Keeping the blogosphere posted on the goings on of the world of submarines since late 2004... and mocking and belittling general foolishness wherever it may be found. Idaho's first and foremost submarine blog. (If you don't like something on this blog, please E-mail me; don't call me at home.)

Thursday, January 06, 2005

More Bad Science from SF Gate

The SF Gate website, used by the San Francisco Chronicle and San Francisco Examiner, has another wacky "science" article, this one with a kooky submarine angle! See update below; the article has now changed to remove the ridiculous claim discussed here. (I discussed the first zany article I found there here.) This article discusses the dangers to the San Francisco area from previous nuclear work, stating that the region is "aglow with plutonium". The language used is clearly that of a writer trying to scare his readership, using every buzzword possible to describe the nuclear horror in the darkest possible terms.
My personal favorite is the paragraph discussing the dangers from the nuclear-powered ships that once called the Bay Area home.

During the Cold War, dozens of reactors and hundreds of nuclear warheads resided here at military facilities. Nuclear ships were maintained -- and occasionally got into trouble -- here: a nuclear sub once sank at Mare Island, leaking radiation into the Napa River, and a nuclear aircraft carrier ran aground in Alameda, with similar results.

Wow! A submarine sank at Mare Island, leaking radiation into the Napa River!?! That's a pretty damning indictment of the Navy. Ignoring the failure to distinguish between radiation and radioactive contamination, this conjecture, along with the rest of the article, does not make sense. Yes, in fact, a nuclear submarine did sink while being built at Mare Island -- USS Guitarro (SSN-665) in May 1969 (13th picture down). Notice, however, the caveat that goes along with the picture linked above:
Navy Photo MSA 91770-5-69. The Guitarro (SSN-665) is on the bottom of the Napa RIver after her accidental sinking at Mare Island on 15 May 1969. (Note: The reactor had not been installed) Other vessels in the picture are from left to right; unknown YD, YD 33 (150 Ton Crane), and Satanta YTM-270. Satanta is preventing the Guitarro from capsizing.
Hmmm, the reactor had not yet been installed. How was it then, pray tell, that the sub was able to "leak radiation" into the river?
The aircraft carrier running aground in Alameda? Clearly a reference to the grounding of the Enterprise in April 1983. (I was in boot camp at the time, so I remember the incident well.) No less an "unbiased" authority than the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation doesn't see fit to mention (scroll down to April) any "leak of radiation", but this doesn't stop the intrepid reporter from making that claim. (I was looking through the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation website as I found the link; they're a little on the wacky side as well.)
If the newspaper readers in the Bay Area are getting this kind of analysis, no wonder we see the electoral results we get from that region.

Going deep...

Edited to change bad link, 0623 Jan 6th.

Update 0910 Jan 7th: Well, from what I think is the result of a letter written by one of the bubbleheaded brethern of Ron Martini's Submarine Bulletin Board, the web site completely changed the story, removing the references to the "radiation leaks" from the nuclear-powered ships. They left in references to a wacky conspiracy theory about an explosion aboard a ship at Port Chicago in 1944 being a nuclear explosion. The story now has a disclaimer at the bottom that it has been modified from the original version, with no indication of how it was changed. I suppose that's a win, but I wonder how many readers who saw the original will see the updated version...
Edited update, 1211 Jan 7th, to indicate that the wacky 1944 nuclear explosion link is still included.


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