Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Is San Onofre a terrorist's target?

To: docket@energy.state.ca.us, bbyron@energy.state.ca.us Re: "California Nuclear Power Plant Issues" (Docket #11-IEP-1J)

July 26th, 2011

To Whom It May Concern;

Below are two articles about insider-sabotage at nuclear plants from Philip D. Lusk's Know No Nukes' weekday daily briefing for July 22nd, 2011. The first paragraph of the second article is particularly chilling to those who live around San Onofre, Indian Point, and a few other "choice" reactor sites.

If San Onofre were shut down, sabotage would immediately be much more difficult, and get more difficult as the fuel cools. Only a relatively small security team would be needed to guard the waste (it's classified just how many that would be...). Their backgrounds would, presumably, be very carefully checked. Practically the only "expertise" needed on the site would be expertise in guarding things. Not high-pressure thermodynamics, fluid dynamics, hydraulics, metallurgy, electronics, electrical systems, computer hardware, software, network security, nuclear engineering, and all the other various people who are vital (and who must do their jobs faithfully) to keeping a nuclear power plant operational and safe.

Special inspections would still be needed regularly, and when the waste is finally moved somewhere, guess what? There aren't enough experts in the world YET who really know how to do THAT safely. But letting the used reactor cores just sit there -- in pools preferably, NOT dry casks -- isn't as dangerous as having operational reactors in California, or recently-removed spent fuel.

There have been terrorism threats against reactors worldwide, including ours, for decades. That further terrorism attempts against American nuclear power plants are coming seems inevitable in light of last week's reports, as if prior reports and incidents hadn't already made it clear.

Based simply on random chance, there's about a 2% chance it will be San Onofre. Based on many other factors, it might be 10 times more likely. In fact, San Onofre might be TODAY'S TARGET.

"The terrorists" have proven time and again to be cunning, capable, smart, determined adversaries who will kill thousands on a moments' notice. 9-11 was so carefully carried out that "conspiracy theorists" STILL think there were additional bombs inside the buildings! (I'm not talking about what happened at Building Seven (or at the Pentagon, for that matter...) I'm talking about the twin towers...)

9-11 was a tragic and colossal failure to stop an insane plan.

The insane plan worked that day.

There were warnings, and clues even months earlier, and the actual acts of demonic violence could have been minimized by shooting down, say, the second plane, or the third... but no one acted fast enough. In a nuclear accident, fast action by hundreds or even thousands of people may be all that will stop a catastrophic tragedy. It is possible that the fourth ("Shanksville, PA") plane on 9-11 was heading for Three Mile Island (one is hard-pressed to figure out what else the target might have been) and only the actions of a few heroic citizens who stormed THAT cockpit saved us from a meltdown that day. If that's true, then the insane plan that worked, didn't really work at all. Damage WAS minimized, because a few alert citizens didn't wait for government action.

Nuclear power plants will ALWAYS be targets, and always have been, as the book Nuclear Power Plants as Weapons for the Enemy by Dr. Bennett Ramberg explained, in the 1980s.

It's time to get rid of San Onofre and Diablo Canyon. They are old and dilapidated. They are terrorist's beaconing beacons for wreaking catastrophic blight -- death and suffering -- on Southern California. They are not necessary; their power production can easily be replaced by other methods, and have been, virtually, many times in the past. In one 14 month period not too long ago, for example, California added more generating capacity than all our nuclear power plants combined produce. So really, it wouldn't be that hard to replace that power with alternative energy sources -- especially conservation.

Instead, the power plants have continued to operate despite the fact that they are falling apart at the seams (literally, and elsewhere). Their biggest success -- upping their "up time" to 9 hours out of every 10, on average (not particularly good for "baseline," especially when they tend to fail during natural disasters) was accomplished NOT by greater skill, efficiency, and "togetherness" on the part of the workers as they claim, but by increasing the enrichment of the uranium-235 to approximately double what it was when they started operating the reactors here, and then shutting down for refuelling less often.

One result is that, pound for pound, our "spent" fuel is far MORE dangerous than it used to be, because when it comes out of the reactor it has accumulated far more fission products. Another result is that there is more radioactive and thermal "heat" in the spent fuel, which takes longer to decay to "safe" (I use the term VERY loosely) levels after the fuel has been removed from the reactor. It undoubtedly has more plutonium, pound-for-pound, as well.

Nothing comes for free in the real world and it doesn't happen in the nuclear world either. We will all be paying for Fukushima in increased cancer rates throughout the planet. Animals and plants will all suffer needlessly from THAT tragedy.

Here in California, such a tragedy is still preventable, but only by determined action by everyone who cares about our great state. The federal regulators have proven time an again that they would approve just about anything and call it "safe" even when it isn't. The utility will lie about anything (such as: "we do our fire rounds properly") and make up any story (such as: "there are ZERO emissions from an operating reactor"), and then say it's the public that's confused. If so, it's the industry's fault.

Shut San Onofre. Shutdown before meltdown.


Ace Hoffman POB 1936 Carlsbad, CA 92018

The author has lived downwind from San Onofre for nearly 20 years. He had bladder cancer a few years ago (one known cause of bladder cancer is radiation.) He is a computer programmer.

--------------------------------------------- Attachments (2): ---------------------------------------------

2) Progress responds to terrorism threat on utilities Triangle Business Journal - July 21, 2011 http://www.bizjournals.com/triangle/news/2011/07/21/progress-responds-to-terrorism-threat.html

A recent federal report has raised alarms about the potential dangers of internal terrorist attacks at U.S. utilities, but a spokesman for Progress Energy Inc. says the Raleigh-based company has appropriate measures in place to protect itself and its customers.

It s something, obviously, we take very seriously, Progress Energy (NYSE:PGN) spokesman Mike Hughes said Thursday morning.

He adds that Progress conducts thorough background checks on all employees, including contract employees, and continues to monitor workers throughout their stay with the company. Some are subjected to psychological examinations.

As for physical protection, Progress, and indeed all nuclear energy facilities, have ramped up security measures, Hughes said, to include more security personnel and better physical barriers to prevent a break in.

Progress operates three nuclear plants in the Carolinas, including the Harris plant in Wake County.

Hughes comments came in response to questions regarding a report titled Insider Threat to Utilities by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The department issued the report July 19 regarding potential threats to private sector utilities, according to Matthew Chandler, a department spokesman.

While DHS has no specific, credible intelligence of an imminent threat posed to the private sector utilities, several recent incidents highlight the on-going threat to infrastructure in the utility sectors from insiders and outsiders seeking facility-specific information that might be exploited in an attack, he added.

The report was supposed to be confidential, but was leaked to ABC News, which did a story on it Wednesday (SEE STORY BELOW).

A Duke Energy (NYSE: DUK) spokesman did not immediately return phone calls made Thursday morning. Charlotte-based Duke, which is buying Progress for $13.7 billion, provides power in the western part of the Triangle.


3) New Terror Report Warns of Insider Threat to Utilities By BRIAN ROSS (@brianross), RHONDA SCHWARTZ and MEGAN CHUCHMACH ABC News - July 20, 2011 http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/terror-alert-warns-insider-threat-infrastructure/story?id=14118119

Sabotage by an insider at a major utility facility, including a chemical or oil refinery, could provide al Qaeda with its best opportunity for the kind of massive Sept. 11 anniversary attack Osama bin Laden was planning, according to U.S. officials.

A new intelligence report from the Department of Homeland Security issued Tuesday, titled Insider Threat to Utilities, warns "violent extremists have, in fact, obtained insider positions," and that "outsiders have attempted to solicit utility-sector employees" for damaging physical and cyber attacks.

"Based on the reliable reporting of previous incidents, we have high confidence in our judgment that insiders and their actions pose a significant threat to the infrastructure and information systems of U.S. facilities," the bulletin reads in part. "Past events and reporting also provide high confidence in our judgment that insider information on sites, infrastructure, networks, and personnel is valuable to our adversaries and may increase the impact of any attack on the utilities infrastructure."

In the materials recovered after the Navy SEAL operation that killed Osama bin Laden in May, officials found evidence bin Laden sought to repeat the carnage of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks on or around its ten year anniversary.

"The only way you can actually kill the large scale number of Americans that [bin Laden] literally was calculating was through the use of this critical infrastructure," Chad Sweet, former DHS chief of staff and co-founder of the Chertoff Group, told ABC News.

After gaining access to such sites, causing mayhem could be relatively easy, according to former White House counter-terrorism advisor and ABC News consultant Richard Clarke.

"There are a lot of very sensitive facilities where someone can get a job on the inside, get access to a control room, flip a switch, which causes an electric power grid to short circuit, causes a pipeline to explode," Clarke said.

The Department of Homeland Security said in a statement there was no specific threat.

"DHS routinely shares information with its state and local partners on a wide-range of potential threats, and as part of this responsibility, DHS issued an intelligence note to its federal, state, local, tribal and private sector partners on July 19 regarding potential threats to private sector utilities. While DHS has no specific, credible intelligence of an imminent threat posed to the private sector utilities, several recent incidents highlight the on-going threat to infrastructure in the utility sectors from insiders and outsiders seeking facility-specific information that might be exploited in an attack," DHS press secretary Matt Chandler said. "We will continue to work closely with our state and local partners, including our partners in the utility sector, to take steps to best protect from potential threats including protecting our nation's infrastructure. This includes sharing information as well as best practices."

'I am Taking This Plant Hostage

U.S. officials were stunned last year in Yemen with the arrest of an alleged American recruit to al Qaeda, Sharif Mobley, of New Jersey, who had been employed as five different U.S. nuclear power plants in and around Pennsylvania after successfully passing federal background checks.

If someone is determined, and has the right access, they could do damage that would affect thousands of lives," Sweet said.

Al Qaeda has already put out the word in its online magazine, Inspire, for "brothers of ours who have specialized expertise and those who work in sensitive locations that would offer them unique opportunities to wreak havoc on the enemies of Allah."

As evidence of American infrastructure vulnerabilities, the report specifically cites the attempted insider sabotage this April at a water treatment plant in Arizona

Officials said then a disgruntled night shift worker took over the control room and tried to create a giant methane gas explosion.

"I am taking the plant hostage," the worker said in a recorded 911 call.

There was no tie to al Qaeda and his plot failed, but the incident was a reminder of how easily one insider could create potentially deadly mayhem.

"Facilities in the United States don't have to be attacked by terrorists with airplanes or bombs outside the facility," Clarke said.


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
Carlsbad, CA
Email: ace [at] acehoffman.org


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

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

July 20th, 2011

Dear Readers,

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

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

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

The ecologist version is available online:


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

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

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


Dear Chairman Hendrie,

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

You shouldn't have, anyway.


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

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

================================================== (1) A letter of reprimand: ==================================================

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

From: http://www.animatedsoftware.com/environment/tritium/2006/EPATritiumStandard.htm

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

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

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


Note at top of page:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Ace Hoffman
Author, The Code Killers:
An Expose of the Nuclear Industry
Free download: acehoffman.org
Blog: acehoffman.blogspot.com
YouTube: youtube.com/user/AceHoffman
Carlsbad, CA
Email: ace [at] acehoffman.org


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

San Onofre: A trillion-dollar threat to SoCal; Tritium 101

[Note: corrections as noted in the next newsletter have been made here in [brackets] -- Ace, 20110720) July 12th, 2011

Dear Readers,

San Onofre Nuclear Waste Generating Station (SONWGS) is a pair of aging Pressurized Water Reactors (PWRs) in the midst of Southern California's burgeoning, vibrant, forward-thinking, technologically advanced, interconnected, health-conscious population.

It doesn't belong here at all, and it's well past time to get rid of it.

Conceived in the 1950s, the two units that still operate were designed in the 60s, built in the 70s, went online in the 80s, and have been falling apart ever since. And they have been piling up nuclear waste along our coast ever since, too -- at the horrific rate of 500 pounds per day, with nowhere to put it. There are over eight million pounds of so-called "spent fuel" at the site right now -- making it potentially worse than Fukushima in an accident.

And "spent fuel" is quite a euphemism, considering that after use, it is about 10 million times MORE hazardous than before it went into the reactor. And it will remain so for tens of thousands of years. After use, it's full of biological-systems targeting fission products.

Spent fuel's "protective cladding" -- one of the major shields of defense that the nuclear industry promotes (along with the domes, the emergency core cooling systems, backup diesel generators, and one or two other systems that may or may not work when needed (and don't always work when tested, and aren't always tested)) -- is pyrophoric and releases explosive amounts of hydrogen gas when it comes in contact with air. The gas can collect under one of the other "shields," causing an explosion.

If it sounds complicated, it is. So complicated, the "experts" got it wrong. Very wrong.

Fukushima proved the "experts" didn't understand how accidents can progress at nuclear power plants (although we had warned them pretty exactly...), and continues to prove that the "best" minds in the nuclear industry don't know what they are doing (and still won't listen to us...).

Fukushima has baffled the "experts" for more than four months now. Yet they (the NRC, DOE, SCE, TEPCO, etc.) still pretend to be experts! The public should not be fooled. Real "experts," first of all, oppose nuclear power. And even they are baffled as to how to keep Fukushima's deadly effluent away from the environment, from people, from fish, from plants, from everything that lives.

Back in the USA, San Onofre has had numerous fires, explosions, electrical shorts, radioactive coolant leaks, and even a few near-misses over the years. It was only built (rebuilt, actually) to withstand earthquakes less than one tenth the magnitude scientists predict can (and probably WILL) occur in the area.

SanO's tsunami sea wall is barely 14 feet above mean high tide! Evacuation plans are obsolete and were never workable anyway. KI tablet (potassium iodide) distribution systems in the event of an accident are a joke -- a deadly one.

Not that KI does all that much good, but it does do some good, protecting the thyroid from the uptake of radioiodine (Iodine-131), which has a half-life of about eight days. However, the PROPOSED response -- distribution after the fact -- is virtually useless, since in a meltdown, the iodine is usually (as we have seen at Fukushima) released from the fuel pellets in a matter of hours (or even minutes) as the actual meltdown occurs. Fukushima suggests this is usually followed by a hydrogen explosion, which is when everything actually gets released to the environment. San Onofre claims to have "hydrogen recombiners" which Fukushima could have had, but didn't. However, even the most passive hydrogen recombiners can fail, be poorly maintained, poorly positioned, or simply be overwhelmed.

There is a better solution, of course. Shut San Onofre down forever. It's a failed technology even without a catastrophic failure. It's not cost-effective. It never can be.

San Onofre's workers are totally unprepared for an accident. Many are foreign, speak little or no English, and can't follow the public debate about the plant. They have neither family nor roots here (there are exceptions, of course). Many are contract workers and/or temporary hires, and/or have only been at the plant for a few years, since massive replacements of contractors and SCE employees have occurred periodically.

Not surprisingly, the staff are scared to report problems, and lie to the regulators publicly and to the public regularly. They fear retaliation, and there are numerous testimonies from whistleblowers that those fears are fully justified.

It's a given that the plant is far more dangerous than it looks. Fukushima looked very pretty, too. It's easy to paint the walls and ignore the cracking, the rust, the embrittlement, the growing misalignments of parts... everything can be covered up with fresh paint! (Yes, they even paint the domes at San Onofre now and then, because so much bird poop accumulates on one, and not the other, that it looks strange and worrisome to the plant's owners; it might attract publicity again (it has in the past...)!)

More than seven million people live within 50 miles of San Onofre, and 20 million more live just beyond the 50 mile mark. San Onofre is a catastrophic trillion-dollar accident just waiting to happen.

San Clemente is the nearest city to San Onofre, just a few miles north of the plant. The mayor of San Clemente has recently assured nervous residents that the tritium which leaks out of San Onofre is minor, harmless, and safe. She uses, as her source for information on tritium, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's web site, a very poor choice (the EPA's web site wouldn't have been much better).

Over the years, San Onofre has leaked an enormous amount of tritium into the environment -- dozens of teaspoons' worth!

Of course, that doesn't SOUND like a lot!

But it takes tens of billions of gallons of water to dilute it to regulatory (drinking water) standards! That should be a clue to tritium's extreme toxicity. In fact, the current regulations are probably way too lax. Too much tritium gets out, and permissible levels are too high.

The NRC downplays the dangers from tritium as well as the difficulties in handling it. They appear, in fact, to be unfamiliar with the many ways tritium can be harmful, and even (hopefully not on purpose) present some of tritium's most dangerous properties as if they were benefits!

If enough people understand the hazard this one radioactive isotope -- tritium -- represents to humanity, perhaps it will be enough of an impetus to get the public to demand the permanent shut down of the tritium-producing, plutonium-producing reactors (merely two of over a hundred radioactive elements reactors produce and release, these two being just about as nearly at the opposite ends of the periodic table of elements as you can get, and two of the most hazardous, as well).

About 2/3rds of all U.S. reactors have recently been "discovered" (like we couldn't have guessed) to have leaked tritium; the others might also be leaking it as well (gee, I wonder...). It's time to shut down the tritium factories!

Here are ten facts about tritium (T) that every lay person should know:

1) T, aka H3, is normally bound with water (ie, a normal H and an O to make HTO, aka H2O, aka water). Tritium has a half-life of about 12.3 years.

2) Water evaporates, leaks, damages electronics and electrical equipment, flows to the sea, floods your basement, corrodes pipes, carries even more corrosive substances... Water can be nasty stuff when it's where you don't want it (tsunamis, floods, hurricanes, waterboards, inside your cell phone...).

3) No living organism, and no normal table-top chemistry process can distinguish tritium or any other radioactive substance from a stable isotope of the same substance until the moment of radioactive decay occurs. By then, of course, it's too late. (You need rows of thousands of centrifuges or other special equipment to separate various isotopes of elements. Just ask Iran, they do it all the time...)

4) Hydrogen is a basic building block of all life-forms. Proteins are molecules often containing thousands of hydrogen atoms in a precise configuration with other atoms. Damage one atom, break the special shape of the molecule in any way (as all ionizing radiation can do), and a signal protein could become a poison instead -- or at least, would fail to transmit its signal. (Life is made of signal proteins more than just about anything else.)

5) If they leak tritium, which is almost always bound up as HTO, chances are pretty good it will evaporate, and never make it into the ground. We will breath it as water vapor. It will be in doses too low to measure accurately, thanks to all the tritium everyone is already dumping into our environment. (There is very little 'natural' tritium on earth at any one time.)

6) When tritium decays, it releases a beta particle. The way beta particles harm biological systems is by the fact that they are (negatively) charged and very high speed. Damage is done on a time and distance basis: The longer and/or closer the beta particle is to another charged subatomic particle (electron) or particles (atoms, molecules) the more effect the beta particle can have on any given thing, and thus, the more damage it can cause. Therefore, virtually all the damage is done at the END of the beta particle's track. THEREFORE when the NRC or SCE describes tritium's beta particle as a "soft" or "low energy" beta particle, it is a misrepresentation, because they want you to believe that's a GOOD thing, and protects you. Actually, since they measure tritium by total energy dumped per unit of body mass, the fact that it is a relatively low energy beta release means there are more releases per total energy amount -- and thus there is MORE, not LESS, damage for a given amount of energy released! (This phenomenon is known as Bragg's Hump.)

7) Since T is usually bound with H and O as HTO (masquerading as H2O), when it decays from that state, it leaves an OH free radical molecule -- [which the body soon converts to hydrogen peroxide], which is extremely damaging to cell structures in its own right! Your body does make [hydrogen peroxide] only in very controlled ways. THIS OH molecule is almost invariably in a bad place, and causes a lot of damage for a long time (eat your anti-oxidants, folks!)

8) Normal cell death is a biologically controlled function. Cells normally live until signalled by the body's control mechanisms to commit "cell suicide" (apoptosis) and then they do so, and are absorbed by a nearby cell before completely collapsing as a structural unit. It's very controlled and happens about a million times a minute inside your body, and is part of the process of life. But random cell death causes inflammation, which is NOT a good thing! And random damage to the DNA can cause cancer, which is even worse!

9) The biological hazard rating for tritium has been raised in the past, but surely is still not high enough (it's more dangerous than they admit). Tritium is used in fewer and fewer medical procedures because it is so difficult to handle safely, and so dangerous in such minute quantities.

10) A typical reactor is only allowed to release about a thirtieth of a teaspoon of tritium in a whole year! A bad year is maybe a whole teaspoon of tritium. That's how deadly this stuff is! And if that teaspoon of tritium evaporates, do you think it gets measured accurately, and properly reported? What it does get is a special dispensation from the NRC to release the extra tritium that year.

And here is one bonus fact about tritium:

Tritium is a vital part of thermonuclear weapons. Eliminate access to tritium, and such weapons become duds after a few years. Wouldn't that be nice?

For more information about tritium, please visit my web site:


Sincerely, Ace Hoffman Independent Researcher Carlsbad, CA

-------------------------------------------------------- Iodine yield from nuclear reactors: --------------------------------------------------------

"The fission yield of iodine-129 is about 1% and the yield of iodine-131 is close to 3%. That is, about one atom of iodine-129 and three atoms of iodine 131 are produced per 100 fissions."

Source: http://www.evs.anl.gov/pub/doc/Iodine.pdf

(To produce electricity, each uranium atom can only be split once, so a lot of radioactive iodine MUST be produced to generate power from nuclear energy. -- Ace)

-------------------------------------------------------- Facts about Passive Hydrogen Autocatalytic Recombiners (PHARs): --------------------------------------------------------

From: http://elliron.com/hydrogen_r/

"The trouble-free life is 8 years. The lifetime of the PHAR is 30 yeas. The lifetime of the PHAR autocatalytic modules is 5 years. The PHAR should be placed under the dome. General maintenance every 5 years. Regenerating time is no more than 50 hr."

(Judge for yourself if so-called hydrogen recombiners are absolutely positively guaranteed to be there when you need them! Would you bet all of Southern California on it? Because you are! -- Ace)

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Great song in any language!!!


-------------------------------------------------------- From OC register: http://www.ocregister.com/news/san-307831-tritium-nuclear.html --------------------------------------------------------

Published: July 11, 2011 Updated: 1:39 p.m.

Ask the Mayor: Is tritium from San Onofre reason to worry?

Tritium, a radioactive form of hydrogen, has not been detected in the ground, water or air in San Clemente, Lori Donchak says. The city shut down its water well at the south end of town in 2006 to test and confirm that tritium at the San Onofre nuclear power plant couldn't get into the well.


A resident wants to know if there's any danger to San Clementeans from tritium leaking from the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station. It's one in a series of questions posed to San Clemente Mayor Lori Donchak on her Mayor's Blog at san-clemente.org.

San Clemente shut down its water well at the south end of town in 2006 to test and confirm that tritium in groundwater where the San Onofre nuclear plant's Unit 1 reactor was located couldn't get into the well.


MSNBC.com reports that three-quarters of U.S. commercial nuclear power plants leak radioactive tritium. As a longtime San Clemente resident, I'm seriously concerned.

I'd like to know if San Onofre is one of them. Being the closest city to San Onofre nuclear plant, does our city have any oversight on the safety of the nuclear plant?



Hi, Yong.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is the federal agency with oversight over San Onofre. Despite our proximity, the city of San Clemente has no legal or regulatory influence on the operation of the plant.

As you may know, tritium is a radioactive form of hydrogen that occurs as part of the operation of a nuclear power plant. Tritium particles pose a potential radiation hazard when inhaled, absorbed through the skin or ingested through food or water.

The city's emergency planning officer, Jen Tucker, is familiar with tritium and indicates that testing for it and other contaminants is done regularly. She says tritium has not been detected in the ground, water or air in San Clemente.

In 2006, there was evidence of tritium in groundwater where San Onofre's Unit 1 was located. At the time, the city shut down its only well until extensive tests were completed that showed that water at the plant couldn't migrate to the well and that the well was free from contamination.

Jen says questions about the current monitoring program can be sent to nuccomm@sce.com. Tritium and contamination are also addressed on the NRC's website, nrc.gov.

[ -- Mayor, San Clemente]

-------------------------------------------------------- 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
Carlsbad, CA
Email: ace [at] acehoffman.org