Jackson Hole citizens have twice protected Wyoming from being downwind of deadly nuclear projects, like the plutonium incinerator planned for Idaho.

Right now there is an effort by President Trump to fast-track a cluster of dangerous nuclear experiments at the Idaho National Lab. That includes plutonium production, nuclear fuel production and more than 10 private nuclear power plants, including full-scale reactors. We need action again. Unfortunately, Keep Yellowstone Nuclear Free has disbanded because the threat appeared defeated.

I have worked 31 years on these issues. I use hidden Department of Energy documents that show fatal flaws in the department’s claims of safety. For example, to make nuclear fuel the buildings rely on HEPA filters to protect the public from exposure to inhaling radioactive particles from the process. My research found Energy Department documents on “alpha recoil” that prove that the claim of fantastic filtering efficiency is a bold lie.

In fact, the radioactive decay makes the particles knock themselves off the filters “like the recoil of a gun,” even through four filters in a row. The official Energy Department impact statements pretend that never happens, despite my entering its own documents on this fatal flaw at all official scoping hearings.

Right now a new test reactor called VTR has a quiet official scoping hearing underway, taking public comment.

If the Energy Department dared answer my documented scoping questions truthfully, it would lose its air permit for violation of the limit of public exposure to those radioactive particles.

We need Jackson Hole to go to court again and expose the documented issues the Energy Department ignores. That’s not fairy dust they are sprinkling on our families, it’s plutonium.

The Energy Department’s renewable lab, RENL, documents we can power the USA with safer renewables. RENL agrees with the Stanford report that a widespread wind grid is as steady a base load as coal and cheaper. Geothermal power rocks 24/7, and rooftop solar offsets peak summer heat demand.

Nuclear power remains the most dangerous and expensive way to boil water to simply turn a turbine. If we had spent the $7 trillion wasted on oil wars and built our own renewable power and grid we would be energy independent, with cheap, steady power free of CO2.

Even Forbes admits renewables are the best buy now, so why are they clustering a disastrous target that can be cyber attacked or destroyed by a disgruntled employee?

The Energy Department recently ordered updating sites’ security to try to stop terrorist drone attacks with explosives, citing Homeland Security warning of intercepted plans. See OakRidgeToday.com/2019/05/04/doe-updating-security-order-after-intelligence-reports-about-drone-threats.

In reality, they can’t stop all drones. They certainly can’t stop stolen crop dusters loaded with explosives, since they have no plans or weapons for that.

That is why I ask at scoping hearings for the real environmental impacts that disgruntled employees and terrorists could create. Even the new so-called small modular reactors, which claim to be inherently safe in design, are subject to disgruntled employee meltdowns during fuel production, as happened in Japan.

While any energy source can be hurt that way, only nuclear power can cause large evacuations hundreds of miles away. It is common sense to analyze these scoping issues when choosing our country’s energy policy. Widespread diverse power supplies are better for national defense, than having millions rely on a large, deadly power source that we know is a target for enemies.

The public comment period ends today, Sept. 4. Please demand they answer my scoping questions, which you can read at PeterForIdaho.com. Email your comments to VTR.EIS@nuclear.energy.gov.

When I walked out of the Idaho Falls pu-238 hearing, two INL workers approached me and quietly said, “Check the daily operations briefs for ATR last week.” I asked, “What are daily operation briefs?” They just whispered, “Check them,” and quickly walked away.

So I filed a FOIA for that mystery term and, wow, DOBs are worker reports of accidents or odd things. Workers had found two bolts on the floor. The bolts had fallen out of the earthquake support beams. Oops. That is what they called “safe and the crown jewel of the DOE.” KYNF went to bat with a huge FOIA and found the ATR was literally falling apart.

The Energy Department postponed the plutonium-238 production, in reaction, but this VTR is the new Trojan horse now, to cluster everything around.

On the alpha recoil flaw I found in the OSTI archives that DOE did more, recent secret studies on how HEPA filters cannot contain plutonium. I filed a FOIA to see the updated bad news; however, the department is balking, now more than 100 days overdue. Hmm.

If you know the Keep Yellowstone Nuclear Free crew, pass this along. Jackson Hole is too great to evacuate.

Peter Rickards, a retired podiatrist from Twin Falls, Idaho, is a citizen activist who has worked on documenting nuclear problems for 31 years. Guest shots are solely the opinion of their authors.

Recommended for you

(2) comments

Avery Schwab

This entire article is written off of false premises that simply do not check out. This is simply someone who does not understand how nuclear power works or how power production works in general. Hepa filters collect particles, in a nuclear environment they often collect random trace particles containing a radioactive particle(hence their purpose). This article provides no data or sources to support its wild claims. The part about two workers coming up to the author and whispering like a action movie is insane. Nuclear power is a carbon free, clean, safe and reliable form of energy production. It IS needed to combat climate change. Renewables cannot keep up, there is a reason Germany has almost halted its wind and solar projects and is considering going back to its nuclear plants. These new project will only help propel Nuclear technology and society forward. In conclusion, this article is nothing but fear mongering written by someone who is not educated enough to be writing about it.

Peter Rickards

Hi Avery,

I definitely document EVERYTHING I said, using Dept Of Energy documents. See the documents and the url to check them at https://www.peterforidaho.com/unanswered_documented_environmental_impacts_issues.html

Here is a sample

All DOE calculations claim HEPA filters are 99.97% efficient and claim 4 filters in a row even magnitudes more efficient. However, the McDowell studies from DOE proved "alpha recoil" allows plutonium to creep through 4 filters, into the air we breath. Here is another DOE document on alpha recoil I pulled from the OSTI archives, and share to deaf DOE ears & averted eyes, at official scoping hearing for new plutonium-238 production plans' EIS..


Snippet: Operational experience at PuFF indicates that the Pu-238 contamination was observed to move along surfaces and through High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters over time. Recent research into the phenomenon known as alpha recoil offers a potential explanation for this observed behavior. Momentum is conserved when an alpha particle is ejected from a Pu-238 atom due to radioactive decay. Consequently, the entire particle of which that Pu-238 atom is a constituent experiences a movement similar to the recoil of a gun when a bullet is ejected. Furthermore, the particle often fractures in response to Pu-238 atom disintegration (yielding an alpha particle), with a small particle fragment also being ejected in order to conserve momentum. This process results in the continuous size reduction and transport of particles containing Pu-238 atoms, thus explaining movement of contamination along surfaces and through HEPA filters.

Here is the url I found for a 2005 paper on alpha recoil from Oak Ridge Natl Lab that is beyond alarming, but never addressed in any EIS.


I paste key quotes with the web page to verify them:

web page 9/27

These studies have been motivated by concerns about the containment of radioactive material and the increased potential for uptake of material by humans.

Webpage 12/27

Fleischer (1975), and Fleischer and Raabe (1977) examined the solubility of PuO2 in simulated lung fluid. Here solubility refers to the “conversion of plutonium in the extremely insoluble particles of PuO2 to more dispersed forms.” These authors observed that 238PuO2 dissolves at a rate that is about 200 times faster than 239PuO2, which has a much lower specific activity (17 Ci/g for 238Pu versus 0.062 Ci/g for 239Pu)

webpage 13/27

SNIPPED for space

Welcome to the discussion.

Please note: Online comments may also run in our print publications.
Keep it clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Please turn off your CAPS LOCK.
No personal attacks. Discuss issues & opinions rather than denigrating someone with an opposing view.
No political attacks. Refrain from using negative slang when identifying political parties.
Be truthful. Don’t knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be proactive. Use the “Report” link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with us. We’d love to hear eyewitness accounts or history behind an article.
Use your real name: Anonymous commenting is not allowed.