Friday, February 27, 2009

The fallacy in Obama's logic regarding Yucca Mountain

February 27th, 2009

Dear Readers,

So far, I like the Obama Administration. It's not just that "nobody could possibly be worse than Bush!" which, I think, is pretty close to true, but I approve of Obama's stated ideas on many topics. And, of course, he's intelligent, articulate, eloquent, and he's the best man for the job, undoubtedly.

And I was pleased as punch when nuclear power didn't even get a nod or a wink in his big budget speech to Congress this week.

As the topic -- or would-be topic -- approached, we held our breath. We listened. Wind energy. Check. Solar. Check. Motionless, we waited. NO MENTION! It went unsaid! He's on to autos and fuel efficiency and so on -- it's past. The moment it would have been said has past! He didn't even say nuclear has to be "part of the mix" or anything! Yeah! We high-fived. We cheered.

But will his actions even begin to match his unspoken words? Within a day or so, a new ruling on Yucca Mountain came down: Stop everything. Well, almost everything. Everything except the license applications filed in the last year (say what?). Well, anyway, stop something. Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) is happy. He, of course, being from Nevada, never liked Yucca Mountain and basically has been elected over and over, on that platform.

Harry Reid's response to citizens who are worried about Yucca Mountain is this: Safe on-site storage of nuclear waste is the way to go. Those states that produced it should eat it. (Okay, he didn't say "eat it" in his letter to a constituent I was shown, but he did say that states can and should keep their waste "on site" which AMOUNTS TO THE SAME THING.)

On-site storage of nuclear waste is extremely hazardous and should not be permitted anywhere. Doubt me? You can actually read a number of technical reports about "dry casks," and spent fuel pools. You can read about the transportation vehicles which would have moved the waste to Yucca Mountain (and might yet). You can read about the size of a potential accident, and it can be quite overwhelming to think about. And yet.

And yet, what you read will be a lie, because, if you dig DEEPER into the records, you'll find that the "postulated accident" only releases, for example, 0.01% (less than a single percent of a single percent) of the total fuel inventory being transported in ONE container, or being stored in ONE dry cask. And a vastly smaller portion of a spent fuel pool is EVER postulated to be exposed to air, to catch fire, to burn unquenchably.

These studies are not realistic. They do not reflect every-day hazards our dry casks, spent fuel pools, and spent fuel transportation vehicles can experience. They are LIES.

So that's the first reason that Obama's "stop-work" order regarding Yucca Mountain is insufficient and thus, illogical and dangerous.

The second reason is that the Yucca Mountain scientists were told they could come up with anything -- THEY DIDN'T HAVE TO STICK TO THE YUCCA MOUNTAIN PROPOSAL.

The Yucca Mountain team considered deep sea disposal (no retrieval if it isn't working), space-based disposal (way, way, WAY too risky), different kinds of geological burial and ice burial (it would -- duh -- melt the ice), and EVEN on-site storage.

In fact, the only thing they weren't allowed to study was a similar disposal plan in a different location.

Now remember, we had already spent tens of billions of dollars trying to solve the waste problem before Yucca Mountain was first picked as the nation's ONLY nuclear waste repository. And we've spent around $100 billion altogether now, and Obama wants us to start the whole search over again, as if no progress had ever been made?

As Thomas Edison famously said, we've learned thousands of things that don't work. In terms of nuclear waste storage, we've learned that vitrification doesn't work, storage tanks don't work, pools don't work, casks don't work, nothing works. And so-called "recycling" or reprocessing is a hoax -- a dirty way to get bomb-grade isotopes and some very dirty reactor fuel called MOX out of the waste stream.

But the questions is: Why haven't we learned to stop making more nuclear waste? (The answer is greed.)

And the third reason Obama's logic has a serious fallacy is that there is NO safe solution because of sound scientific reasons. ANY containment would be destroyed by the radiation contained within. A simple look at any energy spectrum diagram shows the problem quite clearly.

So what CAN you do besides, as the saying goes, "truck it 50 miles onto Indian territory and dump it!"

The only logical thing to do right now is to stop making more waste.

Instead (for example), at the South Texas Project (STP) nuclear facility, the French government, in collusion with the nuclear power plant's current owners and other local businesses, is planning to build two new and very large nuclear reactors. This isn't to save money for the local residents, it's to make money for the local businesses, at the EXPENSE of the local residents -- and all others. Making more of the very waste we already have no idea what to do with is how AREVA / EDF / FRANCE will make money and, perhaps more importantly for them, CONVINCE CHINA to also buy some of the same reactors.

What they are doing is a simple and well-known technique: They go to China and say, "See what a GREAT IDEA THIS IS -- after all, they're doing it in Texas!" and at the exact same time, they go to Texas and say, "See what a GREAT IDEA THIS IS -- after all, they're doing it in China!"

Meanwhile, they tell the whole world, "See what a GREAT IDEA THIS IS -- after all, they're doing it in both the United States and in China! So obviously, it MUST be a good idea!"

So you see, we have to stop STP. Not just the two proposed new reactors, but the currently-operating reactors, too, which are producing waste with nowhere to store it. Even in a state as big as Texas.

Texas has wind. Texas has solar. Texas has rivers. Texas even has oil. What do they need nuclear for?

Sincerely,

Ace Hoffman
Carlsbad, CA

************************************************

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Resolution against the use of new nuclear power plants to solve America's energy problems -- PLEASE FORWARD!

February 22nd, 2009

Dear Readers,

The enclosed Resolution Against the Use of New Nuclear Power Plants to Solve America's Energy Problems passed this weekend (Feb. 20-21, 2009) at a meeting of the California-Pacific Conference of the United Methodist Church, Conference Board of Church and Society. The Resolution was presented by Peter Moore-Kochlacs. Peter then took the document to Washington, where he is right now, presented it to 25 people from various interfaith groups, and plans to present it to Congressional aides this Monday (February 23, 2009).

I am deeply honored to have had a part in the creation of the Resolution, along with many other people, and I hope it will be widely distributed and endorsed. If you, or any group you are associated with, endorses this Resolution, please contact Peter and let him know:

"Peter Moore-Kochlacs" <PeterEco@aol.com>

Sincerely,

Ace Hoffman
Carlsbad, CA

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Resolution against the use of new nuclear power plants to solve America's energy problems
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Whereas the Bible is clear that we are not to pollute our neighborhoods, the planet, and the poor, but are to be good stewards of all (Genesis 2:15, Isaiah 24, Jeremiah 4:2&7,Micah 6:6-8 & Matthew 22:36-40), and

Whereas the building of nuclear power plants, the generation of nuclear power and the plant�s radiation byproducts have been proven to be very unhealthy to life, and

Whereas, every step in the nuclear process is fossil-fuel intensive, including mining, milling, fuel fabrication, building the power plants, and even operating them -- let alone the fossil fuel and other resources which will be needed to care for the used reactor cores after they have been irradiated inside the reactor, and

Whereas, the only safe nuclear power plant is one that does not exist, since no human structure (e.g. underground storage facilities, kick and roll burial of �low level� radioactive materials) can withstand the forces of nature, and

Whereas, every step in the nuclear process is not only fossil-fuel intensive, but terribly polluting in its own right, starting with leakages of radioactive radon gas from the mine tailings, to the radioactive "shine" which emanates from the spent fuel casks, despite several feet of concrete and several inches of steel, and

Whereas, our children are 100 to 1000 times more susceptible to radiation poison damage than adults, and

Whereas, thousands of diseases which are caused or enhanced or exacerbated by radiation are so much worse for children who have no voice or vote, and

Whereas, there is a very sound scientific reason why nearly $100 billion dollars in research funding so far has produced nothing in the way of safe containments for nuclear waste (the scientific reason being that radioactive decay is far stronger than any chemical bond in nature -- known or postulated), and

Whereas, money spent on nuclear power will buy, at most, half the number of jobs that money spent in developing and building cleaner energy sources, such as wind power, would buy, and the new energy would be delivered as much as ten years sooner, and

Whereas, the nuclear industry is incapable of purchasing insurance on the open market, because the size of a catastrophe would bankrupt any and all insurance agencies, and

Whereas, the Government does not provide adequate insurance (the Price-Anderson Act is a hollow shell which would hardly compensate any one after an accident); those few who would receive anything, would get fractions of a penny on the dollar, and

Whereas, every operating nuclear power plant produces isotopes of plutonium and hydrogen and other elements which are the raw materials of nuclear bombs, and

Whereas, every operating nuclear power plant has a list of security and safety violations, which if fully known and understood by the public, would create such an outcry that all current nuclear power plants would likely be shut down, and

Therefore, be it resolved that the California Pacific Conference Board of Church and Society of the United Methodist Church insist that the United States Federal Government provide that no government money be invested in any nuclear power technology, except as maybe necessary to pay for shutting down the current nuclear power plants as quickly as possible and caring for their waste in as safe as possible a manner, and

Therefore, be it further resolved that we oppose the building of any new nuclear power plants, their funding, or their approval and that the currently operating plants be closed as soon as feasible, and

Therefore, be it further resolved that people who have already been harmed by nuclear power be both identified and compensated as best as possible, and

Therefore, be it further resolved that cleaner energy alternatives such as solar, wind, geo-thermal (atmospheric vortex engines, ocean thermal energy conversion, low flow rate undersea turbines) and other workable and sustainable clean energy solutions be invested in by our Federal Government, instead of Nuclear Power Plants, and

Therefore, be it finally resolved that this resolution be presented to members of the US Congress, other government bodies, public policy organizations, religious bodies and congregations of faith across the United States and World for their information and hopeful affirmation of it.

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


Ace Hoffman
Author, The Code Killers:
An Expose About Nuclear Crimes
High and Low, Large and Small,
Far and Wide
Free download: www.acehoffman.org

Subscribe to my free newsletter today!
email: ace@acehoffman.org
------------------------------------------------

Sunday, February 15, 2009

#1 with a bullet: Tritium

February 15th, 2009
Dear Readers,
Wal-Mart has lost 15,800 tritium-based emergency-exit signs.

That's enough tritium to make more than a few dirty bombs. In fact, you can pretty easily make 15,800 dirty bombs with it. Okay, dirty grenades. Dirty little land mines. Poison gas bombs.

Most of these missing signs are probably being properly used, albeit in improper places -- as exit signs elsewhere, to comply with various fire safety laws. But some of them are undoubtedly being disposed of improperly, too.

No one knows where they all are. The Star of Toronto published a very informative article today, with lots of good information about tritium generally (shown below). But its author has only written that tritium is "potentially dangerous." Tritium -- radioactive hydrogen -- is very, very dangerous.

Hydrogen, element #1 in the Periodic Table, is the most common element in our bodies, on earth, and in the universe. But tritium has an extra two neutrons in its nucleus, in addition to the single proton all hydrogen has (some hydrogen has one neutron, which is called deuterium and is also stable, like normal hydrogen, which is the lightest, smallest element, and normally has no neutrons in its nucleus).

When tritium decays, on average 12.3 years after it happens to be created, it shoots off a beta particle, which is a high-speed electron. High speed means "a significant fraction of the speed of light." Beta particles are extremely dangerous little bullets, mainly because they have a charge of one negative electron volt.
Initially -- when it first escapes the nucleus of the radioactive hydrogen atom (which becomes a stable isotope of helium, with two protons and one neutron) -- the "beta particle" (the high-speed electron) is actually relatively harmless. It is very light compared to atoms, and very small, and moving so fast that its electrical charge does not have TIME as it passes things, to have much effect on anything it passes.
It is only when a beta particle SLOWS DOWN that it starts to hang around long enough to cause significant trouble. The slower the beta particle is when it passes things, the more TIME it has to knock other electrons off of atoms, thus ionizing them, or to spin the atoms of delicate protein molecules into unknown and useless configurations (perhaps these damaged proteins were "signal molecules" that control millions of other molecules in your body). All beta decay particles are dangerous, but the fact that tritium's beta particle is described by pro-nukers as "low-energy" doesn't make it less dangerous than any other beta decay particle.
Tritium is not merely "potentially dangerous." Tritium is one of the most dangerous substances on earth. It requires about 13,000,000,000 (13 billion) gallons of water to dilute the tritium released from a typical American nuclear power plant every year (about 1,000 Curies) to the current (outrageously too high) EPA standard of 20,000 picoCuries per liter of drinking water. Canadian CANDU reactors release about twenty times more tritium than American reactors, and could not operate under the tighter U.S. standards. If an American nuclear power plant releases even a gram (10,000 Curies) of tritium in a single year, they'd probably need a special permit (they'd get it).

And yet, we are told by pro-nukers only that tritium has "a low-energy beta decay" and that it is a "natural isotope already found on earth." They'll tell us that it is released only in "minute" quantities by nuclear power plants "during their routine operation." But every plant has years with excessive tritium releases -- perhaps 10 times the normal annual amount. No member of the public will be told, and the news media will not be issued a press release. Some of the data might eventually appear in some of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's obscure, but publicly-accessible databases, usually months later, but the actual quantity of tritium released will only be estimated, because, inevitably, gauges don't work, records are lost, calibration wasn't done within the proper time limit, and, of course -- THE NEEDLES PEGGED DURING THE EVENT.
It happens all the time.

A better way to describe tritium than to call it "harmless" (as pro-nukers actually have been quoted in the papers as saying) would be to say this: Tritium is radioactive hydrogen, the most pervasive of all radioactive isotopes created in nuclear fission reactors. Tritium is rarely found in nature, but the world is flooded with it every day by nuclear reactors, especially the CANDU reactors. The nuclear industry knows there is NO WAY to prevent the release of most of this radioactive hydrogen, so they call its radioactive decay a "low energy beta decay" so the victim thinks it is harmless. It's 'low' only compared to other beta decays created by other fission products of reactors. Its energy can (and will) break thousands of bonds in your body. It's not 'low' energy at all compared to your biological structures (or to steel structures, for that matter), but the industry MUST lie about 'tritium' (radioactive hydrogen) to operate. Otherwise it would have to shut down. So it lies, without hesitation and in most cases, without the pro-nuker even understanding that something with a 'low energy beta decay' is actually MORE dangerous per unit of energy released! They really don't even know that. But ignorance does not excuse criminal behavior.

In the Star article, one spokesperson for Wal-Mart claims they will no longer use tritium-based exit signs, but another spokesperson waters that claim down significantly. Part of the problem is that fire regulations require self-lighted exit signs but don't also state that those signs must NOT be made with tritium. Ignorance about tritium pervades (although the spokesperson from Greenpeace Canada, quoted in the article, is eloquent).
When tritium escapes into the environment, it cannot be smelled or tasted, or seen. Tritium usually binds with oxygen, creating tritiated water -- "HTO" (and, very rarely, T2O). Different isotopes of an element are indistinguishable by biological systems (and very difficult to isolate). Tritium also binds with many other elements. No matter how tritium gets out of the reactor and into your body, it becomes part of the biosphere's inventory of poisons, which kills and debilitates, without compensation for the victims, or punishment for the perpetrators.

All countries which operate nuclear reactors turn a blind eye to the devastation caused by tritium. They have to, to continue releasing this deadly poison which they MUST do to operate. So, tritium's very limited service as a diagnostic tool in hospitals is touted, although in fact, tritium is NOT used if an alternative can be found, precisely because it is so "wicked."

Regulations regarding tritium are lax, enforcement is lax, permissible standards are lax, proper measurements of existing tritium "hot spots" are lax, and in every way, reasonable concern for the protection of life, especially infants, babies, fetuses, zygotes, sperm and egg, etc., is very, VERY lax.
Releasing tritium into the environment IS murder.

Sincerely
Ace Hoffman
Carlsbad, CA

Tritium exit sign (from NRC web site)

My 2007 essay on tritium:
http://www.animatedsoftware.com/environment/tritium/2007/ItsAllAboutTheDNA.htm
My 2006 essay (includes a glossary and some background):
http://animatedsoftware.com/environment/tritium/2006/EPATritiumStandard.htm
My first tritium essay (2004):
http://www.animatedsoftware.com/environm/onofre/2004/TritiumComments%2020041223.htm
My Animated Periodic Table of the Elements:
http://www.animatedsoftware.com/elearning/Periodic%20Table/AnimatedPeriodicTable.swf
Password: NO NUKES!!
Login ID: anything
--------------------------------------------------------------------
At 08:53 AM 2/15/2009 -0500, "Tim Seitz" sent:
>http://www.thestar.com/business/article/587906
>
>Wal-Mart's glow-in-the-dark mystery
>
>TheStar.com - Business -
>
>Wal-Mart's glow-in-the-dark mystery
>Retail giant can't account for 15,800 of its exit signs that contain a potentially dangerous radioactive gas
>February 15, 2009
>Tyler Hamilton
>BUSINESS REPORTER
>
>It began in late 2007 as a routine audit. Retail giant Wal-Mart noticed that some exit signs at the company's stores and warehouses had gone missing.
>
>As the audit spread across Wal-Mart's U.S. operations, the mystery thickened. Stores from Arkansas to Washington began reporting missing signs. They numbered in the hundreds at first, then the thousands. Last month Wal-Mart disclosed that about 15,800 of its exit signs – a stunning 20 per cent of its total inventory – are lost, missing, or otherwise unaccounted for at 4,500 facilities in the United States and Puerto Rico.
>
>Poor housekeeping, certainly, but what's the big deal?
>
>In a word: radiation.
>
>The signs contain tritium gas, a radioactive form of hydrogen. Tritium glows when it interacts with phosphor particles, a phenomenon that has led to the creation of glow-in-the-dark emergency exit signs.
>
>It's estimated there are more than 2 million tritium-based exit signs in use across North America.
>
>It turns out that Ontario-based companies SRB Technologies (Canada) Inc. of Pembroke and Shield Source Inc. of Peterborough have sold the lion's share of these signs, which use tritium produced as a by-product from the operation of Canadian-made Candu nuclear reactors.
>
>The health effects of tritium exposure continue to be a hot topic of debate. It's not strong enough to penetrate the skin, and in low quantities regulators and industry groups say tritium is safe. But when inhaled or ingested it can cause permanent changes to cells and has been linked to genetic abnormalities, developmental and reproductive problems and other health issues such as cancer.
>
>"The problem is that because it's hydrogen it can actually become part of your body," says Shawn-Patrick Stensil of Greenpeace Canada. "The radiation doesn't emit far, but when it actually becomes part of your cell it's right next to your DNA. So for a pregnant woman, for example, it can be really dangerous."
>
>General exposure from one broken sign might be the equivalent of getting up to three chest X-rays, even though today we no longer give pregnant women X-rays. If tritium is ingested, for example, by a child who breaks a sign with a hockey stick, it's much more potent. If only 5 per cent of the tritium in a large exit sign is ingested, it would be equivalent to 208 years of natural background radiation, according to a report from the Product Stewardship Institute at the University of Massachusetts.
>
>And what about exposure from thousands of signs dumped near a source of drinking water, or packed with explosives in the back of a truck that has been driven into a crowded building?
>
>"I'm sure thousands of them would create a credible dirty bomb," says Norm Rubin, director of nuclear research at Energy Probe in Toronto. "Most experts think the main purpose of a dirty bomb is to cause panic, disruption and expensive cleanup rather than lots of dead bodies. A bunch of tritium, especially if oxidized in an explosion, would probably do that job fine."
>
>Tritium is also a component in nuclear warheads. In 2005, SRB Technologies got permission from the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission to export 70,000 of its tritium exit signs to Iran. Foreign Affairs Canada blasted the regulator for allowing shipment to a country that's attempting to develop weapons of mass destruction. The shipment went through.
>
>South of the border, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission appears more concerned with tritium contamination of landfills and the threat of leaching into drinking water. The agency regulates the use of tritium devices, requiring the reporting of lost, stolen or broken property and proper cleanup and disposal.
>
>"Throughout the whole process we stayed in very close contact with the NRC and received their guidance," said Wal-Mart spokesperson Daphne Davis Moore. "We no longer use these signs in our stores."
>
>Wal-Mart's poor recordkeeping was a wake-up call for the nuclear agency, which in January sternly reminded users of the signs of their regulatory obligations. At the same time, it assured the public there's nothing to worry about.
>
>Still, the agency was concerned enough to demand that any organization possessing 500 or more tritium exit signs conduct audits and report their findings within 60 days. The list included Home Depot, AMC Theatres and a number of universities and schools.
>
>Wal-Mart Canada says it has a few tritium exit signs in most of its stores. "We've gone back over our records and have not found any reason for concern," said spokesperson Kevin Groh. "We are doing an audit to get an accurate inventory." The difference, in Canada, is they don't have to do it. Users of the signs are not licensed in Canada as long as the product is properly marked as radioactive, according to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission. This makes it difficult to determine exactly how many tritium signs exist in Canada and where they end up.
>
>Stensil of Greenpeace said it's a strange way for a government to treat a radioactive device, but he's not surprised. He said the federal government has always had lax rules when it comes to tritium, partly because Canada, through its Candu nuclear plants, is one of the biggest producers of the substance in the world.
>
>Dorothy Goldin Rosenberg, who teaches environmental health at the University of Toronto, said there's a double standard in Canada when it comes to regulating tritium. Permissible levels in drinking water here are 100 times greater than in Europe and more than 400 times greater than in California.
>
>She was shocked when told about the 15,800 missing tritium signs at Wal-Mart, but even more surprised to learn that use of such signs isn't tracked or monitored in Canada.
>
>"Most people haven't even heard of tritium," she lamented.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------

Ace Hoffman
Author, The Code Killers:
An Expose About Nuclear Crimes
High and Low, Large and Small,
Far and Wide
Free download: www.acehoffman.org

Subscribe to my free newsletter today!
email: ace@acehoffman.org
------------------------------------------------



























Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Tell the children: Radiation kills -- I've lost 1000 years' worth of friends to it.

February 10th, 2009

Dear Readers,

Over the weekend, I was asked over to a neighbor's house to help with some of the kids' science projects. Seventh graders: Bubbling, bright, and full of life.

"Oh, wow!" I exclaimed. "A DNA molecule! It's beautiful!"

Needless to say, that was EXACTLY what they wanted to hear -- instant recognition of those two spiraling arms and the four-colored cross-bracing. And it WAS a beautiful model, made with pipe cleaners they had bought at the 99 cents store.

I told the children: "There are about three billion of those cross-braces in each DNA strand, and the whole thing curls around on itself into a tiny clump, or it would be this long." I stretched out both my arms.

"There are somewhere between 10 trillion and 100 trillion copies of that molecule inside your body, depending on who you ask, and how big you are" I added.

All they actually needed was a strong glue. I brought over one that was non-toxic, dries clear, and "bonds most anything." Then I helped hold the model steady while the glue set.

Children are our future. They can be educated, or they can be left to discover whatever truths they can find, without our help. Or, we can lie to them, and make their search for truth just that much more difficult. Those are really the only choices. They WILL search for the truth. They will try to learn everything we know, and more.

I have tried to condense what I have learned into shorter, more concise forms of information transfer, so others can learn the same things -- the important things I learned (sometimes painfully) -- faster (and more easily).

We are each and every one of us in a race -- against death. Sure, we all lose in the end. But the idea is to keep the end as far away and as pleasant as possible. Not just far away. And not just a pleasant, die-in-your-sleep, painless, non-narcotic death. That should come AFTER 100 years. Anything less than that, and you have surely been robbed.

Forget the "averages." Those include the nearly-always doomed cigarette smokers, the many other unlucky cancer victims, the weak, the accident-prone, the slovenly, the gluttonous. Surely not you or me!

If nothing kills you, you CAN live to be 100! If young people believed it, and didn't eat poisons such as fast foods or your standard school lunch, and didn't kill each other with guns, cars, pills, dares, and diets, many of them, even in THIS polluted world, WOULD live to be 100!

But even if we could do everything perfectly, and eat only raw veggies and so on, we might still get poisoned to death by our environment. For example, I shouldn't live so close to the train tracks, leaking who-knows-what from their chemical cars and diesel fumes from their engines (which should, of course, be electric, or perhaps hydrogen-powered).

If stopping nuclear power is impossible, then the human race is doomed. All large, long-lived, non-conglomerate creatures will die -- oh sure, some massive array of fungus might still be a "large creature" by some definition, but blue whales, horses, humans, goats, cats, rats and elephants will all be gone.

Radiation destroys organization at all levels. Its gross damage can be obvious, Its cellular damage is not. Its magnitude (energy level) can be roughly -- only roughly -- predicted. Its direction or moment of occurrence cannot be predicted in any way, except statistically (which is irrelevant on an individual basis).

Radiation kills.

Its heat is the energy, the fire, the ruckus at the atomic level, the molecular level, the microscopic, hidden level. We die of the result, be we don't see or feel (or smell, or taste) the assault itself.

Some people can turn their heads and pretend no harm is done -- not even to a fetus, whose cells will replicate (some of them) tens of thousands of times, and differentiate, and be the parent cells of billions of cells.

These cells need YOUR protection. Our fetuses cannot speak for themselves, and nor can our past and gone activists.

We lost four great ones recently: Pamela Blockey-O'Brien, Oscar Shirani, Wendy MacLeod-Gilford, and Ross Wilcock. Below are obituaries for each of these wonderful people. Above them is something that we need to do as soon as possible.

I have lost so many friends. These four alone, I have known for a total of over 50 years! Pamela and I co-authored dozens of essays, though we decided to credit only one of them to us jointly -- The Effects of Nuclear Weapons, which is probably the most widely-distributed essay on the subject in the world. Sadly, I never met her in person, but we talked for hundreds of hours on the phone (she had essentially no computer access; so we never emailed).

With the loss of these giants, the rest of us will simply have to work harder. A lot, lot harder.

Sincerely,

Ace Hoffman
Carlsbad, CA

Included below:

1) Call your Congresspeople! by Harvey Wasserman
2) Call your Congresspeople! by NIRS
3) Pamela Blockey-O'Brien, Peace and Nuclear Activist
4) Oscar Shirani, Nuclear Industry Whistleblower
5) Wendy Macleod-Gilford, Nuclear Activist
6) Ross Wilcock, Retired Pathologist and Nuclear Activist
7) Contact information for Ace Hoffman


==============================================================================
1) THE MELTDOWN YOU STOP MAY BE YOUR OWN! A PLEA FROM HARVEY WASSERMAN:
==============================================================================

by Harvey Wasserman

>Why is that $50 billion radioactive antique toilet still in the stimulus bill?
>February 10, 2009
>
>The infamous $50 billion nuke power loan guarantee package meant to use your money to build new nuke reactors has gone missing from saturation media coverage of Obama's Stimulus Package. But it's still in the Senate version of the bill, it could be voted on this week, and it could kill us all.
>
>Like that $30,000 antique toilet that disappeared into the banking bailout, the corporate media carries not a word about this gargantuan handout to the dying reactor industry. All the hype about a "nuclear renaissance" will come to naught without this massive taxpayer handout. But if it goes through, the landscape could be pock marked with lethal new nukes.
>
>We have days---maybe hours---to stop it. While aid programs to the states, for education and the truly needy are slashed, this gargantuan boondoggle is poised to sail through with virtually no public knowledge.
>
>The loan guarantee package was slipped into the Senate version of the Stimulus Bill by Senator Robert Bennet (R-UT) who proceeded to vote against the overall package. It is not currently in the House version.
>
>As the two bills are reconciled, armies of radioactive lobbyists will be marching through the Halls of Congress. They know Wall Street will never pay for new nukes, so that leaves…you and me!
>
>The estimated price of building new reactors has nearly tripled since the beginning of 2007. It is virtually certain to at least double again before any new nuke could come on line, which could not happen in less than a decade.
>
>Reactors built from the 1960s to now came on line an average of 200% and more over budget. A French-based reactor construction project in Finland has soared more than $2 billion over budget and is more than two years behind schedule. The Government Accountability Project warns that at least half those who build new reactors are likely to plunge into bankruptcy. To this day the industry cannot get private insurance to cover the full potential liability of a reactor catastrophe.
>
>But Bennett's maneuver, supported by Senator Tom Carper (D-DE) would divert billions away from renewables and efficiency, and into these failed terror targets.
>
>Calls and letters are desperately needed to the Congressional leadership---NOW!--- to flush this horrific boondoggle out of the stimulus package. With White House pressure mounting to get it passed this week, every minute counts.
>
>Numerous major national environmental organizations offer websites from which to sign on and send letters, including www.nirs.org , www.beyondnuclear.org and www.nukefree.org. The Congressional phone line is 202-224-3121 or (toll free) 800-962-3524.
>
>Do not hesitate: the melt-down you prevent could otherwise kill you; the money re-directed to green alternatives could save our planet…and our economy.
>
>--
>Harvey Wasserman edits http://NukeFree.org. His SOLARTOPIA! Our Green-Powered Earth is at http://solartopia.org. This article was originally published by http://freepress.org.


=================================================
2) CALL TO STOP THE BAILOUT! A PLEA FROM NIRS:
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CONTACT YOUR HOUSE MEMBER:

LET'S STOP THE $50 BILLION NUCLEAR/COAL BAILOUT!

February 9, 2009

Dear Friend,

We have now confirmed that the "compromise" Senate stimulus bill still contains the $50 Billion pre-emptive bailout for the dangerous and dirty nuclear power and coal industries.

But as we've noted before, the version passed by the House of Representatives does not include this provision.

Now we need to ensure that the House position prevails in the final negotiations over the two versions. Please send a letter to your House member now by clicking here:

http://org2.democracyinaction.org/o/5502/t/4100/campaign.jsp?campaign_KEY=1057

And then please call your member at 202-224-3121.

We've been getting more than 1200 letters per day into the Senate! Now let's turn that focus to the House. Note: this letter is new, so even if you've sent a letter to your Representative already, please send the new one too.

And, please forward this Alert to all of your mailing lists, friends, colleagues. Put it up on blogs, Facebook and Myspace pages, and everywhere you communicate.

Let's make clear we're not willing to be the bankers of last resort for new nuclear reactors and coal plants. Nor do we want more dangerous radioactive waste and dirty coal ash piling up in our communities.

Thank you to the thousands and thousands of you who have acted so far in this campaign--your response has been amazing! But your help is needed even more now. Congress is trying to finish the stimulus bill this week--our actions now can make the difference! Click the above URL to send your message to your Representative.

After you do that, please consider making a small donation to help us pay for this campaign. Your help is needed and gratefully appreciated.

Thanks for all you do,

Michael Mariotte
Executive Director
Nuclear Information and Resource Service
nirsnet@nirs.org
www.nirs.org


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3) Pamela Blockey-O'Brien, Peace and Nuclear Activist:
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Pamela Blockey-O'Brien was introduced to me in the mid 1990s by another activist who had met both of us and thought we should join up. We were joined at the hip ever since. It was the best thing that could have happened to me: Pamela knew everything I wanted to learn, she could give me hours and hours of her time, she kept meticulous records and could dig them up and quote them to me for use in an essay, and she could write some of the most technical nuke jargon you've ever seen -- easily keeping up with (and surpassing) the "big boys" in the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and the "Death of the Earth Squad" (DOE) as she liked to call them.

Whether it was cracked shrouds encircling embrittled reactor pressure vessels, or tritium-triggered aging nukes, Pamela always had a good grasp of both the engineering details and the potential biological consequences. Often she would call me up, terrified over some newly-reported nuclear horror, and together, over the phone, we would cobble together a report. Or I would call her with a nearly-completed essay, and we would spend the next three hours on the phone finishing it. "Okay, now read the whole thing to me again." "From the beginning?" "Yes." She had seemingly infinite patience with me, and we were both perfectionists. The story had to be right. The facts had to be right. The conclusion had to be right. She would call me a few hours later. "Did you send it yet?" "No, I'm still editing it." "Good! I was thinking, we should add...." and off we'd go again.

Pamela Blockey-O'Brien was an environmentalist and human rights activist. She was known worldwide since the early 1960s for her courageous work in South Africa and elsewhere around the world on human rights, hunger, the needs of children, and also against nuclear weapons and nuclear waste, as well as other global issues including chemical and biological weapons, disarmament and toxic waste health effects. She was a member of the International Fellowship of Reconciliation, the oldest interreligious pacifist organization in the world. (IFR has had at least SEVEN Nobel peace prize winners in its ranks since its inception.)

Pamela was a smoker; her asthma finally caught up with the COPD. She was in the hospital for a week, and they thought she would come out, but a severe asthma attack put her in a coma, and ten minutes later it was all over.

Below is a clip from a longer statement by Pamela, showing her typical attempt at trying to explain how bad it is EVERYWHERE. She knew who was killing us and wanted us to know, too. Perhaps it ran in her veins to do so: Her father was a British Pathfinder during World War II (he did not survive the war; the plane he was in was lost over the Channel). I'm sure he would have been very proud of his daughter.

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THE REAL TRUTH ABOUT RADIATION, NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS, RADIATION EXPOSURE AND "ALARA" ["As Low As Reasonably Achievable"].

What governments and industry don't want the public to know.

By Pamela Blockey-O'Brien (Member I.F.O.R.)

Contrary to popular belief, the entire nuclear fuel cycle -- from mining of uranium to transportation of nuclear materials, to manufacture of nuclear weapons/projectiles/so-called "depleted uranium" armor piercing munitions, to nuclear power plant and nuclear research reactors--emits DEADLY RADIOACTIVE CONTAMINANTS TO AIR, SOIL, VEGETATION AND WATER.

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Pamela was great at finding quotes from industry experts, which are particularly hard for industry experts to deny. She would read them to me, and I would type them in. We agonized over making sure there were ZERO transcription errors every time. Here's an example of what it brought forth:

----- CLIP FROM W. W. SCHUTZ, GENERAL ELECTRIC COMPANY, 1951 -----

"It is possible to eliminate certain hazards by suitable physical or chemical treatments. Harmful bacteria can be destroyed by heat or by suitable chemicals. An acid can be neutralized by a base. A capacitor can be discharged. In contrast to this, there is nothing that can be done to a radioactive material that will change the characteristics of its radiation. Its temperature may be raised or lowered and it may be subjected to severe mechanical treatment or combined chemically with other elements, but it will still continue to radiate as before. There is no switch available which can turn the radiation on and off. No matter what treatment they receive, radioactive materials will continue to emit radiation in accordance with definite natural laws."

-- From: Radiation and Radiation Hazards, by W. W. Schutz of the General Engineering Laboratory of the General Electric Company, written in 1951.

----- END OF CLIP -----

Added Pamela, "All 'dilution' in water does, for example, is spread it around."

In the next few months, I will have the opportunity to meet Pamela's husband, daughters, and grandchildren, and to go through Pamela's voluminous historic records. I was SUPPOSED to go film a documentary, but time ran out. Pamela was 65. Services will be Friday.

Ace Hoffman
Carlsbad, CA


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4) Oscar Shirani, nuclear industry whistleblower:
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Oscar Shirani, who sacrificed his career to bring attention to faulty nuclear industry practices, passed away unexpectedly on December 24, 2008. He was only 52 and was diagnosed with a brain tumor just six days earlier. He will be dearly missed by his family, by me and, I'm sure, by many others.

Being 52 as well, and a cancer survivor (2007: bladder cancer), Oscar's death would hit me hard even if we hadn't been friends. But we must have talked at least a dozen times, and we met in Chicago years ago. From the first time he contacted me, I knew I was talking to an engineer's engineer. The best of the best. Shirani and I were instantly close, and I will always miss him. In October 2008, he provided some text about himself for the page on whistleblowers (he is one of seven mentioned specifically) in my book about nuclear dangers, THE CODE KILLERS.

Oscar Shirani was one of the most honest gentlemen I have ever met, with a delightful, bubbling, infectious personality, and he was surely one of the most principled, and one of the most abused (for holding steadfast to those principles) as well.

He worked in the nuclear industry for decades, and he may have believed right until the end that a properly-run nuclear industry could co-exist with humans on this earth (I think / hope that I was convincing him otherwise, over time). But, I know he also believed the current generation(s) of nuclear proponents are a bunch of lying, cheating scoundrels who would -- in his own words -- "sell their mothers for money." His testimonies were devastating to the nuclear industry -- or should have been.

I think it is important that we recall how hopeless Shirani thought the possibility of fixing the current problems with the nuclear industry really was. Perhaps in a perfect world, he would still have supported nuclear power. But he knew we were not going to get there with ANY of the current nuclear power plants OR nuclear engineers -- and that the dry casks we are using are genocidal -- so poorly built, so global in their potential devastation. He knew all this.

In the email that notified me of Oscar's death, Shirani's daughter Portia linked to an NEIS interview on CAN-TV. The full interview is available at:
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=1770087398372293956

In the introduction to the video, Dave Kraft describes Oscar Shirani as "a pro-nuclear safety advocate." Then, Oscar describes his 25-year history of working in the nuclear industry as a structural engineer. He adds that he was actively involved with the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) for the past 12 years, and had presented ASME-sponsored workshops for training engineers all around the world. Kraft describes Shirani as "pro-nuclear, BUT [Kraft's emphasis] a safety advocate" to which Shirani says: "yes, that's exactly right."

The rest of the interview is about the horrific problems Shirani had, trying to alert the NRC, his bosses, and, eventually, anyone who would listen (since the NRC and his (eventually former) bosses wouldn't) to the "major problems in the design, and especially the welding" of critical components in the nuclear industry.

He then describes the stop-work he obtained against General Electric in 1997 (G.E. builds more reactors than anyone). Shirani had found serious "design flaws in all the documentation.... If my managers had let me, I could have shut down all the boiling water reactors in Illinois and everywhere."

He soon discovered -- was shown -- many of the ways the nuclear industry tries to destroy people like him -- honest people who realize there are problems involving public safety. It usually works, but Shirani fought back. In the nuclear industry, if you lie and support the industry no matter what they do wrong, no matter what crimes you see, you get promoted. If you're honest like Shirani, your career is destroyed, your authority is removed, and your reports are routinely denied, ignored, or simply lost as if they had never been written. You get transferred out of the nuclear division of the corporation, or fired, if you can't close your eyes to the problems you see. It's happened to thousands of people, but most just go away and carry on in their lives. Shirani wanted to correct the problems he found doing the job he had been assigned. That alone is enough to get you in trouble in the nuclear industry.

Shirani describes how he realized the entire nuclear industry was denying every safety issue: "design work had flaws, weld work had flaws... all the code violations for the layers of the welds were bypassing inspection ... NRC cannot sit face-to-face with me to prove that these casks are according to the codes." Meaning they are dangerous.

Then, talking about nuclear power plant upgrades, he explained that reactor operators are increasing the power by 20% by "eroding the safety margin that we [the engineers who designed the reactors] had built into the system." He describes increasing the power AND the lifespan as a "double-wammy" that squeezes more power out of the reactors, but at a greatly increased risk. He says the Department of Energy has the plants running for 60 years instead of 40 years (which, I should add, was instead of 20), the power upgrades, Yucca Mountain may never be built -- how is the industry going to keep going? Dry casks are the ONLY solution for the industry, and that's why his charges are being ignored, and records are being falsified to hide Shirani's findings. Because without dry casks, the industry dies.

If government and / or the nuclear industry addressed Shirani's issues properly, it would be enough to shut every nuclear power plant down until all-new components are designed, tested, built, tested, and then put into production. It would be decades into the future, and all the current nuclear workers would be gone. That's not a very "pro-nuclear" position, although it does leave some room for hope for the nuclear proponents. That door is closing because of medical issues -- through the back end, so to speak.

Tritium, released into the environment, may have been what killed Shirani, for example. What started his tumor -- what damaged his DNA. The brain is nothing but a thin shell (some skulls thicker than others) filled with water, and tritium gets everywhere hydrogen gets in your body -- which is everywhere (hydrogen is the "H" in H2O (water); tritium is a radioactive isotope of hydrogen). Tritium's beta decay is called "weak" by the nuclear industry specifically to fool you, but it's decay is strong enough to destroy thousands of molecular bonds, and to ionize thousands of atoms in your body (in Shirani's brain). Each decay can do this, and there are millions of such decays going on every day in each of our brains, thanks to the nuclear industry (only a tiny amount of tritium is produced naturally). So the industry is not likely to ever win out. In the end, it MUST die -- or we all will.

Oscar Shirani always wanted to point out that he came from the industry and was "pro-nuclear" but he always was very, very careful to also point out that he was having an impossible time finding honest people in the nuclear industry, and he realized the industry cannot be run safely without a preponderance of honest people. He realized the industry literally kicked him out to silence him. He realized he had essentially no friends in the nuclear industry simply because he was honest. He realized he was a "whistleblower" who needed protection. He realized that he was "sacrificed" (his term) to protect the dry cask storage system that the nation uses, which would be shut down in a heartbeat if people in charge listened to the truths he spoke.

Shirani had many misgivings about the industry, and was learning about the biological side of the problems with nuclear power. "The nuclear disasters are something that we cannot afford to 'overwrite'" he said during the interview. We cannot fill out forms to make them safe. The inspections cannot be done on paper. Welds must really be x-rayed. Bolts must be tested to the point of failure. Calculations must be proven experimentally.

When Kraft asked, "what do you see as the future for nuclear power" he replied that "we need to put the pressure on the government to restructure the NRC" and called the nuclear companies "the Nuclear Mafia," and said the industry must be restructured "at any cost." He hopes that children will learn NOT to falsify their work. He points out that the NRC should be brought "to ... justice." He asks, "Do we want the Chernobyls to happen? Do we want millions of people dying and being scared? What's the cost of nuclear safety? I've seen the children of Chernobyl. We have an obligation." He adds, "Yes, I'm emotional. " He wanted to testify to Congress.

Oscar was in the hospital for about a week. The doctors thought they might be able to attack his tumor and he might live, but then he took a turn for the worse, and died within a day.

Shirani's death will certainly help guarantee a nuclear meltdown or spent fuel fire in America. Congress should have asked him to testify. They never ask nuclear whistleblowers to testify, though, let alone citizen-experts or activists. Shirani was robbed of his citizen's rights, as are we all.

Ace Hoffman
Carlsbad, CA

Oscar Shirani, RIP: 01/29/1956-12/24/2008


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5) Wendy Macleod-Gilford, Nuclear Activist:
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Most sadly, British nuclear activist Wendy Macleod-Gilford also has passed on. She died late last year; of pain-induced and self-inflicted drowning, just a few days after my last communication with her (which, alas, was mainly about Dr. Wilcock's passing (see below)).

For many years, Wendy kept me informed about, and in touch with, British nuclear activists. In her last letter to me, she told me she just can't go on with activism anymore. Days later, on November 14th, 2008, she gave up the struggle entirely against the painful burning sensations of her skin condition, the inability to sleep through the pain (it was down to an hour a night), and other sufferings. She drove to where she and Mick Gilford were engaged, entered the water, and drowned. Wendy's car and belongings were discovered shortly thereafter; Mick had to "prepare for the worst" as the police put it.

Wendy's body was recovered from the Thames on December 20th. The services were January 2nd, 2009.

Wendy's many contributions to this newsletter and to the movement will be missed, but this author is glad she has surely found peace now.

Ace Hoffman
Carlsbad, CA

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6) Ross Wilcock, Retired Pathologist and Nuclear Activist:
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The author also wishes to acknowledge, and mourn, the passing of dear Dr. Ross Wilcock.

Dr. Wilcock (MA, MB, B.Chir, (Cantab), FRCPath), was a retired pathologist. As far as I know, Ross was the first to describe "hot particles" as microscopic "land mines." Ross died of a heart attack September 25th, 2008. We had corresponded many times, starting during the Cassini battle. Ross was an intense lover of humanity, and worked tirelessly (perhaps too tirelessly) to protect it.

Below is part of one of my earliest correspondences with Ross, from 1997: He wrote:

"I have made a new contribution drawing a parallel between antipersonnel land-mines at one level and microscopic plutonium particles as 'cell-mines' - with perpetual anti-cellular activity in Nature."

I wrote back, asking permission to publish the entire article (which he gave me), and quoted my own newsletter from just a few weeks earlier (#29; I used to number them):

"Nanotechnology will never make a more vicious killing machine than a particle of plutonium 238. If it gets into your body those microscopic particles start tearing apart everything around them, bombarding surrounding cells with 'heavy' alpha particles (each has 2 protons [and two neutrons]; much heavier than beta particles). Sometimes they tear and damage chromosomes. Ripping yourself apart from the inside, even on a small, microscopic scale, is NOT a good thing!"

I added, "I have also made a number of statements over the years supporting a total ban on land mines..."

We were friends from then on.

Ross Wilcock was 68.


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7) A brief closing comment:
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None of us have forever to solve the world's problems, so we MUST work together, and help each other, and always do our best. Nevertheless, currently, we are losing ground, literally and rapidly. We are losing people. We are losing everything dear to us. And the Obama Administration wants to hand $50 billion dollars more to the nuclear industry, instead of killing it outright, as it should. Who is left to educate the new administration?

Nuclear power didn't kill all these wonderful people, and maybe even none of them, but it robbed them of a more productive life, as it has robbed me, and you, and so many others.


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8) Contact information for Ace Hoffman:
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Ace Hoffman
Author, The Code Killers:
An Expose About Nuclear Crimes
High and Low, Large and Small,
Far and Wide
Free download: www.acehoffman.org
Subscribe to my free newsletter today!
email: ace@acehoffman.org
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