Our cover story this week on legendary anti-nukes activist Ace Hoffman has already generated mucho buzz and kind words. But it was very nice to get a letter from Hoffman himself.
Of course, Hoffman being Hoffman, it wasn't just your usual gracias, but rather a piece of art unto itself, complete with stats, corrections and hilarious observations, so I asked Ace if we could publish it in its entirety. Of course!
One quick note: We initially printed that Ace's real name is Russell. He actually changed it to Ace, so we apologize for that error. He'll have to tell us that story some other time, as it's a goodie!
Behold, the letter below. Any grammatical flourishes are his and his alone and have passed the grudging approval of our copy-editing department. . . .
It's quite something for any activist to get some media attention, to get any press at all, let alone to find themselves on the cover of a popular SoCal magazine. And to get there for a battle that's not even won, not hardly. . . . I don't know what to say! Frightening, humbling and probably inaccurate. But THANK YOU for the amazing "Tilting at 'NOFRE" article. When a professional cameraman showed up, I knew something big was happening. I'm amazed. Of course, I had to call my remaining parent, my stepmom, back East, and promise to send her a copy right away. The only copy I have, actually. Apparently, it's already hard to find.
And I've seen about twice as many compliments for the quality of the writing as I see for anything I ever wrote myself. People are calling it "excellent," "superb" and so forth, and having read it, I do agree, if I may say so.
San Onofre is NOT killed -- but it sure is thrashing like a dying animal -- and could be dangerous. Restart is impossible without risk -- the latest tube-wear information that's come out about Unit 2 surely confirms that fact (once again). And it cannot be restarted without enormous anger from the community -- who will be terrified that the calculations are wrong. The latest actions by the activists, still gathering in the hundreds whenever there's an important meeting -- prove that the public does NOT want this plant restarted.
Meanwhile, if I am tilting at SanO, San Onofre is tilting back, ignoring the citizens except for three "open houses" (which were, I must admit, wonderfully presented, and their top engineers came to speak to anyone who had a question. In complaining that they should have had more, I have to ask, then when will the top engineers actually get any work done?).
And while SCE tries to variously ignore/coddle the citizens (meanwhile running endless Internet ads, which I've blocked (everyone should go into google and block SCE's ads, IMO), SCE certainly hasn't been ignoring the politicians. Invitations to "fly" the "simulator" are being offered to elected officials, along with special "one-on-one" talks by the utility's public relations' "team" -- and they try to show up whenever the topic comes up for possible agendizing at various city councils. They bribe union works who want jobs with a free dinner and Costco gift cards to get them to come to public hearings, bussing them in from outside the "ingestion zone" (in other words, people who probably have no idea how dangerous a nuclear power plant can be).
Below are my suggested corrections to the article. All but one are very minor and off the top of my head. The "major" one is just that my book, The Code Killers, is a FREE DOWNLOAD from my website (in pdf format, at three resolutions). People are welcome to print it out, and I have given away several thousand copies myself, to people who show up at public hearings and speak eloquently and to city council members and so forth. I have sold a few copies as well, though since the book is self-printed and self-bound with a (claimed) hundred-year binding, on acid-free, 32-pound Hammermill paper, and of course, with how many I end up giving away, there's no profit in it by any means, but it certainly would be cool if I could make a living from it, I'll admit that. But the point is, the book can be downloaded for free or read online or printed.
As to the other errors or possible errors, I haven't looked up any of these numbers, and haven't counted the number of reactors, let alone the number of cells in the human body, but I believe these to be accurate values.
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Spent fuel: I believe the 2,000-ton figure for what's on site right now is approximately correct, but I very much doubt it's 4,000 tons, although a SCE exective had said that figure (as 8 million pounds), and for a while I had repeated it, and so had many others. Two thousand tons is enough nuclear waste to make thousands of nuclear bombs from, if you reprocessed it to extract the Pu-239 and U-235. Those reactor-core assemblies have thousands of pounds of plutonium mixed in now, a deadly element that was created just so you can turn on your lights and run your iPads. Plutonium! Two hundred thousand times more deadly than Uranium! This spent fuel also contains tens of thousands of pounds of "fission products," which are the (usually unevenly) divided halves of the uranium atoms that were split. And "spent" fuel still contains, as you mention, something like 99 percent of its original amount of U-235, which is now contaminated with other elements that are still radioactive, but can't be so easily fissioned, so the U-235 needs to be removed by reprocessing, or the whole mess needs to be stored for hundreds of thousands of years. Reprocessing is filthy and should never be done anywhere and doesn't get rid of the fission products, it just removes them from the uranium (chemically), and then they rebuild the ceramic pellets. They also have to remove various unwanted isotopes of uranium and plutonium. It's all incredibly dirty, just as Gordon Edwards says in that perfect quote from him you have in the article.
Number of reactors: 103, not 104, soon to be 102 because a reactor in Wisconsin is scheduled to be shut down in a few months. Crystal River, a reactor in Florida, is being decommissioned because it was realized that the hole they cut in the containment dome cracked the eggshell-like structure. (Sure, it's 8 feet thick at the bottom and 4 feet thick at the top. But look how big it is! Compared to a 787 turbine shaft for a javelin, it's an eggshell.)
Yucca Mountain: $10 billion. I would have pegged it at $30 billion, but you hear lots of numbers -- it depends on what you include.
Number of cells in the human body: I think most people now put this figure at closer to 10 trillion than 100 trillion (though I think my own
Age of Ace: 56, not 55. Until August.
Other than that, I didn't find anything wrong with the article except, of course, the salty language, but fortunately I wasn't being quoted, so it's not my concern. It just surprised me, but maybe it got the point across to people in OC that that quiet little pair of nuclear reactors over there by the coast is really, truly out to kill them (and very expensive). If that's what shakes 'em up so they'll face reality, I say: Phuck, yeah!
Feel free to edit this or not, and make or not make any of these suggested changes Myths will abound about me always -- good and bad, accurate and not. There's certainly no need to correct anything (except that the book can be downloaded for free (and always could be).
As to the name gaff, it's as much my fault as Ned's, and anyway, it's because he's known me so long, and I can't hold THAT against him!! Besides, next time I speak at a public hearing, I'm probably going to say my name is Don Quixote -- wouldn't you? From La Mancha, of course. Maybe I'll change it again, legally. . . .
I must find a hat like that. . . .
And please tell the artist someone said to me that the caricature on the cover "looks more like you than you do"!! I didn't sit for it, so he/she must have gone off one of the excellent photographer's photos.
Now, if we can just get that plant shut down for good, decommissioned so it can't be restarted at 70 percent or any percentage, then this Quixotic adventure will stop, and I can end my laser-beam focus on that beast o'r yonder cliffside. . . .