This situation continues to be an emergency, with increasing radioactive contamination of air, sea, water sources, and land. A news media blackout prevents vital news updates. Many actions are needed to alert the public to this active situation and solve the growing radiation which is harming all life worldwide
Provisions in the bill includie would waiving nuclear waste restrictions. Oppose H.R. 1
SIGN LETTER BELOW
The House of Representatives is bringing H.R. 1, the Polluters over People Act, to the floor next week. Join this community sign on letter opposing this polluter giveaway that wouldÂ exacerbate the climate crisis, perpetuate environmental injustices, and undermine U.S. economic and national security by prolonging reliance on risky and volatile energy sources. Its sweeping changes to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the Mineral Leasing Act, the Mining Law of 1872, and the Clean Water Act prioritize polluter profits over the public health and exhibits an astonishing disregard for government accountability and the voices and welfare of communities impacted by federal decisions.
The House of Representatives is bringing H.R. 1, the Polluters over People Act, to the floor. Join this community sign on letter opposing this polluter giveaway that would exacerbate the climate crisis, perpetuate environmental injustices, and undermine U.S. economic and national security by prolonging reliance on risky and volatile energy sources. Its sweeping changes to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the Mineral Leasing Act, the Mining Law of 1872, and the Clean Water Act prioritize polluter profits over the public health and exhibits an astonishing disregard for government accountability and the voices and welfare of communities impacted by federal decisions.
Organization Sign on Deadline: Monday, March 27, 12 PM Eastern. We will only display organization name, not individual staff names.
March 27, 2023
Re: Vote Recommendation on H.R. 1, the “Lower Energy Costs Act”
On behalf of our millions of members and supporters, the undersigned organizations write to express our strong opposition and to urge you to vote NO on H.R. 1, the so-called “Lower Energy Costs Act,” which the House will take up next week.
This legislation would exacerbate the climate crisis, perpetuate environmental injustices, and undermine U.S. economic and national security by prolonging reliance on risky and volatile energy sources. Its sweeping changes to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the Mineral Leasing Act, the Mining Law of 1872, and the Clean Water Act prioritize polluter profits over public health and exhibit an astonishing disregard for government accountability and the voices and welfare of communities impacted by federal decisions.
Division A would encourage new fossil fuel production and infrastructure, despite the scientific consensus that there is no room for investment in new fossil fuel production if we are to keep the world on a 1.5°C compatible pathway. It would also undermine bedrock environmental laws, including NEPA, by short-circuiting permitting processes and limiting public input. NEPA is a critical environmental law and an important tool for frontline and environmental justice communities to influence federal infrastructure projects that will impact them the most.
Division A’s most egregious provisions:
Repeal the Methane Emissions Reduction Program created by the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). This critical program supports efforts to reduce methane emissions from the oil and gas sector, improve methane monitoring, fund environmental restoration, and help communities reduce the health impacts of pollution.
Undercut public transparency and input from communities by arbitrarily limiting the time for environmental reviews. The bill alters the approval process for gas pipelines by requiring all other federal and state agencies to defer to FERC.
Strip away the federal government’s responsibility to examine the full impacts of LNG expansion on US energy markets, the environment, and local communities. It would make it easier to approve LNG exports by removing the first three sections of the Natural Gas Act, which require a public interest determination for LNG exports to non-FTA countries and by mandating that FERC deem gas exports in the public interest. LNG exports negatively impact Americans by exacerbating climate change, raising domestic energy prices, and perpetuating environmental injustices, and these factors need to be taken into account when deciding whether to approve additional LNG export terminals.
Authorize the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to waive the Clean Air Act (CAA) and Solid Waste Disposal Act (SWDA) requirements for waste produced by certain energy facilities. Exempting energy waste potentially including everything from fracking wastewater to mine processing facilities and tailing sites to nuclear facilities from these laws threatens the health of people in frontline communities, as well as our air and water. The waste from energy production are some of the most threatening products and sites, and often they exist for hundreds of years, even in perpetuity, which is part of the reason why the Superfund program is overwhelmed.
Undermine the Toxic Substances Control Act by short circuiting the review and approval process for new chemicals used in the energy sector, whether that is for fracking, petrochemicals, mining or dozens of other products. This rushed and weak assessment, which would lead to default approvals, would result in the blind rubber-stamping of chemicals for use in energy that have deleterious impacts on human health and the environment. Virtually any chemical that plays a role in the production, refining, distribution, and use of energy could be designated as “critical” by the Department of Energy.
Allow the EPA Administrator to circumvent the scientific process of approving or denying flexible air permitting at the agency. Doing so could potentially allow the EPA Administrator to increase air pollution from so-called “critical energy resource facilities,” subsequently harming environmental and public health. A broad spectrum of facilities that emit toxic air pollution could evade scrutiny for health impacts, including processing and refining products of oil, gas, coal, minerals, and fertilizers.
Modify the organization of the Department of Energy, taking the authority on many issues and processes that are vital for the protection of communities, air, lands, and water away from those who have the expertise in understanding the potential impacts of extraction and production, whether that is the Department of Interior (DOI) or Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In doing so it makes the only metric for consideration economic, which would mean that communities, lands, and waters would be sacrificed.
This Division also contains a provision purporting to support domestic supplies of “critical minerals,” but in reality creates a new legislated term–“critical energy resources–which the majority has defined to mean virtually anything related to the energy sector, whether that is oil and gas, coal, petrochemicals or nuclear production, mineral processing, and refining.
Other notably problematic provisions in the remainder of Division A would:
Prohibit the President from issuing a moratorium on fracking unless authorized by Congress. Fracking releases massive amounts of methane, a potent greenhouse gas that has more than 80 times the power of carbon dioxide over a 20-year period, driving approximately one quarter of the warming our planet has experienced to date. Fracking also harms local communities and ecosystems by releasing air pollutants and contaminating water sources
Exempt certain energy facilities from requirements to secure an interim permit before operating, instead allowing the facilities to operate before securing such a permit. The result could be the release of harmful pollutants into our air and water, threatening the environment and health of people in frontline communities. The facilities that could receive a permit without an accurate assessment of their impact include everything from radioactive waste to petrochemicals to fertilizer to mining waste, all extremely toxic industries.
Express disapproval of President Biden revoking the Presidential Permit for Keystone XL pipeline. If built, Keystone XL would have carried 830,000 barrels per day of the dirtiest oil on the planet, threatening our climate, farmland, critical water resources, and wildlife habitat along the pipeline’s path.
Express the sense of Congress that the federal government should not restrict the export of crude oil or other petroleum products. Increased oil drilling and exports have enormous climate repercussions and pollute communities and ecosystems. They also open U.S. consumers to the whipsaw effects of geopolitical tensions and conflicts, creating energy instability and often driving significant increases in energy pricesThe federal government must ensure that these exports do not compromise US climate and environmental justice goals or undermine our global climate leadership.
Title I would take us in the wrong direction on onshore and offshore oil and gas leasing. It would lock in decades’ worth of fossil fuel infrastructure, preclude protections for millions more acres of public lands, split estates, and offshore waters, and handcuff the Biden Administration’s ability to address the climate crisis through thoughtful management of our shared public resources. Like many recent proposals from the present House majority, it attempts to further prop up the federal fossil fuel program despite rising (and record) production, and industry’s existing access to tens of millions of acres of our shared public spaces and thousands of approved and unused permits to drill on federal lands and in offshore waters.
To start, Title I:
Mandates leasing onshore and offshore, eviscerating long-standing precedent that defers leasing decisions to the President and the Secretary of the Interior
Rushes oil and gas drilling permits through the environmental review process with zero regard for community input, effects on endangered species, or emissions consequences
Exempts as many permitting decisions from the federal review process as possible
Severely restricts the President’s authority to protect specific lands with natural, cultural, or scientific significance
Repeals the hard-fought common-sense reforms to the outdated oil and gas leasing program that were enacted in the Inflation Reduction Act to ensure that industry pays a fairer share when reaping—and profiting from —shared, public resources
Title II, which incorporates the BUILDER Act, would eviscerate NEPA and fundamentally gut the review of environmental, health, and economic impacts of decisions by over 80 agencies in the federal government. If passed, local community voices would be silenced, the public would be essentially unable to hold the federal government accountable, and polluting industries would be allowed to steer a review process designed to be in the public, not private, interest.
The ways this bill would radically undermine informed government decision-making and accountability are too numerous to detail here, but a few merit particular attention:
Dramatically Narrows Application of NEPA and Limits the Scope of Reviews – The bill would radically limit the application of NEPA by redefining the threshold consideration of what is a “major federal action” for the purposes of NEPA. Further, the bill excludes oil and gas gathering lines, federal loans, projects not occurring on federal lands, loan guarantees, and other forms of financial assistance from NEPA, which could potentially allow projects such as offshore oil and gas development, coal fired generating facilities, LNG projects, nuclear facilities, roads, bridges, highways, and concentrated animal feeding operations to evade any review or public scrutiny. For reviews that do occur, it relieves agencies of any responsibility to undertake any new research necessary for informed decision making and potentially prevents the consideration of upstream and downstream impacts of decisions, thus codifying climate denial into federal decisions.
Essentially Eliminates Judicial Review – In addition to reducing the statute of limitations to a mere 120 days, the bill would bar legal challenges to categorical exclusions as well as many environmental assessments. For the few remaining projects subject to judicial review, injunctive relief would be prohibited, thus ensuring that projects move forward regardless of how egregiously deficient a review or harmful the impacts of a project on a community or the environment.
Allows Inherent Conflicts of Interests In Review – The bill would allow project sponsors to prepare their own environmental reviews, thus eliminating objective analyses about the environmental and related social and economic effects of federal actions and institutionalizing bias in the review process. This potentially undermines the entire purpose of NEPA to have federal agencies make informed, unbiased decisions in the public interest.
Prioritizes Project Sponsors Over the Public Interest – The legislation not only would impose arbitrary timelines on reviews but would also prohibit an agency from extending the time if needed to do essential scientific work or to accommodate public comment, unless the project sponsor agrees. Further, the bill would severely narrow what has long been considered the “heart” of the NEPA process, by prioritizing consideration of alternatives that meet the project sponsor goals.
Finally, Title III would exacerbate deficiencies in the existing 151-year-old mining law, result in an unnecessary increase in mining on federal public lands, and put at risk irreplaceable protected lands, special places, endangered and sensitive wildlife, tribal sacred sites, and culturally significant sites.
Current mining law has allowed for the pollution of America’s environment and waterways, placing additional unjust burdens on communities who have already borne the brunt of our nation’s toxic mining legacy. The GAO estimates America is littered with hundreds of thousands of abandoned mines while the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates hardrock mines have polluted 40% of the headwaters of western U.S. watersheds and will cost taxpayers more than $50 billion to clean up. Under current law, taxpayers are potentially liable for billions more in cleanup costs at currently operating mines because the legal requirements for mining companies to remediate lands and waters remain inadequate. This legislation does nothing to address the legacy of abandoned mines or promote remediation of American lands and waters.
Of particular concern, this title upends more than a century of practice by validating mining claims under the Mining Law of 1872 before the claimant has proven a mineral discovery. Currently, mining claims do not become valid just because the claimant says so: mining rights fully vest only after the miner discovers valuable minerals. Yet, under Section 20307, a claimant would no longer need to actually prove they discovered valuable minerals. Instead, any person could “claim” mining rights on unwithdrawn public lands merely by grounding a stake, paying a fee, and filing some paperwork. This section would effectively lock out most other uses of public lands, prioritizing mining instead regardless of whether those lands had any value for mineral development.
Title III also continues the current majority’s constant attempts to unnecessarily prop up the domestic uranium industry. Under Section 20308, the U.S. Geological Survey is once again directed to reevaluate its list of critical minerals. However, under this bill, “fuel minerals” are now defined to specifically exclude uranium, making it an automatic candidate for consideration despite its dominant use as a fuel mineral.
Division C (as well as section 10008(e) of Division A) would weaken state and tribal authority under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act, one of the law’s most important provisions empowering states. Native, rural, and socioeconomically disadvantaged communities have been fighting to stem the marginalization accompanying resource extraction for decades and Section 401 enables those communities to work through states and tribes to protect their waters.
States and authorized tribes depend on the Clean Water Act Section 401 certification process to ensure that projects requiring federal licenses and permits will not harm the waters within their borders—projects like dams, river alterations, wetland fills, and interstate pipelines. If this bill is enacted, state and tribal experts would lose a key oversight tool for activities that can threaten state and tribal investments in pollution control programs, fish recovery programs, temperature control mechanisms, minimum-flow requirements, and other essential activities.
The bill seeks to limit states’ longstanding authority under Section 401 to broadly consider the impact of a project or activity on water quality. It would significantly curb Section 401’s express authority enabling states to make certification decisions based on requirements of state law, which would severely hamstring states’ and tribes’ ability to comply with laws they have adopted to maintain and improve the condition of their water bodies. As tribes often do not receive the required government-to-government consultation, they depend on Section 401 certification to ensure their waters remain protected. Rollbacks in this proposed legislation would severely restrict the usage of this tool, leaving tribes without one of the few tools they have to ensure their waters are healthy enough to support tribal rights and traditions.
H.R. 1 would encourage new fossil fuel production and infrastructure, locking us into increased extraction, high and volatile energy prices, and even greater profits for fossil fuel companies. It would undermine bedrock environmental laws through its short circuiting of government accountability, meaningful public input, and review. It would put the interests of industry ahead of the public. We urge all Members to vote NO on H.R. 1, and to instead prioritize efforts to meet the challenge of the climate crisis, secure our clean energy future, and protect public health, community voices, public lands, waters, and oceans.
Hybrid meetings with public comment in Illinois, Texas, Pennsylvania, and Georgia.
Press Release from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Docket ID NRC-2018-0296
March 14, 2023 CONTACT: Scott Burnell, 301-415-8200
NRC Seeks Comment on Proposed Revision to Generic Environmental Impact Statement for Renewing Reactor Licenses
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission will hold four additional hybrid meetings around the country as the agency seeks comment on a proposed rule to update the agency’s license renewal Generic Environmental Impact Statement.
The meetings will be accessible via Microsoft Teams. Those interested in attending online should register ahead of time by clicking on the webinar link in the meeting notices below. The meetings will be from 6-8 p.m. local time at each location, and the staff will host a 30-minute open house prior to each meeting.
The meetings will be: March 28 at the Marriott Chicago Naperville, 1801 N. Naperville Blvd. in Naperville, Illinois; March 30 at the Marriott Dallas/Fort Worth Westlake, 1301 Solana Blvd., Building 3, in Westlake, Texas; April 4 at the Alloy King of Prussia, 301 West DeKalb Pike in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania; and April 6 at the Courtyard by Marriott Atlanta Decatur Downtown/Emory, 130 Clairemont Ave. in Decatur, Georgia.
The proposed rule is in response to a 2022 Commission order that concluded the license renewal GEIS did not analyze the environmental impacts of a subsequent license renewal term (from 60 to 80 years of operation). The proposed rule amends the relevant rule language to account for initial license renewal and one term of subsequent license renewal, redefines the number and scope of the environmental issues that must be addressed during the review of each application for license renewal, and updates related guidance to fully address subsequent renewal.
The GEIS covers environmental topics relevant to all nuclear power plant operators seeking renewed licenses. The document accounts for new or revised environmental impacts, changes in regulations or guidance, and applies what the agency has learned during previous license renewals.
The public meetings are one method for submitting comments before the May 2 deadline. Staff will consider the comments before finalizing the rule and GEIS for Commission consideration.
Comments can also be submitted via regulations.gov under Docket ID NRC-2018-0296, via email to Rulemaking.Comments@nrc.gov,
or via mail to Secretary, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC 20555-0001, ATTN: Rulemaking and Adjudications Staff.
From NoNukesCalifornia/ Ecological Options Network
This week people from around the state and the entire country will gather in Ward Valley, California to remember and celebrate the 25th anniversary of an historic people’s victory – the shutdown of a proposed nuclear waste dump project that would have endangered the water supply of Arizona, Southern California and Northern Mexico.
It was a victory of over a decade of persistent non-violent resistance by a coalition of Native American tribes and numerous other activist organizations who joined forces in an inspiring example of the impact united people power can have. That power was again shown in the successful campaign leading to the shutdown of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) in 2013.
In his book Doing Democracy – The MAP Model for Organizing Social Movements, the late social movement theorist Bill Moyer [not the TV guy] stressed the importance for activists to remember and celebrate their victories.
In 1989, a small group of Californians –including Phil Klasky, Ward Young, Rachel Johnson, Pam Dake and EON Co-Director Mary Beth Brangan – joined the Fort Mojave Indian Tribe and a few residents of Needles, California to help begin a movement to stop a planned nuclear waste dump at Ward Valley in the Mojave Desert near the Colorado River. Diane D’Arrigo of NIRS gave expert organizing assistance and Dan Hirsch of Committee to Bridge the Gap and Roger Herried of Abalone Alliance provided technical and procedural help.
Considered by many a hopeless cause at the beginning, over time the movement grew to include scientists, environmentalists and the region’s many Native American tribes. After a ten-year battle, an peaceful occupation at the proposed site and the powerful involvement of Native American tribal organizers, a judge’s ruling in 1999 brought an end to the planned dump.
This film – produced in thirty years ago and re-mastered from an archival copy – tells the story of that successful movement’s beginning. It portrays many of the now-fallen peaceful warriors who played important roles in the successful campaign and whose memories will be honored at the Ward Valley gathering.
The film’s analysis of radioactive waste issues is as relevant today as when it was first released.
Scott Rainsford, a former US Coast Guard member, discovered a serious nuclear incident at the PG&E owned nuclear power plant in Humboldt California. This was the first commercial power plant in California and according to Rainsford this incident and release of radioactive material was covered up by PG&E and the US government.
Additional references following transcript.
UNOFFICIAL TRANSCRIPT (based on auto-transcript)
Dec 12, 2020
Steve: This is Steve Zeltzer with Work Week and I’m speaking with Scott Rainsford. And Scott is formerly in the coast guard and safety expert. And he has some information he wanted to talk to us about this morning in relationship to Humboldt nuclear power plant. And that was PG&E’s first nuclear power plant, the first one as a matter of fact in California, and it had some issues which we’ve gone into in the past with Bob Rowan who was a PG&E health and safety inspector at the plant. And he had some issues and he was retaliated against.
And Scott has done some videos and documentaries about what was going on at that plant. So, welcome to Work Week, Scott.
Scott: Well thank you
Steve: So Scott, you were in the Coast Guard in 1978. Why don’t you talk about how you came to become involved with the Humboldt nuclear power plant?
Scott: Prior to coming up to Humboldt County, I was a marine science technician in active duty Coast Guard. And I operated several laboratories on board a high endurance cutter in the coast guard for a number of years. So there was a fair amount of scientific background. So when I came up here to go to Humboldt State University majoring in oceanography and geology — the Coast Guard Reserve up here is mostly a search and rescue port security facility with small boats and helicopter station – they didn’t exactly know what to do with my expertise. So my commanding officer in the Coast Guard Reserve which I transferred from active duty into the reserve, earned a little extra money for my college studies, decided that, “Hey you understand wind and weather tides and currents. Why don’t you visit the major facilities in the area and see if you can update their contingency plan?”
So a meeting was arranged where I went to the reactor, PG&E’s nuclear reactor unit 3, and reviewed what their contingency plan was.
So in late 1977, winter of ’77 – ’78, I went to the reactor. I sat down, I read their contingency plan, and then I asked if they ever had a chance to use it, because I wanted to see how well it had worked.
They brought me out a report marked “confidential” which was written by a man named Shiffer. Now this report was a nuclear operator’s log.
When a reactor is operating,there’s someone in charge called a nuclear operator and he keeps a log with a time annotation and then what happens in every major occurrence during his watch.
Now the operator’s log that I was presented with described an accident that occurred on July 17 1970. And this log was that I was provided was only, say, three pages long or so, typewritten double-spaced, almost triple-spaced, and it describes the following:
There was a loss of outside power. And the reactor at the time was operating at full power which was about 65 megawatts of power. The reactor pressure was 1104 psi. The coolant temperature was 560 degrees Fahrenheit.
And all of a sudden when they lost power, the feed water pumps shut down, which means that there is a loss of coolant and the safety systems started failing one after another after another – a cavalcade of failures and he didn’t, he did not understand why this was happening.
Now July 17, 1970, was a Friday. It also happened to be a training day at the reactor. So there were an excess of trained qualified people there. Listed as the operating, nuclear operator was a man named Leach and while he was operating the reactor, Mr. Shiffer, who was not only a senior nuclear operator, licensed but he was also a licensed nuclear engineer, he was one of PG&E’s best and brightest, Stanford University, chemically-trained, also trained at Vallacito’s research reactor down in the San Francisco East Bay area. So he was highly qualified.
So when this accident started, he took command of the reactor from Mr. Leach, and he started directing people to try and figure out why everything was failing. And things were progressing so fast that he had a hard time keeping up
So a number of electrical monitoring systems had failed, and probably the two most important were a device that keeps a log of the coolant level in the reactor, and another piece of important equipment would be the main pressure sensor which also failed.
So this is what is supposed to happen: when you lose outside power, as I mentioned, the feed water pumpshut down. What happens when that occurs is the reactor is producing a large amount of heat, and without the heat being able to be discharged through the normal power- producing process through a heat exchanger, the heat builds up very fast in the reactor and boils the liquid coolant in the reactor, which causes the pressure to jump very fast.
So what was supposed to happen was in that occurrence, there is a vital piece of equipment called an isolation condenser. Some people call it an emergency condenser, because that’s the primary function of this device. And what it does is it takes this high pressure steam coming from the reactor that’s out of specification, and runs this radioactive steam through this condenser. It’s a large vat partially filled with water with baffles that the steam goes through. The steam is cooled down, condensed back into water, cooling quality water, and that put back into the reactor to keep the core covered. It failed because a condensate return valve failed open. Later the investigation revealed that a gate in that valve had been installed backwards. So without that device in operation, they could not control the pressure in the reactor vessel without losing coolant water that was not being replaced.
One of the backups is pressure relief valves. There were several of them. Each valve that opened releases steam from the reactor at the rate of 400,000 pounds per hour, which equates to 800 gallons per minute. And that steam, the radioactive steam, is piped into a device called a taurus, or pressure suppression pool. It’s a donut-shaped device that’s shown in my video, and it deposits that steam, that radioactive steam, into that container.
So without the emergency condensor functioning, the reactor is losing coolant water in the form of steam at a remarkable rate.
So Mr. Shiffer, who had taken command, figured that he better shut this down, otherwise he’s going to uncover the core, which did happen. And we know that there’s several ways to determine that the core was uncovered. But when he shut these pressure relief valves down, several pipes in the reactor started bursting. For example, a inch-and-a-half in diameter high-strength stainless steel pipe going from the reactor for the purposes of instrumentation came out, that goes out from the reactor into the dry well, there was a four -and-a-half inch rupture in that pipe.
There was a baffle, stainless steel baffle, also in that system, that was affected by the pressure, which also ruptured.
So the plant is starting to come apart. There was, according to witness reports, abstract (abject) panic in the control room.
The control room when they lost power, every emergency indicator alarm sounded. The control room was on battery power, but the batteries did not provide power to much else in the facility. They were mostly to power the control room indicators.
So what’s supposed to happen is whenever the reactor is operating, the one of the other two petroleum-based units, generators, must be working for the sole reason that in case of an emergency, they could supply emergency outside power to the reactor. That unit number two was in operation. The circuit that goes, the emergency circuit that goes from unit two to the reactor unit three failed, because a maintenance crew several months before had left an electrical cable disconnected in the switch yard, and they didn’t know it.
So that backup system failed.
So eventually it came down to a propane generator which worked, did work according to specification, but it only supplied enough power for some of the emergency instruments and enough power to scram the reactor, which means the control rods were inserted all the way into the reactor.
But there’s still a large amount of heat being produced. It’s not a light switch shut off.
So Mr. Shiffer, faced with this loss of outside power, which by the way was caused by another maintenance crew going to a substation called Mitchell Heights, which is oh perhaps four or five miles away, as the crow flies. And at 9:21, this maintenance person was going to do some maintenance on a high tension line, high voltage line at that substation. The maintenance worker failed to verify that this 60,000 volt line was dead, when in actuality, it was live. He tried to open an oil circuit breaker, which is the most competent circuit breaker, before working on that line. He couldn’t operate it, because in the mechanism on the previous day, another maintenance crew had left a block of wood in that mechanism, preventing this next day the maintenance worker from using the oil circuit breaker. So this maintenance person opened an air circuit breaker which is not competent to handle the transient of an operating hot 60,000 volt line. It melted. There was a fireball. That’s what caused the power outage at the reactor. That’s what was delivering the voltage to the nuclear unit.
Faced with all these failing systems, with the situation where you had the the reactor coming apart, ruptured pipes, ruptured stainless steel baffles, rapid loss of coolant to the reactor in the form of steam, Mr Shiffer started calling for help
And I’m reading this at the reactor during this visit.
And his first call was to Vallecitos research reactor where he was trained. And he said, “We’ve got this situation. What do we do?” And I’m condensing this, of course.
And they didn’t know. They referred him to research facilities and in the midwest near Chicago also near, the Dresden facility, a nuclear complex 30 miles outside of Chicago
He asked them, “We’ve got this situation. What do I do?” They did not have an answer.
They recommended that he call the military.
So being in the military, I knew that the experts in the field of nuclear power at that time were the Navy. And indeed many of the nuclear operators at reactors throughout the country were prior Navy nuclear operators. And the experts in the Navy are in Idaho at Bettis Naval Research Center, 30 miles west of Idaho Falls.
So he contacted them. He got a plan, and the report that I was reading, that I held in my hand, did not spell out what this plan was, but it just said that they delivered a plan.
So Mr. Shiffer called Vallecito’s research reactor again and said, “This is what the Navy has recommended I do. “
And Vallecitos said, “You better get permission from the home office at 245 Market Street in San Francisco to proceed with that plan,” because they were very concerned about what this plan entailed.
So Shiffer did that. He called the home office, told them what the plan was, and asked if he had permission to proceed. And in this report, the response from home office said, and I’ve got almost the exact wording, it said, “Do what the military says.”
So after that, in this report, there were a number of readings in the form of numbers, and the first one to my memory was 1220.
It was not labeled, but it could only be one of two things, both with the same result.
One was the pressure.
Now as I said before, the main pressure sensor in the reactor was down because it was on outside power which failed, and it was not supplied emergency power from the propane generator. But they did have a pressure sensor by the turbine board which measures pressure at the turbine in an area away from the reactor. So they were taking pressure readings from this turbine board, and it showed the pressures substantially out of specifications — too high — and which means, it indicated that the emergency condenser had failed.
Also, the other use or potential reading that the 1220 indicates, that’s what the setting was for the pressure relief valves to open. And if the pressure relief valves opened at 1220 psi, that means that the emergency condenser, the isolation condenser, had failed.
So it both indicated the same thing.
So following that was approximately a dozen other readings. Most of them were labeled, and I cannot remember all of them, but immediately after those readings on this report that I held in my hand, Mr. Shiffer called the Humboldt County sheriff’s department activating the contingency plan, which obviously is the reason that they presented this paperwork to me for that day.
So when the contingency plan is activated, it’s only done in an extreme emergency.
There is a legally mandated amount of monitoring must happen to establish the level of radiation released and where it went.
So I asked to see the result of that monitoring, and my request was denied.
So at that point I was probably white as a ghost, and I was not able to take a copy of that nuclear operator’s log because it was marked “confidential”.
So I went back to my Coast Guard unit to report what I had seen to my commanding officer, and as I showed in my video, there were a line ofpeople at the reserve unit that said, “We know. We know. The Coast Guard District will handle it.”
And I protested. I said, “No. This is serious.”
And they said, “We know. The Coast Guard 12th District will handle this. Drop it.”
So I did. So as years went by, I befriended a number of people in the community, and a lot of people that that I knew were coming down with cancer and dying.
And I asked them you know, “Where did you grow up? Where do you live? Where did you go to school?” And a lot of them said, “I grew up by the nuclear power plant.””I went to South Bay Elementary School.”
Now for those that do not know, South Bay Elementary School is just a few hundred yards downwind from the reactor. I say downwind, because it was the prevailing wind pattern during most of the year. So whatever comes out of that reactor goes towards the South Bay Elementary School.
PG&E operated 36 monitoring stations throughout the region. The furthest north is by Humboldt State University about 10 miles away to the north. The furthest south is towards a town called Fortuna. And seven of those 36 monitoring stations have constant air monitors that also revealed the amount of particulates in the air.
And that was one of Bob Rowen’s primary duties was to collect the results of those monitoring stations.
One of the things that got him in trouble was he noticed that one of the seven air monitors was at South Bay Elementary School, and it had been taken down. And he said that he thought it was crazy to reduce the amount of monitoring at that elementary school. And he protested that, and that got him in trouble. And he did not understand why the single most important monitoring station of all the 36 would be reduced.
So I went to that school in later years and looked at what was there and briefed the superintendent — I believe his name was Paul Meyer; Imight be an error, this was years ago. And briefed them that there had been an accident and if he had been informed of this accident.
He said, “No, but I’m on the citizens advisory board or community advisory board – CAB — and I’ll ask PG&E.” So I never did hear another response from him.
So there was an investigation by the Atomic Energy Commission.
What eventually happened, according to records, was they were able to deliver outside power to the reactor from unit two. They found the disconnected cable and delivered power. The feed water pumps came back on. The reactor had returned to normal. Supposedly at the end of what this report said was “no big deal”. However, I found that there was some major inconsistencies and deceptions in this report.
Years later I tried through the process of FOIA’s Freedom of Information Act, to get more information on this incident, and I was thwarted every time.
I went through the university, Humboldt State University journalism department to help compose a FOIA, and they assigned a journalism student to help deliver this FOIA. It was good practice for him as well. And we received about a hundred pages of description of this accident in which you could only read a handful of pages. They were not redacted; they were just so out of focus, there was no possibility of reading what had been delivered.
So I called the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and asked for a redo, and they said, Well, you can file another FOIA, but you need to be aware that there are six or seven reasons that we can deny you this information. And they sent me a letter confirming what they had said.
So that’s just one example of several FOIAs that I later attempted.
So I’m going to take a break here, okay, Steve?
Steve: Okay, we’ve been speaking with Scott Rainsford, and he was with the coast guard and he discovered a nuclear accident at the Humboldt nuclear plant run by PG&E.
Now, Scott, you’ve been talking about the accident that took place and the fact that it was covered up, it was kept secret by PG&E and by the government. And you’ve come forward with this information about it, and you’re concerned that people were actually contaminated as a result of the release during that incident, that accident.
Why has this been kept covered up? And don’t you think that the people of Humboldt, the people of California deserve to know what happened at the Humboldt plant during this accident and shut down
Scott: Very much so. I discovered that through my own research and investigation that the nuclear core, the fuel core, had been uncovered. During this event, a greater reason why Shiffer shut off the pressure relief valves is he discovered that, through all these readings that the military required him to get, that they had uncovered the core.
Now when the core gets uncovered, the fuel cladding that PG&E had installed after the original failed stainless steel cladding fuel rods from before, that Bob Rowen was so concerned with because they immediately started cracking and failing and caused the plant to be recognized as the dirtiest plant in the country at the time, and you’ll see that in a report in Science magazine, June 18, 1971, an article written by Gillette.
So PG&E replaced the stainless steel fuel cladding fuel rods with a much more competent zircaloy-clad fuel rod. That is a much more expensive fuel rod and that’s what the military uses, because under normal operation, those fuel rods are much more competent.
However, they have a flaw, and that’s flaw is in the loss of coolant accident, in other words uncovering the core, the core is, as the liquid water falls below the level of the fuel rods, the fuel rods are now bathed in high temperature steam. Steamcannot cool a fissioning fuel rod. They overheat, and at a certain temperature, a chemical reaction occurs. It’s an exothermic redux reaction, for you chemists out there. And so they create their own heat, adding to the problem. The chemical reaction produces ZrO2. In other words, the zirconium is oxidized, and it produces hydrogen gas at an extremely fast rate. Empirically, under empirical conditions, hydrogen gas is explosive at 18 per cent by volume in an oxygenated environment. Under reactor conditions, it has been found that it’s explosive at roughly 14 per cent by volume. So it happens fast.
So when they uncovered the core, and the pressure relief valves were opened, hydrogen gas and this steam and the breakdown of the zircaloy- clad fuel rods which crack and blister under those conditions, all that volume of gas was going into the pressure suppression pool, otherwise known as a taurus. If that concentration goes up to 14 per cent, it’s gonna explode. That’s what caused Fukushima reactors to explode. The same thing. The fuel at Fukushima was uncovered. It was a high temperature steam environment. The chemical reaction occurred. It produced a large amount of hydrogen gas. It built up to 14 to 18 percent, and exploded. You can see it on the internet.
So that’s another reason why Shiffer shut off those pressure relief valves.
So what do you do with this pressure, that’s building up that’s causing the reactor to come apart?
They had to get rid of the pressure and this hydrogen gas.
So, they could release it to the environment, but they didn’t want to do that because it was extremely contaminated because of the breakdown of the fuel rods. When the fuel rods break down with the cracks and blisters, it gives direct access of the environment to those fuel pellets inside the fuel rod. So it’s heavily contaminated.
So what they decided to do, and what’s in this report of the accident, is they created a pathway from the reactor into the refueling building.
Now before they did this, they sent an emergency evacuation alarm to the refueling building to get everyone out, because people worked there. And so they sent the alarm electronically originally, but they weren’t sure in electrical chaos that it had worked. So they sent a man named Leroy Marsh who was trained to be and get a license for an assistant control operator. They sent him into the reactor with a half respirator and a device called a cutie pie which is a radiation monitoring device.
He enters the building. There’s no alarm, emergency evacuation alarm, on the outside of the building but there is on the inside. So he goes inside, and he observes a number of things.
One, and this is all in his testimony by the way in the investigative report, he goes in the building and he verifies that everyone was out, but the emergency evacuation alarm was not sounding.
Also he verified that the constant air monitor that monitors radiation levels inside the refueling building was not working.
He also verified that the fans that were used to create a negative pressure system in the refueling building were not working because they were on outside power which had failed.
So to explain to the listeners what this negative pressure system is for: under normal operation, powerful fans take the air inside the refueling building and send it through the gaseous waste stack. Some people would say it’s a smoke stack, but that’s where radioactive gases at a normal level under normal operation, that’s how it escapes. It’s like their smokestack to the factory. And that’s regulated. And in the process of going up that gaseous waste stack, there is charcoal filtration system. The fans push the air from the refueling building through these charcoal filtration systems, and this is an attempt to reduce any radioactive particles that are emitted from the plant.
So with that system down, the pressure inside the refueling building would rapidly equalize with the pressure outside the building.
So when they decided to dump the reactor pressure and the building-up of the hydrogen gas from the reactor during this accident into the refueling building, it increases the pressure inside the refueling building, so it’s gonna tend to leak.
Now normally when you go into the refueling building, there’s a double set of doors. There’s a room where people can change into protective clothing after they go through a door, a usual metal door similar to a naval ship, and then they go, after they’ve changed, they go through another door to get into the refueling building. So there’s a layer of protection there.
But there’s also a large set of doors big enough to allow a railroad train car to come in, because usually once a year, a railroad, a special railroad car comes to the reactor to pick up spent fuel pool that needs to be reprocessed. So a powerful crane picks up this large container from the railroad car and lifts it, and this container is submerged where the spent fuel rods are, the rods are transferred, and then the transfer cask is re-attached to the railroad car, and off it goes to reprocessing. And so there’s very, very large doors to do that. So this hydrogen gas can leak there also.
Steve: And we’re again speaking with Scott Rainsford. Now Scott, one of the issues that you’ve addressed is that there are rising sea levels which may threaten the radioactive material that’s still on the Humboldt site and also these canisters of radioactive material. Do you have any concerns about these decommissioned nuclear plants now, today, and not only in Humboldt but also San Luis Obispo and Diablo Canyon, San Onofre and Diablo Canyon when it becomes decommissioned .
Scott: On August 26th of last year, 2019, there was a Nuclear Regulatory Commission meeting in Eureka, California. I spoke at that meeting. A number of people spoke at the meeting. The purpose of the meeting was to get a collection of people who were citizens or community advisory board members to pass on to these other reactors who were being, that were being decommissioned, the best practices, to relay information to the community and give PG&E feedback from the community about what the community wanted.
One of the speakers, and it’s on videotape that you can get, was an expert in sea level rise of California. The name escaped me at the moment. But this PhD level person got up and said that sea level rise is happening twice as fast in northern California as elsewhere, and that is because this is a subduction zone, a geological subduction zone. So this area along the coast is sinking about the same rate the sea level rise is rising. So this expert said that in so many years where the six casks, where high-level special nuclear material is contained will be an island in so many years.
Hold on, I’m getting a dry throat here.
Steve: That’s okay.
Scott: So at that meeting, I said, we were only allowed so many minutes, I relayed what happened here: six casks, each one weighing 85 tons,and they’re created, the casks are made by a company called Holtec. Five of the six carry special nuclear material, meaning the spent fuel which are deadly poisonous. They’re very hot. They’re very radioactive. They have, they will be that way for generations. And the sixth cask holds the high-level remnants of the reactor, and since they were larger than the fuel rods — the five casks holding the fuel rods have two lids: a welded steel lid stainless steel and then a concrete lid. The sixth cask here in Humboldt County only has one lid. It has a concrete lid, but the steel welded cap is not there because of the size of the reactor remnants. So that is a big concern.
It’s in a tsunami zone. It’s being threatened by bluff erosion. There’s only, like, 115 feet of bluff remaining where those Holtec casks are placed. That bluff has receded 1480 feet from, I believe, it was 18, well, in 60 years it receded 1480 feet. So basically it was like being 20 and 30 feet per year.
So the point was that those casks cannot stay there. And a man named Steve Madrone who is Fifth District Supervisor of our county spoke about that in that presentation on August 26, 2019, saying that it’s ridiculous to have those casks stored there.
People bad-mouthed Fukushima because they did not build a protective wall high enough to fight off a tsunami that was expected to overrun their protective wall. You know, how could they be so negligent? Here we’ve got these Holtec casks, 500 times worth, in a tsunami zone, on an earthquake fault, with the receding bluff. And the situation is getting just nothing but worse.
It’s insanity. So one member of the audience called it, these casks, Chernobyl in a can.
So it’s ridiculous. When I was at that reactor reading the nuclear operators’ log in the winter of 1977-78 ,and I saw this accident had occurred, I asked to see the results of the monitoring, and that request was denied.
So I looked at the investigation that the AEC had conducted which I eventually was able to get through the Union of Concerned Scientists. It’s about a 160-page report, and in that report it says on page 38 that, and you’ll see in my video that the first yellow highlighted section was a statement by Edward Weeks, the plant engineer of the nuclear reactor Unit Number Three. And he said that radiation was being released subsequent to this accident at the rate of 24,500 micro curies per second, which was below the allowed level legally at the time. However, there were spikes in this gaseous waste stack monitoring systems. They said about a decade in size, which means by a factor of 10, which would place the readings of quarter of a million microcuries per second coming out of the gaseous waste stack to the public.
Ed Weeks said that he believed that was just due to electrical transients because of the electrical problems in the reactor during this accident. I reject that explanation because it’s the examination of the inspectors of AEC found that the devices which measure radiation escaping from that gaseous waste stack were on emergency power provided by the propane generator, but the fans necessary to pull the sample through those devices were on outside power and when they lost outside powers, the fans stopped.So the fan blades would create a barrier of the sample to go into these monitoring machines. So I believe that the transient readings of a quarter of a million microcuries per second going up that stack were real, and that level is many times the allowed limit.
Now what people need to understand is after this investigation was done, the results of the investigation were presented to United States Congress Congressional Committee called the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy, a committee that was established in 1946 and existed until it was abolished in 1977 by the United States Supreme Court because this committee had powers that no committee in the history of this nation before, during, or after today
had ever had. They had veto power over any law that was provided or presented in the remainder of Congress, and the only check and balance they had was they were supposed to review any decision they made to the President of the United States. In 1970, that was
President Nixon, and you see in my video that the chairman of that committee was a man named Chester Hollyfield, nicknamed Chet Hollyfield, a Democrat federal representative from Southern California. The vice chair was John O. Pastore, a U.S. senator from Rhode Island. The committee had 18 members – nine senators and nine federal state representatives.
So they made a decision very clear to cover up what happened at this accident, and the documents clearly show that there was a cover-up. It was a very, very bad cover-up.
So all of it can be demonstrated. So the problem is, you lie for a reason. I believe that reason is the community was heavily contaminated.
Mike Manetas, a college professor at Humboldt State University, was asked to try and figure out why there was a big cancer outbreak in the town of Ferndale which is downwind of the plant. That was in 1985. And they found that there was a latency period between certain levels of ionized radiation exposure and the development of cancer, and it was determined to be 15 to 25 years. So if there was a big outbreak in Ferndale, California, in 1985 and 1990, if you add 15 to 25 years to this accident in 1970, you come up with 1985 to 1990.
So the powers that be in this industry withheld from me when I was at the reactor reading this nuclear operator’s log, they denied the monitoring results, the information providing the monitoring results. I’m convinced that they’re denying the level of the radiation exposure to the community.
Steve: I want to thank you for talking about this issue of health and safety, the unknown shutdown and dangerous accident at the Humboldt nuclear power plant run by PG&E and the coming dangers of rising tide and the possibility of further contamination and the lack of real protection of nuclear facilities on the coast of California, not just at Humboldt nuclear power plant which has been decommissioned, but San Onofre nuclear power plant and Diablo canyon nuclear power plant which will also be decommissioned.
IV Action Items: C. Discussion of open items list (maintenance needed)
Afternoon Session – 02/15 – 1:30pm
XII Discussion: review, evaluation, and assessment of matters affected by extended operation under SB 846 including seismic safety, maintenance, and capital project planning
Evening Session – 02/15 – 5:15pm
XVIII Presentation by PG&E
1. update on planning for both decommissioning and extended operations, including plans for license renewal
2. plans for reviewing, approving, and implementing capital projects and changes to maintenance programs needed to support extended operations
3. status of retention programs, attrition, and efforts to retain qualified staff for extended operations
Morning Session – 02/16 – 9:00am
XXV Presentation by PG&E on the state of the plant including key events, outages, highlights, organizational changes, results of refueling outage 2R23, Unit 2 reactor coolant system piping leak and other issues
Afternoon Session – 02/16 – 1:15pm
XXXI Presentation by PG&E on spent fuel management
CALIFORNIA GROUPS TO PG&E: YOU CAN’T CUT CORNERS ON DIABLO CANYON EXTENSION
Following Successful Petition For NRC To Deny Request to Resume Diablo Canyon Renewal Application, Environmental Groups File New Response Asserting PG&E Request for Exemption to Operate Past 40-Year Lifespan Must be Denied.
SAN LUIS OBISPO, CA – FEBRUARY 13, 2023 – On January 24, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) denied a formal request by Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) to resume reviewing a 2009 license renewal application to extend the operating life of Diablo Canyon’s twin nuclear reactors, which the company withdrew in 2018. In conjunction, Petitioners San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace (SLOMFP), Friends of the Earth (FoE), and the Environmental Working Group (EWG) today filed a new petition demanding that the NRC finish its legal obligation to keep Diablo Canyon on schedule to close its twin units in 2024 and 2025 and repudiate PG&E’s recent request for exemption from the “Timely Renewal Rule.”
According to the petitioners, PG&E has no lawful path to continued uninterrupted operation of the Diablo Canyon nuclear reactors after its operating licenses expire in November 2024 (Unit 1) and August 2025 (Unit 2). Granting an exemption from this rule would force the NRC to cram the three-year safety and environmental review process and offer a public hearing into a mere ten months. The catalog of issues the NRC staff must review is so extensive that to cram a complex government review into the short ten-month period between the submission of the license renewal application and the expiration of the Unit 1 license would be difficult if not impossible. Completion of the NRC’s review process, including public hearings, is essential to assure that continued operation of the reactors will be safe for the public and the environment.
Diane Curran, legal counsel for Mothers for Peace, said: “There is absolutely no precedent for the exemption requested by PG&E. The NRC has never allowed a reactor to operate past its license expiration dates without thoroughly assessing the safety and environmental risks. And it must do so in this case too.”
Further, Curran observed that “it would be irrational and irresponsible for the NRC to permit PG&E to operate aging and deteriorating reactors encumbered by aging equipment risks, seismic risks and environmental impacts without a thorough environmental and safety review.”
“NRC’s recent decision to reject PG&E’s request to renew its outdated, withdrawn license renewal application gave us hope that the law is being properly and thoroughly applied to this risky decision,” said Hallie Templeton, Legal Director for Friends of the Earth. “An operating permit extension for any nuclear power plant has major implications for people and the planet. With Diablo Canyon receiving only minimal – if any – safety updates in decades, PG&E’s push to reduce the NRC’s review from several years to several months creates an especially deadly equation. Today’s filing clearly outlines why NRC must proceed with the utmost care and caution, as mandated by a federal law.”
Caroline Leary, an attorney for EWG, said: “PG&E argued to the NRC that its request for an exemption from federal regulations was necessitated by the California Legislature’s vote in favor of extending Diablo’s operation. But nothing in S.B. 846, the law passed by the Legislature, calls upon NRC to relax its safety or environmental regulations for the purpose of extending Diablo Canyon’s operation. In fact, the law relies on the NRC to ensure that if Diablo Canyon continues to operate, it will not put the public or the environment at risk.”
Just as the NRC stood its ground and upheld its own policies by denying PG&E’s request to resurrect its 2009 license renewal application, it should also deny PG&E’s request for an exemption of the timely renewal rule.
The NRC’s January 24 decision  affirmed recent arguments in the earlier petition by San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace (SLOMFP), Friends of the Earth (FoE), and Environmental Working Group (EWG) that resuming review of PG&E’s withdrawn license renewal application would be unlawful. The organizations demanded successfully that the NRC deny PG&E’s October 31, 2022, request to resume review of the application.
The decision prevents PG&E from circumnavigating NRC regulations that require the company to file a new and up-to-date license renewal application, which would take 3-5 years. PG&E previously admitted that the application was severely outdated and could not be updated or completed until late 2023 – a year before the Unit 1 license term expires. It now appears that PG&E may have to close Diablo Canyon when its licenses expire in the fall 2024 (Unit 1) and spring 2025 (Unit 2) and keep them closed unless and until the NRC approves a new license renewal application.
The story of Humboldt Bay Nuclear Plant is an expose of PG&E and an expose of nuclear regulation. It’s happening now. Its dangers and warnings are critical for the public to heed.
OSHA & The Cover-up At The PG&E Humboldt Bay Nuclear Power Station
Darrell Whitman who was a Federal OSHA investigator and lawyer discusses his investigation at the PG&E nuclear power plant at Humboldt Bay in Northern California. Whitman reports on how OSHA officials refused to defend the whistleblowers and instead allowed them to be retaliated against. Whitman who also became a whistleblower was terminated by top OSHA officials on May 5, 2015 He and his union AFGE Local 2371 are fighting against this retaliation. He was also a shop steward for his AFGE local and many other AFGE workers are being bullied and terrorized by OSHA management for doing their jobs. This interview was done in February 2015.
My name is Darrell Whitman and I’m at the moment at least an investigator with the US Department of Labor OSHA’s whistleblower protection program here in San Francisco.
As an investigator we are again we handle 22 statutes that are supposed to provide whistleblower protection to everyone from the maid in the hotel to high-level corporate officials who are reporting fraud in corporate fraud and a lot of very technical complaints people as I had and we’ve talked about this before.
I had a high-level official very, very experienced, very highly regarded in the industry who was the safety manager at a major nuclear plant, and he blew the whistle and it was a pretty ugly story.after that,
This was the Humboldt Bay a power plant and this fellow, basically he had come from the Midwest and his expertise was he was in nuclear security, but he also helped Senator Lieberman draft the protocols for decommissioning plants. And so he was he was more than just an expert. He was a very high-value person. And he wanted to apply this new knowledge. So when the opportunity was given to him to come out to Humboldt Bay to the nuclear plant, it was going to be the first nuclear plant actually decommissioned where they were gonna apply the protocols that he had worked on with the Senate, yeah he was very excited about it.
He didn’t know a lot about California. He didn’t know a lot about PG&E. The irony was he came to California thinking, now he’s from Nebraska, he’s a surfer, he had gotten into being a surfer from his early on, and had gone to the Gulf Coast and of course, he heard the best surfing in the country was in California. So in his mind, he was going to be going to a plant that was right on the ocean. So it’s gonna be perfect opportunity to do surfing.
Well, when he got there, he discovered a lot of things. Among other things, he discovered very early on was, the security staff was completely unprepared to do the job. When he actually started vetting them as far as testing their skill levels and their preparation, half of them he had to fire. He had, and nothing against older people, he had a seventy eight year old security guard who could not do a push-up. This is not a good thing. His security guards have to be physically capable of putting, you know. of doing the job. Then shortly after that, he began to discover other things about the culture of the region. You know, we’re talking Humboldt, and he didn’t realize coming from Nebraska what it means to be living in the Green Triangle. So he discovered that there was an awful lot of drug dealing and drug use going on including people in the plant operating centers.
And that of course was – what’s his issue? He’s a security director
So what he also didn’t understand was when PG&E got the agreement with the local area to build the plant in the first place, they had sort of cut a backroom deal which was to employ locals. You know, this is a tricky this is a thing you see commonly with a lot of plants and particularly ones that are potentially dangerous that
They bribe people.
That’s and as a form of bribery will get, will create 500 jobs in your neighborhood. And for a small area in a fairly remote area — Eureka I think has maybe thirty five thousand people — this was a big deal. So people were willing, at least the officials were willing, to overlook the questions because they were going to get jobs.
On the other hand, PG&E was not discriminating in regard to who was getting the jobs. So you were drawing a large portion of the plant operators and not so much the technical operators but the people who were the security people, people who were performing lower-level kinds of jobs coming from the local community, and this is the green traffic, so it was problematic arrangement, let’s put it that way. But among other things he discovered very early on, was that the plant and misplaced fuel rods. They couldn’t account for all the fuel rods. You know, it was just kind of a litany of things like this
The story of Humboldt Bay Nuclear Plant is an expose of PG&E and an expose of nuclear regulation. It’s happening now. Its dangers and warnings are critical for the public to heed.
In 1970, a power outage caused the Humboldt Bay Nuclear Power Plant to malfunction. Using historic sources, we investigate whether this resulted in a leak of radioactive gases.
Unofficial transcript based on auto-transcript:
My name is Scott Rainsford .I was born in Iowa. I was a marine science technician in the United States Coast Guard initially four years active duty, followed by another 14 roughly years of Coast Guard Reserve when I came up here. As a marine science technician, my commanding officer in the Coast Guard Reserve sent me to the PG&E nuclear power plant in the year 1978 to see if I could update their contingency plan.
I went to the plant, I read their contingency plan, and after i had thoroughly read it i asked if they ever had a chance to use it. They replied, Well. as a matter of fact, yes we have.”
They brought out this report marked “confidential.”
When a nuclear plant is operating, there is a person in charge called a nuclear operator and he keeps a log of every important fact or issue that happens during his watch. There’s a time annotation and then what happened.
The report described an accident that happened on July 17, 1970. It just so happened that a man named Shiffer was there, and he was one of PG&E’s best and brightest. He was a senior nuclear operator. So seeing this crisis developed, he took command of the reactor. So the log that i was reading was his operational log.
This report described the following:
A maintenance crew from PG&E went to a local substation at an area called Mitchell Height, and they were going to do some maintenance on a high tension line. They believed that this high tension line was dead. Because of that, the maintenance crew opened an air circuit breaker. The result was a fireball which melted and damaged the whole circuit. That 60 000 volts was supplying outside power to PG&E’s unit number three.
The nuclear power plant when they lose outside power, down goes the feed water pumps that feed coolant water into the reactor. So we have an issue of overheating the core.
The next in line during this initial start of the emergency was a propane generator. Problem with this propane generator was that it did not provide enough power to supply the feed water pumps which would keep the reactor cool, and it also did not supply all the power necessary to run the instrumentation that the nuclear control operator needed to understand what was happening to the reactor so he had no idea how much coolant remained. So now, the nuclear operator is operating blind.
There were three units. The first two units were petroleum-based. The third unit was the only nuclear plant. When the nuclear plant is running, one of the other two units must be in operation and that is so that if the nuclear unit lost outside power, the other operating unit could supply emergency outside power to the nuclear unit. It failed because several months before, another maintenance crew had disconnected a cable in the switch yard and therefore, could not complete the circuit. The second major part of the fail-safe system failed. That piece of equipment was called an emergency condenser. What that is a compartment partially filled with water that functions similar to a car radiator. A valve that automatically is supposed to open from the reactor taking this out of specification pressure in the form of steam. It runs through a series of baffles in this emergency condenser which is partially filled with water. The steam is cooled, condensed back into water, and put back into the reactor core to keep it cool. The emergency condenser failed, because a valve would not open.
The story of Humboldt Bay Nuclear Plant is an expose of PG&E and an expose of nuclear regulation. It’s happening now. Its dangers and warnings are critical for the public to heed.
Shut It Down Now! Former Humboldt PG&E IBEW 1245 Nuclear Plant Technician Bob Rowen On Nuclear Power
Bob Rowen was a Humboldt PG&E IBEW 1245 nuclear control technician at the power plant. He talks about being a control technician at the plant and what happened when he began to stand up for health and safety as a whistleblower. His fight to protect the workers and the community cost him his job when he raised health and safety concerns and he along with another nuclear control technician Forrest Williams were retaliated against and illegally terminated. He also recounts an effort to set up a criminal conspiracy frame-up by PG&E to charge him with planning to blow up the plant and a false document was sent to the FBI to blacklist him throughout the country to prevent him from working in any other nuclear plant in the US. He also reports on the role of his union IBEW 1245 and the media when a reporter from NBC Donald Widener tried to cover the story and was retaliated against by PG&E in actions that destroyed his career. He also discusses the case of PG&E Diablo Canyon nuclear plant whistleblower Neil Aiken. Aiken went to PG&E’s Board of Directors with his concerns over safety and was also targeted and fired. This interview was done on January 26, 2015. Rowen has written a book about his struggle called My Humboldt Diary: A True Story of Betrayal of the Public Trust, Nuclear Power at Humboldt Bay. For more information http://www.myhumboldtdiary.com
My name is Bob Rowen. I became a nuclear control technician at the Humboldt Bay nuclear power plant in Eureka. The plant went online in 1963, in August of 63, and I showed up in March of 1964.
My first job at the plant was apprentice instrument repairman, but within six months I entered the nuclear control technician training program. journeymanprogram in the PG&E system, I became a nuclear control technician.
I thought that I had found a career of a lifetime. When I got out of the Marines and went to work there and thought I was on the ground floor of a program that in an industry that was going to be second to none, but as I got into it, I found that it was not what it was all cracked up to be.
How long was the training program?
42 months. It was a very rigorous training program that requires a lot of hours on the weekends and at night learning all the things that we had to learn as well as classroom work during the day.
And so what happened when you started working there?
Well I I became involved in and developed a special interest in radiation protection.
The nuclear control technician program in those days consisted of actually three elements: nuclear instrumentation, radiation protection, and radio chemistry. What I was particularly concerned about the radiation protection aspect of the job, and so when I started studying all of the training materials that PG&E had provided, I found that they were not in agreement with what I had learned in the military.
I was a Marine Pathfinder and I trained in ABC warfare – atomic, biological, and chemical warfare. And the atomic part of that talked about the kinds of hazards associated with radiation that did not agree one bit with what PG&E was providing us. So I started asking some embarrassing questions. At first they weren’t necessarily challenging plant management but their responses led me to a confrontation with the management because I felt that I was being lied to
At one point, yes, because I believed in corporate America and I believed in the government. I thought the AEC would do everything that they were charged with in terms of their responsibilities of protecting employees and the general public. But it turns out that that wasn’t the case at all.
So you began asking questions And what happened?
Well, eventually I was told that if I was looking for trouble, I was going to find it. The plant engineer made that very clear to me and I told him, my response was, I’m not going to be bullied. I still had a lot of Marine in me in my mid-20s, and I just said, I’m not going to kowtow to you. I won’t do that.
Eventually I found myself faced with having to, well, for example I was ordered to sign false shipping documents. The spent-fuel shipping cask — and it’s a long story; it’s in my book; it spells out exactly what took place — but the shipping cask ended up with several? contaminations exceeding DOT regs, and the release papers that had my name pre-typed on as a nuclear control technician, and I said I’m not signing those papers because they’re false. And I was ordered to do it. So I signed them under protest. And then I put it in the radiation control log exactly what had taken place, and I had another serious set-to with the plant engineer. And that’s just one example of many things that happen.
Public Forum on PG&E’s 2021 Nuclear Decommissioning Cost Triennial Proceeding — Humboldt Bay and Diablo Canyon Proceeding A.21-12-007
January 26, 6 PM — remote access
January 31, 6 PM — in-person
From California Public Utilties Commission
The CPUC will hold a remote public forum on January 26 and 31, 2023 at 6 p.m. to provide an opportunity to offer comment about PG&E’s requests related to the Diablo Canyon Power Plant and Humboldt Bay Power Plant Unit.
REMOTE ACCESS OPTIONS: January 26, 6 pm
English Phone: 800-857-1917, passcode: 1767567#
Participants will have audio in English and will be able to make comments. (After entering the passcode, if you plan to make a comment, when prompted press *1, unmute your phone, and record your name.)
Wait times depend on the number of speakers in the public comment queue. During times of high call volumes, wait times will be longer. The operator will call on you when it is your turn to speak.
Live video broadcast with English or Spanish captions via webcast: www.adminmonitor.com/ca/cpuc
Participants who choose to participate via webcast will only have audio and video capabilities but will not be able to make verbal comments. If you would like to make a comment during the meeting, the phone-in information is below.
For captions, after clicking on the name of the workshop, click the green button at the bottom of the video for captions. Then select captions by clicking on the white icon next to the word “live” at the bottom of the video.
The forums will also be recorded and archived for future viewing.
IN-PERSON LOCATION: January 31, 6 pm
San Luis Obispo County Chambers 1055 Monterey Street, Room D170 San Luis Obispo, CA 93408
If you wish to make a public comment, sign up at the Public Advisor’s Office’s table.
If special accommodations are needed to attend, such as non-English or sign language interpreters, please contact the CPUC’s Public Advisor’s Office at firstname.lastname@example.org or toll-free at 866-849-8390 at least five business days in advance of the public forums.
You can also make your voice heard in this proceeding, and read the comments of others, on our online Docket Card comment section for the proceeding at apps.cpuc.ca.gov/c/A2112007.