 but had already ceased operating by before PSBR went critical. The Carolina reactor never restarted; the R-2 licence for PSBR has never lapsed.

Penn State University was one of the first US universities to take advantage of President Dwight Eisenhower's 1954 Atoms for Peace initiative by building its own reactor. The original reactor consisted of a core of plate-type fuel elements mounted in a grid plate, suspended from a movable bridge in an open pool of water. Initially, the reactor's power level was limited to 100 kWt. In 1960, the authorized maximum operating power level was increased to 200 kWt. Then in 1965, the original core was replaced with a TRIGA reactor core and control system. At the time, TRIGA-type reactors had been installed at other facilities but the PSBR was the first existing research reactor to be converted to a TRIGA. The TRIGA core had a maximum steady-state power level of 1 MWt and included a pulse capability allowing a peak pulse power of approximately 2000 MWt.

Over the years, the reactor has undergone several modifications including major renovations to the replace the original General Atomics TRIGA control system with a new analogue-digital control system, completed in 1991.

The PSBR is the second oldest research reactor operating in the world today. Only the F-1 graphite pile reactor at Russia's Kurchatov Institute, which started up at the end of 1946, is older. The American Nuclear Society recognized PSBR's historical status nearly two decades ago, presenting it with a Nuclear Historic Landmark Award in 1991.

Research reactors are generally not used for power generation but instead to provide a neutron source for research or other purposes. They are smaller and simpler than power reactors, and operate at lower temperatures, but like power reactors are still subject to International Atomic Energy Authority (IAEA) safeguards and inspections. The PSBR is used for experimental, research and educational purposes, including student laboratory exercises and operator training. It currently operates for approximately 2000 hours per year, with the reactor critical for between 840 and 1040 hours per year.

Penn State University applied for a 20-year licence renewal for the reactor in 2005, the same year the reactor celebrated its 50th anniversary. After a full safety review carried out by the NRC's Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation, the regulator has ruled that "PSU can continue to operate the PSBR, in accordance with the renewed licence, without posing a significant risk to the health and safety of the public, facility personnel, or the environment."


************************************************
** Ace Hoffman, Owner & Chief Programmer, The Animated Software Co.
** POB 1936, Carlsbad CA 92018
** U.S. & Canada (800) 551-2726; elsewhere: (760) 720-7261
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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Is San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station at a tipping point?

November 19th, 2009

Dear Readers,

At the end of August 2009, Southern California Edison, the owner/operator of San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, suddenly -- and as quietly as possible --- replaced about 70% of their work force: All the main contractors and their subcontractors. They kept themselves, though -- minus quite a few "early retirements."

This happened in the midst of growing concerns about shortages of trained personnel in the nuclear industry due to the combined stresses of an aging workforce and so few new recruits (there are far more enjoyable -- and profitable -- things for smart young people to do these days).

And it happened in the midst of enormous and difficult repairs and replacements of embrittled and leaking parts, due to the combined stresses of more rapid degradation than expected and longer permitted running times than the utility had hoped for in their wildest dreams when they built the plant.

Some of the people who lost their jobs had been working at the plant for decades. They knew the place inside and out. They knew how to falsify documents. They knew how to sleep on the job and get away with it. They knew how to claim a weld was done correctly when it wasn't. They knew what the regulators would look for -- and what they wouldn't. These guys really knew the plant well.

SCE got rid of them all, because SCE's management needed to show the Nuclear Regulatory Commission that they were doing SOMETHING to fix their "culture of cover-up." It had already been established that there was, indeed, such a culture at the plant. But subsequent testimony from whistleblowers makes it clear that the culture of cover-up remains, even if many of the faces involved have been changed (URLS to You-Tube videos are included below).

San Onofre has had a lot of friends over the years -- people on the outside who denigrate anyone who speaks out against the plant. Some of these people even have degrees in nuclear physics or nuclear engineering! They think that makes them experts in molecular biology, epidemiology, metallurgy, the economics of "safe" nuclear waste disposal, offshore wind power, terrorism, and every other field needed to understand nuclear power and its potential impact on the planet and on human life.

Arguing endlessly is possible, but worse than pointless: It's negligent. As long as the pro-nuclear activists can keep the pro-DNA activists debating, "they" win because San Onofre stays open by default. And that's pre-meditated murder. San Onofre is dangerous. Multiple whistleblowers are warning us that this is so -- long-time workers at the plant, former workers, and outside experts.

To have so many people -- people who ought to know -- warning us so clearly about a danger so big is terrifying -- but it can be fortuitous, too, if we take the time to listen to what they are saying.

Right now, San Onofre Unit Two is shut down for extensive repairs and rebuilding. Next year (2010), Unit Three will shut down for an extended period because it too is old and in disrepair. Neither unit should EVER reopen. (Unit One was closed in the early 1990s.)

San Onofre harms people by releasing radiation into the environment. Peer-reviewed studies have shown cancer clusters around nuclear plants, as well as birth defects, heart problems, and other health effects. And yet, admittedly, a properly operating reactor only releases a tiny fraction of the lethal waste it creates each day. Unless there is a serious accident, the vast majority of the waste will remain on-site and inside its containment. But even the daily releases of an operational nuclear power plant cause measurable health effects. Needless to say, every effort is made NOT to properly measure these effects!

Catastrophes which could release vast quantities of deadly radiation are possible, too. Tsunamis far taller than the sea wall at San Onofre can occur at any moment. Earthquakes can too, far stronger than San Onofre's 7.0 (variously claimed to be 7.5) standard, if it would even hold up to that. Airplanes can fall out of the sky by accident, and hit the plant. It is under a major air route.

Or a worker can drop a bolt, and say nothing, and later it gets stuck in a valve.

Clean energy is available all around us, we just need to harness it properly. Offshore wind energy farms could be built, for instance. As little as eight miles out to sea, they are barely visible from shore. And they don't create oil spills or anything. The portion of San Onofre which is currently an electrical switchyard could continue to be used to collect and redistribute clean, green power. San Onofre employees -- those not involved in scandals -- could be employed building renewable energy systems throughout the county.

We have had many moments in the past where we could have shut San Onofre down. If we had turned to renewables some time in the past, the cost of electricity in California would now be much lower than it is.

The moment of change is always difficult, but in the case of San Onofre, waiting to change will be far more difficult in the long run. Every day the plant remains open, enough new deadly hazardous waste is created -- never mind yesterday's or the day before's -- to destroy Southern California for thousands of generations. Enough to cause trillions of dollars of damage, and millions of deaths. One day's waste.

And no one can buy insurance against a nuclear disaster. Check your home-owners' policy, your rental policy, your business insurance policy -- check them all. Nuclear accidents are EXCLUDED. You and your family will die, and your far-away heirs will get nothing, or at most, a tiny fraction of a penny on the dollar, from a grossly inadequate general fund created by a notorious act of vile legislation known as the Price-Anderson Act. The most dangerous industry in the world is allowed to operate, for all intents and purposes, WITHOUT INSURANCE.

In addition to not having proper insurance, other arcane special laws allow San Onofre to operate without real oversight. For example, Cal-OSHA has only a limited presence at San Onofre, because it's a nuclear facility regulated by the NRC. Even the federal OSHA has no real presence there, also due to "special agreements" with the NRC and/or the Department of Energy (DOE).

How did the most dangerous industry on earth ALSO become the least regulated? Because of national security and enormous complexity. State officials didn't understand how the plant worked, and were happy to relinquish authority to federal regulators. Secrets about fuel composition and other matters made the federal nuclear regulators want to keep even other federal regulators out of the workplace.

San Onofre's most blind and fervent supporters will always declare that nuclear power is safe. "Look at France! Look at Japan!" they'll cry, because both of those countries get most of their electricity from nuclear power, at a terrible, but hidden (to those who refuse to look), cost. "Yucca Mountain" they've been crying for nearly 20 years as if it would solve the waste problem. What a lie THAT was! But for 20 years the local media has bought it, the local politicians have bought it, and the local population, spoon-fed this lie by the media, the politicians, and the plant, have bought it as well.

One lie after another has kept San Onofre open. Worker lawsuits for cancers they never thought they'd suffer haven't stopped it. Repeated allegations -- proven allegations -- of fraud haven't stopped it. Fuel fleas, radioactive kittens, maniacal ex-employees with garages full of weapons, haven't stopped it. Major components installed backwards? No, that didn't stop it, either.

And, of course, even broad public opposition to the plant, which has often existed in the past as well as now, despite the government and industry's "best" efforts, hasn't stopped it. Will anything stop it, short of a meltdown?

We better hope so.

Ace Hoffman
Carlsbad, CA

NOTE ABOUT THESE VIDEOS: I've left "ratings" open and set "comments" to "monitored." Please RATE these videos -- that will greatly improve their chance of being viewed in their entirety by others!

"Shut it down!" Unknown speaker at the November 5th, 2009 NRC hearing in Dana Point, CA:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vIg1ap-tSqk

Also from the November 5th, 2009 NRC hearing in Dana Point, CA. The first speaker here is Rick Busnardo, a supervisor at San Onofre (see below):
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zP9vgNWFk6o

From an October 22, 2009 NRC hearing on NUREG-1437:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BOFxNTcuoN8

From the May 8, 2009 special hearing on San Onofre's culture of cover-up:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s1exr7HFYew


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

From: Know No Nukes:

2 SoCal nuke plant workers file federal complaints
SAN CLEMENTE, Calif. (The Associated Press) - Nov 18

Two supervisors at the San Onofre nuclear power plant have filed
federal complaints claiming they suffered retaliation for reporting safety
violations.

Monday's filings with the U.S. Department of Labor claim managers at
the San Diego County plant marginalized Rick Busnardo and gave Mike Mason a
bad evaluation last year. The men had cited a welder for violating
regulations while making a canister to hold spent nuclear fuel.

Busnardo and Mason are now on medical leave.

The plant's chief nuclear officer, Ross Ridenoure, didn't directly
address the complaints but says the plant encourages workers to point out
safety problems without fear of retaliation.

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

-----------------------------------------
Ace Hoffman
Author, The Code Killers:
An Expose of the Nuclear Industry
Free download: acehoffman.org
Blog: acehoffman.blogspot.com
YouTube: youtube.com/user/AceHoffman
phone: (800) 551-2726; (760) 720-7261
address: PO Box 1936, Carlsbad, CA 92018
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-----------------------------------------

Monday, November 16, 2009

Negligently-run and negligently-regulated: Only outrage will do...

November 16th, 2009

Dear Readers,

It's very rare to get ANY "mass media" attention for nuclear issues these days.

Nevertheless, my November 5th, 2009 blog ("Lots of new faces but it's the same old SONGS... ") regarding the "culture of cover-up" that exists at San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station ("SONGS"), and some of the reasons that culture should be expected to continue, was re-edited, re-worked, re-titled and republished as a Community Essay in yesterday's San Diego Union-Tribune (Sunday, November 15th, 2009). The SD U-T version of the essay can be found online here:

http://www3.signonsandiego.com/news/2009/nov/15/nuclear-power-is-not-the-answer-renewable-energy

Also, please be sure to view the You-Tube video from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission hearing that same day in Dana Point, California regarding management problems at San Onofre. A long-time Southern California Edison employee described the "culture of cover-up" that exists there, and suggested what the terrifying consequences might be. Here is the URL:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zP9vgNWFk6o

A nuclear power plant is simply no place to have a culture of cover-up. And yet, I've heard these sorts of comments from MULTIPLE long-term employees who currently still work at San Onofre. THEY are scared.

If we were talking about a trucking company, or a hospital, or a manufacturer of baby carriages, or a construction company, we would be pretty upset to hear from within the plant itself that there is a "culture of cover-up" at the facility. But where nuclear reactors are concerned, things must be a million times safer, because the risks are about a million times greater for society.

California activists especially should send the URL of this whistleblower's testimony to our elected officials, and to other residents of our beautiful state, so we can keep it that way! Ask them to watch it, and tell them that NOW is the perfect time to shut San Onofre forever!

It really is: Aside from the work ethic problems (which should be reason enough to shut San Onofre), Unit Two is currently shut down anyway, and will be for months. (Unit One was shut down in 1992 when required safety upgrades were deemed too expensive. Even now the reactor pressure vessel and almost all of Unit One's spent fuel still remain at San Onofre, because no one will take them.) Unit Three is due for a long (and expensive) maintenance outage starting next year (2010).

Every day San Onofre remains operating, 500 pounds of new High Level Radioactive Waste is created, on average (250 lbs per reactor per day). Each gram could lay waste to a small city, and will remain dangerous -- and, most importantly, difficult and expensive to handle -- for hundreds of thousands of years.

Virtually all of the hazardous radioactive waste "SONGS" creates each day -- what isn't spilled or leaked into the environment -- sits on our sea coast either in huge "spent fuel pools" or in even-more-dangerous "dry storage casks," which are relatively new and could have been avoided at San Onofre entirely if we had shut the facility down just a few years ago.

Both the wet and dry "temporary" radioactive waste storage methods are inadequate, and threaten to destroy our way of life forever in a matter of seconds, from an earthquake, tsunami, act of terrorism, or other tragedy. Don't ever believe the lying scoundrels from the plant, or from government, who say those containments are safe! They are not!

Since we can't shut the plant down yesterday, which would have been better, today will have to do, since tomorrow may be too late. The blackouts when three of California's four nuclear power plants were inoperable in the early part of the century were a hoax. We ALL know that now. We can live just fine without San Onofre as a dangerous and unstable electricity source; a dangerous and unstable neighbor. In fact, we can live BETTER, since renewables wouldn't have to compete with artificially-low-priced nuclear power.

Every nuclear power plant has a "culture of cover-up," as well as numerous other subcultures, power struggles, and political wranglings going on. From giving colorful glossy books to local schools, expressing how "clean and green" nuclear power is, to sending smooth-talking lobbyists to talk to Congressional aides and elected officials (after paving the way with cash donations, often to ALL candidates in various amounts), to being permitted by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to say nothing about any release that is "below regulatory concern" and very little, if anything, about those that are above that nebulous tipping point -- the nuclear power plant's operators hide every possible mistake that occurs, and every potential problem that is created for the future. Why worry about the waste? We'll send it to Yucca Mountain, they've been saying for decades. And now what do they say? We'll reprocess it, they say. Well, that's dirty, too, and would require an additional 100-billion or 200-billion dollars! Really, it will just sit here, dangerously, in ever-increasing amounts. Continuing to make even more radioactive waste is foolhardy.

The entire nuclear industry is based on lies piled on lies: On circular, pointless, and long-winded arguments, on statistical quagmires, on faulty assumptions, on corporate and government secrecy, and on the false hope that really, a little radiation IS always good for you, no matter what your age, no matter what the form of the radiation, no matter how much additional radiation you'll get in your lifetime, and no matter how much "a little" really is (this "theory" is known as "Hormesis").

The scientific and technological world has progressed beyond the craziness of the nuclear industry: Most doctors have learned to avoid unnecessary x-rays, and modern medical procedures almost always expose people to far LESS radiation than, say, 20 years ago. And renewable energy alternatives abound and await public acceptance, such as Atmospheric Vortex Engines. But because society isn't paying close attention (and the topic is so complex), the 104 operating nuclear power plants in America just keep getting older and older and older. And when faced with closure, increased coal use is threatened as the only alternative.

Leaving the plants operating makes a serious accident in America virtually inevitable. We've come close many times. Davis-Besse in 2002 was one recent event -- which went nearly unnoticed by the public. But numerous other events have also occurred. And Three Mile Island's partial meltdown in 1979 could have been a whole lot worse, but in many ways, America was very lucky that day.

After a large accident, surely THEN they will ALL be shut down. But that will be too late. The poisons will have been spread, the death tolls begun, the cancers programmed to occur in our bodies some time in the future.

A smart America won't wait for that. But are we a smart America?

Sincerely,

Ace Hoffman
Carlsbad, CA

The author develops educational software for colleges and universities. He has studied nuclear issues since the 1970s.

------------------------------------------------------------
The NRC thinks it is ready to codify what it takes to make a safe work environment, even while they are failing miserably to do so at San Onofre:
------------------------------------------------------------

It's hard to believe the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has an "expectation that any NRC-regulated organization will establish and maintain a positive safety culture" but apparently they do (see below). And, as always, they think they know what they're doing about everything, and want to be in full control of everything at every nuclear facility. So in the midst of all the fraudulent record-keeping, worker safety violations, lies, and whistleblower accusations at San Onofre and other nuclear power plants, the NRC acts like it knows perfectly well how to achieve a "positive safety culture," and is ready to codify it's capabilities into written policy!

Comments are due February 4, 2010.

--------------------------------------------------------------

NRC seeks public comment on draft safety culture policy for nuclear
facilities and nuclear material users

Nov 12, 2009 -- NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION DOCUMENTS AND
PUBLICATIONS/ContentWorks

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has issued for public comment a
draft policy statement on "safety culture," including the Commission's
expectation that any NRC-regulated organization will establish and maintain
a positive safety culture.

The Commission addressed the safe conduct of nuclear power plant
operations in a 1989 policy statement and a safety-conscious work
environment in a 1996 policy statement. After years of work in this area,
and after the experience of incorporating aspects of safety culture into the
Reactor Oversight Process effort, the Commission has approved issuing a
draft policy statement that sets forth its expectation that all licensees
and certificate holders establish and maintain a safety culture that
protects public health and safety and the common defense and security. The
draft policy defines safety culture as: "That assembly of characteristics,
attitudes and behaviors in organizations and individuals which establishes
that as an overriding priority, nuclear safety and security issues receive
the attention warranted by their significance."

A safety culture should include a work environment where personnel
feel free to raise safety and security concerns without fearing retaliation,
as well as prompt and thorough identification, evaluation and resolution of
those concerns. The NRC is strongly committed to promoting a positive safety
culture among the organizations it regulates.

The NRC is interested in the public's comments in several areas,
including:

* Does the draft policy's safety culture definition need further
clarification? * What specific safety culture characteristics relevant to
particular types of NRC licensees should the draft policy address? * What
characteristics in the draft policy do not contribute to safety culture? *
How can the NRC better involve stakeholders in addressing safety culture?

Comments on the changes will be accepted until Feb. 4, 2010, following
publication of the draft safety culture policy statement in the Federal
Register, (<http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2009/pdf/E9-26816.pdf>http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2009/pdf/E9-26816.pdf). Comments
may be mailed to: Alexander Sapountzis, Office of Enforcement, Mail Stop O4
A15A, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC 20555-0001, or
e-mailed to: <http://webmail.americanis.net/imp/message.php?mailbox=INBOX&index=169731#>alexander.sapountzis@nrc.gov.

----------------------------------------------------------------
Contact information for Ace:
----------------------------------------------------------------

-----------------------------------------
Ace Hoffman
Author, The Code Killers:
An Expose of the Nuclear Industry
Free download: acehoffman.org
Blog: acehoffman.blogspot.com
YouTube: youtube.com/user/AceHoffman
phone: (800) 551-2726; (760) 720-7261
address: PO Box 1936, Carlsbad, CA 92018
Subscribe to my free newsletter today!
Email: ace@acehoffman.org
To unsubscribe:
Send "Unsubscribe" in subject line.
-----------------------------------------

Monday, November 9, 2009

Shocking public testimony of a long-time San Onofre nuclear power plant employee...

November 9th, 2009

Dear Readers,

SoCal, we have a problem.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission held a hearing about San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (aka "SONGS") last Thursday (November 5th, 2009). At the hearing, Southern California Edison tried to convince the regulators that SCE's "culture of cover-up" had been fixed. They talked about dropping the incident rates down, but they couldn't tell us why, and it could just represent MORE cover-ups and MORE shoddy work.

The SCE executives barely mentioned firing the incompetents from Bechtel and replacing them with the scoundrels from The Shaw Group, which occurred in August of this year (2009). After around 40 years, they think the way to fix the problem is fire about 70% of the work force... Over the past few years, executives have resigned in droves, lest they be fired, too. The spokesliar for the plant for more than a decade, Ray Golden, head of the local businessman's association too at the time, was suddenly gone.

At the November 5th hearing, San Onofre's owners had to try to convince the Nuclear Regulatory Commission that by firing Bechtel, who operated the plant from DAY ONE, and instead bringing in a collection of foreign and out-of-state workers from an international company renowned for shady deals and shady customers, they would somehow fix their ongoing "culture of cover-up." Of course, it's not working. One advantage: According to one whistleblower I spoke to, The Shaw Group supposedly has "real" engineers, whereas Bechtel had "a lot of people who they called engineers, but they didn't have a degree in anything."

But at least Bechtel's employees knew the plant. In fact, they knew everything so well, they (along with their sub-contractors and sub-sub-contractors) knew how to get away with falsifying records and reports, and doing shoddy work, for years and years! The Nuclear Regulatory Commission believes in as much self-regulation as possible. There is less than one on-site NRC inspector for every thousand workers at the plant. So a lot of things are never inspected. When fire inspection records are found to be falsified, for instance, it never occurs to the NRC that it's THEIR fault for not looking at the records even once in five years.

The Shaw Group is a conglomerate of old nuclear companies, such as Stone and Webster. That division alone paid over $6 million this year in fines to the U.S. government for (alleged) "false claims and contract fraud" for repeatedly hiding injury reports -- a problem which has plagued San Onofre, too. These are the "good" guys who have been brought in because Bechtel had to be kicked out to show that SOMETHING was being done to fix the "culture of cover-up" at SONGS! But the culture remained, and remains to this day.

At last week's hearing, when the public was allowed to speak, one of the plant workers got up first. He was allowed to hold the microphone (a privilege not extended to those who had come to speak out against the plant). A privilege they probably wish they hadn't given HIM!

The plant employee confirmed everything I had heard several months ago myself. But unlike the whistleblowers I talked to in private, this gentleman spoke out from his own personal experience in front of the NRC, in front of the heads of SCE, in front of other employees, and in front of the public.

It was an astounding moment to witness and I was fortunate enough to have my HD camera handy to catch it, although I had forgotten my tripod, as you'll see... Several other people spoke, mostly in opposition to the continued operation of the plant. There was no clapping all night long -- hardly surprising: There wasn't much for anyone to clap about.

We are not talking about making cars poorly on an assembly line, or even fighter jets. The scandal we are talking about here controls the fate not of a hundreds, or even thousands, but potentially the health and well-being of tens of millions of Americans.

All it takes is dropping a bolt and not saying anything to destroy the lives of all those people, all those families, as this whistleblower so eloquently describes.

Please tell your friends to watch this video, and tell your elected officials to watch it as well. This is a rare moment in history, for someone to step up like this and say, "WE HAVE A PROBLEM."

Even if the plant were to be shut down permanently tomorrow, this man's problem would still need to be solved at the plant. The nuclear waste storage facility SONGS would immediately become (which is what it is now -- it just has the reactors too) would need good people to constantly monitor it and improve it, or at least, make do with the limited funds they would be given to try to secure it.

But that, of course, is not what the speaker wants to do. Electricity has to come from somewhere, he knows, and he still believes that the right crew can ALWAYS prevent San Onofre from melting down. But forces, beyond even the best people's ability to control, can come into play in an instant at San Onofre, so, despite knowing that people like this work there, I still say, without hesitation: "SHUT IT DOWN!"

But the NRC says we are protesting to the wrong room -- that they are ONLY in charge of "safety" and so are not responsible for simply giving up.

And the California state and local agencies who SHOULD be demanding San Onofre be shut down?

They (Coastal Commission, Energy Commission, Public Utilities Commission, etc. -- this author has appeared before these and many others...) each insist that their mandate is only to mitigate the environmental effects of a properly-running nuclear power plant, which they see as minor, since, for example, tritium is assumed to be about 100 times or maybe even 1,000 times less hazardous than it really is, especially for fetuses. For a California state regulatory agency to assume a nuclear power plant might melt down would be considered a safety issue -- and the NRC regulates that, by virtue of an agreement between the federal government and the state of California which has been interpreted time and again as a way of preventing any state agency from regulating ANYTHING of any significance regarding nuclear power, and absolves those people in those agencies from even having to UNDERSTAND how the darned thing works, let alone, how it kills people in the community on a day-to-day basis, and let alone, what might happen if there is a massive accidental release of radiation from the plant. These arcane "agreements" have even been interpreted to prevent Cal-OSHA from effectively regulating nuclear power plants within our state borders, while similar "agreements" with the federal OSHA have prevented THEM from regulating it, as well! So the NRC, understaffed, is also expected to be the expert in everything!

So if we were in the wrong room, I'm not sure what the right room would be. This suicide pact -- to keep San Onofre running until it melts down -- seems to be unstoppable.

Please tell ANY media you know to watch this shocking video. NO OTHER CAMERA WAS IN THE ROOM that I could see. So when -- it is hard to say "if" after you've heard what this man has to say -- San Onofre melts down, this will be the only documentation of why. The Democrats will blame Osama, and the Republicans will blame Obama, but it will just be some guy who dropped a bolt in the reactor and didn't tell anyone.

Sincerely,

Ace Hoffman
Carlsbad, CA

--------------------------------------------------------------

URL for video of whistleblower describing the "culture of cover-up" at San Onofre, recorded November 5th, 2009. In the video, my presentation (about two minutes in length), follows the whistleblower's:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zP9vgNWFk6o

--------------------------------------------------------------

URL for video of the October 22nd, 2009 hearing (on a somewhat different subject, so this is not the hearing I refer to as the "previous" hearing when all the SONGS employees showed up -- that one was in May, 2009 (see next item, below)):
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BOFxNTcuoN8

--------------------------------------------------------------

URL for video of the May 7th, 2009 hearing (this recording is from the "previous hearing" referred to in the November 5th, 2009 video):
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s1exr7HFYew

--------------------------------------------------------------

"In military housing disaster, a whistle-blower awaits vindication
A military program to privatize housing for soldiers and their
families is behind schedule and over budget. The man who blew
the whistle on the problems ended up getting fired."

* Read the full article at:
http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/373921_militaryhousing07.html

--------------------------------------------------------------

"A painter who was fired after complaining about a potential safety threat at a nuclear power plant in north Alabama won his whistleblower lawsuit against a Tennessee Valley Authority contractor... A Department of Labor review board sided with James Speegle of Tuscumbia five years after he was dismissed by Stone & Webster Construction Inc. while working at the Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant near Athens. Speegle, 43, contended he was fired for raising concerns about possible safety problems at the plant's Unit 1 reactor in 2004. Unqualified workers were doing a sloppy job that could have resulted in paint clogging an important cooling system, he argued."

* Read the full article at:
http://www.nacbe.com/articles/Whistleblower-wins-case-over-apf-3705188242.html

--------------------------------------------------------------

Just one year ago, everything was looking good to the NRC. The problems were all there to be found, but the NRC couldn't find them:

"Based on 56 interviews and six focus groups (consisting of approximately 50 people) conducted during this inspection, observations of plant activities, and reviews of the corrective action and nuclear safety concerns programs, the team determined that site personnel were willing to raise safety issues and document them in the corrective action program. The team observed that workers at the site felt free to report problems to their management, and were willing to use the Nuclear Safety Concerns program. "

Source:
http://www.nrc.gov/NRR/OVERSIGHT/ASSESS/SANO3/sano3_pim.html

That assessment was completely inaccurate at the time it was written.

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

Report from Wed Nov. 5-09 -

by Jerry Collamer (Jerry also attended -- and spoke at -- the Nov. 5 NRC hearing)

Dana Point Doubletree
(The Trestles Room?) Hotel's Edison / NRC / SONGS
public laundering of SONGS progress in getting 'their'
ancient, ailing, sickly, deadly beast (from a long ago era)
under control (if it ever has been).

The jest of last night's gentlemanly slugfest - NRC vs Edison,

"Who's in charge at SONGS?"

My conclusion: the beast is.
And we're the losers.

-----------------------

Ace (Hoffman) voiced it to Doubletree's packed room
of SONGS managers / team leaders / union heads /
SONGS (new) management team and NRC-heavy's
last night,

"Shut'er Down!"

Ace is dead right.

The charade played at SONGS antique, rusting,
leaking, deadly double boiler, sitting on Sano's
shaky sand, over a 'fault' no one knew existed back
at SONGS launching is - we're dumb (really dumb),
and they (SONGS et al) are really smart.

The opposite is true.

The true dummies in the room labor futilely to manage
the unmanageable (re-sculpt an aging dinosaur into
a 21st century thoroughbred. But the bone structure's
all wrong) - as us few public smarties sit gap mouthed
at the curious performance playing out on stage.

(my thought is always - should we be hearing this?)

To NRC and Edison's credit, for us 'the willing' to be
invited to witness SONGS ongoing inter-corporate
slugfest / struggle to exercise 'human control' over
their leaky, creaky, rusting nuke-beast, and its
2000-plus old-line (high paid) union employees,
while they air their dirty laundry in public,
is the best show in town.

If you're into scary movies.

The result of which, only furthers any conscious being's
plain-as-the-nose-on-your-face awareness: the inner
workings at SONGS is more laissez-faire Chinese-fire-drill,
than the in-control, ship-shape, zero-tolerance work
environment one expects from the keepers of earth's
most dangerous flame aka nuke rods on the barbie.

When we do protest too much, NRC reminds us,
we're in the wrong room.

Because control of SONGS fate
lies in the hands of legislators.

So I agree with both Ace and NRC's spokesman.

Yes, SONGS should be shut down now and forever.

And yes, we're protesting - to the wrong room.

Neither of which is a new feeling.

jer

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

************************************************
** Ace Hoffman, Carlsbad CA 92018

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Lots of new faces but it's the same old SONGS...

November 5th, 2009

Dear Readers,

Today, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is having a hearing in Dana Point, California (see below) regarding the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (aka "SONGS").

At the hearing, Southern California Edison is going to claim that they are doing everything necessary to fix the "culture of cover-up" that exists -- pardon me, existed -- ahem, ahem -- at the plant.

But in reality, firing about 70% of the staff did not fix it, and nor has anything else.

Not only does that "culture of cover-up" still exist, but actually, it is a necessary component of the operation, in the eyes of everyone who works there! Because they'll get in trouble if the media or the public find out what leaks, what cracks, what drops, what bursts, what spills, who gets contaminated, or by how much. Especially when it's YOU getting contaminated -- they don't want to tell you that. And nor do the so-called "regulators."

And it's all based on even more uneconomical and unsound lies! So how can you NOT have a "culture of cover-up" when the whole operation is based on lies? San Onofre is a terrific danger to everyone on the planet and to Southern California especially, for no reason: Renewable energy is "chomping at the bit" and so is Murphy.

We have a law in California which prohibits new nuclear power plants until a solution to the problem of nuclear waste is found. But since nuclear waste destroys any container you put it in, and is so concentrated and so dangerous that millionths of a gram is a lethal dose, proper solutions defy the laws of physics, averages, and economics. Indeed, they defy reality.

The way California's law was written, no one has been able to get around it. No new nuclear power plants have been built in California since San Onofre and Diablo Canyon have come online, and if either of the reactor units at either of these facilities close, that unit cannot legally be replaced.

Therefore, Southern California Edison plans to keeps these old clunkers running for as many more decades as the so-called "regulators" will let them. A running nuclear power plant, with a federal government promise (unkept, and that's another matter) to assume responsibility for the deadly radioactive waste, is a very profitable thing. Not that there aren't a lot of expenses, but if you don't have to pay proper insurance, and you don't have to pay proper fuel disposal costs, and you don't have to pay for an accident if it does happen, well, then it's profitable. For the owners, but not for society as a whole.

Attendance at this hearing is a good idea. It's your chance to tell SCE to shut that old clunker down. While they replace billions of dollars in old rusted parts, they are keeping many more old parts running. The plant is falling apart. They are doing major rebuilds when they should shut down forever instead, and open the door to renewable, clean energy.

Lastly, it should be noted that other laws in California have allowed every potentially-responsible state and local agency, such as the Coastal Commission or the Energy Commission, to ABDICATE their legally-mandated responsibility to protect YOU from these nuclear power plants. These agencies -- each and every one of them -- refuse to rule on all issues relating to "safety," claiming that they are prohibited from doing so! So really, knocking on the NRC's door, futile though it may be, is probably our best hope for closing these old clunkers before they kill us all, and now is an especially-appropriate time to close San Onofre forever.

Sincerely,

Ace Hoffman
Carlsbad, CA

The notice below is from CREED. Note the interesting job offer at the bottom that shows that SCE doesn't currently think they've solved their problems -- yet they are plowing ahead with the retrofit!

---------------------------------------------------------------------
From: "Creed" <Creedmail@cox.net>

IF AT FIRST YOU DON'T SUCCEED....TRY....TRY....TRY

This JOB BOARD ENTRY placed today, may be EDISON'S attempt for a SOLUTION to Federal Nuclear Commission's FOURTH YEAR safety report citations for repeated same SAFETY VIOLATIONS by personnel.

In public presentation of their on-going efforts to change "deteriorating safety culture," management officials told of training programs, and that, "It takes a long time to change a culture." Several workmen have objected to the term "safety culture," naming it an ongoing "culture of cover-up," being discovered by the NRC in recent years.

NRC may have a different solution to present in its Thursday this week public report on the safety San Onofre's 2200 employees, enlarged by 1000, there preparing the containment dome interior for replacement of steam generators. The deteriorated UNIT II is in a three month shut-down for refueling and re-building.

Many of us in the evacuation radius of San Onofre are hoping that the NRC will recommend to Edison that it retain Unit II in shut-down mode, that it reject defective Mitsubishi generators, and place SO II in decommissioning process safe shut down.

JOIN THE ACTION...OR JUST LISTEN TO NRC AND PUBLIC COMMENT
And report back to your organizations
Nov. 5 Dana Point Double-Tree hotel
34402 Pacific Coast Hwy. 6:30 p.m. free parking under hotel

Corrective Action Program (CAP) Director

Posted by: mailto:Marier@bartlettinc.com?subject=3DRoadtechs.com=20 post: Corrective Action Program (CAP) Director on October 31, 2009 = at=20 12:40:48. Click=20 here to reply to this post via Email.

Contract / Temp to Perm / Permanent: Contract

Bartlett is currently recruiting for a CAP Director for the San = Onofre=20 Nuclear Power Station.

We are seeking individuals with significant CAP and recent Recovery=20 experience to direct all aspects of client CAP Recovery effort to = include=20 activities as Chairperson of RCE teams, direct backlog reduction effort = and=20 provide consultation to client for CAP program enhancements.

For more information please contact Marie Rossi @ = marier@bartlettinc.com or=20 call 800-225-0385 ext 1308.

-----------------------------------------------------------------

-----------------------------------------
Ace Hoffman
Author, The Code Killers:
An Expose of the Nuclear Industry
Free download: acehoffman.org
Blog: acehoffman.blogspot.com
phone: (800) 551-2726; (760) 720-7261
address: PO Box 1936, Carlsbad, CA 92018
Subscribe to my free newsletter today!
Email: ace@acehoffman.org
To unsubscribe:
Send "Unsubscribe" in subject line.
-----------------------------------------

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Monday, October 26, 2009

NRC public hearing on NUREG-1437: Ace is (finally!) on YouTube!

October 26th, 2009

Dear Readers,

Last week I attended the Nuclear Regulatory Commission hearing in Dana Point, California regarding the Generic Environmental Impact Statement for License Renewal of Nuclear Plants (NUREG-1437). I have created a YouTube video of my presentation. It begins with clips of remarks by another attendee regarding the written document I had submitted at the hearing (and handed out to attendees). (The same document was also my previous newsletter (October 22nd, 2009).)

The video runs about five minutes in length.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BOFxNTcuoN8

Ace Hoffman
Carlsbad, CA
--------------------------------------

-----------------------------------------
Ace Hoffman
Author, The Code Killers:
An Expose of the Nuclear Industry
Free download: acehoffman.org
Blog: acehoffman.blogspot.com
phone: (800) 551-2726; (760) 720-7261
address: PO Box 1936, Carlsbad, CA 92018
Subscribe to my free newsletter today!
Email: ace@acehoffman.org
To unsubscribe:
Send "Unsubscribe" in subject line.
-----------------------------------------

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Concerns regarding San Onofre's Steam Generator replacement project

To: Nuclear Regulatory Commission Submission (for tonight's hearing in Dana Point, California)

October 22nd, 2009

The most dangerous times for any nuclear power plant are: Initial start-up or during a restart, and during a shut-down, especially an emergency shut-down.

Three Mile Island Unit II, for instance, had been in commercial operation for less than three months when it partially melted down. It was only slightly different from, slightly more powerful than, Unit 1, which, today, was relicensed by the same careless Nuclear Regulatory Commission we seek redress from today as well -- for another 20 years -- until April 19, 2034. Some of Three Mile Island Unit 1's parts will be 60 years old when it is finally "retired" -- irradiated, thermally heated, pressurized, chemically embrittled, and cycled on and off hundreds or even thousands of times.

The Emergency Core Cooling Systems, mandatory for all commercial reactors, have never actually been tested, and many scientists have asserted that their calculations have indicated the ECCSs may not work when needed. Not only that, but several ECCSs, such as Monticello's, were found to be completely inoperative several decades after installation, and would definitely not have worked. Control rods have jammed, fuel rods have been bent, plutonium has escaped... and one reactor, Davis-Besse, nearly corroded all the way through before anyone noticed! Except maybe the filter salesman.

Many of San Onofre's sea-encrusted, rusted, dilapidated parts will be 60 years old, too, if it makes it to retirement age.

And with all the NEW parts they are installing at San Onofre right now -- miles of pipes, dozens of pumps, scores of valves, hundreds of new sensors, drum after drum of electrical cables -- there will be new pressures and fluid flows throughout the system, new control mechanisms, and even relatively new, or completely new, operators. People quite a bit younger than the plant itself, who don't know how hard people fought to stop it in the first place. Who don't know that almost all our fears have ALREADY been realized, from cancers in the community because of the plant, to fraud at the plant, to piling nuclear waste problems, to threats of terrorism. Yes, it was all foreseen.

Right now, one by one, each of San Onofre's two remaining operable reactors are being rebuilt, top to bottom. That is, pieces of them are being replaced, top to bottom (even the fog lights, and certainly the sump pumps). But despite the retrofit, vastly more pieces are never being touched, never even being inspected.

How much inspection can such a small crew as the NRC leaves "on site" really do? There is only one inspector for every couple of hundred workers.

Furthermore, a climate of cover-up still exists at the plant, according to whistleblowers this author has talked to. And no doubt no one from The Shaw Group wants to expose their mistakes, since they are all new at the site and the last group or operators -- Bechtel and their subcontractors -- were fired en masse after about 40 years of running the most dangerous thing on earth, on August 30th, 2009.

During the retrofit -- a different division of Bechtel is doing that work -- the danger is probably a lot less than during an average day the plant is running. Criticality is not occurring at the shut-down reactor. Water isn't screaming through the system at enormous velocities and pressures. Lazy, sleepy operators on mood-altering cardiac beta blockers for health problems due to sitting all day long aren't using inaccurate and faulty instrumentation to monitor the whole thing and stop it from melting down.

So I'm less scared when the plant is shut down than at any other time. But the restart AFTER this major retrofit will be an especially dangerous time.

And then, the continued operation of the plant for 20 more years may well spell doom for SoCal at some point -- for any of a million different reasons. The old welds might start failing, let alone all the new ones that weren't done right, or were done right in Japan or elsewhere in the world, but didn't get shipped properly to America, or broke during installation. And nobody reported anything, because of the climate of cover-up.

During the actual retrofit, at least the reactor that is being refitted is not increasing the quantity of spent fuel with nowhere to put it by an average of 250 pounds per day per reactor, as happens each day the reactor is operating (500 lbs per day for San Onofre altogether, when both reactors are running). That's in addition to the tritium which is released and poorly tracked, and the hundreds of pounds per year of noble gases which are not tracked or stopped in any way at all, and the daily releases of radioactive isotopes of all known elements, in varying quantities, as allowed by ALARA.

All nuclear facilities vent radioactive isotopes to the public. HEPA filters were originally designed in the 1940s for cleaning the air of radioactive particles but they only achieve a 99.97% success rate (by definition). 3 particles in 10,000 may not sound like a lot, and might have been good enough for The Manhattan Project, but when you are releasing billions of billions of particles every day INTO the filters, it means you are letting a lot of children die in your community DESPITE the filters. And HEPA filters don't work for isolating tritium (a lot more H3 could be removed, but not that way) nor do they do anything to stop the release of the noble gases, which flow right through them. The legal limit for releases of tritium each year by each reactor at San Onofre is about one thirtieth of a teaspoon. Tritium is extremely hazardous, and even this seemingly small amount is way, way too much. And besides, whenever they release more than a thirtieth of a teaspoon, the NRC gives them two special dispensations: One not to say anything, and one not to do anything.

So-called "low-level" waste, such as the old steam generators, and the old pumps, pipes, valves, etc., which are being swapped out at the same time as the steam generator replacement project is going on, will be irradiating people, and will get into our children's braces eventually.

No reactor should ever be restarted. Period. Shut them ALL down and dismantle / decommission them. All other choices are folly.

Ace Hoffman
POB 1936 Carlsbad, CA 92018
www.acehoffman.org
Blog: acehoffman.blogspot.com

The author has developed and distributed award-winning educational software for more than 25 years and has customers at over 1000 colleges and universities in over 100 countries. His company web site -- www.animatedsoftware.com -- gets millions of "hits" every month. Hoffman has studied nuclear power for about 40 years and wrote approximately 1000 blog entries on nuclear issues prior to authoring The Code Killers in 2008 (and several dozen since).


-----------------------------------------
Ace Hoffman
Author, The Code Killers:
An Expose of the Nuclear Industry
Free download: acehoffman.org
Blog: acehoffman.blogspot.com
phone: (800) 551-2726; (760) 720-7261
address: PO Box 1936, Carlsbad, CA 92018
Subscribe to my free newsletter today!
Email: ace@acehoffman.org
To unsubscribe:
Send "Unsubscribe" in subject line.
-----------------------------------------

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood...

cc: Beth Parke, Executive Director, SEJ

October 8th, 2009

Dear Readers,

The Society of Environmental Journalists is holding its annual meeting this week, in Madison, Wisconsin.

James Rogers, Chairman, President and CEO of Duke Energy Corporation, which owns more than half a dozen nuclear power reactors, will be speaking tomorrow morning (10/9/2009) in "Capital Ballroom B" under the topic: "BIG THINK: Energy Policy in a New Economy." The panel presentation is supposed to discuss how to "set the world on a new, greener path." So what's HE doing there?!?

Another member of the panel will be a smart-grid enthusiast, Katherine Hamilton, president of the GridWise Alliance, which supports something I support, namely a smarter and greatly expanded electrical energy grid. But the Alliance works with: "the Union of Concerned Scientists, Natural Resources Defense Council, Midwest Research Institute and other organizations to lobby Congress and statehouses, including Maryland, on various clean energy policies and funding." MRI? Fine, but both the UCS and the NRDC are troubling allies. (The UCS is often referred to in this newsletter as the UUCS ("Union of UnConcerned Scientists" because of statement such as this: "While nuclear waste can be stored safely for the short term (in on-site concrete casks)..." (May, 2009 UCS factsheet.) That's not showing much concern! And the NRDC helps build wildlife "sanctuaries" around nuclear power plants, and that makes them happy. 'Nuff said 'bout them, too.) Hamilton worked with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, "to put into place several programs mandated in the Energy Policy Act of 1992, including federal energy audit and water conservation programs." So basically, she stays away from worrying about nuclear power.

Another panelist is Abrahm Lustgarten, Energy Reporter, ProPublica, former staff writer and contributor for Fortune, who received his masters in journalism from Columbia in 2003, and wrote a book about China with a grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, which supports public radio (PBS), which is the mouthpiece of the government for most things they talk about, and gets most of its money from the government (right now, PBS is getting a grant from NASA and announcing it daily (a VERY pro-nuclear government agency, which has launched dozens of plutonium-238-laden rockets and several small reactors, and some of these "toys" have failed, causing worldwide plutonium dispersals!)). Lustgarten does not appear to be an expert on the dangers of nuclear energy and is also hardly a counterbalance to Rogers.

The final panelist, Brian Czech, is a "certified wildlife biologist" who "applies his training and experience to economic issues, especially macroeconomic policy. He has 20 years of experience in federal, state, and tribal governments with duties ranging from firefighting to managing elk herds to developing national conservation policies. Czech is also a visiting professor at Virginia Tech University, where he teaches ecological economics and endangered species policy. A prolific author, Czech wrote the book Shoveling Fuel for a Runaway Train, which calls for an end to reckless economic growth." So basically, he stays away from worrying about nuclear power, too? So it appears. But he's probably plenty worried about "climate change" and "global warming," which nuclear power could be considered a source of, not a solution for, but Rogers will claim otherwise, because "they" always do. And it sounds like everyone on the panel will let him.

The moderator, Lisa Palmer, is an award-winning science writer and guess what? I can't find anything negative she has ever had to say about nuclear power!

Will questions from the audience make this event memorable? Palmer can ensure that doesn't happen, by, for example, letting each of these panelists make long-winded statements about how damaging global warming is to plant and animal species all over the world, and how badly BOTH expanded nuclear power AND most (but not all) green energy solutions need a better energy grid to be viable options (but not the same grid: The renewable one is more distributed, and thus, much more resilient).

It does not appear that anyone on the panel will be qualified, or interested in, grilling The Big Guy (Rogers, he's everywhere these days, he must have a fast jet at his disposal, I hope someone will ask him how he got there) about what HE knows about how tritium damages a fetus. Nothing, he's an executive, not a doctor, he'll say. You know it as well as I do.

No one on the panel will be asking Rogers what he expects to do with the nuclear waste his reactors have already created. It's well over ten million pounds of nuclear waste -- all his! He's been saying, "Yucca Mountain" for years (as have them all), but what does he say now? Reprocessing? That's even yuckier that "Yuckie" Mountain!

No one will ask what he expects to do with the waste from the new nuclear reactors he wants the government to build for him. That's us, folks, the common taxpayer, who will pay for his nukes (and his waste)! (And not to mention, his ratepayers, too, will pay particularly dearly for these things.) And that's after the government finishes paying billions of dollars to foreign-owned companies with American names (such as "Westinghouse" and "GE") to cover the costs of designing the new nuclear reactors.

If they only allow a few questions, it will surely be quite a whitewash. And, of course, with Palmer moderating the questions from the audience, there's no reason to expect the truth to be exposed even if they allow a thousand questions (in the 75 minutes allotted to this important topic).

It's unlikely that Mr. Rogers will be asked what he thinks will be the total number of Curies his reactors will release into the environment over their lifetime, and the total number of deaths he thinks these releases will cause. (Not including accidents he doesn't think have happened, let alone, accidents he doesn't think WILL happen.)

It's unlikely that the rate hikes that are inevitable if Duke continues to be a nuclear-focused company will be realistically expressed.

It's extremely unlikely the circular cracks in the flanges (they call them "nozzles" for some reason, but let's pray they never BECOME "nozzles") at the Oconee reactor (owned by Duke) will be discussed. These cracks went nearly all the way around some of the control-rod flanges (they call them "nozzles" but God forbid...). IF the cracks had gone just the least little bit further around it could have -- would have -- resulted in a MELTDOWN. Oops, Mr. Rogers, there goes the neighborhood! And the state it's in, with it (South Carolina)!

So-called "super-alloys" aren't so super. Numerous parts, from steam generators to pipes, pumps, valves, and the reactor vessels themselves, are falling apart sooner than expected and in worse ways than expected. Indeed, this is the most likely cause for catastrophe in the nuclear industry these days (but hardly the only one). And just about ANY qualified person in the nuclear industry -- even Mr. Rogers -- will probably admit to you (once he believes you know a thing or two about the industry) that yes, "materials" is their biggest worry -- "these days." (They're such optimists!)

It is a shame to see a sham at the SEJ annual meeting, but I think that's what the environmental journalists in the audience should expect. In reality, nuclear topics should fill the agenda this year at the SEJ meeting. And real experts should be speaking, not just industry blowhards and their sycophants, so that the journalists can learn more about the topics they plan to write about, instead of just learning what the party line is, as if that's news.

Sincerely,

Ace Hoffman
Carlsbad, CA

Society of People Who Call Themselves Environmental Journalists, 2009 agenda:
http://www.sej.org/initiatives/sej-annual-conferences/AC2009-agenda

============================
From NIRS: Dems caving on nukes in climate bill? Act Now!
============================

ACT NOW! E-MAIL/FAX YOUR SENATORS

ACT OCTOBER 15! CALL YOUR SENATORS ON NATIONAL DON'T NUKE THE CLIMATE CALL-IN DAY

Your actions are more important than ever, as the push for more nuclear power subsidies in the Senate climate bill intensifies.

October 8, 2009

Dear Friends,

Now that the Kerry-Boxer climate bill has been introduced, the nuclear industry is intensifying its efforts to turn the bill into a multi-billion dollar giveaway for new reactor construction, dirty and dangerous radioactive waste schemes like reprocessing, further "streamlining" reactor licensing proceedings, and the whole industry Christmas wish-list.

Leading the charge are Senators like John McCain (R-AZ) who has already said he will "never, never, never" vote for the bill; Lamar Alexander (R-TN), who has been making speech after speech calling for 100 new reactors in the U.S. by 2020 even while admitting he won't vote for a climate bill; and now Lindsay Graham (R-SC) who says golly gee, if they'll just put a lot of money for nuclear power and offshore oil drilling in the bill, maybe they'll get some more votes...

Yeah, right... Expanding oil drilling isn't exactly the best way to reduce carbon emissions--and neither is nuclear power or "clean coal," another pet cause of these Senators who won't vote for a climate bill in any case. What they're really trying to do is lard the bill with so much taxpayer giveaways to their favorite dirty energy interests that no one should vote for it.

Unfortunately, some of the bill's backers are listening to the nuclear lobby. Read this article posted on the NY Times website yesterday.

No matter where you stand on the climate bill itself, and our constituency seems fairly evenly divided between "against it," "for it, with reservations" and "wait and see what's in the final bill," we can all agree that the bill must not become a multi-billion dollar bail-out for the nuclear power industry.

Please send a letter to your Senators today. You can send an e-mail, fax, or both.

Please plan to call both of your Senators on National Don't Nuke the Climate Call-In Day, Thursday, October 15. It doesn't matter where they may stand on the issue--they need to hear your voice. Let's keep those phones ringing from dawn til midnight on October 15! Capitol Switchboard: 202-224-3121.

Please forward this Alert as widely as possible. Print it out and take it to meetings, post it at neighborhood food co-ops and other progressive venues, please do everything possible to spread the word. Organize protests at your Senators' district offices. Write letters-to-the-editor: Senate offices read them!

The backroom deals are being made now. It's never been more important for us all to take every action possible.

*Again: please send a letter to your Senators today.

*Please call your Senators on October 15, and start now to organize your friends, neighbors and colleagues to join you. Plan call-in gatherings at your house, a local pub or restaurant, a park--wherever it's easy for people to join you.

*Please forward this Alert and do everything possible to reach out to people who may not be on this list.

*If you haven't donated recently, please make a small contribution now and help us expand our outreach during this critical period. Faxes are more effective than e-mails, but we do have to pay for them; your contribution will also help us pay for the thousands of faxes that we hope everyone will send!

Together, we can stop this nuclear madness and build the nuclear-free, carbon-free energy future our planet and our people need.

Thanks for all you do,

Michael Mariotte

Executive Director

Nuclear Information and Resource Service

www.nirs.org

nirsnet@nirs.org

============================
Dodging bullets:
============================

The location of this morning's earthquake off California was not more than about 45 miles out to sea from San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, where about five million pounds of high-level radioactive used reactor cores (aka "Spent Fuel") is currently being stored and about 500 more pounds are being created every day the reactors are running. Right now, one of the "SONGS" reactors is undergoing multi-billion-dollar repairs and is closed. It should be PERMANENTLY SHUT, not "fixed" (patched up with toilet-paper and spit, wrapped up with bailing-wire and coat-hanger wire, duct-taped, and turned on again).

------------------------------------------------

A really cool interactive live map of earthquake activity (thanks to Dr. Carol Rosin for finding this!):
http://www.iris.edu/seismon/

------------------------------------------------

From:
http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5gxhGnOv1Z19F4ACtyN7PXeO4qOIAD9B6OTGO0

Small undersea quake occurs off California coast

(AP) ­ 10 hours ago

AVALON, Calif. ­ A magnitude-3.8 undersea earthquake has struck near the Channel Islands off the southern tip of San Clemente Island.

The U.S. Geological Survey says the tremor occurred at 8:31 p.m. Wednesday about 31 miles southeast of San Clemente Island and 43 miles south of Avalon.

The USGS Web site reported that very light shaking was felt in some Orange County communities, including Newport Beach and Huntington Beach, but police there said they received no calls about the quake.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

AVALON, Calif. (AP) ­ A magnitude-3.7 undersea earthquake has struck near the Channel Islands off the southern tip of San Clemente Island.

The U.S. Geological Survey says the tremor occurred at 8:31 p.m. Wednesday about 31 miles southeast of San Clemente Island and 43 miles south of Avalon.

The USGS Web site reported that very light shaking was felt in some Orange County communities, including Newport Beach and Huntington Beach, but police there said they received no calls about the quake.

Copyright © 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.


============================
Information about the author of this newsletter:
============================

Blog:
http://acehoffman.blogspot.com/

Book:
http://acehoffman.org/

Ace Hoffman
Author, The Code Killers:
An Expose of the Nuclear Industry
Free download: www.acehoffman.org
phone: (800) 551-2726; (760) 720-7261
address: PO Box 1936, Carlsbad, CA 92018
Subscribe to my free newsletter today!
email: ace@acehoffman.org
-----------------------------------------

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Talley followup: The many financial-failure tsunamis of nuclear power

October 7th, 2009

Dear Readers,

Last week, practically the entire Pacific Rim was under several earthquake-generated tsunami warnings and watches. Thousands are confirmed dead in Indonesia, Samoa, and American Samoa; thousands more are still missing. In some places, waters roared a mile or more inland. These events have demonstrated: "that the early-warning systems are not fail-safe and education is as important as technology, seismologists and disaster management experts say." (Kathy Marks, Sydney, ABCNews.go.com, October 3, 2009)

Seismologists, geologists, and other experts say our coastal nuclear reactors are NOT properly protected (and can't be) against reasonably foreseeable -- even expected -- tsunamis. The "sea wall" at San Onofre, for example, is only about 30 to 35 feet tall; waves at high tide already lap the bottom. Some of the waves from the Banda Ache tsunami in 2004 were 50 to 60 feet high! Only dumb luck protects us. Two weeks after the event, an eyewitness to the aftermath of the 2004 tsunami wrote:

"The best way to describe this ­- because we grew up with the images and we all know what it looked like -­ is that Banda Ache looks like Hiroshima after the atomic bomb. It's totally destroyed. The buildings have been flattened for miles and entire communities -- probably something like a hundred thousand people -- have been swept out to sea." (Chris Rainier, National Geographic, January 11, 2005.)

Real tsunamis aside, a financial crisis is often called a tsunami as well. The nuclear industry is in the midst of a financial crisis, as are we all. In a brief email exchange with Wall Street Journal journalist Ian Talley (whose article was discussed in my previous report (September 29, 2009)), Talley clarified how the Department of Energy's nuclear loan guarantees could be used:

>"$18.5 billion in loan guarantees can leverage loans far in excess of that value."

He added that the maximum amount of "LG" is 80% of the cost of a nuke.

The basic concept is that someone other than the federal government will loan the extra billion (if the lowest of the two ridiculously low industry estimates Talley gave of $5 billion is correct) or the extra $4 billion (if my estimate of $20 billion for a new nuke started today is correct).

Either way, it isn't easy to get loans for a billion dollars these days, even if someone knows a gung-ho pro-nuclear government has provided an additional $4 billion to throw away on the risky venture.

So one question is: By proposing doubling the amount of money available for loan guarantees, is Secretary of Energy Chu expecting to start more than the 4-5 nukes the original $18.5 billion was for? Or is he just upping the ante for those first few, because he realizes they'll actually cost a lot more than he thought? Talley didn't know. Chu didn't say.

From the utilities' standpoint, the biggest stumbling block for new nuclear construction at the moment appears to be spent-fuel-related. With Yucca Mountain not technically on the horizon (though not "killed" altogether, by any means), the government isn't willing to make the dumb deal it made back in the 1980s, when it promised to take all the used reactor cores away and magically make them disappear.

Needless to say, it wasn't a dumb deal for the utilities and they ALL -- every one that is operating today -- signed on. The government would take the highly radioactive -- and pyrophoric -- used nuclear reactor cores and manage their long-term care. That's "long-term" as in: Longer than the United States has existed as a country, times a thousand.

It hasn't worked out that way. The government hasn't taken the waste, and you can blame politics all you want, but the real reason it hasn't worked out is the physics make it impossible for a "safe" repository to exist. Someone will ALWAYS have a legitimate gripe against ANY plan. It's the nature of ionizing radiation that it will break down any container made of any material, as it irradiates the container. Microbes won't "eat" radiation away for us. Each little atomic breakdown has all the strength, per alpha particle, beta particle, or gamma ray, of the alpha particles, beta particles, and gamma rays of a nuclear bomb. A nuclear decay is an unstoppable force. Its direction cannot be predicted or controlled. It has an average energy level within a statistically-definable range of probable values, according to various laws of sub-atomic particle physics. The precise moment of any particular decay is also unpredictable.

No place on earth is safe to hold the waste. No place can be guaranteed not to have ANY of the following, to start a long list: Earthquakes, tornadoes, floods, tsunamis, jet crashes, terrorists, sloppy construction, or poor design. If all else goes well, any location could still be hit by an asteroid. Why doom the whole earth for one small asteroid?

And then there are the transportation problems. The last DOE solution I saw had about 98 wheels and was just a drawing. It looked like a lumbering terrorist's target to me. They don't really know what they are going to do.

No country has ever "solved" its nuclear waste problem. France grinds stuff up, releases much of it directly into the North Sea, and stores the rest with no idea of what to do with it. (A tiny fraction is reused, so they call the whole thing "recycling".) Here in American we just let it sit in scores of deadly sites all over the country.

And the dry storage casks are deteriorating as we speak. Shoddy welds, shoddy alloys, unrealistic expectations...

Meanwhile, the government is already being sued by about a dozen nuclear power companies, asking for permission to stop putting money into the used-reactor-core-storage fund, and to get back some of what they've already put in! The rest are watching closely, like a pack of vultures.

New nuclear power plant loan guarantees don't come with promises to take the spent fuel. And THAT's the real financial hang-up for new nuclear construction in America.

But the nuclear industry is working HARD to get around that with help from -- seriously! -- French espionage, infiltration, subversiveness, and other covert and overt actions. That's right: The French intend to get American suckers (that's you and me, folks, the American taxpayer) to pay French-government owned and/or managed firms (EdF and/or AREVA) to build and operate expensive NEW reprocessing plants here in America! And open new (and old) uranium mines, new milling operations, and so on. They use agent-provocateurs, subliminal messages in their advertisements, covert lobbying and funding of politicians... and in other countries where these two "corporations" do business, they behave even more illegally!

Reprocessing would theoretically "solve" the fuel problem for the utilities, including slowly eating into their current backlog of millions of pounds of commercial nuclear power-plant high-level radioactive waste. but "theoretically" is one thing, and realistically is another.

What reprocessing really would do is cost another hundred (or two hundred) billion dollars and pollute the entire planet, killing people and causing health effects as if we are all expendable, as long as no one can prove for certain where any particular cancer, leukemia, heart disease, birth defect, etc. came from. And burn enormous quantities of fossil fuels in the process, causing thousands more deaths.

Reprocessing of nuclear waste is chemical-intensive, too. But it's the only thing that could possibly allow a dying industry to keep going. The current fleet of operating plants is running out of options for waste storage. None of the plant's owners want to have to shut down for lack of storage space, but it might happen. As long as someone will take the waste from you later, operating a nuclear power plant is a "great" way to make money -- like stealing candy from a baby (and giving them cyanide to play with in return).

Aside from the waste problem, new nuclear construction almost suffered from an insurance problem. Instead, the Price-Anderson Act was extended a few years ago in one of the most notorious pieces of midnight legislation to come out of the Bush years (and that's saying a lot). If Price-Anderson had not been extended, that too would have stopped new nuclear construction because the Act prevents citizens from seeking damages against the utility in the event of an accident. No Price-Anderson would have meant no new nukes. And the old ones would have shut down, too. But now, although both Price and Anderson are long gone, the Price-Anderson Act has been renewed and you still can't get insurance for your home against a nuclear accident anywhere in the world. (Some form of Price-Anderson has been copied in every country which has operating nuclear programs.)

In addition to the waste problem and the insurance problem -- the former unsolvable and the latter solved by government fraud -- there are still the costs and delays of construction.

Offshore wind power, solar power, energy conservation and other solutions can be brought online virtually immediately -- by the time a permit for a new nuclear power plant is granted, especially a new design, you could have thousands of megawatts of renewable energy up and running.

And the new nuclear power plant, which may well cost close to -- or more than -- $20 billion dollars if construction started today -- will have faulty parts, faulty welds, faulty pipes, faulty concrete, faulty wiring, faulty instructions, workers sleeping on the job, fire crews not knowing what to do when there's a fire, exploding transformers, leaky steam generators, and thousands of other problems. These are the day-to-day facts of life at ANY large facility (but these examples are taken strictly from Nuclear Regulatory Commission records). Most large industrial facilities won't kill millions of people if and when they fail. Most industries are not running on the edge of a mega-catastrophe 24 hours a day, seven days a week, as nuclear power does.

Every nuclear construction project now involves hundreds of companies in dozens of countries, each with their own level of oversight for worker safety and for quality of their output. Each has different ethics about what "quality" means, and what the punishments are for shipping shoddy work half-way around the world where its shoddiness won't be discovered for decades, until the part fails at a critical moment, causing a meltdown, and all the evidence is destroyed.

Fraud has always been rampant in nuclear construction and operation, and continues with the new international trade agreements, where even so-called "American" companies such as GE and Westinghouse are really just fronts for, in those cases, Japanese corporations, and where both EdF and AREVA claim in America that they are as American as apple pie, just because the heads of the American divisions are American.

Sincerely,

Ace Hoffman
Carlsbad, CA
www.acehoffman.org

=====================================
Cancer and nuclear power:
=====================================


(In the superb article linked to below, the reporter outlines many of the enormously complicated cost issues related to new nuclear construction. The article also quotes the notorious Victor Dricks of the NRC making the outlandish claim that airplanes simply cannot destroy nuclear power plants, calling it "impossible." The entire nuclear community should demand Dricks' permanent ouster from the NRC! He is unqualified, pretentious, arrogant, irrational, and on a personal basis, attempts to intimidate the activists both physically and through enforcing arbitrary rules on who can place documents where, or at all. Arbitrary, except the utility can always place anything they want on the NRC's table, and the NRC will ensure that material is handed out. That's Victor Dricks, and the NRC's, idea of free speech. -- Ace)

A clip from:
http://www.sacurrent.com/news/story.asp?id=70567

Risky Business
Part Two In a Series: What CPS won't tell you about nuclear power
San Antonio Currant September 30th, 2009

by Greg Harman

..."For more than a year, the city has been drifting, in multi-million-dollar installments, into a second helping of nuclear power from the South Texas Project nuclear facility outside Bay City.

"On one level, the city's obsession with the bottom line ­ $5.2-billion for our share of two new nuclear-power reactors ­ makes sense. It was, after all, runaway costs and construction failures that undermined Wall Street's willingness to invest in the hugely expensive projects, resulting in a decades-long freeze on domestic nuclear power plants. Today, with 17 proposed nuclear projects jockeying for crucial federal loans through the U.S. Department of Energy, Moody's Investors Service is warning that utilities that pursue new plants face heightened financial risks and may expose their customers to 'future rate shocks.'

"For the last hour, the talk has idled at intersecting concerns over whether Toshiba can deliver two Advanced Boiling Water Reactors to STP on time and on budget; whether renewable energy sources could become cost competitive with nuclear by 2020, when San Antonio will really need the extra electricity; if CPS Energy's price estimates for alternative energy sources, such as natural gas and efficiency, are even close to accurate.

"'Nuclear has risks,' confesses CPS Energy's Co-CEO Steve Bartley, 'cost risks, waste risks, health-and-safety possible risks. … Our goal is to evaluate the risks as best we can, understand what they are, and plan a mitigation strategy.'

"While the Congressional Budget Office wrote in 2003 that 'well above 50 percent' of federal nuclear-power loan recipients will default because of 'technical risks' and high construction costs, Bartley tells the audience that CPS had its proposal screened by Fitch Ratings and were told the utility should be able to maintain a Double-A credit rating through the life of the reactors. "

======================================
"Preventing Future Deaths" - a Coroner acts:
======================================

From: "Richard Bramhall" <bramhall@llrc.org>
To: "info llrc" <info@llrc.org>
Subject: "Preventing Future Deaths" - a Coroner acts
Date: Mon, 5 Oct 2009 13:23:20 +0100

"Preventing Future Deaths" - a Coroner acts

Following the 10th September '09 verdict on the death of Stuart Dyson, Robin Balmain, a Coroner in the Black Country Coroner's District in Smethwick, UK, has written to the Secretary of State for Defence, Bob Ainsworth MP.

The Jury in the inquest into Mr. Dyson's death found that he had been exposed to Uranium during his service in Iraq during 1991, and that the Uranium caused or contributed to the colon cancer which finally killed him in 2007 at the age of 39.

The expert witness at the inquest was Professor Chris Busby, Scientific Secretary of the European Committee on Radiation Risk, who presented evidence of the inadequacy of the radiation risk model advised by the International Commission on Radiological Protection. The Ministry of Defence failed to send either legal or scientific representatives.

Mr. Balmain writes that "action should be taken" since the use of Uranium weapons creates "an obvious risk to service personnel" which "equally applies to civilians in areas of conflict."

For over a decade the Low Level Radiation Campaign has stated that use of Uranium weapons is contrary to international law because of their indiscriminate effects.

Rule 43 of the Coroners Rules 2008 states:

"Where the evidence gives rise to a concern that circumstances creating a risk [that] other deaths will occur, or will continue to exist, in the future and in the coroner's opinion action should be taken to … eliminate or reduce the risk of death … the Coroner may report … to a person who the Coroner believes may have the power to take such action."

Rule 43A requires Bob Ainsworth to reply to Mr Balmain within 56 days.

Mr Balmain's letter is at http://www.nonuclear.se/dyson_coronor_rule43_20090918

Report on verdict at www.llrc.org/du/subtopic/dysonverdict.htm including full copies of written submissions from Professor Busby and MoD.

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Newsletter author contact information:
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Ace Hoffman
Author, The Code Killers:
An Expose of the Nuclear Industry
Free download: www.acehoffman.org
phone: (800) 551-2726; (760) 720-7261
address: PO Box 1936, Carlsbad, CA 92018
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email: ace@acehoffman.org
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