Commemorating Two Barbaric – and Totally Unnecessary – Events

President Truman, aboard the cruiser Augusta, reads reports of the dropping of the first atomic bomb on Japan [AP file]

“We thank God that it has come to us, instead of to our enemies; and we pray that He may guide us to use it in His ways and for His purposes.” – President Truman announcing U.S. use of the Atomic bomb.

“The consensus among scholars is that the bomb was not needed to avoid an invasion of Japan and to end the war within a relatively short time. It is clear that alternatives to the bomb existed and that Truman and his advisers knew it.” –
J. Samuel Walker, Chief Historian of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission

Posted by Mary Beth Brangan and James Heddle – EON

Debunking Decades of Nuclear Deceit

75 years ago this week in August, U.S. aircraft dropped the first – and as yet, only – atomic bombs to be used in warfare on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Between 129,000 and 226,000 people – most of whom were civilians – were killed immediately and hundreds of thousands of others condemned to slow deaths or life-long suffering.  U.S. bombers had already mass fire-bombed 67 Japanese cities, but had spared Hiroshima and Nagasaki to use as ‘demonstration cities’ for the bomb’s destructive capacities.

For over half a century,  the official justification for that act of nuclear barbarism has been that “it won the war and saved millions of American lives.” Now, as John LaForge shows in his  Counterpunch article, that fabric of lies has been reduced to tatters by fact-based scholarship by historians and the documented statements of numerous government and military officials of the time, including: Maj. Gen. Curtis LeMay, head of the 21st Bomber Command, Navy Admirals King,  Halsey, Radford, and Nimitz; and no less an authority than then-General, and later President Dwight Eisenhower himself.

Today, as people around the world gather to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Hiroshima and Nagasaki – and as we are showered daily in newly-minted government and industry propaganda aimed at selling us a New Nuclear Arms Race – it is appropriate to remember how we have been bamboozled by all those past decades of official deceit.

What follows is a brief sampling of just a few of the commemorative events being organized around the globe – most, necessarily virtual in this time of Covid lockdowns.


California’s sprawling national nuclear bomb shop, Lawrence Livermore Laboratory. Government photo.

Not enough Californians are aware that Livermore Laboratory – long run by the University of California – is a major plexus point in the vast U.S. nuclear weapons design and production complex. 

Located just east of San Francisco in upscale Livermore, the Lab’s website has humbly billed it as “The Smartest Place in the World.” From almost the beginning of the Atomic Age, the Lab has played a major role in nuclear weapons development and remains today a key epicenter in the country’s billion dollar push to ‘win’ the New Nuclear Arms Race, which it has itself started.  This, despite 122 other nations that in July 2017 signed on to the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), or the Nuclear Weapon Ban Treaty aimed at becoming the  outlawing the building, possession or even threatened use of nuclear weapons.  Now in the process of being ratified by nations around the world, the TPNW aims to be the first legally binding international agreement to comprehensively prohibit nuclear weapons, with the goal of leading towards their total elimination.

Each year in August, for over a decade now, nuclear disarmament advocates have rallied outside the Gates of the Livermore Lab to commemorate America’ atomic massacres at Hiroshima and Nagasaki by staging a die-in on the tarmac and risking arrest to protest the Lab’s continued pursuit of ever new generations of nuclear weapons.  The yearly event is organized by the local organization Tri-Valley CARES, and regularly features a keynote address by legendary Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg.

Here is a clip of Tri-Valley CARES’ indefatigable Executive Director Marylia Kelly’s address to the crowd at last year’s Livermore Lab protest event.

This year the Covid lockdown has made  virtual demonstrations necessary. 

This year Marylia is on the steering committee of a national coalition of groups
formed to coordinate efforts to remember the victims of the bombings, and mobilize the public to take action through a 2-day virtual event.

She writes, “We believe that this anniversary is an opportunity to come together, to reflect and to push for a more just world that values peace and the safety of all people.”

“And, she adds, “I want to tell you that if you haven’t done anything yet – it’s NOT TOO LATE. Here are some simple ways to help…
  1. Sign on to our position statement. You can sign the statement by filling out this form.
  1. Share the hibakusha appeal with your networks. This petition was created by the survivors of the bombings in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and calls for the elimination of nuclear weapons. This resource can help you figure out the best way to promote the appeal through your organization, and you can reach out to Lilly Adams at the Union of Concerned Scientists if you have any
  2. Join and help promote our virtual event on August 6th and 9th. While we are highlighting frontline communities we know nuclear violence intersects with other systems of oppression here in the U.S., and we want to educate and mobilize more people on those intersections. You can find much more detail by following the link. If you can help promote the event, click on the “receive event updates” button to be looped in.
“And, finally, here is a one-pager that outlines lots of other ways to take action, including raising awareness in the media and sharing the many local events happening across the country.”

You can join this year’s inspiring Livermore event from 8 am to 9:30 am on-line here on August 6.

California and Japan San Louis Obispo Mothers for Peace member Carol Hisasue writes:

Dear Friends,
I hope you are all doing well in this very strange 2020. I am hopeful that the pain of this year is like the pain of labor and that it will give birth to something completely different and wonderful.

This year is also special because it is the 75th Anniversary of the Atomic Bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This year, Mothers for Peace will be making a special video of different people reading Haiku related to the bombing, nuclear weapons, peace, etc. and we would like you to be a part of it.

I am attaching invitation flyers about the project in English and Japanese. We need your help. Please spread the word! Please consider participating!



See also #still here Coalition website

Nuclear Age Peace Foundation graphic

Nuclear Age Peace Foundation
Rick Wayman of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation suggests the following:

August 5: Our friends at May Peace Prevail on Earth International are hosting an online event “Hiroshima Nagasaki 75” on August 5 from 3:00 pm – 5:00 pm Pacific Time. Speakers will include survivors of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings, as well as survivors of the Chernobyl and Fukushima nuclear disasters. You can tune in live at

August 6: The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation’s 26th annual Sadako Peace Day will be streamed online on the NAPF Facebook page at 9:00 pm Eastern / 6:00 pm Pacific. This year’s keynote speaker is Toshiharu Kano, who is perhaps the youngest survivor of the U.S. atomic bombing of Hiroshima. The event will include music, poetry, and reflection. Tune in live at 9:00 pm Eastern on the NAPF Facebook page! A recording will also be available to watch at a later time. More information on this year’s speakers is here.

August 9: We are excited to announce that a new film, “The Vow From Hiroshima,” featuring Hiroshima survivor and NAPF Advisory Council member Setsuko Thurlow will be available to stream online for free for 24 hours on August 9th. The exact link for streaming is not yet available, but you can find more information right now on the Facebook Event page. I had the opportunity to preview this film a few weeks ago, and I cannot recommend it highly enough.

Coretta Scott King marches in the 1971 Women’s Strike For Peace, the largest national women’s peace protest during the 20th century.  Archival photo.


Little-remembered today is the fact that pioneer U.S. civil rights leaders like Coretta Scott King. Bayard Rustin and Martin Luther King were ardent participants in the early international movement against nuclear weapons. Later,  there was separation of the two movements.  Now, Dr. Vincent J. Intondi, author of AFRICAN AMERICANS AGAINST THE BOMB: Nuclear Weapons, Colonialism and the Black Freedom Movement
is working to bring the two movements back together.



These events and many others are listed at which will be hosting live-streamed events on August 6 and August 9.

Bayard Rustin speaking to friend, mentee, and fellow activist Martin Luther King, Jr. / Image via Wikimedia Commons

Joseph Gurzon of Campaign for Peace, Disarmament and Common Security
offers the following recommendations:

He begiins with two resources that will take you more deeply into the human meetings of the Atomic Bombings than almost anything else.

First is Sumiteru TANIGUCHI’s memoir, The Atomic Bomb on My Back. Translated from the Japanese and edited by yours truly, it provides the painful history of one of the most tortured A-Bomb survivors, his courageous commitment to live a loving and full life, and the story of the creation and activities of the Hibakusha movement for nuclear weapons abolition and to secure government assistance. The book can be pre-ordered online. But you can get two blessings with one payment, by making a $100 contribution to the Campaign for Peace, Disarmament and Common Security. It will help us to keep on keepin’ on. Donate at

The other is the searing 17-minute Hiroshima Nagasaki 1945 is comprised of film footage taken by Japanese photographers and locked away in a Pentagon vault for 20 years to prevent the Soviet Union from using it for propaganda purposes. It’s upsetting to watch, but like the video of George Floyd’s murder, it documents truths that we must know:

A fact sheet that you can use for writing letters to the editor and op-eds can be found at

You can sign and circulate the Hibakusha Signature Appeal at:

For those of you in Massachusetts, you can find a listing of local events at:

You can join the 2020 World Conference against A and H Bombs (Online): August 2, 6 and 9, all at 10:00 am-12:30 pm (JST)/03:00 am-05:30 am (CET); 09:00 pm-11:30 pm (EDT, previous day)

The 2020 World Conference has moved online with the International Meeting on August 2; Hiroshima Day Rally on August 6; Nagasaki Day Rally on August 9. Please join live with many grass-roots Japanese peace activists and important international speakers, including: Nakamitsu Izumi, UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs; Amb. Syed Hasrin Aidid, Permanent Representative of Malaysia to UN; Setsuko Thurlow, Hiroshima Hibakusha; Hiroshima/Nagasaki Mayors; Kate Hudson, CND Secretary General; Philip Jennings, IPB Co-Chair; Beatrice Finh, ICAN Secretary General and many others. English translation is available for registered participants online. For details and registration:

Terrorists in suits –  They had reportedly rushed the Nagasaki bombing fearing the war would be over before they got a chance to test the plutonium bomb.  – Truman Cabinet meeting at the White House, Aug. 10, 1945, one day after the atomic bombing of Nagasaki. (Abbie Rowe/Truman Library)

Contact: World Conference Organizing Committee:

Also, on August 6 and 9 you can join’s nationwide 8 hour virtual commemorations at

The recording of our excellent webinar with Sueichi Kido, Secretary General of the Japanese Confederation of A- & H- Bomb Organizations, the historian Gar Alperovitz, and Poor People’s Campaign Co-Chair Rev. Liz Theoharis is at–Qkh35Q

A “fabulous” Massachusetts Peace Action (MAPA) webinar, “Fund Health Care Not Nuclear Warfare,” featuring me, Elaine Scarry of Harvard University, Bill Hartung of the Center for International Policy, and Shally Gupta Barnes of the Poor People’s Campaign can be found at:

Mary Beth Brangan and James Heddle Co-Direct EON, the Ecological Options Network.  The EON feature documentary SHUTDOWN which they are producing with co-director and editor Morgan Peterson is now nearing completion for release later this year.  EON is a 501 (c) 3 organization. You can support their work by making a tax-exempt donation here.
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Targeting of Civilians Is Now the Ugly Norm – Guest Blog by Roger Johnson

This handout picture taken on August 6, 1945 by US Army and released from Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum shows a mushroom cloud of the atomic bomb dropped by B-29 bomber Enola Gay over the city of Hiroshima. Charred bodies bobbed in the brackish waters that flowed through Hiroshima 70 years ago this week, after a once-vibrant Japanese city was consumed by the searing heat of the world’s first nuclear attack. About 140,000 people are estimated to have been killed in the attack, including those who survived the bombing itself but died soon afterward due to severe radiation exposure. AFP PHOTO / HIROSHIMA PEACE MEMORIAL MUSEUM/AFP/Getty Images

Guest Blog – A version of this Op-Ed by Roger Johnson appeared in the Los Angeles Times Friday August 4, 1995, the 50th anniversary of Hiroshima.

[It’s a sad reminder of the persisting power of the U.S. propaganda machine, that what was old news for some in 1995 is still new news for many in 2020 – Eds. ]


Targeting of Civilians Is Now the Ugly Norm

Mass bombing was made possible by technology, which still  dictates policies of callous disregard for life.


Blood and destruction shall be so in use,

And dreadful objects so familiar

That mothers shall but smile when they behold

Their infants quartered with the hands of war.

“Julius Caesar,” Act 3

William Shakespeare

  The bombing of the Federal Building in Oklahoma City brought out the suffering that can be caused by a single bomb detonated in the middle of a city.  Magnify the Oklahoma City devastation by 25,000 times and you have the equivalent of one Hiroshima bomb.  Imagine a freight train 300 miles long loaded with Oklahoma City bombs.  That’s the equivalent of one modern nuclear warhead, just one of tens of thousands poised all over the world.

  The policy of destroying cities with bombs deserves some reflection as we mark the 50th anniversary of the most destructive bombing that the world has ever known.  The firebomb raids on Dresden in February, 1945 and on Tokyo the following month killed at least as many as the atomic bombs that incinerated Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  From May to August, 1945, the United States dropped 158,000 tons of bombs on Japan, roughly the equivalent of 300,000 Oklahoma City explosions. 

  The deliberate killing of civilians is a relatively new practice in the conduct of war.  World War II was the first major war in which the majority of the victims were civilians.  Today, civilian casualties vastly outnumber military deaths in Bosnia, as they did in Chechnya.  Paradoxically, as the efficiency of killing civilians has increased, the moral outrage as decreased.

  There is a long and mostly forgotten history of the problem that the Pentagon euphemistically calls “collateral damage”.  In the 4th Century, St. Augustine wrote in “The City of God” that peace may require violence against evildoers, but warriors should kill only with anguish and regret.  This “just war” doctrine became elaborated over the ages in the Christian world, but it always held that the deliberate killing of civilian noncombatants must be forbidden.  Today, the targeting of civilians is routine.  How did this dramatic change in morality come about? 

  Indiscriminate killing was greatly advanced when airplanes became weapons of war. The first use of airplanes to deliberately kill civilians took place right here in the U.S. in June of 1921 during the infamous race riots in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  White racists commandeered U.S. postal service planes and dropped turpentine bombs on black churches and residential neighborhoods.  The firebombing resulted in widespread death and destruction.

  On April 26, 1936, Nazi planes flew over Guernica, Spain and dropped primitive explosives on residential areas.  This act drew immediate public outrage all over the world and inspired the painting that has become a classic anti-war statement: Picasso’s monumental “Guernica.”  The following year, Italian pilots did the same thing to Barcelona.  There was widespread sentiment at the time that pilots who kill innocent civilians should be tried as war criminals.

  On Nov. 14, 1940 the Luftwaffe bombed Coventry, England, killing 554, mostly civilians. The Germans coined the word Coventrisieren  (to raze to the ground) to describe the tactic.  Outraged, the Royal Air Force retaliated a month later by destroying the city of Mannheim.  And so it began. 

  The master of such planning was Arthur Harris, commander of the Royal Bomber Command.  In July, l943, he monitored the weather patterns over Hamburg until they were just right for creating a firestorm.  When conditions were optimal, his bombers dropped thousands of 4-pound phosphorous firebombs designed to set roofs on fire.  As planned, a catastrophic firestorm of hurricane proportions engulfed the city and killed at least 30,000. Twenty per cent of the victims were children. 

  As the war in Europe was drawing to a close, hundreds of thousands of refugees fled from the Russians toward the undefended German city of Dresden.  This historic and cultural treasure was of little military significance and one of the few German cities unscathed by war.  The British and Americans, concerned about Stalin’s postwar ambitions, decided to impress him with a show of military ruthlessness.

  On the night of Feb. 13, 1945, the RAF dispatched a wave of 245 bombers that carpet bombed the medieval city with hundreds of thousands of incendiary fire sticks.  A few hours later, a second wave of 550 bombers was sent in to magnify the blaze.  The next day the city was attacked a third time by 450 B-17 Flying Fortresses from the U.S. 8th Air Force.

  Official estimates of casualties have ranged from 30,000 to 250,000.  Some military analysts called Dresden one of the major atrocities of the war.  Others shrugged it off and argued that civilians could no longer be immune in airborne war.  As one American navigator who took part recalled, “It was just a normal type of raid.” After the war, RAF General Harris was knighted and became Sir Arthur Harris. In 1992, the British erected a monument in London to honor his achievements.  But many now remember him by his other name: “Butcher Harris.”

  In spite of the terrible destruction in Europe, the technique of saturation bombing was still in its infancy.  With the larger and faster B-29 Stratofortresses deployed over Japan, the U.S. Air Force turned carpet bombing and firebombing into a science.  In the closing months of the war, 75% of the munitions dropped on Japan were incendiary bombs, designed primarily to ignite wooden homes.  The firebombing of Tokyo in March, 1945 killed 100,000 people, destroyed 267,171 structures and left 1 million homeless.

   The killing of civilians by the hundreds of thousands was now commonplace, and this made the decision to drop the atomic bomb even easier. Accounts of the atomic bombings usually show the pretty mushroom cloud from above rather than the incinerated city below littered with corpses. The U.S. has always been eager to justify and minimize this historic and barbaric event, the only time in history that atomic weapons have been used in war.

  Gen. Leslie Groves, head of the Manhattan Project, trivialized the suffering by telling the U.S. Senate in 1945 that high-dose radiation exposure is “without undue suffering” and “a very pleasant way to die.”  After the bombing, the U.S. was quick to assert that the A-bomb ended the war and prevented countless future casualties by making an invasion of Japan unnecessary.  While this cover story is still believed by many, most scholars have concluded that the war was already over and the A-bomb was totally unnecessary.

  History now reveals that Japan and the U.S. had already been meeting secretly for months to negotiate an end to the war. Japan had agreed to surrender but negotiations were stuck over the Japanese demand that the Emperor be spared, a provision that the U.S. eventually agreed to.  As for the dreaded invasion of the mainland, it was not scheduled until the spring of 1946, hardly a major consideration in August when surrender was weeks away. 

  After the war, a long list of generals, admirals, and high U.S. government officials insisted that the atom bombs were not necessary.  The list included generals MacArthur and Eisenhower and fleet admirals Nimitz and Halsey. Did dropping the bomb really end the war or were there other reasons for the decision? 

  Many scholars discard the cover story and instead cite three other reasons.  As the war was drawing to a close, top U.S. officials worried about the next great threat: Joseph Stalin and the communist empire.  One of the reasons for the horrific firebombing of Dresden near the end of World War II was to send a message to Stalin to beware of American might, determination, and ruthlessness. The same reasoning was behind the decision to drop the A-bombs.  Evidence of this comes from a personal conversation in March of 1944 between Gen. Groves and physicist Joseph Rotblat.  Groves explicitly stated that the real purpose of the A-bomb was not to defeat Japan but to scare the Russians.  Upon learning about the real purpose of the bomb, Dr. Rotblat promptly quit the Manhattan project.  He was the only senior scientist to do so, and recently he was awarded the Nobel Prize.

  The second reason for dropping the bomb was the intense political pressure which resulted from diverting enormous amounts of war funding into the Manhattan Project.  Both critics and defenders of the project demanded results. There would be all hell to pay if all that money was spent and the bomb was never used.

  The third reason was the technological imperative.  The military wanted to know more about what the bomb did to cities and how it killed people.  Scientists were eager to learn more about atomic weaponry and in particular they wanted to study the difference between a uranium bomb (Hiroshima) and a plutonium bomb (Nagasaki).  Everyone feared that the war would end before they could use the new “gadget,” as Truman called it.  Like Dresden, the military wanted to bomb an intact city rather than a partially destroyed city.  Thus, Hiroshima was seldom attacked during the war to “save” it so that it could be totally destroyed with the new weapon. 

  The military objected to a demonstration (like creating a tidal wave in Tokyo Bay or blowing off the top of Mt. Fuji) because they wanted to experiment with a populated city. Of great interest was the effects of radiation on human beings, something that would be difficult to study after the war.  In order to learn more, the U.S. formed the Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission after the war to study radiation effects on the hibakusha, the Japanese on the outskirts of Hiroshima and Nagasaki who managed to survive.  The hibakusha were tested and examined, not to help them but to document incidence of cancer and other radiation-induced diseases.  The result was the heavily-flawed Hiroshima Survivor Study which was manipulated by authorities to trivialize the effects of radiation.  It is still widely cited by the nuclear industry to claim that radiation from nuclear power plants is not harmful.  

  The fascination with the effects of radiation on humans continued for three decades after the war with 4000 secret experiments conducted with unsuspecting people in the U.S. and in the Marshall Islands. It was not until 1995 that the U.S. government finally confessed to these Nazi-doctor experiments with the publication of the 925 page report, entitled, Advisory Committee on Human Radiation Experiments.  In order to apologize and admit guilt, the U.S. Congress passed the Radiation Exposure and Compensation Act (RECA) which has awarded billions to tens of thousands of victims of the radiation experiments. 

  In Japan, the suffering from Hiroshima and Nagasaki continued long after the A-bombs were dropped.  By 1950, over 200,000 Japanese had perished from the bomb.  Very few Japanese soldiers were killed and ninety-five percent of the casualties were civilians.  Those who died from cancer and other medical complications in the following half century are generally not counted.  The Japanese government estimates that over 2,000 citizens continue to die every year, not from old age, but from medical effects related to when they were irradiated as children in 1945 on the outskirts of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

  Meanwhile, the use of new technology to kill civilians continued to advance.  In the Viet Nam War, carpet bombing techniques were made even more deadly with the greater payloads of the B-52.  More bombs were dropped in Viet Nam than in all theaters of World War II combined.  Unexploded cluster bombs and anti-personnel munitions continue to kill and maim civilians, 40% of them children.

In the Persian Gulf War, the public was led to believe that most of the allied air attacks involved “smart” bombs with pinpoint accuracy aimed at military targets.  After the war, we learned that the vast majority of the ordinance consisted of old-fashioned “dumb” bombs that often missed their targets.  The Pentagon insisted that it was not targeting civilians, yet it deliberately destroyed water supplies, knowing full well that the suffering would be borne mainly by women, children and the elderly.  American public health officials estimated that more than 100,000 Iraqi children died from war-related causes.

  In the British War Museum, a special clock tallies the number of human beings who have died from wars in the 20th Century.  The toll is fast approaching 100 million, 12 times higher than that of the 19th Century and 22 times greater than the 18th Century.  At this rate, we might expect 1 billion people to die in the wars of the 21st Century. Military analysts believe that a nuclear war could easily generate 500 million casualties.

  Where is the outrage?  Are our national priorities in the future going to be as militaristic as in the past?  Fifty years after the war that made targeting civilian populations routine, bomber pilots are celebrated as heroes.  The search for more terrible weapons continues.  Today, the current conservative Congress has censored a Smithsonian exhibit critical of the suffering at Hiroshima.  Congress has slashed funding for education, the environment, health and the arts, and voted huge expenditures for long-range nuclear attack B-2 bombers.  The American public appears to be supportive since 3.9 trillion tax-payer dollars have been sunk into nuclear weapons programs alone since 1945.  By this measure, all the ingredients are in place to guarantee that the future will be worse than the past. 

Roger Johnson, PhD is a retired Professor Emeritus, Fulbright Scholar and Guggenheim Fellow, formerly living near the Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant near Manhattan and now living in San Clemente near the San Onofre nuclear power plant. As a child, he lived in Japan and visited Hiroshima and Nagasaki in ruins shortly after World War II. 

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Updated: Southern California Edison Must Warn of “Routine” Radioactive Releases – Why Don’t Other U.S. Utilities?

San Onofre Now Required to Give Public Warnings Before Radioactive Discharges

Guest Blog by Roger Johnson
[ An update from Roger Johnson is at the end of this article]

There is an important new development at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS).  Southern California Edison (SCE) is now required to provide advance public warnings of their regular radioactive discharges into the Pacific Ocean off of San Onofre State Beach.   A 48 hour warning notice is quietly posted on their website:   There have been 6 such releases between late May and late July. The warning notices are not well publicized and unfortunately few people see them.  When they are discovered, concerned residents have gone down to the beach to post warnings for swimmers and surfers.

Unfortunately, SCE only announces liquid batch releases into the ocean but does not disclose their atmospheric releases blasted from air ejectors into the prevailing winds.

All nuclear power plants during routine operation regularly pump radioactive effluents into waterways and blast out atmospheric releases through air ejectors. In the case of SONGS, liquid releases are diluted with seawater and pumped through giant 18 ft. diameter pipes into the ocean off one of the most popular state beaches in California.  The practice relies on the theory that the solution to pollution is dilution.  About 2.5 million swimmers, surfers, campers, and hikers visit San Onofre State Beach each year.  Until now, few had any idea that nuclear waste was being dumped into the ocean nearby. 

A warning to surfers. photo – R. Johnson


While the San Onofre releases are a concern for ocean lovers, the seafood industry, and those who value marine ecology, the atmospheric releases are worrisome for all the densely populated cities and towns down wind.  For more than a half century, these discharges have been conducted in secret.  The exact dates, times, and contents of the are never disclosed.  In the past, some discharges have gone on continuously for over 24 hours.  Annual reports are made which are buried in the NRC website the following year. These reports are only quarterly averages which conceal data on individual releases.  There is no way to know if very large discharges were averaged with much smaller discharges to produce an innocent sounding disclosure about the levels of radioactivity dumped into the environment.

The health effects of regular discharges of low-level radiation into the environment are unknown.  While each release may sound harmless, the health effects of ionizing radiation are cumulative over years and decades.  This is especially true for women and children who are more vulnerable to radiation. (Radiation safety standards are based on the average young adult male.)  The NRC labels the releases as “allowable” but is careful not to claim that they are harmless.  The local operators are more reckless and often say that they are safe even though there is no evidence to support that claim. Excess radiation is a major concern for everyone now that cancer is the number one killer in California and much of the nation.

The only major American study of cancer clusters around nuclear power plants was done in 1990 by the National Cancer Institute.  It failed to find cancer clusters but the study was heavily flawed and the results are now considered invalid. It never proved there is no increased cancer near nuclear power plants as the nuclear industry sometimes claims.  It merely failed to find a cancer effect, probably because the research was poorly designed.  It studied only where people died, not where they lived or worked.  It went by political boundaries rather than by distance from the discharges.  It measured only deaths, not incidence.  

More recently, the National Academy of Sciences spent 5 years and millions of dollars on two reports which examined how to study the problem should actual research ever be carried out.  The final report, titled Analysis of Cancer Effect in Populations Near Nuclear Facilities proposed a pilot study which would look for cancer clusters in the 50 km radius around these 7 nuclear facilities:

·  Dresden Nuclear Power Station, Morris, Illinois

·  Millstone Power Station, Waterford, Connecticut

·  Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Station, Forked River, New Jersey

·  Haddam Neck Plant, Haddam Neck, Connecticut

·  Big Rock Point Nuclear Plant, Charlevoix, Michigan

·  San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, San Clemente, California; and

·  Nuclear Fuel Services, Erwin, Tennessee.

Unfortunately, the NRC terminated the funding so no actual research was ever conducted.  While there has been little research in the United States, better and more recent studies in Europe have reported cancer effects.  In early 2020, a petition by the Samuel Lawrence Foundation asked for congressional funding of new research regarding cancer clusters near nuclear power plants.  “Near” is defined as living within 50 km of a nuclear power plant.  Millions live “near” the San Onofre and Diablo Canyon nuclear power plants. Over 1,100 signed the petition.   

SONGS appears to be the only nuclear power plant in the world where discharges are announced in advance. This all came about when Southern California Edison went to the California State Lands Commission for a permit to dismantle their cooling intake system.  The Surfrider Foundation in San Clemente objected to Edison’s environmental impact statement and requested that SCE provide advance public warnings of liquid discharges.  The State Lands Commission agreed and required that advance public warnings of discharges would be a condition for the permit.

It remains to be seen if others elsewhere wish to bring pressure on their own nuclear power plant operators to do the same.  If the nuclear industry claims that these discharges are harmless, why do they fiercely resist making public disclosures in advance?   Could it be that they do not want the public to know about these routine regular radioactive discharges into the local environment?  If they are harmless, then why do they conduct discharges in secret with no advance warning?

Update from Roger Johnson –
Many have asked how those living near San Onofre got Southern California Edison to agree to provide a 48 hour advance warning before they conduct a liquid radioactive batch release.  (They did not agree to provide an advance warning for atmospheric releases.) Below is a link to an article which discusses what happened should others want their NPP to do the same.  It turns out they are doing releases almost weekly with 6 discharges in the last 2 months.  The next one is tomorrow July 31!  It appears that few people realized that they have been doing both liquid and atmospheric releases in secret for over a half-century.  It also appears that San Onofre is the only NPP in the world where the public is given advance notice.  These notices have brought new public attention to what goes on at a NPP.  The locals are up in arms about these discharges off our beaches.

Now that the cat is out of the bag, maybe activists all over the country should pressure their own NPP to demand the same. If they claim it is safe, then why do they insist on doing it in secret?  Could this be one of the reasons why cancer is now the number one killer in the country?  Our petition to demand funding to restart the National Academy of Sciences study of cancer clusters near NPP now has over 1100 signatures.  We will soon present it to the four members of Congress representing the 50 km area around San Onofre and Diablo Canyon.  These releases illustrate how nuclear power plants are the most environmentally damaging form of energy production.  Lets work toward radiation-free energy! 

May we encourage others across the country (a) pressure your local NPP to provide advance notice of radioactive releases, and (b) contact your representatives in Congress and ask them to support the NAS cancer research project.

Here is a link to our petition:

Roger Johnson, PhD is a retired Professor Emeritus, Fulbright Scholar and Guggenheim Fellow, formerly living near the Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant near Manhattan and now living in San Clemente near the San Onofre nuclear power plant. As a child, he lived in Japan and visited Hiroshima and Nagasaki in ruins shortly after World War II. 
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“Boo, Yes.” – Coastal Commission Vote Sets San Onofre Radioactive Dump-by-the-Sea in Concrete – Updated

Southern California Edison’s radioactive waste dump-by-the-sea (center left) sits between the rising sea and the state’s main north-south rail and highway corridor in an earthquake and tsunami zone, surrounded by a population of 8 million people. What could possibly go wrong? – Photo from EON’s forth-coming feature-length documentary SHUTDOWN –


By Mary Beth Brangan and James Heddle – EON

“We’ll hold our noses and vote.”
Despite passionate public comments from community groups and individuals – and even concerned comments from some Commissioners themselves – presenting a long list of the legitimate public safety and environmental risks posed by the San Onfre dry storage facility for 3.6 tons of intensely radioactive fuel rods being created by Southern California Edison, the California Coastal Commission voted unanimously on July 16, 2020 to give the project the go-ahead.  There were, however, two “yes, boo” votes.

[ As of July 24, 2020, Attorney Mike Aguirre writes: “If people want to challenge the Coastal Commission decision on the grounds that (1) the hearing was unfair it should have been an evidentiary hearing and it was marred be cause the commission had already made up its mind before the hearing started; (2) the findings don’t support the decision and  (3) the evidence does not support the finding we must act within 30 days from the decision or sooner.” ]

Community Pleas for a Hot Cell Facility
In a remarkable show of community agreement, the bulk of the public comments from individuals and organizations advocated for the preservation of existing cooling pools plus the construction of a sealed ‘hot’ or ‘dry cell’ building.  This would allow damaged canisters or those containing damaged fuel to be robotically repaired or repackaged into sturdier thick casks that can be monitored and repaired as needed and meet transportation safety requirements. 

All current thin welded-shut Holtec canisters at San Onofre are gouged along their entire 18 ft. length as they are lowered into the vaults, initiating stress corrosion and galvanic corrosion that’s increased in the salty ocean climate.  The chance is high that these damaged canisters will need to be repackaged.  Also called for was the creation of a building where the casks would be protected from the elements and terrorists.  Many cited the model of the Swiss Zwilag facility that includes all these common sense precautions. 

Southern California Edison Plan
None of these provisions are included in the Southern California Edison plan for decommissioning, which calls for:

  • Transferring the remaining highly radioactive fuel assemblies out of the cooling pool and into thin stainless steal canisters to be lowered into concrete silos in an Independent spent fuel storage installation (ISFSI) just above a popular surfing beach;
  • Demolishing the pools;
  • Rubblization of the remaining radioactive reactor domes and other structures to be shipped for ‘disposal’ – possibly in ordinary landfill sites as currently proposed by the NRC – in California or other states;
  • Returning the site to so-called ‘Green Field’ status to be used for public recreation or,
  • Reusing the cleared site to relocate the dry cask ISFSI to higher ground further from the rising surf, if no off-site alternative has been found.

Citizen Concerns
Citizen opponents to the plan question the durability and safety of the thin Holtec stainless steel canisters being used by Edison to store the radioactive fuel rods. They point out that these types of canisters are known to be susceptible to through-wall cracking caused by the stress of the corrosive salt sea air. They warn that through-wall cracks can occur in as little as 17 years even without being gouged first, as is the case at San Onofre.
Remember, each of these 72 canisters contains more radioactivity than was released from the Chernobyl disaster. [ A 73rd canister contains greater than Class C waste. ]

The California Coastal Commission requires that the canisters be preserved well enough to
be able to be moved by the year 2035.  However, there is no proven way to check the condition of the fuel inside the welded canisters without opening them and inspecting the enclosed fuel rods.  This would only be possible with a hot cell facility that allows robots in an inert gas filled environment to handle the intense radioactivity safely without exposure to oxygen or people. 

The Holtec Hi-Storm Umax dry storage system for spent fuel at San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station. (Courtesy Southern California Edison)

Too Hot to Move Until the Year 2100
Additionally, the Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board’s 2019 report, Preparing for Nuclear Waste Transport  clearly states that huge canisters like those at San Onofre that contain 37 fuel assemblies each of extra thermally hot and more radioactive high burnup fuel must be repackaged into smaller casks.  If not repackaged, the extra heat and radioactivity will prevent them from being transported until the year 2100.  This is the case even though the designs of the canisters have been licensed by the NRC. (pg. 76)

So even if by some miracle, the 5/8 inch thin canisters that are already gouged significantly survive to the year 2035, they will be too hot to transport.  However, predictions are that within only 20 years sea level rise and increased storm surge from climate change will affect the San Onofre dumpsite 108 ft from the shore.  Again, repackaging is only possible in a hot cell facility and that was blocked by Southern California Edison and the NRC representative who said it wouldn’t be needed.

From the Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board’s 2019 report pg. 77:  “DOE has examined the trend in SNF dry storage at nuclear power plant sites (Williams 2013). On average, during 2004–2013, the nuclear utilities discharged SNF that has higher burnups (approximately 45 GWd/MTU) than previously discharged SNF and, therefore, is thermally hotter and more radioactive. In addition, the nuclear utilities are loading SNF into larger dry-storage casks and canisters to improve operational efficiency and reduce cost. The largest of these canisters now holds as many as 37 PWR assemblies or 89 BWR assemblies. As a result, these larger casks and canisters are hotter than earlier dry-storage casks and canisters; therefore, they will take longer to cool sufficiently to meet transportation requirements.DOE estimated that if SNF was repackaged from large casks and canisters into smaller standardized canisters (and using standard assumptions about the operating lifetime of the U.S. fleet of nuclear reactors), DOE could remove SNF from all nuclear power plant sites by approximately 2070. However, if no repackaging occurs, some of the largest SNF canisters storing the hottest SNF would not be cool enough to meet the transportation requirements until approximately 2100 (Williams 2013).

Flooding Dangers
The location of the waste storage facility yards from the surf, inches above the water table  in an earthquake and tsunami zone is given added significance by a report by Public Watch Dogs.  Consulting expert Paul Blanch revealed that Edison’s own data show that  the current site and its immediate surroundings are vulnerable to severe flooding damage in the event of an earthquake and tsunami.  Blanch’s report suggests that, in such an event, all 74 of the site’s waste storage silos could be catastrophically damaged.

Edison’s own assessment of tsunami and flooding risks at its ISFSI-by-the-Sea, Graphic courtesy SCE via PublicWatchdogs

Here are video clips from the meeting excerpted as a public service by EON, the Ecological Options Network – and links to recent news coverage.

[The full meeting video is here.]

Video Excerpts

Public Comments by San Onofre Safety founder Donna Gilmore

Public Comments by San Clemente Green co-founder Gary Headrick, U.S. Representative Mike Levin (D-CA), Adm. Len Hering.

Public Comments by Public Watchdogs spokespeople Charles Langley, Paul Blanch, Nina Babiarz.

Public Comments by San Diego Sierra Club spokesperson Cody Petterson.

Coalition for Nuclear Safety
Public Comments by Coalition for Nuclear Safety spokespeople Dave Rice, Bart Ziegler, Cathy Iwane.

Alice McNally – Coalition for Nuclear Safety
Public comments by Alice McNally of the Coalition for Nuclear Safety  

Michael Aguirre – Aguirre & Stevenson
Comments by Michael Aguirre of Aguirre & Severson LLP.

Surfrider Foundation –

Public Comments by Surfrider Foundation spokeswomen Rose Acheson. Katie Day, Mandy Sackett

Commissioner Wilson Questions CCC Staff & SCE

Commissioner Mike Wilson questions Coastal Commission staff members Alison Dettmer and John Webber and Edison spokesperson Tom Palmisano.

Commission Comments and Final Vote

Commissioners Dayna Bochco, Roberto Uranga, Sara Amenzader and Chair Stephen Padilla comment and vote in the July 16, 2020 California Coastal Commission meeting on radioactive waste storage at the shuttered San Onofre nuclear plant.

News Links

Orange County Register

By Teri Sforza

Inspection plan for San Onofre’s nuclear waste gets green light from Coastal Commission
‘It’s never easy to really approve of this kind of a situation,’ one commissioner said, ‘but it’s the only recourse at the moment’

About a dozen of the 73 nuclear waste canisters at San Onofre are slated for robotic inspection over the next 15 years, to the dismay of some critics who lobbied for more, according to the maintenance plan for its dry storage system approved by the California Coastal Commission.

“I have a little bit of a gnawing feeling,” Commissioner Mark Gold said at the end of the 4 1/2-hour online meeting Thursday, July 16. “I know this is based on extensive data and what has occurred in the industry, but, when you look at 1 in 10, it’s hard to guarantee that’s representative of the whole.”

Two commissioners actually prefaced their “yes” votes with a “boo.”

“From the perspective of the commission and Southern California Edison, we all need to advocate for getting this (waste storage system) in a different location than it currently is,” said booer Mike Wilson.

Read more

Times of San Diego

Coastal Panel Votes 10-0 to Allow Storage of Spent Nuclear Fuel at San Onofre
Posted by Chris Jennewein

The California Coastal Commission voted 10-0 in a special meeting Thursday to approve an inspection and maintenance program allowing Southern California Edison to store spent nuclear fuel in a storage site at the decommissioned San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station.

The program outlines actions SCE will take to inspect the canisters that contain spent nuclear fuel, as well as how potential issues with the canisters will be remedied. Read more

Donna Gilmore of comments on the above article:

The Commission staff report was severely flawed. The Coastal Commissioners asked great questions, but were given lies or misleading answers from SCE, LPI, NRC, and Coastal Commission management. New leadership is needed at the Coastal Commission and the NRC. They are not protecting the public or the environment.

All these parties know or have evidence these thin-wall canisters cannot be inspected for cracks nor adequately repaired. They know cracks are likely already growing through these thin-wall canisters that are only 5/8″ thick. Some canisters are already 17 years old.

SCE has no real plan to prevent or stop cracks, leaks or hydrogen gas explosions in these canisters. Instead of a plan, they hope nothing goes wrong until they can dump this mess onto some other community or at least turn over title to the federal government (at the existing site).

With each canister holding roughly a Chernobyl nuclear disaster full of radionuclides (as admitted to by SCE), none of us will be safe until these thin-wall canisters are replaced with thick-wall casks (10″ to 19.75″ thick), the standard in most of the world.

The coronavirus pandemic continues to reveal just how disfunctional our country is compared to our European and other friends around the world. It’s time to learn lessons from them. This includes nuclear storage lessons.

I urge everyone to look at the Swiss Solution for storing highly radioactive nuclear fuel waste.

If we don’t learn these lesson now, the resulting “nuclear pandemic” will make the coronavirus pandemic look like the good old days.

A recent Sandia National Lab report for the Dept. of Energy (Dec 2019 Technology Gap Report) states risks of short-term through wall cracks in these thin-wall canisters is a priority #1 problem that needs solving. They also said a dry fuel handling system [e.g., hot cell facility] is needed for replacing canisters. And they also said they need to study what the consequences will be from through-wall cracks. Why did the Coastal Commission managers not tell the Coastal Commissioners this? Why did they defer to the LPI consultants (who were paid by SCE)?

Why when one of the Coastal Commissioners asked LPI (after looking at the safety checklist comparing thin canisters to thick casks) if there were better systems than what SCE is using, LPI responded “it’s political”? Press Release – “Fear and loathing…”

California Coastal Commission sings sad “SONGS” about Southern California Edison’s Inspection and Maintenance Program (IMP) for nuclear waste

Unanimous vote gets “boos” from two Commissioners!
In a vote tinged with boos, and what one Commissioner described as “fear and loathing” the California Coastal Commission voted “yes” today to a Southern California Edison plan for the beachfront nuclear waste dump at San Onofre State Beach Park. the site of the failed San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS). Read more

New York Times

A Big California Quake Just Got ‘a Little Likelier’
A new analysis puts the likelihood of an earthquake slightly higher than earlier forecasts, but researchers said there’s no reason to panic.

By Henry Fountain

An analysis of recent changes along earthquake faults in Southern California suggests there is an increased possibility of a major quake on the San Andreas Fault, researchers said Monday.

The changes in fault stresses, resulting from a pair of strong earthquakes last July, increase the likelihood of a quake on a stretch of the San Andreas in the next 12 months to about 1 percent, or three to five times the probability of earlier forecasts, the researchers said.

A major quake on that section of the fault, called the Mojave, could devastate Los Angeles and its surrounding communities, which are home to 18 million people.

“We are still saying this is unlikely,” said one of the researchers, Ross S. Stein, a former United States Geological Survey geophysicist who now runs a consulting company. “It’s just a little likelier.”

The findings were published in the Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America.

Read more

A 770-ton nuclear reactor pressure vessel from the old Unit 1 facility at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station has completed its journey through three states to a disposal site in Clive, Utah. (Nevada Department of Transportation)

Los Angeles Times

770-ton load from San Onofre nuclear plant arrives at Utah disposal site

By Rob Nikolewski

The seven-week journey of an old but vital piece of the San Onofre nuclear power plant, a shipment weighing in at 770 tons, has been completed.

The reactor pressure vessel that helped generate electricity at Unit 1 of the plant arrived last week at a licensed disposal site about 75 miles west of Salt Lake City after being shipped by rail and then over highways in Nevada and Utah.

The removal of the vessel “is an important milestone” in the larger efforts to decommission the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, or SONGS, said Doug Bauder, vice president at Southern California Edison and chief nuclear officer at the facility.

Read more

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San Onofre News – 7-1-2020 – Updated

Edison’s own assessment of tsunami and flooding risks at its ISFSI-by-the-Sea, Graphic courtesy SCE via PublicWatchdogs

– Citizens demand electeds intervene in SONGS decommissioning
-Potentially catastrophic tsunami risks to the San Onofre radioactive waste dump revealed
-Huge radioactive San Onofre pressure vessel takes a train to Utah
– Radioactive transport risks
– Critics respond to Senator Levin’s Task Force Report on radioactive waste storage at SONGS
– What’s the future of SONGS?

A ‘hot cell’ or ‘dry cell’ is a sealed building filled with helium in which damaged radioactive containers and materials can be handled remotely by robotics for inspection, repair and repackaging.

‘Hot Cell’ Demanded

Photo: MIT

Citizens tell CCC “Cancel the Songs Waste Storage Permit!”
A Petition launched by the Samual Lawrence Foundation calls for the California Coastal Commission to amend its permit to decommission San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station.

A sample letter from Cathy Iwane reads in part:

Removing the spent fuel pools at San Onofre without a validated handling facility on-site is an irresponsible decision. The spent fuel pools are the last option for dealing with a damaged canister.

The Coastal Commission staff report lacked measures to ensure the protection of our coast and cities along the California coast from long-term environmental contamination.

…[C]riteria for granting a permit:
Require a plan for damaged nuclear waste storage canisters not fit for transportation
Require applicant to construct a handling facility on-site to mitigate damaged canisters
Retain spent fuel pools, until a validated handling facility is built (i.e. hot cell)
Damaged canisters could expose the land, air, and water to dangerous radiation which would harm California’s natural resources, coastal tourism, economy, and residents.
Coastal storage and decommissioning permits must require a condition that the applicant maintain the cooling pools and subsequently construct a hot cell on-site at the site.
This battle cry is heard at 65 similar storage sites around the US. Please respond by action, as if your office depends on it!

Info and sign-on letter:
Flood of Evidence Reveals ‘Severe’ Tsunami Risks at Edison’s San Onofre Waste Dump-by-the-Sea

On June 24, 2020, Public Watchdogs made a formal PowerPoint presentation to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in support of their petition to revoke Southern California Edison’s right to bury nuclear waste at the site of the failed San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS). Their presentations to the NRC documented the potential results of a tsunami flood.  Edison’s own evidence shows the ISFSI is in the ‘severe damage’ zone.

For PDF’s and a video go here.

Petition snip:
“From Edison’s own submittal under oath, executed on August 26, 2013 under penalty of perjury, the area of the ISFSI may be submerged by an unspecified level of seawater during a tropical storm or tsunami resulting in potential rupture of all 72 spent fuel storage casks. This event is likely to result in rupture of multiple casks and the release of millions of curies of long-lived radioactive isotopes.The impact of the thermal shock of cold water from the Pacific Ocean immersing the 452-degree Fahrenheitmultipurpose canister (MPC)is unanalyzed and void of regulatory scrutiny. It is possible that this thermal shock could challenge the only boundary between millions of curies, the environment, and millions of people. In addition, potential criticalityas discussed in 10 CFR 72.124 has not been addressed.” [emphasis added

A huge convoy carrying a low-level nuclear reactor is making its way through Nevada. Last week it passed through the Coyote Springs Valley via U.S. Highway 93. PHOTO BY CHARLENE PAUL/The Progress.

The hazards to roads, bridges, culverts, rails and people along the journey of this radioactive San Onofre reactor vessel will be repeated 99 times if the nuclear industry gets its way.  99 more reactors need to be decommissioned.  99 more reactor vessels will be moved to dump sites.  Industry plans to also move the high level intensely radioactive waste around the country to “interim sites” and theoretically, move them again to a permanent site.  This is insanely risky.

Spent Nuclear Reactor Passes On Its Way To Disposal
July 8, 2020

By CHARLENE PAUL – The Progress

A nuclear reactor vessel from southern California’s decommissioned San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station slowly made it’s way through the Coyote Springs Valley on Monday, June 29.

At about 5:30 am the convoy left the Apex Industrial Park in North Las Vegas. The 770-ton load on a 122-foot-long trailer powered by six heavy-duty Class 8 trucks began its one-way, 400-mile trip to a disposal site in the desert in Clive, Utah. Read more

Decommissioned nuclear reactor to hit Nevada roads

By Mick Akers

The largest object to travel on Nevada roads will set out on its over week-long journey next week.

The 1.5 million-pound, 16.5-foot-diameter decommissioned reactor pressure vessel from Southern California Edison’s San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station will hit the road early Monday morning from Apex in North Las Vegas, the Nevada Department of Transportation announced Friday.

To keep the load off Interstates 15 and 80, the vessel will mainly travel on U.S. Highway 93 and State Route 318 before crossing the Utah border on its way to Clive. Read more – Included video

Screen grab from RJ video

SONGS’ radioactive 770-ton pressure vessel takes a train to Utah

Debris from demolished nuke plants is coming to Utah, where EnergySolutions is proposing a new landfill

By Brian Maffly   Salt Lake Tribune

Across the country, aging nuclear power plants are getting retired and coming down, generating a new and potentially vast waste stream that could head to Utah.

Some remains of California’s San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, including its 770-ton pressure vessel, already are on train cars crossing Nevada to the nation’s largest repository for low-level, or Class A, waste in Utah’s remote West Desert. Read more…

Beyond Nuclear warns, “The transportation of radioactive waste already occurs, but will become frequent on our rails, roads and waterways, should irradiated reactor fuel be moved to interim or permanent dump sites.”

If Consolidated Interim Storage (CIS) sites proposed in New Mexico & Texas are allowed, these same routes will converge on them from all around the country. Graphic – Beyond Nuclear

Levin Report Issued

Congressman looks to use report to accelerate efforts to get nuclear waste off the beach

A task force put together by Rep. Mike Levin, D-San Juan Capistrano, released a report Wednesday making 30 policy recommendations for storing and eventually finding a place to send used-up nuclear fuel — in particular, from the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, which is home to 3.55 million pounds of waste.

The first-term congressman said he will pursue legislation on Capitol Hill based on some of the report’s proposals. Among them: Creating a Nuclear Waste Administration and giving states a say in the environmental reviews of handling, storing and moving spent fuel. Read more…

PDF of the Levin Report is here.

Editors’ Comment –

Levin’s Task Force, Co-Chaired by Adm. Len Hering and Former NRC Head Gregory Jaczko, has issued its Report.

The 60-page document contains some good recommendations, but also comes down in favor of Consolidated Interim Storage (CIS).  No surprise, since Levin has introduced a bill that would prioritize making San Onofre’s radioactive waste first in line for shipment, once a CIS has been established, and that’s his over all agenda.

Leven Report’s Major Problems:

  • It does not recommend an on-site hot cell, which is necessary for repairing canisters and repackaging fuel.
  • It advocates for Centralized Interim Storage in New Mexico and Texas – instead of moving San Onofre’s radioactive waste  to a safer location as close as possible to San Onofre
  • It seconds President Obama’s Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future ‘s Report’s advocacy for creation of a ‘new Nuclear Waste Administration.’   
The new agency would, ‘establish a new facility siting process and a new framework to achieve consent for future storage and disposal sites, including mandates for accountability and enforcement. ‘ The problem with this scenario is that plans for the new Administration point to staffing it with…you guessed it…people with ‘industry experience.’  Another captive agency would be born that would do the industry’s lowest cost, never-mind safety, bidding.‘s Donna Gilmore comments:

Focusing on location will no more solve our nuclear waste storage problem than rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic would have stopped it from sinking. 

The problem is the uninspectable, unmaintainable thin-wall canisters only 5/8″ thick. 

Mike Levin should be proposing legislation to require the NRC enforce existing regulations and current Nuclear Waste Policy Act (NWPA) requirement for monitored retrievable fuel storage. These thin-wall canisters do not even meet minimum ASME N3 Nuclear Pressure Vessel requirements for storage and transport. The NRC gives numerous exemptions to these and other safety requirements.

The Swiss already meet these US requirements. We don’t need more “studies” or a new government agency as this Levin report proposes.

The Swiss use thick-wall transportable storage casks up to 19.75″ thick that can be maintained and monitored to PREVENT major radioactive releases and explosions. They have an on-site hot cell facility (Dry Transfer System) for inspection, maintenance and repackaging of fuel assemblies, as needed. Thick-wall casks don’t have the short-term cracking problems that the thin-wall canisters have.

Learn more about the Switzerland solution here:

Some San Onofre canisters are already 17 years old. We’re on borrowed time with these degrading canisters. Read more

SONGS Task Force Announces Findings and Recommendations for Spent Fuel Storage

By Lillian Boyd and Shawn Raymundo / San Clemente Times

In January 2019, Rep. Mike Levin (D-CA) assembled a task force with the goal of driving solutions to move and safely store sensitive waste located at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS). Read more

What Next for San Onofre Generating Station?

SONGS Task Force publishes recommendations on dealing with 3.5 million pounds of spent nuclear fuel sitting on our beach

By Jake Howard / San Clemente Times

With everything that’s going on in our crazy world at the moment, it’s important not to lose sight of some of the more looming issues facing our local waters. Read more

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