Wednesday, July 20, 2011

OH NO: Ace slips up on H2O2; The Zirconium Connection; Transuranics and Cancer.

July 20th, 2011

Dear Readers,

In my previous newsletter, I mistakenly referred to the molecule HO (or OH) as Hydrogen Peroxide, which is actually H2O2. My thanks to the writer who pointed it out (see below). I apologize for the error and should, as the writer suggests, be more careful. What happened? I had meant to go back and check my prior article and slipped up! Also below is the relevant quote from what I had written five years ago, and I think you can see where I forgot a step...

My worries about zirconium needed clarification as well. Fortunately, I recently discovered a terrifying document about zirconium in my files, written in 1979, which I had scanned on March 3rd, 2011, eight days before Fukushima.

The article is called The Zirconium Connection and was written by Daniel M. Pisello. It was published in the June/August 1979 issue of The Ecologist magazine in England, shortly after Three Mile Island. (My photocopied version appears to have been hand-dated even earlier: April 25, 1979, less than a month after TMI.)

The ecologist version is available online:

The Zirconium Connection describes precisely what went wrong in Fukushima, proving unequivocally one of two things. Either the nuclear industry has, indeed, been lying about the known dangers of using zirconium fuel cladding as the author suggests, or of course, they've forgotten, which proves that ANY safety improvements will, in fact, also be forgotten over time. Either way, the industry is a disaster-waiting-to-happen.

Accompanying my copy of The Zirconium Connection, which was probably sent to me by the late Pamela Blockey O'Brien, were two other pages of documents. I've typed one of them in (the portion I have) called Transuranics and the Impact on Health, by Carl J. Johnson, MD, MPH, and have included it below.

The second document which accompanied my copy of The Zirconium Connection is a letter dated August 8th, 1979 to the NRC's suddenly-famous Chairman, Joseph M. Hendrie, from then-State Representative Stephen R. Reed (later, mayor of Harrisburg, now a private consultant). It starts out as follows:


Dear Chairman Hendrie,

I am entirely baffled by the apparent refusal of the U. S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to have extensively reviewed the reports of hundreds of Three Mile Island area residents who, during March 28-31, 1979, primarily, and at times subsequent, experienced:

(a) metallic taste in their mouth
(b) metallic or Iodine-like odor in the air
(c) irritated and watery eyes
(d) moderate or severe respiratory inflammation
(e) gastro-intestinal dysfunction and diarrhea
(f) disruption of the menstral (sic) cycle in females
(g) skin rashes (some appearing as radiation burns)
(h) sharp, abnormal pains in joints

He goes on to compliment plans by state and federal health services -- that were in fact not properly implemented -- to do studies over the coming 25 years, and then asks:

But why is there a complete dismissal by the NRC of any immediate indications of exposure to levels of radiation higher than what were immediately thought the first dates of the accident? Psychosomatically induced ailments are possible with some, but not with hundreds or even more persons and I suggest this matter has been conveniently laid aside.

In light of the fact that right now, the National Academies (National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, Institute of Medicine, National Research Council), "Advisers to the Nation on Science, Engineering, and Medicine", Nuclear and Radiation Studies Board is JUST NOW STARTING to undertake an assessment of the dangers, and is only at this time in the process of establishing the protocols, I'd say Reed's compliments that studies would be properly done were unfounded!

On page 31 of my 2008 book The Code Killers (available as a free download, see URL below) you will find a document supplied by Richard Webb, who studied Three Mile Island extensively and many other reactor designs (and worked at Shippingport, his career goes so far back), indicating that peak releases from Three Mile Island were "off scale" at least twice during the event, plus the recorder stopped for several critical hours when releases were probably off scale as well.

Fukushima not only CAN happen here, Fukushima WILL happen here (unless we shut the plants down and start to properly protect the waste, and let it begin to cool).

If we keep the 104 Light Water Reactors with their zirconium-clad fuel running, it's just a matter of time before Fukushima happens here -- BWR, PWR, GE, Westinghouse... it doesn't matter. Anyone who believes anything else believes blatant nuclear industry lies! Honest people correct their mistakes and I've tried to correct mine. The nuclear industry has had more than 30 years to fix THIS problem, and instead they've pretended it didn't even exist!

Once you read The Zirconium Connection in light of Fukushima, I don't think you will EVER trust the nuclear industry again!

You shouldn't have, anyway.


Ace Hoffman
...trying to remember everything in...
Carlsbad, CA

(1) A letter of reprimand
(2) Transuranics and the impact on health by Carl J. Johnson, 1985
(3) Contact information for the author of this newsletter

(1) A letter of reprimand:

At 04:35 PM 7/18/2011 -0700, "nolonger withus" wrote:
>in your #7 paragraph you call an OH radical "hydrogen peroxide" whereas it's really a hydroxyl or hydroxy, the common chemical base or lye. Hydrogen Peroxide is H2O2, a completely different chemical. This is a very glaring oversight in that it opens your otherwise pertinent information to question by those out to discredit the anti-nuke crowd at every opportunity. You ought to be more careful.


HO is an especially reactive "molecular fragment" and to make things worse, in dealing with the HO, the body often makes hydrogen peroxide (H2O2), which can be very damaging if it's not in the right place. (Cells do have peroxisomes (little bags which can safely contain hydrogen peroxide), but the odds are against the H2O2 forming there. Some cells in the body actually poison invading cells with H2O2 to kill them, so obviously, you don't want this stuff any more than you wanted the HO or the 3He, or the beta particle.)

(2) Transuranics and the impact on health by Carl J. Johnson, 1985:

The following document accompanied my printed copy of The Zirconium Connection by Daniel M. Pisello, which was published in The Ecologist, June-Aug 1979.


Note at top of page:

"Recently GPU [TMI's owner] and the NRC acknowledged that the core of Unit 2 at TMI reached a temperature of 5,100 degrees F and that transuranic materials were released into the environment. Below is a statement that was part of the May 28 press conference in Washington D.C. sponsored by the SVA"

May 21, 1985
Transuranics and the impact on health
Carl J. Johnson, MD, MPH

A typical nuclear reactor like TMI-2 has about 97 tons of uranium 238 and 3 tons of U-235. Although some reactors are also fueled with plutonium, all operating reactors make large amounts of plutonium.

A typical reactor in a year will produce 100,000 to 600,000 curies of alpha-radiation emitting plutonium, 7,000 to 110,000 curies of americium, and 400,000 to over one million curies of curium.

Each curie will exceed the Department of Energy's (DOE) maximum permissible body burden for 24 million nuclear workers, or 2.4 billion people. This DOE exposure standard does not protect workers, however. At Rocky Flats, nuclear workers with less plutonium in their bodies than permitted by DOE had sharply increased rates of chromosome damage, even at only 1% to 10% of the permitted dosage of plutonium.

Put another way, a teaspoon of plutonium-238 would exceed the DOE exposure limit for 40 billion nuclear workers, or 4 trillion people, and even a small fraction of this maximum permissible dosage will cause severe chromosome damage.

There are about 40 transuranics of importance, like plutonium 238, produced in all nuclear reactors. Some are somewhat less toxic, some are more toxic. Plutonium and similar radionuclides occur in all tissues in the body in man, and become a permanent resident in the body. The excretion rate is very slow, about one-half would be excreted every 200 years.

In animals, plutonium causes cancer of the lung, bone, kidney, mammary gland, lymph nodes nesothelium, and ten types of soft tissue cancer. In one animal study, plutonium caused a cancer rate of 114% with a mean induction period of about one year. Many animals [had] two different types of cancer.

Excess cancer incidence has been reported in Rocky Flats workers and in the population living downwind in Denver. The children and young adults in Arvada and the area near the plant in 1957, when an explosion blew out the filters at the plant, had a greater than four-fold excess of leukemia in 1969-1971 at the time of the National Cancer Institutes's Third National Survey of Cancer Incidence. I estimate that the Rocky Flats exposures will cause more than 12,000 excess cases of leukemia and cancer in the Denver area between 1960 and 1990, and a somewhat greater number will be affected by birth defects and non-specific effects on health. This was the only Federally-supported study of cancer incidence around a Federal nuclear facility.

An Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) report states that a nuclear reactor can routinely release over a million curies of fission products in the exhaust each year. These routine releases include 6.8 curies of neptunium, a transuranic. I asked the EPA regional radiation officer why the release of the other 40 plus transuranics were not reported, and he said, "that would not be self-serving to the industry."

(The document then says "Continued on the next page" but unfortunately, that's all I have of it.)

(3) Contact information for the author of this newsletter:

Ace Hoffman
Author, The Code Killers:
An Expose of the Nuclear Industry
Free download:
Phone: (760) 720-7261
Address: PO Box 1936, Carlsbad, CA 92018
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Email: ace [at]