Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Date: October 27, 2021
To: Editor, Los Angeles Times

This letter is in response to a column by your misguided columnist Jonah Goldberg:

As someone who has had two different cancers 15 years apart, and whose wife has only one breast because the other was lost to cancer, I would like to know if there is anyone who can prove that nuclear weapons and nuclear power was **not** the cause.

In all three cases, it might be. There is no way to say for sure that it isn't.

Millions of Curies of radioactive nuclear fission products (such as strontium) and activation products (such as plutonium) have been released into the environment over the decades since the first reactor went critical in Chicago in 1942.

There is no minimum radiation dose which is considered to be "safe" according to most experts, including government scientists. All radiation exposures carry some risk -- even the medical ones (I've had countless dental x-rays, four CT scans and two PETs).

In addition to over 1,150 nuclear explosions (many in the megaton range) by the U.S., and hundreds more nuclear "tests" by other countries, accidents have happened in the so-called "commercial" nuclear industry and they will always continue to happen, because nobody is perfect, and nuclear workers have proven time and time again that they become complacent over time, and lie and cheat with regularity as well. They overestimate their abilities and underestimate the consequences of their failures.

Fukushima, Chernobyl, Three Mile Island, SL-1, Santa Susanna, the leaks at Hanford, and radioactive messes in thousands of other places in America (and thousands more around the world) all add up. Two US nuclear subs (the Scorpion and the Thresher) and at least half a dozen Russian nuclear subs have been lost at sea.

The cost in human lives from all these accidents is incalculable, especially when every accident results in someone such as Goldberg saying: "nobody died from [whichever one is being mentioned].

The cost in money is equally incalculable, but it is expensive: Nuclear weapons cost America trillions of dollars, and so-called "commercial" nuclear power plants invariably require various forms of direct or indirect payment: Subsidies, price guarantees, and practically free insurance with very low maximum payouts to victims.

No nuclear utility pays for the indefinite time the waste they create will need to be managed. Somebody else (the taxpayers of the future) will pay for nuclear waste storage, as well as for nuclear waste accidents, which are inevitable over time.

So-called "spent" or "used" nuclear fuel is so toxic that mere millionths of a gram is a fatal dose for many of the isotopes. Radioactive isotopes have been used for political assassinations in quantities smaller than a pinhead. It is an invisible killer.

There is no room for nuclear power in any responsible energy future. It is unnecessary, unaffordable, and uncompetitive compared to truly renewable and emission-free energy systems such as wind turbines, tidal energy systems, and solar energy (the sun is a convenient nuclear energy source safely located 93 million miles away). Battery backups and many other energy storage systems such as pumped water storage are also available to cover "baseline" needs during slack renewable energy times.

Electricity can be easily transported thousands of miles by transmission lines, so local short-term renewable energy shortages don't have to impact America's infrastructure. When nuclear plants "go down" they remove a lot of energy from the system because even the planned "Small Modular Nuclear Reactors" are several hundred megawatts, if they have any hope of being cost-competitive with real renewables. Most plans call for there to be clusters of SMNRs at each site.

And note this: Fukushima, Chernobyl and ALL the other nuclear accidents have actually not been nearly as bad as nuclear power can have.

There is no need for nuclear power, no need for risking so much when clean, green alternatives exist.

Ace Hoffman
Carlsbad, California

The author, 65, has been studying nuclear issues for more than 50 years (he has a collection of over 500 books on nuclear weapons and nuclear energy).

The letter below was sent to the San Clemente Times a few days before the LAT letter was sent:

To: San Clemente Times

To The Editor:

This letter is in response to the SanO Public Information Officer's recent letter in your paper:

Mr. Dobken states that nuclear fuel canisters at SanO have a "service life" of 100 years. Two points: First: Why are they only guaranteed by their manufacturer for 20 years? Second: The nuclear waste within them will be toxic for hundreds of thousands of years. What are we leaving for our progeny?

Also, while there have been no (admitted) leaks of canisters (YET), there have been a number of incidents of bad welds, as well as a nearly-dropped canister at San Onofre last year, and in a minor earthquake at an east coast reactor, the canisters shifted about four inches. At SanO there is no rebar in the cement between each canister. Furthermore, there is no adequate way to inspect the canisters for microscopic cracks which can encircle the entire canister unnoticed. Removing them (perhaps 100 years from now, and certainly not for at least several decades) can be extremely dangerous if the canister splits open during removal. There is no way to lift them from the bottom, and fully loaded they are extremely heavy.

Nuclear waste is the most hazardous stuff on earth and it is inadequately protected at San Onofre. For a rundown of the previous decades of attempted nuclear waste management in America, I've reviewed dozens of books here:

Ace Hoffman
Carlsbad, California