Summer Book Review

Confessions of a Rogue Nuclear Regulator

--Gregory B. Jaczko, PhD.

Dr. Jaczko arranges his book chronologically beginning with his background as a physicist and enthusiastic supporter of nuclear energy.

As the youthful member of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and later its chairman, Jaczko recounts his inability to influence the other members of the commission. Even in the face of several nuclear emergencies during the time he served, he was continually shocked at the amount of influence the nuclear power industry had over the NRC and the U.S. Congress. 

On the rare occasion when Dr. Jaczko had assembled what he thought was a coalition, he later found that individuals on the commission were more readily swayed by lobbyists than by his influence. 

"History--Forget & Repeat"

After the Three Mile Island accident, just days after the release of "The China Syndrome" in 1979, when everyone anticipated that new promises and a flurry of reforms would come forth, 100 planned nuclear plants were canceled in the U.S.

After 31 died at Chernobyl, from which hundreds were sickened and thousands contracted cancer, no changes were made to U.S. reactors. U.S. nuclear experts dismissed Chernobyl as "a different design" and refused to consider any learning opportunities.

In spite of severe corrosion in the reactor at Davis Besse in Ohio with Alloy 600 leading to near failure, Jaczko found the general notion was "that all knowledge of nuclear power is known."

Jaczko claims "Supporters of nuclear power viewed the [NRC] agency as a tool to promote the nuclear industry, rather than a force to regulate it."

Nor were these issues confined to the USA. As Fukishima lay smoldering, Jaczko's visits revealed that "nuclear power regulators were too accommodating to those they were supposed to regulate." The cabal of regulatory agencies and industry lobbyists refused to interest themselves in outside information.

As Jaczko retired from the commission and vicious fights over regulation, one key ingredient in power plant safety, fire protection, "was years behind."

All in all, Jaczko found that the "promise of perfect nuclear safety is a mirage", because if anything is certain, "nuclear accidents will happen."

Jaczko cooperated with Harry Reid in canceling the Yucca Mountain waste depository project in Nevada.

He found that "realistically forecasting the complex, long term behavior of spent nuclear fuel in underground facilities [is] technically impossible."

Nuclear power is, in Jaczko's words, "the most costly form of carbon-free electricity." An example is the venture of four proposed nuclear reactors in South Carolina and Georgia. These were to be the new Westinghouse AP 1000's, marking a return to plant construction after thirty years of no activity. Years of postponements and cost over-runs have reduced the number of reactors and forced Westinghouse into bankruptcy. Only one, the Vogtle plant, remains under construction. The amounts invested so far overshadow hopes of a positive return on investment from the power it could produce. (In June, the department of Energy bailed Vogtle out with billions of dollars in subsidy).

Jaczko's inevitable conclusion is that "Nuclear power is a failed technology," and, as Jaczko reflects on the waste produced, "In thirty thousand years when these companies no longer exist, who will be responsible for this material?"


San Onofre Nuclear Waste Storage: "Up Close and Personal"

SoCal Edison resumed partially-burying canisters containing 3.6 million pounds of highly radioactive nuclear waste at San Onofre, just 108 ft. away from our Ocean!  These thin-walled canisters can't be inspected or maintained and each of them contains the radioactivity of the 1986 Chernobyl disaster. They are corroded by salt air and damaged during loading, potentially leading to hazardous radioactive leaks that endanger the lives of 8.4 million Southern Californians.

WHAT CAN WE DO NOW?

 

Nuclear Regulatory Commission Town Hall
Tuesday, Aug 20, 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
25925 Camino Del Avion (San Juan Capistrano Community Center)
Meet with NRC staff: ask questions, offer comments.
Get an update on fuel-loading operations resumed last month.

 

Congressman Mike Levin Town Hall
Thursday, Aug 22, 5:30pm - 7:00pm
1050 Camino Del Mar (Del Mar City Hall)
Mike Levin has many nuclear experts and elected officials on his
San Onofre task force. He welcomes your questions about San Onofre.

RSVP HERE: https://tinyurl.com/LevinAugTH

 

For more information, visit www.sanonofresafety.org 


Policy Update July 2019

Calls are still out for voters to sign up for the California "Citizens Redistricting Commission."

  • Of particular interest are qualified minority members. The committee serves for ten years with a stipend for meetings.
  • All CA voters are eligible if they have voted recently and have not served as political staff.
  • The deadline for application is Aug. 9. For more information go to www.shapecaliforniasfuture.auditor.ca.gov.

The California State Democratic Party Platform Committee Calendar has started with three meetings scheduled before their platform adoption in November.

  • There is a Southern California meeting scheduled for September 7th. Submissions deadline for platform items are on the same day.
  • For more information go to www.cadem.org

The California State Legislature has adjourned until Monday, Aug. 12, 2019

  • With nearly a thousand bills within each house still under consideration, there is still a lot of work to do when the legislature is reconvened in August, with a deadline of passage by September.

National Party directors are wary of a DNC shift to the left.

  • They are concerned it may distract from the number one priority of the party: ending the re-election of the current administration.
  • Comparison to the elections of Bill Clinton reveals that even though he ran on a decidedly centrist campaign, the agenda he promoted was far from what the Republicans may have proposed.

The movement toward Universal Healthcare is approaching a fork in the road this year.

  • Current court challenges place the viability of the Affordable Care Act in doubt going forward even while governor Newsome has extended the provisions of the Act in California to undocumented immigrants.
  • If key items of the ACA are struck down, then several forces will be unleashed in the health insurance marketplace and Federal funds that California and other states have been relying on may dry up. That could leave patients with pre-existing conditions without insurance, Medicaid programs unfunded, and premiums may change radically.
  • The net effect of all these forces will likely be more disruptive and controversial than when the ACA was first implemented.
  • One of the primary roadblocks to the smooth transition to ACA was the communication of its particulars to the end-user. Many on the right went out of their way to infuse misinformation into the marketplace. The current administration has tried to limit information and access in several ways.

Congratulations to Rose Ann Sharp

Del Mar Times

Rose Ann SharpHonoree Rose Ann Sharp with 78th Assembly member Todd Gloria at the 2019 Women of Distinction event.
(Photo: Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

Rose Ann Sharp of Del Mar is one of 17 women from across San Diego that were honored as 2019 Women of Distinction by 78th Assembly member Todd Gloria, at the Women's Museum of California in Liberty Station on March 20. The 78th Assembly includes San Diego County, Coronado, Del Mar, Imperial Beach, and Solana Beach.

“This is an opportunity to honor the women that make San Diego a better place to live,” Gloria said. “We are celebrating Women’s History Month in March and want to take this opportunity to recognize the outstanding contributions of women across this country because men didn’t just build the United States, women are a part of it as well. There would be no America without women.”

Each year, the California Legislature holds an annual Women of the Year ceremony in Sacramento, where each of the state’s 80 assembly district members honors one woman. And locally, San Diego expands on that to recognize multiple women. “We know the 78th Assembly District is home to a number of truly phenomenal women, so that’s why we wanted to honor them here at home,” Gloria said.

In the community service category, Del Mar resident Sharp was recognized for her founding of the Never Again CA group, which advocates for gun control.

“If there is one word to describe Rose Ann in my book, it would be fearless,” Gloria opened. “This woman is fearless because she founded the local Never Again CA chapter as part of the national Never Again movement to end gun violence following the horrific shooting in Parkland, Florida.”

At hearing this, someone yelled from the crowd “thank you!”

Gloria continued, “Her tireless leadership and dedication have encouraged the City of Del Mar and surrounding cities to move to end gun shows at the Del Mar Fairgrounds and state-owned property. When confronted by angry and hateful opposition, she is not afraid to expose the danger of gun shows and to stand up to gun show owners, all with the sole purpose of making our community a safer place for all of us. Particularly, our children. It’s Rose Ann’s courage and devotion to Never Again CA that inspired me to author legislation this year to prohibit the sale of fire of firearms and ammunition at the Del Mar fairgrounds.”

Six days after the Women of Distinction awards, Gloria’s office announced the Assembly Public Safety Committee would hear legislation to prohibit the sale of guns and ammunition at the Del Mar Fairgrounds.

“I said she is fearless because we have to take on the NRA, but we have something they don’t have: The fearless Rose Ann,” Gloria said.

The 2019 roster of awardees also included: Linda Tu, Roz Winstead, Stephanie Benvenuto, Diane Peabody Straw, Tracie Jada O’Brien, Laurie Black, Rose Ann Sharp, Jen LaBarbera, Tessa Williams, Darcy Pavich, Steph Johnson, Cristina Marquez, Marlena Balderas, Nicole Capretz and Vernita Todd.

Nominations for next year’s Women of Distinction are now open and can be submitted through a78.asmdc.org

Copyright © 2019, The San Diego Union-Tribune, LLC. All rights reserved.

 


Policy and Political Action Update, March 2019

 

  • Border wall limitation considered by Senate
    • Texas voters were evenly split in January poll
  • New Gun Control bill is inching through Congress
    • Passed House, now headed to Senate
  • Green New Deal: House Resolution 109 was introduced in February. This is an ambitious outline of the desire to increase effort toward several objectives:
    • Net Zero greenhouse gas emissions, clean air & water
    • Sustainable wages, retirement security, housing & healthcare
    • Promoting justice and equality
    • More education, providing higher income jobs, income security for all     
  • State Legislative Calendar
    • Closed to new bills on Feb 22nd
    • Number of bills under consideration increased to 2,576
    • The Deadline to pass bills is September 13th
  • The State Democratic Convention is May 31-June 2nd, Focus:
    • New leadership and resolutions
    • California Democratic Party supports the LA teacher's strike
    • Opposes SCOTUS ruling on Military/transgender
  • Health Care Initiatives
    • Governor Newsom campaigned for Universal Healthcare, as did many legislators
    • Nothing showed up in the legislative agenda which closed last week
  • Local activity in February
    • SD County Dem Central Committee elected youngest leadership team ever for 2019-20
    • SD County Board of Supervisors to sue Trump Administration over its policy on asylum seekers
  • Progressive Democrats of America - 30 plus items of interest for the advancement of resolutions and legislation; Top 6 are:
    • End to private prisons
    • Universal health care
    • Establishment of a State bank
    • Reduce fracking
    • Teach civics in high school
    • Reform of corporate charter schools

OPINION - Election Countdown: Close to Home

BY GORDON CLANTON

            So many races, so little time.  Mail ballots have arrived.  But don’t vote too soon.

         Del Mar City Council.  Del Mar has four candidates for two seats on its five-member council.  Incumbent and current mayor, Dwight Worden, is likely to be re-elected.  The other candidates are investment advisor Brian Fletcher, UCSD scientist Terry Gaasterland, and financial advisor Dan Quirk

         Apart from Mayor Worden, the others seem to be more narrowly focused on pet issues and personalities – not the best qualifications for a job that is demanding, multi-faceted, complex, and consequential.

         As things stand, I urge Del Martians to vote only for Dwight – although Dwight (boy scout that he is) has not called for his supporters to vote only for him.

         Make it a point to hear meet, and question all four candidates.  This is the Del Mar Way.

         Del Mar schools.  Incumbents Doug Rafner and Scott Wooden have

endorsed attorney, Gee Wah Mok, thus forming a slate.  I support this slate. 

         San Dieguito schools.  For the first time, the composition of the high school board will be determined by district elections.  You will vote for only one candidate and only once every four years.  So you will need to determine your area and who the candidates are.  This year Areas 1, 3, and 5 will hold elections.

         The candidates for Area 5 (toward the south end of the school district)

include Kristin Gibson, now ending her service on the Del Mar board, and Cheryl James Ward, whose campaign is financed by the for-profit charter school industry.  In June, James Ward lost her well-funded campaign for the county school board to Rick Shea.  Vote for Kristin – and for Amy Flicker in Area 1 and Rhea Stewart in Area 3.

         Wait.  Hold your mail ballot until Election Day so you can take account of any last-minute revelations or scandals.  I like to walk my mail ballot to my neighborhood polling place on Election Day.  I love the smell of ballots in the morning.

         Next.  Come hear Expert Election Analysis from Carl Luna, Jen Tierney, and Tom Shepard at the Rancho Santa Fe Democratic Club, Thursday, November 8, 6:30 pm.  Info/RSVP at RSFDEM.ORG.

Gordon Clanton teaches Sociology at San Diego State University and writes a column on politics and the environment for the Del Mar Times and four other suburban weeklies.  He is Program Chair at the Rancho Santa Fe Democratic Club.  Gordon welcomes feedback at gclanton@sdsu.edu           


Jeff Griffith for State Senate 38th District San Diego County


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