Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Counterfeit parts... admin admin... Code name: "Olympic Games"... Stuxnet, Duku & Flame -- oh my!

6/25/2012

Dear Readers,

If you think your computer MIGHT be vulnerable to hackers.... you're probably right.

Almost every week these days, I get an email from someone's infected computer, asking me to open an attachment. It was a local reporter's system last week. Maybe it will be yours next. Maybe it will be mine.

Major corporations are hacked with frightening regularity. Passwords and identities are stolen, credit card numbers are distributed. Lives are disrupted. It happens all the time.

Computer security software is notoriously difficult to install and maintain.

The #1 vulnerability?

Users who never even change the default passwords! (Usually username: admin, password: admin)

Vulnerable PCs and careless users transmitted the Stuxnet centrifuge controller virus from computer to computer until it quietly found its mark: The uranium processing facility in Natanz, Iran.

Once there, Stuxnet masked the damage it was doing by first intercepting the safety control signals prior to doing any damage, and then mimicking those signals as it tore the place apart, operating on multiple centrifuges at once. Stuxnet was able to destroy about 10% of Iran's enrichment facilities before anyone realized there was a software problem.

Last Sunday, Stuxnet reportedly shut itself down, following pre-programmed code. How nice. But don't rest too easy: Support programs to Stuxnet, known as "Duku" and "Flame" are still out there... and tomorrow there will be more... and counter attacks are surely coming, as well. Our troubles have just begun...

Stuxnet, launched in 2010, is currently considered the "state of the art" in computer virus programs, even called "rocket science" by the experts who analyzed it and figured out what it was designed to attack. Stuxnet's origins remain unknown, but all roads lead to... home. My country. The U.S.A..

Stuxnet and its delivery systems appear to be the "Manhattan Project" of the past decade, the result of a project inappropriately code-named "Olympic Games" (inappropriate, because the Olympic Committee tries very hard not to lose its trademarks and copyrights).

The equivalent of the Manhattan Project's "Smyth Report" (published in late August, 1945), the public revealing of the Olympic Games project, has not happened yet -- presumably because the "games" have only just begun. In fact, we're still in the qualifying events, and no one has qualified. Stuxnet was only of limited success.

So maybe, just maybe, your computer has been violated? Millions of conscientious, hard-working, diligent computer user's systems have been infected at one time or another. But even if your computer system has never been hacked, there's still a very good chance that many of the parts in it are substandard: In fact, chances are nearly 100% that SOMETHING in your computer is counterfeit.

Counterfeit parts account for an estimated $7.5 billion dollars in annual lost revenue in America, representing 11,000 jobs. Bogus transistors, diodes, capacitors, resistors, power supplies, relays, and other parts have turned up in U.S. military systems despite being accompanied by all the required "Certificates of Compliance" and all the other paperwork being in order -- including the labels on the actual parts!

A recent Senate Committee report concluded that the Department of Defense doesn't even know how large the problem is, but it surely involves millions of counterfeit parts that are now in service in the U. S. military. An accidental nuclear war is made more likely by this problem.

But they are not alone. Aerospace has also been targeted by the counterfeiters, specifically because, like "mil spec" parts, aerospace parts cost much more than normal parts do. No one wants a 5 cent resister ruining a $100 million dollar rocket launch, so a 2 dollar resister is used instead. But it might really be a 5 cent piece of junk!

Slap on a stolen hologram sticker, and it becomes very hard to tell where a part really came from.

But that's not all. "Diligent" manufacturers go astray, too. Deadlines cause line managers to order workers to skip "required" tests, for instance. This has been documented at "reputable" corporations.

And how about our nuclear reactors?

They buy the same sorts of parts our military and aerospace industries purchase.

Their computer systems and controllers are just as vulnerable to a "Stuxnet" type of virus attack as anyone else's, because those computers and their security systems are operated by humans, and humans make mistakes.

Not only are our nuclear reactors vulnerable to attack, but so are our transmission systems -- and the "smarter" the grid gets -- that is, the more computerized its controls become so they can switch between energy sources and keep the lights on -- the MORE vulnerable it will be to a sophisticated hack attack.

We have only seen the very first salvos in the coming Internet-Based Global War. It's no game, though. The stakes are very high and the players are very good at it already.

It's hard to be perfect, we're only human -- but we're battling against relentless, automated attackers. Wish us luck.

Oh and, we might lose to Mother Nature anyway. One well-aimed solar flare in our direction can do more damage than a billion Stuxnets.

Sincerely,

Ace Hoffman
Carlsbad, CA

The author has more than 30 years' experience as a computer programmer, including writing assembly language control software for concert-sized laser servos and x-y plotters. His award-winning educational software has been run on computers in thousands of universities all over the globe. His programs have also been used for military training, as well as by numerous industries. He has lectured to grant recipients of the National Science Foundation on the use of interactive computer animation in schools, and to over 100 computer user groups. Previous employment includes working as a computer programmer for banks, Fortune 500s and small start-ups.


************************************************
** Ace Hoffman, Owner & Chief Programmer, The Animated Software Co.
** POB 1936, Carlsbad CA 92018
** U.S. & Canada (800) 551-2726; elsewhere: (760) 720-7261
** home page: www.animatedsoftware.com
************************************************

RE: California's avoidable risk??? Shut-down is the most important next step!

June 25th, 2012

Dear Readers,

Below (top) is an email today from the "Union of (Un-)Concerned Scientists" ("UUCS") asking us to support urgently moving the nuclear waste currently being stored at California's nuclear reactors from spent fuel pools to on-site dry cask storage.

Maybe you've heard me say it before, but I'm going to say it again anyway: Dry casks are not the solution! Shutdown is!

Let's start with a correction to their letter: Dry casks are NOT "transportable" as their letter states. The fuel will have to be moved from the storage cask to a transport cask, and every transfer runs a significant additional risk. They are NOT making "transportable" dry casks at ANY reactor site that I know of, and certainly not at SanO or DC.

And let's say they start transferring and transporting this stuff and even get "good" at it. If it becomes routine, THAT runs a risk of complacency!

And don't forget: Every 80 or 100 years or so, starting several generations after providing any benefit whatsoever, someone will have to somehow take the still-highly-radioactive dried out embrittled reactor cores and transfer them to NEW dry casks, because, it's widely assumed, Yucca Mountain still won't exist (and shouldn't; it's not a safe solution either).

Multiple, dangerous transfer operations can be avoided if we leave the spent fuel in pools.

The real purpose of dry cask storage is to give the industry a way to keep going without having to spend up to approximately half a billion dollars each for new spent fuel pools, which keep the fuel properly separated, and under 40 feet of water.

There are three things you desperately want to avoid with spent fuel.

One is getting near it. The intense gamma radiation and other radiation the fuel emits would kill you in seconds, and that will be true for eons. The fuel must be heavily shielded from humans and animals the entire time.

Another thing you want to avoid is a zirconium cladding fire. All spent fuel needs is a spark. The zirconium can even ignite spontaneously under certain conditions. Perhaps ALL of the casks at SanO will burn, one after another down the line, or at least the three that are stacked one on top of each other will all burn if one does, and their fission products will all be released.

The third thing you want to avoid, of course, is a "criticality event" (uncontrolled chain reaction).

To avoid the first problem you want to keep far away from the fuel and/or have it be heavily shielded -- several feet of concrete and several inches of steel and lead, or 40 feet of water will do for "industrial" sites (but even that is not nearly good enough for the public).

If a fire starts, you will not be able to get close enough to douse it with water later, and nor would it do any good. Better to keep it wet from the start and avoid the spark.

However, avoiding a criticality event means you want to keep as little of the spent fuel in one place as possible. Does that mean dry casks? Or smaller pools? Pools are vastly more expensive. But aside from that, which is better?

The fact is: Nuclear waste management costs money. Lots and lots of money. And the more waste you have to manage, and the safer you desire it to be, the more costly it will be.

Calling dry casks "much safer" than spent fuel pools, as the UUCS does below, is debatable at best, and disingenuous at worst (we'll just debate it). But more importantly, the question ISN'T one or the other. It's: Do you want BOTH? Or should we stop making (more) spent fuel instead? The answer is obvious: Close the reactors. Keep those that are closed, closed forever.

Just because you have, say, 33 dry casks at a site doesn't mean 34 isn't MUCH more dangerous. It's about 3% more dangerous, and that's a lot of added danger. But it won't stop at 34, or 68 or 136. Dry casks can just keep going until something goes very, very wrong.

Where is UUCS's call for shutting down SanO and DC forever? How come THAT's not suggested as a BETTER way to reduce the risk, instead of letting it increase day by day by day?

What about the risk SoCal residents just went through last January, from the busted up steam generators, which could have cascaded into a catastrophic meltdown? Are we simply waiting for an American Fukushima? Are we waiting for California's "Big One" (with hot sauce)?

San Onofre is currently shut down because its steam generators are busted.

But that's not all that's wrong. It's fuel pools are full. It's in a tsunami inundation zone AND an earthquake zone. It's old and decrepit. It's employees are intimidated by management and falsify reports and are afraid to report safety problems. Management likewise has its back against the wall and is desperate to prove they can restart the reactors somehow, despite the engineering logic against such a thing. Nobody wants to lose face or their job. Every state agency claims only the Nuclear Regulatory Commission can "force" San Onofre to close, and the NRC never met a nuclear power plant it didn't like.

The citizens who don't want Fukushima USA to happen here are in a bind, that's for sure. But dry casks aren't the solution. Shut-down is the most important and only logical next step.

Sincerely,

Ace Hoffman
Still searching for Pamela's documentation in....
Carlsbad, CA

At 03:57 PM 6/25/2012 -0700, "UUCS" wrote:
>
>>For decades, the federal government has failed to develop an acceptable solution for managing the nation's high-level radioactive nuclear waste. In California, some 2,000 metric tons of this highly dangerous "spent fuel" is stored on-site at the Diablo Canyon and San Onofre nuclear plants­in densely packed pools­posing significant, avoidable risks to the public.
>>
>>To better protect Californians, and all Americans, more of this dangerous waste must be transferred out of the pools into much safer, more secure, transportable dry casks.
>>
>>The federal government is under increased pressure to solve the nuclear waste problem, which has led to legislation currently being developed in the Senate. Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, as chairs of two key committees, must both play a lead role in order to ensure dry cask storage of nuclear waste is a critical first step in managing and safely disposing of the nation's growing stockpile of radioactive high-level nuclear waste.
>>
>>Urge senators Feinstein and Boxer to protect the public from dangerous nuclear waste by becoming champions of dry cask storage.
>>
>>Take Action Today!
>>
>>Sincerely,
>>
>>Sean Meyer
>>Manager of Strategic Campaigns
>>UCS Global Security Program
- - - - - - - - - - - -

=====================================
Here are some additional comments from a friend:
=====================================

If dry casks have a weak point then you can bet terrorist groups will find a way to exploit it. They weaponized our airline industry and I am sure they have already have ideas to weaponize spent fuel in ways that we have not conceived of yet. These pools and casks are some of the largest repositories of nuclear material in the world and our government has allowed these stockpiles to be unsecured. Why in the hell would the NRC allow that to happen?

There are open pits in the New Mexico desert containing radioactive waste from Los Alamos sitting in the open under tarps, that was vulnerable to the brush fires that swept through the area in June 2011. Staff from Los Alamos were visibly worried on the news as the fires spread throughout the area where the waste was stored. This was a sign to me that the industry has no regard for risk assessment.

I worry that the temporary solution of dry casks will become the long term solution as the public becomes complacent and casks are left semi-abandoned by the industry on shuttered nuke sites that have to be secured by the DOE or the military. They may have to remain indefinitely but http://dspace.mit.edu/handle/1721.1/52363 shows that even concrete is not a totally stable material.

http://www.redorbit.com/news/technology/1705874/the_lifespan_of_concrete/ This article states that containment vessels for nuclear waste are made today to last 100 years. That's about 100,000 years less than what is needed.

And this faith in the longevity of concrete to encase spent fuel is still speculation, not practice with tested outcomes. This article about the MIT study speculates the longevity of high density concrete at 100s of thousands of years. But no one knows as steel reinforced concrete is a relatively new synthetic composite. http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract;jsessionid=2B23FD6B00CA83363B2A8CC76EF4E48F.journals?fromPage=online&aid=8112003 In an above ground configuration such as dry cask hardened enclosures, the elements will play a part in the longevity of the material. Remember that we are talking about tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of years that these structure must last.

Stainless steel will have its inherent weaknesses over time as well. Just one bunker-buster from a Chinese or Russian stealth fighter, in the future, would answer the dry cask safety question.

------------------------------------------------
Portland cement was used to build most of the modern world yet we do not know how long those structures will last. Ironic isn't it that the only thing that our civilization has created that we know will last for an eternity is deadly nuclear waste.
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###

=====================================
I left the following comment at HuffPost in response to a dry cask article by UUCS there:
=====================================

Dry casks are no solution. Shut down the reactors, it's the only solution. Where do you put something that mustn't catch fire, no matter what? New spent fuel pools would cost about half a billion dollars to build, plus maintenance. Dry casks are vastly cheaper. THAT is what is driving the push to dry casks -- NOT "safety". What is anyone going to do if/WHEN a dry cask catches fire (shall I list two ways that can happen? Terrorism and accidental airplane strikes, but there are plenty of others....)? Just say no to nuclear power. www.acehoffman.org

------------------------------
In response to:
Wasting Time With Nuclear Waste
by:
Elliott Negin, Director of News & Commentary, Union of Concerned Scientists

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/elliott-negin/wasting-time-with-nuclear_b_1619001.html

Short URL: http://goo.gl/OTJyw

=====================================
Contact information for the author of this newsletter:
=====================================


-----------------------------------------
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: (760) 720-7261
Address: PO Box 1936, Carlsbad, CA 92018
Subscribe to my free newsletter today!
Email: ace [at] acehoffman.org
-----------------------------------------

Monday, June 18, 2012

Five fundamental, unrepairable, fatal flaws at SanO...

At 08:48 AM 6/18/2012 -0700, an activist asked:
>ace, is this really the case that san onofre came close to blowing?

[see below for the comment she was responding to]

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

6/18/2012

Dear Readers,

On January 31st, 2012 San Onofre came a lot closer to meltdown than should ever be allowed. The steam generator tube that failed could have flung into another one and another one, in a cascade of failed tubes (David Lochbaum made the statement that this could happen first, back in February I believe, and Arnie Gundersen has backed it up [pointing out the pressure difference between the inner and the outer loops is about a 1000 pounds per square inch]).

A cascading failure would have done two things: 1) Destroyed one of only two steam generators, "vital" (NRC's word) to remove decay heat from the reactor (most PWRs have more than two SGs), and 2) Thrown metal shards throughout the system, blocking water flow paths, valves, and piping. Enormous losses of primary coolant would have resulted in large radiation releases and a "large break LOCA" would be in progress -- (LOCA = Loss Of Coolant Accident).

Could SanO still survive? Sure -- if the never-tested ECCS (Emergency Core Cooling System) worked as designed -- but the sump pumps have been a problem there -- they apparently can get clogged with debris [thank Lochbaum again for pointing this out]. And nobody really knows if an ECCS would work at all, especially with BOTH SGs broken. (The flying metal shards from one could damage the other, leading to TWO cascading SG tube failure situations.) Numerous backup systems that have failed tests or been improperly inspected year after year would be called into play.

Thousands of tubes in each SG had been significantly weakened by the time one ruptured. Blocked flow paths within the reactor could lead to core melt in a matter of seconds.

Sincerely,

Ace Hoffman
Carlsbad, CA

====================================
FIVE FUNDAMENTAL AND UNREPAIRABLE FLAWS AT SAN ONOFRE:
====================================

1) It generates fission products such as cesium and strontium, as well as plutonium, tritium, and other radioactive byproducts. There is not, and never will be, a safe and cost-effective containment for these materials. They are generated in vastly larger quantities than can be safely managed -- 500 pounds per day at SanO, when it's operating (hopefully, never again).

2) SanO is decades old. Parts are rusted, corroded, embrittled, worn out, worn down, worn through. A portion of a 24-inch diameter pipe for the Emergency Core Cooling System had to be replaced recently because its clampdowns had rusted through -- two inches of metal gone. Why wasn't the problem discovered sooner? Improper inspection procedures! About the only thicker piece of metal in a reactor is the reactor pressure vessel itself (about 8 inches). And Unit II's RPV head had rusted away so much it had to be replaced last outage, and I believe Unit III's RPVH has also been, is being, or will soon be, replaced. The Davis Besse reactor nearly melted down in 2002 due to age/rust/negligent maintenance procedures. The whole eight inches of steel had been eaten away there, and only a stainless steel liner remained -- and it was bulging outward. SanO is also rusting away.

3) SanO has two Steam Generators per reactor. This is a flawed design because it leaves so little backup for heat removal if one of them fails catastrophically.

4) A bad work environment is inevitable at San Onofre because it IS falling apart and there ARE numerous things to complain about, and the public SHOULD be up in arms about what is happening there, and WILL get that awful plant closed sooner or later. But they don't like being told to close, so they cover more and more stuff up as the activists get more vocal. Which means the sooner we succeed, the safer. Because the least safe thing to do would be to ignore the danger, even if complaining alone actually makes things even less safe. There is no other way.

5) The Big One is coming to California, and nobody needs another study to know it. We'll lose thousands of lives when it comes, mostly the poor souls who will be caught in improperly-built building collapses, and people who try to run out of buildings instead of getting in doorways, and get hit by falling debris. We don't want radiation victims added to our problems that day. We don't want permanent evacuations because of the fallout. We don't want "shelter in place" as the deadly clouds drift over us. We'll have other problems and would like a distributed, reliable energy source so that after The Big One, we can get power back again quickly. SanO will go down at the first sign of a shake IF everything goes well, and won't come back up for weeks. That's assuming it was running in the first place, of course.

There are many other "fatal flaws" of nuclear power generally and San Onofre in particular. It should be decommissioned immediately and forever.

###

=============================================================
Original message:
=============================================================

Subject: Definitely maybe: NRC admits it messed up at SanO really badly...

6/18/2012

Dear Readers,

In eager anticipation of today's hearing in San Juan Capistrano, AP has released an "exclusive" report -- that says virtually nothing!

The closest thing that comes to a new statement is where the speaker is definitive, and then immediately takes it back: "The phenomenon that we think causes this tube-to-tube interaction is definitely proportional to the power," Collins said. "At least in some theoretical sense, that might be part of the answer."

More interesting is that Collins -- that's Nuclear Regulatory Commission Region IV Administrator Elmo "Ask Elmo, he won't tell you" Collins -- admits there were "significant" design changes to San Onofre's steam generators -- therefore admitting they were NOT "like for like" and the NRC had been seriously hoodwinked by the utility.

Will they fine themselves for being negligent and nearly costing SoCal a nuclear meltdown similar to what happened at Fukushima? Because that's what actually happened. We almost lost SoCal.

Will people go to jail for their negligence, greed, and dishonesty?

No, of course not! We don't live in a dream-world where the wicked are punished and bad deeds are undone. We live in the real world, where cover-ups are followed by cover-ups of the cover-ups, whitewashed explanations, and more business-as-usual.

Sincerely,

Ace Hoffman
Carlsbad, CA

At 01:32 PM 6/18/2012 +0100, AP wrote:
>AP Exclusive: Feds: Design Led to Nuke Plant Woes
>
>By MICHAEL R. BLOOD Associated Press
>CAPISTRANO BEACH, Calif. June 18, 2012 (AP)
>
>After months of investigation, federal regulators have determined that design flaws appear to be the cause of excessive wear in tubing that carries radioactive water through California's troubled San Onofre nuclear power plant, a top federal regulator said.
>
>The twin-reactor plant between Los Angeles and San Diego has been idle since January, after a tube break in one of four, massive steam generators released traces of radiation. A team of federal investigators was dispatched to the plant in March after the discovery that some tubes were so badly corroded that they could fail and possibly release radiation, a stunning finding inside the virtually new equipment.
>
>Flaws in fabrication or installation were considered as possible sources of the rapid tube decay but "it looks primarily we are pointed toward the design" of the heavily modified generators, Nuclear Regulatory Commission Regional Administrator Elmo Collins told The Associated Press in an interview Sunday.
>
>Collins couldn't rule out that one or more of the generators, installed in a $670 million overhaul in 2009 and 2010, might have to be replaced.
>
>Eight tubes failed during earlier pressure tests in the Unit 3 reactor and "we have not seen that in the industry before," Collins said.
>
>"It's these four steam generators that either have, or are susceptible to, this type of problem," Collins said, referring to the unusual damage caused when alloy tubes vibrate and rattle against each other or brackets that hold them in place.
>
>So far, a fix has remained elusive.
>
>"It's not too hard to frame up the problem," he added. "The answers are very difficult, or they already would have emerged."
>
>The disclosure will rivet new attention on a series of alterations to the equipment design, including the decision to add 400 tubes to each generator and installing V-shaped supports that were intended to minimize tube wear and vibration.
>
>It's possible operator Southern California Edison could face penalties stemming from the federal investigation, Collins said.
>
>The generators were designed to meet a federal test to qualify as "in-kind," or essentially identical, replacements for the original generators, which would allow them to be installed without prior approval from federal regulators.
>
>An environmental group, Friends of the Earth, has claimed Edison misled the NRC about the changes that it has identified as the likely culprit in excessive tube wear. The federal agency previously disputed that charge, but Collins said that's under review as part of the investigation.
>
>Inside the guts of the machinery, the original steam generators and the replacements "look substantially different," Collins added.
>
>The NRC is scheduled to discuss its findings Monday evening at a meeting near the plant.
>
>Collins said safety would remain the first consideration at San Onofre. About 7.4 million Californians live within 50 miles of San Onofre, which can power 1.4 million homes.
>
>"These are significant technical issues. They are not resolved yet," Collins said.
>
>Cracked and corroded generator tubing has vexed the nation's nuclear industry for years.
>Decaying generator tubes helped push San Onofre's Unit 1 reactor into retirement in 1992, even though it was designed to run until 2004. The following year, the Trojan nuclear plant, near Portland, Ore., was shuttered because of microscopic cracks in steam generator tubes, cutting years off its expected lifespan. Westinghouse Electric Corp. weathered a legal battle with five utilities in the 1990s that wanted the company to replace steam generators it manufactured for the Beaver Valley nuclear power plant in Pennsylvania after tubing corroded.
>
>But the troubled San Onofre generators, manufactured by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, might be a unique case because of the extensive modifications. Only one other U.S. nuclear plant uses Mitsubishi generators, the Fort Calhoun Nuclear Station, about 20 miles north of Omaha, but its generators are smaller than those at San Onofre and have not displayed excessive tube decay, federal officials say.
>
>The cause of the unusual wear has been eagerly anticipated, as Edison prepares to submit a proposal to the NRC to restart one or both of the reactors. The company has suggested the reactors would run for a test period under reduced power to reduce vibration.
>
>"The phenomenon that we think causes this tube-to-tube interaction is definitely proportional to the power," Collins said. "At least in some theoretical sense, that might be part of the answer."
>
>The company has announced that 510 tubes have been plugged, or retired from use, in the Unit 2 reactor, and 807 tubes in its sister, Unit 3. Each of the generators has nearly 10,000 tubes, and the number retired is well within the limit allowed to continue operation.
>
>What's at issue is why so many tubes degraded so quickly, when the design changes were intended to improve the plant's performance and longevity.
>
>The steam generators ­ two in each reactor ­ function something like a car radiator, which controls heat in the vehicle's engine. The generator tubes circulate hot, radioactive water from the reactors, which then heats non-radioactive water surrounding them. That makes steam, which is used to turn turbines to make electricity.
>
>The tubes have to be thin enough to transfer heat, but thick enough to hold up under heavy pressure. They represent a critical safety barrier ­ if a tube breaks, there is the potential that radioactivity can escape into the atmosphere. Also, serious leaks can drain protective cooling water from a reactor.
>
>The trouble began to unfold in January, when the Unit 3 reactor was shut down as a precaution after a tube break. Traces of radiation escaped at the time, but officials said there was no danger to workers or neighbors. Unit 2 had been taken offline earlier that month for maintenance, but investigators later found unexpected wear in tubes in both units.
>
>The NRC has said there is no timetable to restart the reactors.
>
>Edison has been facing pressure from some nearby communities and anti-nuclear activists that have raised safety concerns, while the company looks for a solution to the tube problem and a path to restarting the plant, an important source of power in Southern California. The design of the generators is also under congressional scrutiny.
>
>The plant is owned by SCE, San Diego Gas & Electric and the city of Riverside. The Unit 1 reactor operated from 1968 to 1992, when it was shut down and dismantled.
>
>----
>
>Follow Michael R. Blood at http://twitter.com/MichaelRBloodAP

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© Ace Hoffman
www.acehoffman.org
PO Box 1936
Carlsbad, CA 92018
(760) 720-7261
rhoffman@animatedsoftware.com
www.animatedsoftware.com
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Saturday, June 16, 2012

18 steam-generator-specific questions for SCE/NRC

6/15/2012

I just sent this to the facilitator for the upcoming NRC meeting on Monday....

Ace

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

To: "Richard Daniel, Facilitator" <Richard.Daniel@nrc.gov>

6/15/2012

Dear Sir...

[Regarding the upcoming hearing on San Onofre] my main concern is not so much that a "root cause" has been discovered or even that the trail [is laid out] of how such significant changes were purposefully slipped past the Nuclear Regulatory commission (see attached comments documenting this by Ray Lutz, a local engineer who will be appearing at the hearing on Monday). Mr. Lutz's concerns about procedural breakdown are significant not only to the NRC's method of operation, but to any highly-regulated industry. With regulation tends to come a willingness not to see what is NOT in the regulations, or not brought to one's attention through the normal regulatory channels. The standard answer from the NRC to this citizen has always been "we'll get back to you" -- and that's the end of it.

My main concern is not the "root cause" because I believe it's going to be that the upper area of the steam generators do not have enough water and have too much steam, proportionately, because of a redesign of a plate which blocks more water than the old design did, as the water/steam mixture rises inside the massive steam generators. The water acted to dampen vibration in the old design, hence in the new design, the thin, closely-packed tubes clang into each other. This concept was presented by Arnie Gundersen along with a concern about vibration in the base plate, which I believe may also be a contributing factor. If it has turned out to be something else entirely, that will be of some interest, and I will be interested to see the evidence which supports any alternative theories.

However, my concern is entirely going forward and thus, I refer to such problems as tsunami dangers brought on by underwater landslides, caused by earthquakes in the nearby vicinity of the reactors (within a few hundred miles, for example). The San Andreas fault is approximately 99% certain to have a tremendous rupture in the next few decades. Many of the other faults in the area are expected to reawaken after that event, too -- and new ones will be discovered, no doubt. I find this chilling.

There is virtually indisputable geological evidence of massive tsunami events in THIS coast's past; probably caused by underwater landslides somewhere. Add to that the "unexpected" size of the earthquake in the most earthquake-studied area of the world last year -- that led to the tsunami and triple reactor meltdown in Japan, and I see no reason to wait for another earthquake study -- even if it's getting $64 million in funding (of our money) and will take half a decade or more to complete, it's going to be so thorough. Can we afford to wait? Could Japan? Expert scientists can already dispute the entire effort, if it's findings are anything different that what I have just described as a possible worst case scenario: Events far larger than SanO can possibly survive. That's what we risk if the "root cause" is found and fixed, and the reactors are returned to service. Frankly I'd rather the NRC NOT find the root cause, if that's what it takes to keep the reactors closed! We were promised, however, that at least the root cause would be determined. (I would say the root cause was greed on the part of San Onofre's operators, and that is still present and cannot be accounted for.)

The 2004 earthquake/tsunami combo that killed about a quarter of a million people, and the fact that the tsunami was caused by an undersea landslide made such events prominent in the news. A reactor thousands of miles across the Indian Ocean in India was in fact, damaged by that event, but because it survived, and because none were close enough to be destroyed, the obvious threat was ignored. Come 2011, the price of ignoring the threat fell due for Japan. Perhaps the day after restarting San Onofre, the price of ignoring history will fall due for California.

These are not irrelevant to the steam generator issue by any means, because the steam generator issue causes the local population to bleed money into Southern California Edison's coffers and risk catastrophic meltdowns in return. It is a bad investment ON TOP OF a bad investment! So it won't merely take making the steam generators work better to fix the problem.

As a noted early pioneer of nuclear reactor design noted later in life: "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." (The late Dr. A. Stanley Thompson, nuclear physicist.)

So there is no way to exclude the rest of the world's problems from the steam generator decision. To replace them with PERFECT steam generators would still be hazardous to our health and we don't want them.

That said, I would still like some technical questions answered regarding the steam generators, and have included 18 of them below. Arnie Gundersen, who was involved in the basic design of steam generators within the nuclear industry and whom you already are aware will be attending Monday's hearing, has already seen the list of questions, and suggested one of them himself. (I'll leave it to the team to guess which one. :~} )

I hope that written answers can be provided to me in addition to any comments that might be made at the hearing. I appreciate the continued professionalism of the many NRC inspectors and officials I have dealt with over the ~two decades that I have been attending hearings regarding San Onofre and other nuclear issues. I look forward to hearing from you.

May the whole truth win...

Best regards,

Ace Hoffman
Carlsbad, CA


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

1) Which tubes needed to be plugged? Were they all in one area, inner, outer, or scattered?

2) Have any changes been made to the design of the SGs to allow the units to work, other than plugging tubes?

3) How many tubes were plugged?

4) What are the primary and secondary coolant loop pressures, flow rates, and temperatures that SCE proposes to run at, given that the power outputs are "50% to 80%" of normal. For 50%, what are the numbers, and for 80%, what are the numbers? (Normal is about 1200 PSI in the secondary loop and 2200 PSI in the primary loop, for example.)

5) What vibration sensors, temperature sensors, and other sensors have been added to ensure that problems are being found, and what vibration sensors, temperatures sensors, and other sensors were in place before?

6) How frequently will the reactors be shut down for additional inspections?

7) What if a rupture/leak occurs before the first inspection? Will the "experiment" with our lives be ended once and for all at that point?

8) What is the amount of wear on those tubes that have shown wear?

9) Even if thousands of tubes have been plugged, they are still vibrating and are still worn. How can it possibly be safe to operate the reactor with so many weakened tubes?

10) Given that these were new and most of the reactor is 30 or more years old and rusted out and decrepit, why not just give up?

11) What % of the wear was caused by tube-to-tube interactions and what % was caused by tube-to-support interactions? How much damage was near the bends of the U-shaped tubes?

12) Could the additional vibration of the tubes throughout the structure also cause additional wear at the base of each tube -- their sole place of firm attachment? Has this been examined or even considered? The vibration could help work the crud that naturally gathers there work deeper into and between the metals. Would this wear show up right away or will we find out later when tubes start to pop out of their holes?

13) Will operating at reduced pressures, temperatures, and/or flow rates actually cause an increase in metal-damaging deposits not only at the base of each tube but throughout the system, as the "natural flush" that they had been designed to operate with would no longer be occurring?

14) Will SanO be required to shut down immediately upon detecting a leak in the steam generator tubes, or will they be allowed to continue to operate, as long as the leak rate from the primary loop to the secondary loop remains below the normal daily limit for all Pressurized Water Reactors (which I think is about 85 gallons a day)? Will they be given a stricter limit than usual in light of their pressure test failures and actual failures thus far? Or will they be given a more relaxed limit, instead?!?!

15) Considering the increased risk, what is the advantage of letting SanO operators continue to run the plant even after they know they have a leaky situation? (I presume the "advantage" is that very small leaks tend to self-seal with crud; that's why they are allowed to run with continual leaks; it's only the "growing" ones they really worry about, but would like this confirmed.)

16) Given that SanO only as two SGs per reactor, instead of the usual three or four like in most other PWR reactors, the importance of having operational SGs is much greater than at other reactors, because when one fails, there is only one left for heat removal. The new SGs are clearly improperly designed, and to the effect that there are only two, the entire design is clearly faulty and should be abandoned. Why not abandon an obviously-inferior design?

17) The ISO, FERC, SDG&E and SCE have all said we should NOT expect blackouts even in the worst summer days just because SanO is down. Even if we do have any, it's better than having meltdowns -- which might well happen if SanO is brought back online with faulty steam generators. Why generate more nuclear waste and risk catastrophic failure?

18) Why did Edison plug 1300 tubes when their ultrasonic/ eddy current tests indicated that only 12 needed to be plugged?

Sincerely,

Ace Hoffman
Carlsbad, CA

Attachment: Press release concerning Monday's hearing sent to me by Ray Lutz, the main author
----------------------------------------------------------------

PRESS RELEASE

Citizens' Oversight Projects (COPS)
Ray Lutz / RayLutz@CitizensOversight.org / 619-820-5321
http://ShutDownSanOnofre.org

Residents Organizing for a Safe Environment (ROSE)
Gene Stone / genston@sbcglobal.net / 949-233-7724

Peace Resource Center of San Diego
Carol Jahnkow / carolj@igc.org / 760-390-0775


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Activists Demand Nuke Plant Closure at NRC Public Meeting

Nuclear Regulatory Commission to Release investigation findings on San Onofre June 18 in San Juan Capistrano

Ratepayers Demand that Edison CEO Craver Shutter Troubled Plant

June 14, 2012 (SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO) ­ The public will rally and sponsor a press conference in opposition to continued operation of the San Onofre nuclear plant on Monday, June 18, at 5pm prior to the 6pm public meeting scheduled by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) at the San Juan Capistrano Community Center at 25925 Camino Del Avion, San Juan Capistrano, California.

After months of investigation, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission will hold its first public meeting after the emergency shut down of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station on January 31, 2012, and after their official investigation into the steam generator failures.

"Unfortunately, the NRC wants to limit valuable public input by withholding their report until they announce it at the meeting, making it difficult to the public to formulate questions on this technically complex issue," said electrical engineer Ray Lutz, National Coordinator for Citizens' Oversight Projects. "This is the first public meeting where the public will have a chance to speak and ask questions. It's too bad they're making this like a pop-quiz instead of a take-home test."

Activists are concerned that the NRC will deliver a token report on what occurred, followed by a "we'll have to study your report" response by the utility. NRC Chair Gregory Jaczko, the sole dissenting voice on the commission, recently announced his resignation, signaling that the commission would likely turn into a rubber stamp for utility wishes.

Edison Chair Theodore F. Craver, Jr. admitted that it really was his decision alone to decommission the plant, and that it would be the most difficult decision of his career. The reality is that the decision to decommission could be made immediately, regardless of NRC processing and inquiries. Continuing the effort to restart the plant will either mean that NRC will look the other way and allow the unsafe plant to restart at reduced power, ignoring the fact that experts agree that this will likely only exacerbate the rattling steam generators, or spending a great deal of money to replace the steam generators once again, with no guarantee that these will work either.

"The NRC investigation was limited in scope to avoid the most important issue: the regulatory process which allowed the 'super-charged' steam generators to be installed without NRC approval," Lutz said. "Edison engineers bragged about being able to upgrade the reactors without any such approval, and indeed, it was even the 'major premise' of the project. If the NRC is not going to review this, then it raises a good question: when does this review occur or is this just going to be swept under the rug?"

Even if the steam generators were working like they were supposed to, we now know that the plant is in an earthquake zone, a tsunami inundation zone, and would likely fail in any sort of moderate earthquake. Operators admitted last month that vibration sensors on crucial equipment would improperly shut down that equipment in the event of an earthquake.

San Onofre, designed for a 6.0 quake and upgraded to withstand 7.0, is certainly at risk given the recent 7.5 magnitude quake near Mexicali and the recently discovered fault only yards from the reactor site. That new fault experienced a 3.8 quake just last month.

The underlying agenda of SCE, the plant operator, was to "super-charge" the steam generators, essentially upgrading the plant to produce more power without NRC or approval by the public [1]. SCE Engineers admitted in January that they worked to avoid full NRC review of the changes. In an article in Nuclear Engineering International: "the major premise of the steam generator replacement project was that it would be implemented under the 10CFR50.59 rule, that is, without prior approval by the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (USNRC)" [2, emphasis added].

On April 25, citizen activists submitted a letter to NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko detailing requests for action prior to any restart of the reactors at San Onofre [3]. These requests will form the basis for some of the questions and comments from the public. Some of the questions from the public should include:

1. Has the NRC investigation determined the root cause of the steam generator failure?

2. Has the NRC also determined why the design error occurred?
1. Was it due to faulty simulations, faulty testing, or no testing or simulation at all, using the "see if it breaks" approach?
2. Is there a fundamental gap in our understanding of physics that limits our ability to predict this failure?

3. Has the analysis from Mitsubishi Heavy Industries been completed, and if so, what was their conclusion, and can we get a copy of their report?

4. The likely root cause is a mis-design by [SCE] and MHI engineers. What corrective action is planned, if any, to rectify the design errors so that excessive tube degradation will not occur?

5. What assurance do we have that the same engineers can do it right this time? If this occurs, will the NRC approve every step of the way?

6. Indeed, since this design was so problematic, what assurance do we have that other systems that are never tested until a disaster occurs will actually perform as intended?

7. SCE has said they intend to plug some tubes and run the reactor at a lower power, but experts agree that this approach will not reduce the rattling of the tubes but instead may increase it. Has there been an analysis to confirm that such operation will reduce tube degradation or is this just a wild guess by SCE engineers?

8. The inquiry by the NRC was limited in scope and did not include any of the regulatory process that also failed to ensure that such poor designs will ever result. Will there be a separate inquiry by the NRC into such regulatory matters? If not, which agency does that type of review?

9. It is clear now that SCE engineers intended to boost the power output from the plant by modifying the steam generators to generate more steam [1 & 2]. Such a capacity upgrade for a nuclear plant would normally require a re-licensing procedure and it would be paid by the shareholders and not by the ratepayers. Since SCE worked around the law to upgrade this plant in capacity without going through the required procedure:
1. will the operators be fined for violating NRC regulations?
2. will the company be required to charge shareholders for this debacle rather than ratepayers, and undo the improper charge to ratepayers that occurred under the guise that this was just a maintenance and not a capacity upgrade?
3. will the relicensing procedure be activated in ex-post facto fashion so that review by the NRC and the public, as required by law, be respected?

10. What is the status of the investigation into the electrical fire that occurred on April 20, 2012?

11. What is the status of the investigation into the worker who fell into the primary coolant pool in January, 2012?

12. What is the status of the investigation into the vibration sensors on the emergency pumps that had to be disabled because they would improperly shut down the pumps in the event of an earthquake?

13. What steps are being taken to address post-Fukushima concerns at nuclear power plants in the United States, including San Onofre? Will the plants be stress-tested to insure that they will be likely to perform as intended when these disasters occur?

14. Seismic studies costing $64 million have been approved for the vicinity of San Onofre. What will be done with these studies when they are completed? Will the plant be simulation tested to see if it will survive any possible earthquake and/or tsunami?

EVENT DETAILS:

Event: Rally / Press Conference
Date/Time: Monday June 18, 2012, 5pm.
Location: San Juan Capistrano Community Center

Event: NRC Meeting
Date/Time: Monday June 18, 2012, 6pm.
Location: San Juan Capistrano Community Center

References:
[1] http://sciencedude.ocregister.com/2012/01/05/powering-up-nuclear-plant-to-boost-output/166317/ -- Powering up: Nuclear plant to boost output -- "The new [steam] generators raised the amount of steam energy produced in the reactors."

[2] http://www.copswiki.org/Common/M1252 -- "Improving Like-for-like RSGs" from Nuclear Engineering International -- Describes the many changes made to the steam generators to increase the steam energy developed.

[3] http://www.copswiki.org/Common/M1254 -- "Letter to NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko Requesting Specific Steps before restarting the San Onofre reactors"


###

--
-----------------------
Ray Lutz
National Coordinator
Citizens' Oversight Projects (COPS)
CitizensOversight.org
619-820-5321




************************************************
** Ace Hoffman, Owner & Chief Programmer, The Animated Software Co.
** POB 1936, Carlsbad CA 92018
** U.S. & Canada (800) 551-2726; elsewhere: (760) 720-7261
** home page: www.animatedsoftware.com
** email: rhoffman@animatedsoftware.com
** To cease contact, please put "Unsubscribe-me-please" in the subject.
************************************************

Friday, June 15, 2012

Dr. Rosalie Bertell, Grey Nun of the Sacred Heart, has passed away...

6/15/2012

Dear Readers,

This morning I learned of the passing yesterday (June 14th, 2012) of Dr. Rosalie Bertell, author of some of the most widely-read articles and books about nuclear issues including No Immediate Danger: Prognosis for a Radioactive Earth. She was 83.

Dr. Bertell was a Grey Nun of the Sacred Heart, the founder of the International Institute of Concern for Public Health (IICPH), the recipient of numerous honors (such as the Right Livelihood Award in 1986) and held several honorary degrees.

In the nuclear industry, every life has an exact value, and every vote can be bought. (That's one reason so many nuclear waste sites are located in sparsely populated poor communities. It's cheaper.)

A life's value is measured in dollars in America, yen, in Japan, euros in most of Europe, and so on. The exact amount is plugged into various computer programs which then calculate the expected loss from an "unexpected" accident.

(That's why they know not to transport spent nuclear fuel from San Onofre through Los Angeles, and wanted to build a "toll road" to Yucca Mountain instead (State Route 241 extension straight from SanO to Las Vegas/Yucca Mountain). But Yucca Mountain is on hold, and so the toll road, heavily opposed by locals for other reasons, is also on hold. But if Yucca Mountain is ever built, then Route 241 is sure to be bulldozed through shortly thereafter... because of a computer program which puts an exact value on each human life.)

But it is impossible calculate the value to society of the late Dr. Rosalie Bertell, who passed away peacefully from "severe respiratory distress due to advanced chronic obstructive pulmonary disease" (see below for the official death announcement from GNSH). (You can be sure she was not a smoker; she had merely been breathing our global polluted air all her life. So are you.)

Dr. Bertell was a biometrician, environmental epidemiologist, and cancer researcher. For a decade she was senior cancer research scientist at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute. Dr. Bertell wrote and spoke about Depleted Uranium ("you're basically throwing radioactive waste at your enemy...") and many other topics. After the Union-Carbide chemical spill in Bhopal, India, she went there as Director of the International Medical Commission to study the effects of that disaster (the largest non-nuclear industrial accident in history). She also looked into the technical aspects of "HAARP" (America's "High-frequency Active Auroral Research Program"), of which she wrote in 1996: "The ability of the HAARP / Spacelab/ rocket combination to deliver a very large amount of energy, comparable to a nuclear bomb, anywhere on earth via laser and particle beams, [is] frightening."

And every so often she wrote to me -- about a dozen times in the last 15 years, the last time being about a month after Fukushima. Every letter was a treasure, and two are shown below.

It is impossible to calculate the value of someone who so relentlessly spoke truth to power, science to dogma, fact to falsehoods, and reason to propaganda. And was so technically savvy while doing it.

We will miss Dr. Bertell with all our collective hearts. She was awesome.

Sincerely,

Ace Hoffman
Carlsbad, CA

-----------------------------------------------
At 09:32 AM 4/13/2011 -0400, the month after Fukushima, Dr. Rosalie Bertell wrote:

Dear Ace,

I am telling people to use distilled water. It can leach out the radioactive heavy metals from cooked products. Fruits can be soaked in it. If there is some internal contamination it is safe to drink even for a pregnant woman. Do not reuse the cooking water but throw it on the ground where no food is raised. Internally keep up hydration so that the nuclear debris does not go back into storage in the bone. See enclosure!

Rosalie Bertell
-------------------------------------------------

My favorite letter from Dr. Bertell was this one, of course:

At 02:36 PM 11/27/2008 -0500, Dr. Rosalie Bertell wrote:

Dear Ace, Thank you for sending me a copy of: The Code Killers.
It is quite a work of condensing and making clear what has been very obscure
(deliberately) and complex! I appreciate your work! Thank you! [...]

Rosalie Bertell
-------------------------------------------------

(The Code Killers is available as a free download from: www.acehoffman.org )

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


>From: "Rosalie Bertell, GNSH" <rosaliebertell@greynun.org>
>Subject: Notice Re: Rosalie Bertell, Ph.D., GNSH
>Date: Fri, 15 Jun 2012 08:55:14 -0400
>
>Dear Friends and Colleagues of Rosalie Bertell,
>
>It is with sadness that I�m writing to inform you that our dear Sister Rosalie died early this morning, June 14, 2012, after a week or so in the hospital with severe respiratory distress due to advanced chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Despite her illness, she remained in good spirits and most interested in all of the works of justice she strove to support throughout her life right to the end. She died very peacefully.
>
>Her funeral Mass will be here at our Motherhouse Chapel on Monday, June 17th at 10 a.m.
>
>We will be remembering all of you as well as Sister Rosalie in our prayers that day, along with all the people who were victims of nuclear disasters and the many other societal ills that were the concerns of her heart and her life�s work at the International Institute of Concern for Public Health.
>
>Sincerely,
>
>Sister Julia
>Sister Julia C. Lanigan, GNSH
>President
>Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart
>1750 Quarry Road
>Yardley, PA 19067
>215-968-4236
>Website: www.greynun.org
>
>Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart
>Creating a Compassionate World
>


-----------------------------------------
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: (760) 720-7261
Address: PO Box 1936, Carlsbad, CA 92018
Subscribe to my free newsletter today!
Email: ace [at] acehoffman.org
-----------------------------------------

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Dry Cask Nuclear Storage: The Endless Simmer......... (a brief history)

6/9/2012

Dear Readers,

In Washington DC, a recent Senate subcommittee hearing was held on nuclear waste. It stretched on and on for several hours. Only "experts" and Senators spoke. It was chaired by Senator Tom Carper (D, DE), who not-too-subtly confessed to possessing not a whit of knowledge about the issues: At every turn he would say things like, "I want to thank you for your report, which the experts tell me is very good."

He did admit that his "tiny little state" is much too small to have the opportunity to bid for the privilege and PROFIT of having a federal jail facility built within its borders, let alone a nuclear waste dump.

But please come visit Rehoboth Bay when you get a chance! It hasn't been Fukushima'd yet by Hope Creek or Salem Units 1 or 2, chugging away, rusting away, vulnerable to earthquakes and liquefaction as they sit on their manmade islands in the middle of the Delaware River, along Delaware's northeastern edge. Essentially all of Delaware would be wiped out by an accident at these decrepit old power plants.

So of course, he wants a centralized storage facility, or several "decentralized" storage facilities scattered in "less densely populated" areas. He didn't name a state he prefers.

The trick to getting a nuclear waste dump built, apparently, is a simple three-fold process, which, they claim, has been successfully done in other countries, but which they can't seem to pull it off here. They'll keep trying. Here are the steps:

First, stop calling it a dump. Nuclear waste was referred to by one "expert" as a "resource".

Second, narrow down the area which can decide yea or nay on the project. The area should be far smaller than a state or county, preferably it will be just a hole in the ground, the top of which is in somebody's back yard. That would be the ideal situation.

And third: Pay the local community buckets full of money to get them to like the idea. This is not known as bribery, it's called "incentive-based site location." France added a twist the Senators liked: Start by building an underground "research facility" which everyone knows will "eventually" (read: Next generation, decades from now) be turned into a nuclear waste dump. "We can make it attractive" announced one Senator confidently.

And sure, it sounds easy. But so far Americans apparently haven't been dumb enough to accept the strategy. One Senator asked an "expert" if he thought the solution to get Yucca Mountain going was to pour more bribery money into Nevada (he called it "incentives"). That would probably work, was the answer.

And therefore, it was considered the right thing do to.

In the entire session, there was not one word about what processes might be studied, that had never been tried before, that had some promise... because there really aren't any such processes being studied, and everything's been tried before... and failed. Nuclear waste is an eternal problem. Scientific American pegs it at "250,000 years", so that's close enough to eternity for me.

So what do we do?

Earlier today I distributed (locally) some comments about the most popular alternative, dry cask storage. Those comments (shown below) prompted the following response, which I discuss underneath. But in short: Dry cask storage is something no environmental activist should support, as I discussed in my previous newsletter ( http://goo.gl/d5R4B ) and have expanded on again here.

Sincerely,

Ace Hoffman
Carlsbad, CA

================================================
At 11:25 AM 6/9/2012 -0700, LS wrote:
>However, Ace, you don't mention that we are still going to have millions of tons of highly irradiated waste to sequester from the biospheree for the next bizillion years even after every single reactor is closed down. Hardened dry cask storage is preferable over pools, and we have to keep on pounding on that. Maybe something better will come along.....
>
>Nothing is safe. Never will be.
================================================

The commentator is correct, I didn't mention it in my earlier remarks (shown below).

But still more importantly, I didn't mention that if we don't shut the plants down, we'll have 104 situations with far greater risks than spent fuel pools OR dry casks. And if dry casks are even 0.001% better than pools, well, it doesn't matter because we still will have 104 spent fuel pools too, with fresh and fairly fresh fuel in every one of them, not the "old" and ever-so-slightly less dangerous stuff that's getting put into dry casks.

So again we are left with ONE overriding decision point at this time in our lives, and it's NOT "dry casks versus spent fuel pools" or even "on-site storage versus Yucca Mountain". It's that we have to shut off the spigot.

America will be utilizing some form of on-site storage for a long, long time. So the true decision point we are all at is this: Will it be dry casks AND spent fuel pools AND operational reactors, or will it be, after five years minimum while the fuel cools and we have a chance to decide, either wet or dry on-site storage? But shouldn't it be HARDENED storage in either case? And don't we have five years to decide? At least five years?

But what does "hardened" mean? Retrievable? Earthquake-proof? Tsunami-proof? Fire-proof? Bomb-proof? Stupidity-proof?

What about the complications for the local fire departments of putting out a dry cask fire (who have hardly any, or no hazmat suits)? Putting out such a fire is an impossibility, were it ever to start, say, from an airplane crash or a terrorist attack.

True, the dry casks in Japan "survived" The Great Eastern Japan Earthquake and Tsunami of 2011. But that's hardly proof they will ALWAYS survive. And WHAT did we see them desperately dropping on the Fukushima reactors? WATER. And what are they afraid they'll lose in Fukushima Spent Fuel Pool #4 if there's another large earthquake in the area? WATER.

Can the fuel in dry casks EVER start to burn? Yep. Then what? It will be too late for water.

The first dry cask was built in 1986 at Surry NPP in Virginia, four years after Congress passed the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982 decrying that there is, indeed, a serious problem and demanding a permanent geologic solution be found. (30 years later, we aren't any closer.)

By February 2001 there were 230 dry storage casks in America. There are now about a thousand dry casks across America, as they furiously build them all over the world, an endless, thankless task.

By 2015 every nuclear reactor's spent fuel pool in America will be filled (and overfilled) to capacity. THIS is what's driving the push for dry cask storage, NOT any safety considerations of dry casks versus anything else.

According to Scientific American (January, 2009), dry casks hold about 11 tons of spent fuel and cost about a million dollars each to fabricate.

In America, we generate about 10 tons PER DAY of spent nuclear fuel. So we're building nearly one dry cask every day in America, and perhaps 5 or 6 per day around the world.

Then what? Does it just sit there? No! It rusts. It embrittles. It ages.

Weld it properly if you feel like it, but I've heard from TWO whistleblowers in TWO completely different dry cask areas (one worked for SanO where they fabricate their own casks, the other was the late Oscar Shirani) who BOTH said the welding and other aspects of dry cask fabrication was NOT being done properly. They were both terrified of what might happen when these poorly-fabricated parts fail, perhaps when someone tries to unload them for transport, or maybe sooner. Dry cask loading is relatively easy compared to what unloading them might be like in 60, 80, 100 years or more.

Sincerely,

Ace Hoffman
Concerned Citizen
Carlsbad, CA

The author, a computer programmer, has been writing about nuclear issues for many decades. His book The Code Killers, is available free online from his web site: www.acehoffman.org

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

From:
http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/fact-sheets/dry-cask-storage.html
"Dry spent fuel storage in casks is considered to be safe and environmentally sound. Over the last 20 years, there have been no radiation releases which have affected the public, no radioactive contamination, and no known or suspected attempts to sabotage spent fuel casks or ISFSIs. "

Like I said, their time will come....

An endlessly growing list (from wikipedia):
"During the 2000s, dry cask storage was used in the United States, Canada, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Japan, and Lithuania. "


Loading a dry cask (from Scientific American):
" In the absence of a long-term solution (such as burying the waste deep inside Yucca Mountain), the nuclear industry has turned to so-called dry cask storage. This involves immersing the radioactive used rods in helium or some other inert gas and slotting them into a steel container that is further encased in a concrete cask.... The encased rods still manage to emit roughly one millirem of radiation per hour and heat the outside of the 100-plus ton concrete casing to as much as 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 degrees Celsius). "


Senate Environment and Public Works subcommittee hearing on Nuclear Waste (SD-406):
Short URL: http://goo.gl/YGQua

From NY times article by Matthew Wald, July 5, 2011
Short URL:http://goo.gl/oygKv

"Cask manufacturers anticipate decades of healthy demand for their product. 'I joke my children will be doing my job,' said Joy Russell, a corporate development director at the manufacturer Holtec International."


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

>On Sat, Jun 9, 2012 at 10:43 AM, Ace Hoffman <rhoffman@animatedsoftware.com> wrote:
>6/9/2012
>
>Dear all,
>
>People like Bob Alverez are called "nuke industry enablers". David Lochbaum at UCS is another. Both may have their hearts in the right place but their actions and comments help keep the nuke industry alive.
>
>Dry cask storage is no solution to the waste problem. Instead, it's high time to close ALL the reactors and NOT move to "clean, safe, cheap, emission-free dry storage" as Alverez seems to see it. "Hardened," my arse!
>
>Dry casks' time will come, and then -- too late -- everyone will realize they are WORSE than wet storage...... there is NO good solution but to close the plants down, starting with San Onofre.
>
>Ace
>
>At 10:22 AM 6/9/2012 -0700, you wrote:
>>FYI...
>>
>>---------- Forwarded message ----------
>>From: Robert Alvarez <kitbob@erols.com>
>>Date: Sat, Jun 9, 2012 at 9:33 AM
>>Subject: [ACTNET-NUCLEAR] Yesterday's decision by the D.C. Court of Appeals overturning NRC's Waste Confidence Decision
>>To: ACTNET-NUCLEAR@lists.sierraclub.org
>>
>>
>>Dear All --
>>
>>Congrats to the team that provided a compelling argument about the folly of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's "Waste Confidence Decision." The D.C. Federal Court of Appeals decision effectively torpedos the NRC's risky default policy with respect to multi-decade high-density pool storage of spent reactor fuel. It could pave the way for a more rational, safe and secure policy.
>>
>>FYI , below is a graph developed by the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) in June 2010 indicating by the time U.S. reactors are expected to close in 2056, about 133,000 metric tons of spent fuel containing ~27 billion curies of intermediate and long-lived radioactivity will be generated. Note that EPRI projects that 63,000 MT will be packed to the maximum extent into spent fuel pools by that year. Currently about 73 percent of the 67,450 MT of SNF, generated as of the end of 2011 ( according to NEI) sits in pools, which were not intended to hold 4-5 times more than their original designs. Reactors like Vermont Yankee has been holding densely-compacted spent fuel in its elevated pool for more than 30 years. The Millstone I reactor was closed nearly 15 years ago. Yet, 2884 assemblies from the reactor remain in wet storage. Let's not forget about the common pool at the failed Morris, Ill reprocessing plant holding 3,217 assemblies for decades from several closed reac
tors
.
>>
>> It's time for a major shift away from wet storage and to place as much as possible in dry, hardened storage.
>>
>>Once again, congratulations to the folks whose arguments prevailed, which greatly helps in our quest for greater protection of the public.
>>
>>Best Regards,
>>
>>Bob

========================================================
Contact information for the author of this newsletter:
========================================================


************************************************
** Ace Hoffman, Owner & Chief Programmer, The Animated Software Co.
** POB 1936, Carlsbad CA 92018
** U.S. & Canada (800) 551-2726; elsewhere: (760) 720-7261
** home page: www.animatedsoftware.com
** email: rhoffman@animatedsoftware.com
** To cease contact, please put "Unsubscribe-me-please" in the subject.
************************************************

Monday, June 4, 2012

If we're going to "phase out" nuclear power, shouldn't Phase One be San Onofre, RIGHT NOW?

6/4/2012

Dear Readers,

Many people have called for phasing out the 104 operating nuclear reactors in America and replacing them with clean, green renewable energy systems such as wind, solar, geothermal, biomass, space-based mirrors, and, of course, conservation. The technology to replace nuclear power is readily available -- including the space-based mirrors.

So let's get started. And let's start by "phasing out" San Onofre Nuclear Waste Generating Station (SONWGS) RIGHT NOW!

Waiting to stop relicensing ten years down the road -- in 2022 -- is just waiting for disaster to strike twixt now and then. Waiting to stop SONWGS at a "relicensing" hearing, as some activists want do in order to "phase out" the plant, is just playing into the industry's hands -- again!

Consider it this way: Relicensing is a moment in time. If we win, true, that's great -- but no one has ever stopped a Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) relicensing application, not once.

Waiting for the moment of relicensing is pure folly. As soon as that moment has passed, and you've failed, what are you going to do that you can't do TODAY? Wait ANOTHER, oh 19 years and hope you can prevent relicensing then? Fight every day for another 20 years against the plant, in order to prevent its relicensing again in 2042? Neither option appeals to me.

The entire nuclear industry now expects to run old reactors EIGHTY YEARS because new licenses -- and money for construction -- are both nearly impossible to obtain. But they can make a bundle from old reactors, because so many costs are passed on to the ratepayers and to our progeny. And because the deadly used reactor cores are just being stored on site in dangerous "Dry Casks" which the utilities have built hundreds of in the past decade.

Old licenses, old reactors and old technology -- can just be kept running. Deadly waste -- can just keep piling up.

Until something happens.

Even pro-nuker and local Congressional Representative Darrell Issa (R-CA) has admitted that San Onofre is outdated technology. For instance it has no passive cooling system. This author does NOT endorse the new technology that Issa endorses, he finds it utterly inadequate on many counts. But Issa and I agree on SanO. Except he wants it shut down in ten years, at relicensing time and replaced with a "new" design with the aforementioned "passive cooling system" (it's a better design, I'll admit -- but it's hardly good enough).

Why not just keep San Onofre shut permanently NOW, Mr. Issa? We would save all that repair money that will have to be spent, and we would eliminate all the risks associated with "hot" (thermally and radioactively) fuel fresh out of the reactor, as well as the dangers of the operating reactors themselves? And we'd stop making more waste! Let's "phase out" San Onofre NOW, not later!

Relicensing of California's reactors is ten years away. Why wait? The San Andreas Fault probably won't wait! (Ask any geologist.) There are many other active faults near San Onofre, and a $64 million study which has finally been commissioned (at ratepayer expense) to study the local earthquake and tsunami dangers is actually worthless, because more than enough is ALREADY known!

Legally, one would think you could ALWAYS shut down a dangerous operation or, in San Onofre's case, prevent it from restarting. San Onofre's operators have failed to properly maintain the reactors. Their license to operate can and should be taken away.

You just have to convince a judge or jury that something is a "clear and present danger", right?

Normally that's true, but the nuclear industry has that route hopelessly tied up in a bureaucratic mess that ends with the NRC. Even Oyster Creek in New Jersey -- just like Fukushima and just as dangerous -- was relicensed for another 20 years almost immediately after the "unthinkable, unspeakable" triple-meltdowns in Japan! Did the NRC consider all the similarities between Fukushima and Oyster Creek? Not at all! Not a one! Literally! And even if they had wanted to, they wouldn't have known what had actually happened to the nearly identical reactors in Japan by the time the NRC reissued the Oyster Creek license for another 20 years.

And you can't talk about "safety" with anyone else, they'll tell you to go to the NRC. And the NRC will rubber-stamp the worst reactors on the planet, in the most dangerous places.

Phase out? You'll hear that over and over again from the "experts": "We have to phase out nuclear power." In Germany they are phasing out nuclear power. In the meantime, let's hope it doesn't phase them out first! It's a small country: One meltdown could ruin their entire economy, just as it could do to California.

But here in California we have a PERFECT example of where a "phase out" can start: SAN ONOFRE. It's terribly broken! Only a fool would restart it at all, but especially without installing all-new steam generators, at a total cost, including replacement energy in the meantime (because cheap renewable sources had not been secured) of probably about two billion dollars and a total delay of at least two more years.

But even once repaired, only a fool would restart San Onofre. They tried that last time and look what happened! And think about what could have happened. Even since the reactor was shut down, critical safety systems have been found to be inoperative since the plant was built decades ago! That's what happens when you can't test your "fail-safe" safety systems!

Did someone say "phase out"? Phase one of phase out should begin at San Onofre, RIGHT NOW!

But instead, we just keep hearing the phrase "phase out nuclear power". We hear it from "experts" and activists. When does a "phase out" start? Below are quotes from two experts calling for phase-out. Their arguments sound like they should be calling for shut-down, but then, in the end, all they call for is "phase-out". The two examples are both more than ten years old. "Phase out" has still not begun.

When can we start calling for "shut-down" instead? AFTER America's own Fukushima? Is that what it will take to hear a united call for shut-down?

Ten years ago "phase-out" was the wrong thing to call for. All the terrible things we were afraid would happen here -- happened in Japan. We've been lucky -- so far. They weren't.

Must we wait to learn the lessons for ourselves? Or can we start "phase out" NOW, at San Onofre, TODAY?

Sincerely,

Ace Hoffman
Carlsbad, CA

The author, an educational software developer, was nearly phased out himself, by bladder cancer in 2007. (Environmental radiation is one known cause of bladder cancer.) He is the author of The Code Killers: Why DNA and Ionizing Radiation are a Dangerous Mix, a free download available at his web site: www.acehoffman.org .

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Dr. Arjun Makhijani (President, IEER) on SFPs vs. DKS:
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A Bad Approach to Nuclear Waste (Wash Post Op-Ed, Feb. 13, 2002 by Arjun Makhijani)

Dr. Makhijani's bio from the article: "The writer is President of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research. A study he co-authored in 1992 on nuclear waste was partially funded by the state of Nevada."
--------------
"To eliminate security risks arising from on-site spent-fuel storage, it is essential to remove all the spent fuel from the pools and put it in some form of sub-surface storage, either on site or in a deep repository. In the long term (several decades) no reasonable substitute for a deep geologic repository exists.

"But the spent-fuel pools cannot be closed while there existing nuclear power plants are operating. Underwater storage for several years is essential, else the spent fuel will melt and release large amounts of radioactivity. In other words, to end the security vulnerability of spent-fuel pools, existing nuclear power plants must be phased out."
--------------

I've posted a photocopy of Dr. Makhijani's entire op-ed here:

www.animatedsoftware.com/environment/no_nukes/2002/IEER-Arjun-Makhijani/IMG_7975-IEER-Arjun-Makhijani.png

Short URL: http://goo.gl/h2pZm

I have great respect for Dr. Makhijani. But how do you start a "phase out"? You shut a reactor down, then another and another. Ten years on, can we finally start this "phase out" process at San Onofre? I hope he will join our call to keep San Onofre closed forever!

Note that current dry cask storage is NOT Dr. Makhijani's concept of "sub-surface on-site storage", what we are actually doing is much cheaper, and leaves the fuel in a much more vulnerable state than his "Hardened On Site Storage (HOSS)" plan. No plan is perfect, but not making more waste reduces the problem for the rest of humanity to only what we have already created.

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Kevin Kamps on SFPs vs. DKS:
======================================

Here is Kevin Kamps, then of NIRS, and now of Beyond Nuclear (both terrific organizations). Kamps' document is from three months before 9-11. Six pages into his treatise against dry casks he says this:

--------------
"Nuclear power must be phased out and replaced with safer, cheaper, cleaner ways to meet our electricity needs: conservation, efficiency, and renewable sources such as wind, solar, and fuel cells."
--------------

Kevin Kamps' full document (in "png" form; shortened URLs):
Page 1: http://goo.gl/ytPBU
Page 2: http://goo.gl/WKtGT
Page 3: http://goo.gl/QhlAZ
Page 4: http://goo.gl/ro5RD
Page 5: http://goo.gl/fCXvp
Page 6: http://goo.gl/KyyWt
Page 7: http://goo.gl/MOKt4

I have great respect for Kevin Kamps, but I think it's time to "phase out" San Onofre and I thought so then. Right now San Onofre is in a significant state of disrepair. Right now wind, solar, and other renewable energy solutions can provide all the power we need AND much-needed jobs in the state. And right now, The Big One hasn't struck... yet. So what's wrong with now? I hope he will join our call to keep San Onofre closed forever!

======================================
Contact information for Ace Hoffman:
======================================


************************************************
** Ace Hoffman, Owner & Chief Programmer, The Animated Software Co.
** POB 1936, Carlsbad CA 92018
** U.S. & Canada (800) 551-2726; elsewhere: (760) 720-7261
** home page: www.animatedsoftware.com
************************************************

Saturday, June 2, 2012

“When did you start despising Southern California Edison?”

6/1/2012

Dear Readers,

I always enjoyed books about what people do for a living.  Especially firemen, soldiers, scientists, spies... and pilots.

Flying an airplane is sometimes described as "long periods of boredom interspersed with moments of sheer terror".  I imagine operating a nuclear power plant is a lot like that, too.

However, the time between moments of sheer terror might be decades, instead of, say, every time you have to land in a strong cross-wind at a no-go-around airport after an otherwise-uneventful eight hour transatlantic flight you make several times a week.

A 9.0 earthquake would certainly cause sheer terror in any nuclear reactor control room, since none are designed to withstand anything near that.  Such an event would probably be soon followed by a meltdown regardless of how cool the operator's heads are, or whether there is an accompanying tsunami inundation.

Fortunately 9.0 earthquakes don't happen very often... in fact they're completely unexpected in most parts of the world, including California.  However, here in California many scientists believe something above an 8.0 is not only possible, but it's a virtual certainty in the next 30 years!  If not that big, "The Big One" is still expected to be much larger than what any nuke here is designed to withstand.  Why wait for it?

Instead of preparing properly, by shutting the reactors down and removing the waste to a safer location, they want to keep the reactors running, making money for their operators and nuclear waste for the rest of us -- future Fukushimas... Why?  There are clean energy alternatives.  Let's use them!

Below (top) is a look at the life of a nuclear reactor operator.  It isn't often one gets such a thorough view from so close to the center of operations of a nuclear reactor.  It sounds like an awful place to be!  Below (bottom) is a look by the same author at how the "code of silence" in the nuclear industry works against the public interest.  The incentive to hide problems is enormous because of the industry-wide fear that careful public scrutiny will lead to permanent shutdown.  I hope it is a reasonable fear!

Sincerely,

Ace Hoffman
Carlsbad, CA

============================================================
 "When did you start despising Southern California Edison?"
============================================================

Real People Work at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station,

And 8 Million Real People Live in the 50 Mile Zone.

June 1, 2012

 

Written by: Bethann Chambers –
The wife of a Licensed Nuclear Reactor Operator at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS), who was retaliated against for raising safety concerns.

I was driving south on Interstate 5 into San Diego County, past the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station. The passing landscape was becoming very familiar and I knew I was getting closer to home. Earlier that evening I attended a city council meeting in Irvine and publically voiced my concerns about nuclear power for the first time. Standing in front of Irvine's mayor and city council members for 3 minutes was both terrifying, and an adrenaline rush at the same time. Part of my mind was grumbling, "What are you doing here? You could be at home in the comfort of your humble farm house, without a care in the world!" Another part of my mind was shouting, "Stand up, raise your voice, and speak the truth, for the future depends on it!" As I drove home, my mind was still wrestling with these conflicting thoughts. Suddenly, a new thought entered my mind, "When did you start despising Southern California Edison?" This new thought disturbed me, because I knew it was true. I do have a disdainful opinion of Southern California Edison, but I did not always feel this way. In fact, there was a time when I had a grateful attitude towards my husband's former employer. So how did it happen, this change of opinion? As I continued to drive home, I started to think back in my mind to pinpoint the exact events that caused my opinion of Edison to change.

My husband, James, started working at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station as a firewatch in 1983 when he was twenty-one years old. While working as a firewatch, he heard about a job opportunity to become an apprentice in the nuclear operations department. After passing a math and science proficiency test, undergoing a psychological exam, and a job interview; he was hired by Edison and started his training to become a reactor operator. My husband is a perfectionist, with an outgoing personality. In many ways he is the ideal type of person that you would want to have working at a nuclear power plant. If a procedure said to do the following steps, he would follow the procedure and do all the steps. If the rules for a particular area of the plant were that everyone needed to wear a hard hat, safety glasses, and hearing protection, he followed the rules. However, even though my husband has a mindset that is particularly suited towards working in a technical environment, he never had a philosophical allegiance to nuclear power as an industry. Working at SONGS was merely a job, a means of supporting himself and providing financial help to his mother and grand-mother. If a different job opportunity had presented itself at the same time, he could have just as readily built a career in a completely different industry. I believe that this is how life is for many people.

I was a nineteen year old college student when I met James in 1986. I did not know anything about nuclear power at the time. However, James was confident that everything he was learning about the plant systems and nuclear safety was correct, so it never occurred to me to doubt or question what Edison taught its own employees. The company had to comply with all the safe industry standards established by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), so everything must be accurate, I reasoned.

When James and I were married in 1989, I knew that he was well on his way to becoming a licensed nuclear reactor operator. In fact, he missed a week of Phase 3 training during our honeymoon and had to take a makeup exam. However, because he had not attended the lectures and only had the written materials to study, he did not get a high enough score to pass. This caused James a tremendous amount of stress; he prided himself on usually getting higher than 90%. Back then, training instructors would often falsely threaten students and tell them they would get fired if they ever failed to pass a test. Having some jerk for a training instructor, did not make learning nuclear fundamentals, and the various plant systems any easier. So even though I knew that I was marrying a reactor operator, I didn't really know what life was truly going to be like with a man that worked a rotating shift at a nuclear power plant. Yet, it didn't take long for me to discover how the rigors of my husband's job were going to affect me.

            In the early years of our marriage there were two things that began to concern me about my husband's job, and raised a red flag in my mind. The first concern I had was the level of stress I knew he experienced whenever he was in training. James was determined to do well on every written exam, and every control room simulator evaluation, and he could not relax until it was over, and he knew he had passed. The problem is that every fifth week was a week of training. The requirements for maintaining an active nuclear reactor operator's license are extensive to say the least. Does your doctor go to training every five weeks in order to maintain his or her medical license? Does your accountant go to training every five weeks to keep their certification? Do we require our governors, senators, and congress members to take an annual exam on the Constitution in order to stay in office? No, because we usually assume that once an individual learns how to do their job, they remember how to do it, and we do not have to continue training and testing them every five weeks. If nuclear power is truly as safe as we have been told, then why does the industry require licensed nuclear reactor operators to endure such an obsessive compulsive training schedule? The regulations that govern commercial nuclear power are absolutely anal for a reason, it's because the potential risks are so great.

The second thing that concerned me was the amount of required and forced overtime he worked. Right around the same time that my husband passed his license exam with the NRC, the operations department went to a 12 ½ hour rotating shift schedule. In many ways working a 12 ½ hour shift was easier on James, but it eventually had a destabilizing effect on me and our children. James' regular work schedule was very challenging; every week for five weeks he worked a different combination of either 3 or 4, day shift or graveyard shift work days with a variety of days off in between. After five weeks the whole schedule repeated itself; which meant that he never had the same schedule two weeks in a row. On top of his regular schedule he worked an insane amount of over-time. I am not joking when I use the adjective "insane" to describe how much he worked. I am convinced that whoever created the work schedule for the operations department did it with a labor law handbook and a calculator. They sat down and figured out how many hours a week they could force a nuclear reactor operator to work, while paying them the least amount of money, and providing them with the least amount of benefits. Trust me; I am not exaggerating when I say this.

The real insanity began when the reactors needed to be refueled. Typically the reactors are refueled every two years. The work control department would issue a standard refueling schedule of 45 days for each reactor; but there were always delays. During the years that my husband worked in operations; the refueling outages were often pushed out to 60, 75, and even 90 or 120 days. Because of the tremendous amount of work that needed to be done to shut down the reactor, remove the reactor vessel head, remove the used fuel to the spent fuel pool, put in the new fuel, re-bolt the reactor head in place, start up the reactor, etc. etc. there was always forced over-time. Often during these refueling outages my husband was forced to work six 12 ½ hours shifts in a row with only one day off each week which equals 75 work hours a week. After months of forced over-time we just wanted our regular life back.

The real turmoil of working in the operations department was caused by work environment attitudes, and professional peer pressure. In the early 1990's Edison made a financial decision to limit the number of licensed operators on each crew to a bare minimum. For a ten year period between 1993 and 2003, no new operators went through license training. This information can be verified with the NRC. The result of this financial decision is that all the operators who had licenses to work in the Control Room worked a maximum amount of hours. The presumed reason behind this Edison corporate decision is that in the long run it would cost the company less if they called an operator into work on a short notice work assignment and paid them double time, travel time, and meal money than to hire additional workers and provide them with all the benefits that came with the job. This financial decision, no doubt, looked very good on an accounting spread sheet, but what the bean counters at the corporate office did not factor into their calculations is the human element. They did not factor in the physical and mental demands of working a 12 ½ hour shift in operations, nor any of the stress that came with the job. The truth is that working in the operations department is significantly more difficult than working a regular day job in a cubicle. Reactor operators tend to get sick and hurt more frequently because they truly do a job that is more demanding and dangerous, but this was rarely factored into the operation's management policy. The work environment attitude was that a person was just an idiot and a loser if they got hurt on the job or called in sick. The unintended consequence is that people felt pressured to come to work when they were ill. People were also afraid to report injuries out of fear of getting in trouble or receiving a poor job appraisal. For the licensed operator in the Control Room, leaving shift early because of illness or an injury was a nightmare because someone usually had to be called in for a short notice work assignment to fill their watch. Getting vacation time was also a problem, especially during a refueling outage, even when a worker had seniority it was nearly impossible to take a day off. My husband missed so many family events during the years he worked in operations.

The event that changed my opinion of Edison happened in 1994 when my husband contracted spinal meningitis from working too many hours in a toxic environment; because of a special requirement for the air conditioning in the Control Room, 90% of the air supply is recirculated and only 10% is fresh air. James was 32 years old when he got sick. Typically, healthy people in their thirties do not get spinal meningitis; usually only individuals with fragile immune systems like babies, the elderly, and those who suffer from other chronic illnesses will get it. When my husband worked day shift he usually left our house around 4:40 a.m. while the kids and I were still asleep, so I never saw him before he left. He would arrive home around 7:30 p.m. after we had eaten dinner. When my husband came through the back door into the kitchen he looked horrible. I was shocked when I saw him because I had not seen him since the previous evening, and he appeared to be fine then. I took his temperature immediately and it was 102.5 degrees. His temperature probably would have been higher, but he had already taken some fever reducing medication. I was instantly angry, because I knew that he did not just develop a fever on the way home. He had been working in the Control Room with a fever. I asked him why he had not come home earlier, and he mumbled something about it being nearly the end of the shift before he really started to feel bad. I found it hard to believe that none of his co-workers noticed how sick he was. I think that he did not want to ask to go home because it meant that someone was going to have to be called in early, and that was going to create a problem for the Nuclear Operations Assistant (NOA). If James had gone to bed, missed a couple of days of work and gotten better, the whole incident would have just been forgotten in my mind. However, what really happened is my husband went to bed, and then around midnight he got up and called his doctor's office and spoke to the on-call physician. Something in his brain told him, "You're going to die if you don't get to the hospital." He drove himself to the emergency room because he did not want to get me and our children up in the middle of the night. While the doctor was giving him a spinal tap, so the lab could determine if his meningitis was viral or bacterial, he passed out, fell off the exam table onto the floor and hit his head. My husband stayed in the hospital for four days, and was off from work for a month. He really should have gone on short term medical leave for three months in order to fully recover. Yet, after three weeks, the NOA called to ask when he could return.  James felt pressured to go back to work, so he said he would come back the following week. He did not want it to appear like he was prolonging his illness. So what happened? They put him right back into the Control Room, when I knew that he was not completely better, and was actually going through withdrawals from all the pain medication he had taken during his recovery. Yet, no one in operations management seemed to think this was a problem just like they did not think it was a problem for him to be working in the Control Room with a fever. Honesty, integrity, and a sincere concern for the well-being of the worker has been lacking at SONGS for a long time.

What happened to my husband probably should have turned into an NRC investigation. Allowing a very sick worker to stand watch in the Control Room is clearly a violation of safe operating standards. The problem is that back in 1994 no one was going to tattle on the company. The point is that a whole lot of misconduct can go on at a nuclear power plant without the NRC ever knowing about it. The fact that 59 safety allegations were filed with the NRC in 2010, and another 40 allegations were filed in 2011, and the bulk of them filed by employees, means that the people who work at San Onofre are fed up with Edison's management. The workers at SONGS are desperately hoping the NRC will do something.

            My point in sharing this story is to give you a small glimpse into the inner workings of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, and to let you know that the criticism and scrutiny that Edison is currently receiving is well deserved and way overdue. San Onofre's poor performance record with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations (INPO), and the World Association of Nuclear Operators (WANO) has done more to condemn San Onofre than anything I could tell you. The facts truly speak for themselves. The amount of time and resources it would take to "fix" San Onofre, if that's even possible, would be monumental in scope. I believe it is time for the people of California to follow Germany and Japan's example and start the process of permanently shutting down SONGS, and moving forward with safe, reliable energy alternatives. The health and safety of the 8 million real people who live within the 50 mile radius of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station and the economic future of the great state of California should take precedence over Edison International's bottom line.

============================================================
Code of Silence by Bethan Chambers:
============================================================


1.       Workers are often reluctant to file a safety allegation against the utility he /she works for because they do not want to lose their job, or future career opportunities; which means there is a powerful incentive to stay silent.
2.       The Utility (Southern California Edison) is not going to complain about the cost of running a nuclear power plant, or the mountain of regulation they have to comply with because they want to maintain their license to operate. Therefore, the Utility stays silent about the dangers because they want to continue to pass the cost of generating electricity onto the ratepayer.
3.       The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is not an all-seeing agency that knows everything that is happening at every nuclear power plant in the country. Therefore, the NRC stays silent about the dangers of nuclear power to preserve their own jobs, because the Utility (SCE) pays to be inspected.
4.       Pro-nuclear organizations like the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations (INPO), and the World Association of Nuclear Operators (WANO) are not going to say that any particular nuclear facility is un-safe and needs to be shut down, because the more problems a utility has, the more advisors INPO and WANO can send to help solve the problem. Therefore, they have an incentive for staying silent as well, because the Utility (SCE) pays for INPO and WANO services.

5.       Who gets the rotten deal in this tangled alliance? The general public and the ratepayer. The people of southern California pay higher electricity prices to "feather the beds" of the Utility (SCE), NRC, INPO, and WANO, and in return their health and safety are at risk from a mismanaged nuclear facility. Nuclear power is only safe as long as the radiation and contamination is fully contained. As long as the containment structure and the plant systems are never compromised, then radiation exposure does not occur. There is no margin of error in nuclear power operations; everything has to be perfect or suddenly it becomes extremely dangerous.

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Contact information for the author of this newsletter:
==================================================