Committed to shutting down Diablo Canyon reactors

Monthly Archives: November 2017


Reporting by James Heddle and Mary Beth Brangan – EON – the Ecological Options Network

Literal Nuclear Cliff Hangers

Both California’s seaside nuclear plants San Onofre (shutdown in 2013) and Diablo Canyon (scheduled for shutdown in 2025) are located over active earthquake faults in tsunami zones, just like Fukushima.  The sites also border the ocean’s rapidly rising sea level.  Any questions?

For the foreseeable future, both will be de facto repositories for tons of forever deadly radioactive so-called ‘spent nuclear fuel’ accumulated over their times of operation. That’s because last century’s optimistic plans for the federal government to take possession of all commercially generated nuclear waste and move it to a central deep geological repository have not materialized, despite many decades and billions of dollars of trying. 

Although pressure is building in Congress to resuscitate the failed Yucca Mountain project in Nevada, and establish so-called ‘Centralized Interim Storage’ sites in ‘consenting communities’ around the country, nothing of the sort is likely to happen any time soon, even if the current very flawed attempt, HR 3053 passes.

That means that both San Onofre and Diablo will be storing their radioactive waste for some time to come using container systems designed decades ago, before the now-known risks of  storing so-called ‘high burn-up fuel’ in thin stainless steel canisters subject to ‘chloride-induced stress corrosion through-wall cracking’ in a marine environment had been discovered. (See previous post). Now local citizens in both regions around San Onofre and Diablo are awakening to the dangers they face into the indefinite future.  Southern Californians are demanding a revision of their radwaste storage plans.

No Place for Waste –
Public Watchdogs takes bold action – files lawsuit to block seaside storage at San Onofre

Southern California Edison, operator of San Onofre, has scheduled beginning its storage of the intensely radioactive fuel rods into a concrete pad 108 feet from the ocean and inches above the water table next month, December 2017.  In response to realistic fears it would become a permanent nuclear waste dump, southern California grassroots organization Public Watchdogs has recently boldly moved to block that planned movement of the deadly, long-lived radioactive fuel.

Public Watchdogs  announced that it is suing the United States Department of Defense, the U.S. Navy, Southern California Edison, and San Diego Gas & Electric on the grounds that the defendants lack the legal authority to bury nuclear waste on the beach at San Onofre State Beach Park.

Seeking Court Injunction

Public Watchdogs’ Charles Langley explains that the lawsuit, which was filed by environmental lawyer Cory Briggs of the Briggs Law Corporation, “seeks a court injunction to prevent Southern California Edison’s December, 2017 burial of millions of  pounds of deadly high- level nuclear waste. Edison intends to bury the lethal waste 108 feet from one of America’s most cherished surfing and swimming beaches. The waste is deadly for millions of years, but under the current plan, it will be stored in a system that is only warranted to last ten years.”

Warranty is here.   Public Watchdogs Complaint is here.

“Once completed,” Langley’s Press Release says, “the San Onofre Beachfront Nuclear Waste Dump will be the largest privately operated high-level waste dump in the United States. Edison’s new dump is located in a tsunami inundation zone, on top of an earthquake fault line, and in the center of one of the most densely populated regions in the USA.  Its proximity to the LOSSAN rail corridor, the second busiest in the country, and Interstate 5 also poses unprecedented regional economic risk.”

Full Press Release is here.

San Diego Union Tribune article:
Group files suit to block storing nuclear waste at San Onofre

In another last minute attempt to forestall Edison’s planned Dec. nuclear waste move
Citizens Oversight has announced it will file a petition to the NRC, demanding a national moratorium on the use of thin, single-wall nuclear waste canisters, together with a White Paper outlining an alternate approach to on-site storage at nuclear plants like San Onofre.

Citizens Oversight’s announcement says that its “’HELLMSS-MELO Proposal’ will be submitted as a component of its petition to the NRC. Lutz has coined a new term – HELLMSS-MELO by which he means Hardened, Extended-Life, Local Monitored Surface Storage.  He proposes using a Monitored Extended-Life Overcask, which is an additional layer to be added over the “thin” canisters in use today, which were never intended for long-term use.

Citizens Oversight founder Ray Lutz explains, “The thin cans being used today to store nuclear spent fuel are far from adequate, with only a 20 year license and 60 year design life. These containers were not designed for long-term “indefinite” storage they have now approved. Stress corrosion cracking was not considered an issue when these were first adopted, but today, it is recognized as a major problem.”
To see the plan:

The Devil is in the Details – Diablo Canyon Shutdown Deal in Doubt?

Meanwhile, a proposed decision by California Public Utilities Commission administrative law judge Peter V. Allen on Pacific Gas and Electric proposed shutdown plan for its Diablo Canyon nuclear plant has raised doubts that the plan will go forward.  A Forbes article entitled Could Judge’s Ruling Cause PG&E To Rethink Closing Diablo Canyon Nuclear Plant? concludes that “A deal that looked good to most of the decision makers when it appeared to deliver $1.76 billion of ratepayer funds to pay for implementation may not look as good to those same decision makers when it delivers just $190 million.” A PG&E spokesperson has stated, “We will continue to strongly advocate for the application as submitted.”

The “Settlement” as originally submitted is here.

The CPUC ALJ’s proposed decision will not become law until and unless it is approved by the the full Commission Members, which could happen as early as next month.  The utility’s response to the proposed ruling is here.

The Forbes article explains,

“PG&E’s plan to close Diablo Canyon was the result of a carefully negotiated agreement that includes an escape clause triggered if the CPUC “fails to adopt” the plan “in its entirety and without modification.” It’s worth a little detour to provide background on what is known about how that agreement came about and who was a party to the agreement.

“On June 21, 2016, the Natural Resources Defense Council issued a press release revealing that it had signed a deal with PG&E, Friends of the Earth (FOE), Environment California, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1245 (IBEW 1245), Coalition of California Utility Employees (CCUE), and the Alliance for Nuclear Responsibility (A4NR) that would result in DCNPP closing when its operating licenses expire – unit 1 in 2024 and unit 2 in 2025.

“PG&E would immediately halt its effort to renew the plant operating licenses for an additional 20 years. The other parties agreed that they would support PG&E’s request to the California Lands Commission for an extension of the permit allowing them access to the segment of the coast housing their cooling water system.

“The permit authorizing the structures that supply and receive ocean water to occupy coastal land was expiring in 2018, several years before the plant’s operating licenses.”

On the other hand….
The outcome of the unfolding Diablo saga remains uncertain and will be conditioned by a number of factors.  One is the political ambitions of current California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and State Controller Betty Yee, both of whom now sit on the pivotal California State Lands Commission, a key state agency with authority over future plans for Diablo Canyon.

Another is the outcome of a suit brought by the Santa Barbara-based World Business Academy aimed at stopping the agreement, a suit which was struck down by the court, but is now on appeal.

PG&E faces other costly and time consuming considerations if they intend to apply to relicence Diablo.  San Luis Obispo-based Mothers for Peace spokeswoman explains, “PG&E MUST do a complete Environmental Impact Study, EIS, for the entire plant by 2024 as per the NRC if they decide to renew the license application.  Also, a State Environmental Impact Report, EIR, has to be done for the once-through cooling system.”  Compliance with these requirements are major expenses and could take years.

Once-through cooling (OTC) – the system currently in use at Diablo – has been banned at all power plants in California, and Diablo’s exemption expires in 2024.  Compliance with the ban would require new construction and additional expenditures which PG&E would likely be reluctant to make.

Longtime Abalone Alliance activist and archivist Roger Herried has pointed out that “PG&E acknowledged during the State Lands Commission hearings that nearly half of the Diablo’s power is no longer needed – not to mention federal law requires that they are required to maintain an exact amount of very expensive backup power that could also be removed from the grid once DC is gone – so the incentives at this point are large for [PG&E] to get out of SLO [San Luis Obispo] – even though the town had been screaming for its continuation as it brings in such a large amount of local taxes – and way above normal rank and file jobs — One SLO paper said the average income for workers there is over $150K.”

And what about the unions? ALJ Allen notes in his proposed decision, “…it appears that PG&E (with the participation of at least some of its unions) has already executed retention agreements with its employees, presumably incorporating the terms proposed by PG&E in this proceeding….PG&E should not be making promises (even implied ones) to its employees that it does not know it can keep. PG&E is not authorized to recover in rates the cost of the existing agreements.”

The Judge comments, “Overall, the amount and allocation of payments appears to have more to do with PG&E’s litigation needs than the economic needs of the community.”

Stay Tuned…
All these actors and factors swirling in California’s nuclear drama will unfold in the next weeks and months.

Watch this space for updates.

By James Heddle – EON, the Ecological Options Network

[ This article is also available on CounterPunchReaderSupportedNews  and Planetarian Perspectives]

Clear and Present Danger

Back in Presidential Debate days, candidate Trump revealed that he didn’t know that the term ‘Nuclear Triad’ refers to America’s three-legged nuclear arsenal of land-, sea- and air-launched nuclear missiles – of which he is now ominously in charge. But there is another, original ’nuclear triad’ now clearly in evidence.

Never before has the unbreakable connection between nuclear energy, weapons and waste been so blatantly obvious to the public eye…yet, with so little notice.

Although President Trump has threatened to obliterate North Korea and its 25 million people ‘with fire and fury the like of which the world has never seen,’ the NYT is reporting that America’s Asian allies doubt Washington’s ‘resolve’ to defend them with nuclear weapons and they want their own – an idea recently also floated by Trump himself.

In a new twist on the last century’s discredited ‘Atoms for Peace’ meme, the new nuclear delusion seems to be that the more countries that have nuclear weapons (Iran and North Korea excepted), the more ‘secure’ the world will become.

Speaking recently at Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota, Trump’s VP Mike Pence, a self-declared devout Christian who ‘gave my life to Jesus,’ declared “… there’s no greater force for peace in the world than the United States nuclear arsenal.”

Implication: every country should feel safer if they have a nuclear arsenal of their own. That seems precisely Kim Jong-Un’s own calculus, given his country’s previous horrific carpet-bombing experience with the US – “we… eventually burned down every town in North Korea,” Gen. Curtis LeMay told Congress – not to mention the recent history of Iraq, Libya and Syria.

Nuclear Circular Firing Squad

As agitation reportedly builds in South Korea and Japan for building their own nuclear arsenals, the Times reveals that, as a result of the radioactive waste output of their already existing nuclear energy reactor fleets, each of these tiny countries has accumulated enough weapons-grade plutonium to produce – respectively – 4,600 and 6,000 nuclear bombs.

How about that? Nations without their own ‘commercial power’ nukes must certainly take note.

Never mind the fact that such a triangle of nuclear-armed, mutually hostile, neighboring states would be like, say, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut each having their own nuclear arsenals, all pointing at each other. Talk about a circular firing squad. It’s the very definition of an ‘everybody loses’ situation.

Nuclear Triplets Joined at the Hip

But, while this is clearly an illustration of a new epidemic of nuclear crackpot madness spreading around the world, it is also the latest of several clear illustrations – and blatant, though veiled, public admissions – that the DNA-destroying nuclear triplets of energy, weapons and radioactive waste are inseparably joined-at-the-hip.

In the UK:

Military Nuclear Industry to be Supported by Payments from Electricity Consumers”

In Britian, reports the Guardian, “The government is using the “extremely expensive” Hinkley Point C nuclear power station to cross-subsidize Britain’s nuclear weapon arsenal, according to senior scientists.”

The Guardian story continues,

In evidence submitted to the influential public accounts committee (PAC), which is currently investigating the nuclear plant deal, scientists from Sussex University state that the costs of the Trident programme could be “unsupportable” without “an effective subsidy from electricity consumers to military nuclear infrastructure.”

Prof Andy Stirling and Dr Phil Johnstone from the Science Policy Research Unit at the university write that the £19.6bn Hinkley Point project will “maintain a large-scale national base of nuclear-specific skills” without which there is concern “that the costs of UK nuclear submarine capabilities could be insupportable.”

Their evidence suggests that changes in the government’s policy on nuclear power in recent years will effectively allow Britain’s military nuclear industry to be supported by payments from electricity consumers.

Last June, MPs passed a motion in favour of replacing four submarines carrying Trident missiles at a cost of £40bn.

“What our research suggests is that British low-carbon energy strategies are more expensive than they need to be, in order to maintain UK military nuclear infrastructures,” said Stirling.

“And without assuming the continuation of an extremely expensive UK civil nuclear industry, it is likely that the costs of Trident would be significantly greater.”

The Hinkley Point project has been criticised for its huge cost.

… Johnstone said the decision-making process behind Hinkley raised questions about transparency and accountability, saying: “In this ever more networked world, both civil and military nuclear technologies are increasingly recognized as obsolete. Yet it seems UK policymaking is quietly trying to further entrench the two – in ways that have been escaping democratic accountability.”

In their report, entitled Some Queries over Neglected Strategic Factors in Public Accounting for UK Nuclear Power: evidence to the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee Inquiry on Hinkley Point C (HPC), Stirling and Johnstone state that their “evidence submits that an undetermined part of the full costs of this expensive, controversial – but officially highly-prioritized – military infrastructure are in effect (without clear public acknowledgement or justification), being loaded into electricity prices. With costs of alternative large-scale domestic low-carbon energy resources like offshore wind power confirmed as significantly more favorable than HPC, it seems a hidden subsidy is being imposed on electricity consumers.”

They point out that, “If UK pursuit of uncompetitive nuclear power is partly justified as a means to sustain these shared civil-military specialized nuclear capacities, then availability of lower cost domestic low-carbon power means electricity prices are higher than would otherwise be the case…. It is this that would amount to an effective subsidy from electricity consumers to military nuclear infrastructures.”

They conclude, “Remarkably, this civil-military link is well documented in defense debates, but entirely neglected in energy policy discussion.” (emphasis added.)

In the US:

Chasing Nuclear Market Share

In a recent piece in Foreign Affairs, entitled Will the West Let Russia Dominate the Nuclear Market? – What the Westinghouse Bankruptcy Means for the Future, born-again ‘new environmentalists’ and new nukes enthusiasts Nick Gallucci and Michael Shellenberger argue that US taxpayers should bail out the once-powerful, now bankrupt and Japanese-owned nuclear giant Westinghouse, or risk losing both global commercial and military nuclear primacy.

In the face of documented world-wide nuclear industry collapse, these guys want to revive what they call Eisenhower’s ‘humanitarian dream’ of Atoms for Peace (which spread deadly US nuclear technology around the world in the first place ) in order to, as Ike promised, “provide abundant electrical energy in the power-starved areas of the world.”

Now, according to nuclear true-believers Nick and Mike, with the added benefit of saving civilization from climate change with new, ‘clean’ nuclear energy will be run on what they call ‘accident tolerant fuels’ – still a completely untested ‘nukes-for-ever’ concept.

The core element in their misguided pitch is that the decline of the civilian nuclear industry in the USA “would significantly undermine U.S. and Western national security interests.”

This, despite statistics showing that global investments in non-hydro renewables are now greater than the global investments in nuclear, hydro and fossil fuels combined.

Nuclear Policy Group-Think Adrift in a Sea of Delusion

Elsewhere in the news, a report by the pro-nuclear Energy Innovation Reform Project  on the future costs of new nuclear in the USA notes that: “A sustained decline in the commercial industry could also have a negative impact on the U.S. nuclear naval program.

A 2017 report entitled The U.S. Nuclear Energy Enterprise: A Key National Security Enabler by the Energy Futures Initiative – another pro-nuke shop established by former Energy Secretary Ernest J. Moniz – clearly highlights the risks posed by US civilian nuclear decline to US naval supply chains.

Nukes on the Dole – Radioactive Welfare Queens

All of which may help to explain some strange recent developments.

Nuclear utilities are in trouble, fighting for life against – as Amory Lovins once predicted – ‘a massive overdose of market forces’ and the surging economics of renewables.

But wait. Whatever happened to ‘”the wisdom of the ‘free market’?” Around the country, as aging reactors reach the end of their operational and economic lives, some states like Wisconsin, Vermont, Massachusetts, and Nebraska are letting them die a dignified natural death. But other states, like New York and Illinois are putting their moribund reactors on life support at public expense. Projections suggest that state-sponsored electric ratepayer handouts in the two states could total as much as $10 billion over 12 years.

Tim Judson, Director of Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS),

warns that if other states follow New York and Illinois, “The price would be outrageous. If reactor subsidies go nationwide, it could cost $130-$280 billion by 2030.”

Earlier this year Directpr John LaForge reported on Counterpunch,

“Bailout legislation for dilapidated reactors is now pending: in Connecticut, for Millstone 2 & 3; in New Jersey, for Salem 1 & 2 and Hope Creek; in Texas, for South Texas 1 & 2 and Comanche Peak 1 & 2; in Maryland, for Calvert Cliffs 1 & 2; and for nine reactors in Pennsylvania including Beaver Valley 1 & 2, Three Mile Island 1, Susquehanna 1 & 2, Limerick 1 & 2, and Peach Bottom 2 & 3.

Meanwhile America’s Trillion dollar nuclear arsenal upgrade goes forward, even as an overwhelming majority of United Nations states sign on to a treaty declaring the possession, use or threatened use of nuclear weapons illegal under international law.

In the face of the spreading renewed nuclear crackpotism noted above, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), has been the driving force behind the UN Treaty to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons. ICAN will receive the Nobel Peace Prize Dec 10.

Atoms for Peace War

All of which suggests, you can’t advocate for nuclear reactors without indirectly advocating for nuclear weapons and radioactive waste. That’s because nuclear reactors are producers of both weapons material and radioactive waste. Ike was a nuclear conman. ‘Atoms for Peace’ have always been Atoms for War.

And, as Bennett Ramberg showed conclusively in his prescient, but tragically ignored, 1984 book Nuclear Power Plants as Weapons for the Enemy: An Unrecognized Military Peril, its also because every nuclear reactor and radioactive waste storage site in the world are themselves nuclear-weapons-in-place for any enterprising terrorist.

Concluded Ramberg, “Because nuclear energy facilities contain such large inventories of biologically threatening radionuclides, they can make potentially useful radiological weapons when manipulated for strategic purposes.”

[ For more on this topic please see: The myth of the peaceful atom   &  Nuclear power, weapons and national security   both by Nuclear Monitor editor Jim Green;  The Nuclearization of Space ]


James Heddle is a filmmaker and writer who co-directs EON – the Ecological Options Network with Mary Beth Brangan, who contributed ideas for this article. Their forthcoming documentary SHUTDOWN: The California-Fukushima Connection is now in post-production. He can be reached at


“I would like to offer a disclosure. Twenty years ago I served as a federal administrative judge sitting on a licensing board [that] approved the dry cask storage system here at Diablo Canyon. At that time the chloride stress induced corrosion cracking was not known to the licensee, PG&E, was not known to the Licensing Board, was not known to Holtec [the manufacturer], so this is an evolving entirely new development.” – Dr. Peter Lam, Member of the Diablo Canyon Independent Safety Committee

By James Heddle and Mary Beth Brangan

Serious Corrosion Cracks and 20/20 Hindsight
Oops! Turns out tensile stress (like nuclear waste thin-wall storage canisters) and a corrosive environment (and a corrosive environment like moist salt-laden sea air) can cause through-wall cracks in thin stainless steel in 20 years (plus or minus a few years, but who’s counting?)

That’s what the canisters designed to contain the tons of lethal radioactive waste to be stored for who-knows-how-long at California’s Diablo Canyon and San Onofre seaside reactor sites are made of  – only five-eighths inch stainless steel at San Onofre and one-half inch at Diablo Canyon –  about the thickness of an average human’s little finger.

San Onofre, nuclear power plant north of San Diego, and operated by Southern California Edison, was permanently shut down due to major engineering faults and mismanagement in 2013.  Now over 1,600 tons of  lethal  highly irradiated ‘spent’ fuel is about to be partially buried near the beautiful San Clemente beach about a hundred feet from the Pacific surf and inches above the rising water level in this type of canister.

Diablo Canyon, nuclear power plant north of Santa Barbara and run by PG&E (of San Bruno gas explosion fame), is scheduled for shutdown in 2025.

Every year of operation Diablo produces over 20 metric tons of forever-lasting nuclear waste while supplying a mere estimated 7% of California’s electrical power that the state government admits can easily be replaced.  PG&E too, is using thin stainless steel canisters.

Actually, according to San Onofre operator, Edison’s Decommissioning and Chief Nuclear Director Tom Palmisano, all other nuclear utility reactor sites in the U.S. use this same type of canister.  A few use better thick-wall storage casks, but the decision was made decades ago to choose cost over safety.

Is dry cask storage really safer than pools?

According to a report by Mothers for Peace, “As of November 2013, there were 2,848 waste units, called “spent fuel assemblies” (SFA), stored at Diablo…. Diablo’s spent fuel pools contained 1,920 assemblies. In addition, another 928 assemblies are stored in dry casks, generally considered a safer means of storing high level nuclear waste for prolonged periods of time.”

Generally considered a safer means,” maybe, until Dr. Lam’s disclosure (quoted above) at the Oct. 19, 2017 meeting of the Diablo Canyon Independent Safety Committee (DCISC) in San Luis Obispo, a disclosure which seems to throw into serious question the validity of the design basis of all planned and existing nuclear waste storage systems in California and elsewhere.
Both these reactor sites – soon both to be in decommissioning mode – sit on the Pacific coast over earthquake faults, in tsunami zones and in marine salt air environments – now known to be the optimal conditions for causing the ‘chloride stress induced corrosion cracking’  that Dr. Lam referred to in the meeting.

This is a quote from the Nov. 14, 2012 NRC Information Notice:

“The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is issuing this information notice (IN) to inform addressees of recent issues and technical information concerning the potential for chloride-induced stress corrosion cracking (SCC) of austenitic stainless steel dry cask storage system canisters. Significant SCC could affect the ability of the spent fuel storage canisters to
perform their confinement function during the initial license or license renewal storage period(s).

The NRC expects that recipients will review this information to determine how it applies to their designs and facilities and consider actions, as appropriate, to avoid these potential problems. However, suggestions contained in this IN are not NRC requirements; therefore, no specific action or written response is required.

Several instances of chloride-induced SCC have occurred in austenitic stainless steel components that were exposed to atmospheric conditions near salt-water bodies. The
summaries below describe relevant examples: In the fall of 2009, three examples of chloride-induced SCC which extended through-wall were discovered at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS)…”
Read more…

[ Video excerpts of the Oct. 19, 2017 DCISC meeting follow below, or may be viewed on EON’s YouTube Channel. ]

Credit Where Credit is Due
Prior to his disclosure, Dr. Lam, a Nuclear Regulatory Commission Administrative Judge Emeritus, made a point of expressing his appreciation for the work of San Clemente-based systems analyst Donna Gilmore, author of,  in bringing emerging research findings to official and public attention. “Ms. Gilmore’s research,” Lam said, “was one of the earliest efforts identifying and focusing on this important phenomenon of stress induced corrosion cracking.  Thanks to Donna Gilmore’s efforts, public awareness of this important issue has increased substantially in the past several years,” Dr. Lam said.

DCISC member Dr. Per Peterson of UC Berkeley’s Nuclear Engineering Department, explained that America’s thin-walled canisters – unlike more robust, thicker-walled casks used elsewhere in the world – were originally designed not to be stored indefinitely at reactor sites, but for permanent burial in the planned deep geological repository at Yucca Mountain in Nevada,  which, for myriad scientific and political reasons, has not materialized, despite decades and billions of dollars of research.

Donna Gilmore’s research, however, found that utilities chose thin-wall canisters because they were less expensive, assuming they would only need to last 20 years. The nuclear industry is now trying to retrofit this inferior technology to function as part of a permanent repository, but that does not appear to be based on scientific evidence.

Cracking canisters containing forever deadly radioactivity on our streets, railways and waters?

As reported in our previous NoNukesCA post, A National Nuclear Waste Shell Game? – Yucca Mtn. Redux, HR 3053 – the Nuclear Waste Policy Amendments Act of 2017 the so-called Shimkus Bill – after its author Republican Congressman John Shimkus of Illinois – is now being hustled through the House of Representatives by California’s Darrell Issa (R-CA) and others.   The Bill seeks to revive the defunct Yucca Mountain project and establish a network of Consolidated Interim Storage (CIS) sites across the country in ‘consenting communities.’   These sites would accept radioactive waste from reactors like Diablo Canyon and San Onofre until the Yucca site or some other deep geological repository is ready to receive it at some unknown time in the future.

 If this bill is passed, thousands of shipments of deadly radioactive waste would be moving on barges and on poorly-maintained railways and highways throughout our country almost daily for decades. Major disasters would seem unavoidable, with each canister of waste containing about the amount of radioactivity of a Chernobyl disaster just in the cesium alone.  The American Society of Civil Engineers just gave U.S. infrastructure a D plus score in 2017.  Climate change is rapidly eroding the already seriously degraded transportation systems through climate extremes, flooding, erosion, heat, freezing, etc. 

All these dangers are exacerbated by the fact that no nuclear authorities have factored in the problem of potentially cracking canisters!!

These canisters, vulnerable to leaking from cracks in about 20 years, possibly sooner, must completely contain radioisotopes that remain deadly for thousands of years.

Scroll down for urgent actions against allowing thousands of Chernobyls on wheels, railways and barges!

Extreme Environmental Injustice
History shows that targeted ‘consenting communities’ would be, as usual, poor, minority, rural locations with little political clout, and with populations desperate for ‘jobs, jobs, jobs.’ 

When Mothers for Peace spokeswoman, Linda Seeley pointed this out in her comments, DCISC member Dr. Robert Budnitz, from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), was moved to emphatically point out that, “We don’t have any concern about where it might go, if it might go somewhere…or what might happen, on the road, after that. It’s not part of our charter. I’m happy it’s not part of our charter. I’m interested in it. I’m an engineer. I’ve actually thought about it, and I’ve done some work on it,” Budnitz said. “But it’s not part of this committee…. People watching ought to know, that whether the transportation system is safe; and whether where it goes – if it goes somewhere – is safe; or whether where it goes has political support, it’s an interesting topic that is beyond the remit of the Diablo Canyon Independent Safety Committee.”

Who, then, are the adults in the room on behalf of future generations?

Which raises the question, how are these radioactively hot questions ultimately to be decided? What body DOES have ‘the remit?’ Who are the ‘adults in the room’ to responsibly finally decide these questions on behalf of all future generations?

A grassroots example of the ‘adults in the room:’

Linda Seeley is a spokesperson for Mothers for Peace, an organization insisting on safety at Diablo Canyon for over forty years.  Linda eloquently spoke for those who may not have the power to resist being forced to take the deadly waste.  She also pointed out that the various options for moving the waste will be decades in the making; and since transporting the waste has enormous risks, it should not be moved twice.  So for the period of time that it will remain on the Diablo Canyon site, it should be put into the most robust available storage system that is able to be monitored to prevent leaks, is retrievable and transportable, and in a hardened building as close as possible to its present location.  She furthered explained that rather than this long-lived deadly waste be put into a remote area and then forgotten, those in this region where the waste was generated must consciously oversee its storage until it can be safely moved to a permanent repository.

Donna Gilmore’s suggestions for the official agencies that should be the ‘adults in the room:’

The California Coastal Commission could deny Coastal permits based on the fact these thin-wall canisters cannot be transported with even partial cracks and San Onofre plans to destroy the spent fuel pool — the only on-site approved method to replace failing canisters.

The California Public Utilities Commission, CPUC can reject giving them funds to buy more of these canisters since they will need to be replaced prematurely and there is no funding in the Decommissioning Funds to do that.  The thick-wall casks have a longer lifespan and can be inspected, maintained, repaired and monitored to prevent leaks — and they don’t have the cracking problems.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission, NRC can raise their minimum standards and enforce their regulations to require containers that can be inspected inside and out, maintained, repaired and monitored to prevent leaks.  And enforce a requirement for transportability without cracks and mandate a plan in place to prevent and recover from leaks.

Congress can vote for a bill that mandates the DOE will not assume liability for containers that do not meet the above requirements.  Instead, many appear to be voting for a bill that removes those requirements from the current Nuclear Waste Policy Act.

The media and entertainment industry can spread the word on these issues in a way grassroots activists cannot.

Reasons To Buy Thick Casks

Nuke Free Movement Milestone
This meeting was not the first, but a significant milestone in the joining of citizens from both California’s remaining reactor communities in cooperatively addressing these issues from their respective points of view.

California’s regional activist communities at Diablo and San Onofre are now split between those pushing to get the waste ‘outa here’ by any means necessary to anywhere possible, ASAP; and those advocating for using the most robust storage system and locations currently achievable with minimal movement since the tons of radioactive waste must remain on-site for the foreseeble future.  Even if HR 3053 were to pass, the temporary storage sites are still in design phase, lawsuits against it may take years to unravel and there are older reactor sites already in line for moving their radioactive waste.

These following video excerpts of the recent Diablo Canyon Independent Safety Committee meeting, edited by EON as a public service from archival coverage by, illustrate the urgency of these questions.

Dry Cask Risks Not Known When Design Approved by NRC
Former Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Administrative Judge Dr. Peter Lam discloses that the vulnerabilities of Diablo’s Holtec dry cask nuclear waste storage system to stress corrosion cracking – recently documented by Donna Gilmore – was not known to decision-makers 20 years ago, when the NRC approved the design.  Dr. Lam’s disclosure seems to throw into serious question the validity of the design basis of all planned and existing nuclear waste storage systems in California and elsewhere.

Make Diablo a Model of Responsible Radwaste Storage – Linda Seeley

Mothers for Peace Spokeswoman Linda Seeley explains why her organization advocates for Hardened On-Site Storage (HOSS) of lethally radioactive nuclear ’spent fuel’ at Diablo Canyon, rather than moving the radioactive waste to a Centralized Interim Storage (CIS) location.

Diablo Canyon Nuclear Waste Unsafely Stored – Donna Gilmore
The nuclear waste storage system being used by PG&E at Diablo Canyon reactor site has multiple vulnerabilities to serious risks according to official NRC documents unearthed by independent researcher and systems analyst Donna Gilmore.
Gilmore, founder of, summarizes her findings in a PowerPoint presentation documenting vulnerabilities shared by the radioactive waste storage systems at both the Diablo and San Onofre coastal reactor sites and recommends safer thick wall casks used in most of the world.
The controversies raging in California’s two remaining nuclear reactor communities of San Clemente and San Luis Obispo are microcosms of the challenges facing dozens of reactor communities around the country, as America’s aging fleet of nuclear power reactors face a coming cascade of shutdowns and decommissioning projects.
Despite decades of failed attempts, no solution to the problem of responsibly isolating from the environment and future generations America’s thousands of tons of accumulating radioactive energy and weapons waste has yet been found.

PG&E’s Diablo Canyon Radwaste Storage Plans – Jearl Strickland
Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) official Jearl Strickland gives a slide presentation on his company’s plans for storing tons of lethally radioactive nuclear ’spent fuel’ at its Diablo Canyon reactor site for an unknown period.

Thanks to Diane D’Arrigo of NIRS for the info below:


Please  CALL 202-224-3121

Click for  NIRS Alert

The bill could come to the house floor any day or any week, most likely before Dec 8th, when the continuing budget resolution expires and new funding must be approved.


NIRS Don’t Waste America campaign pages
Beyond Nuclear

San Onofre Safety posted documents that allow you to actually read the proposal (much of HR 3053 simply says “change section xyz” in the existing law to “new text abc”. Donna Gilmore has marked up the existing law with the changes that would be made by the Shimkus bill HR 3053. Worth taking a few minutes to review.
Color annotations (can take a few minutes to load)

Black and White annotations
Find other HR3053 related documents, including a version of the bill incorporating the approved amendments, at

NEIS in Chicago: Two reports from experts make great underpinning for talking to your US REP / their key staffers on nuclear transport. Mobile Chernobyl remains the biggest impact of either Consolidated I Storage or Yucca Mt.  Shimkus (HR 3053) unleashes the biggest nuclear waste transport campaign possible.

Link # 1 ties impact of CLIMATE on transport / infrastructure in the Midwest.

Link #2 is an INFRASTRUCTURE REPORT CARD from Civil Engineers.  March 9, 2017 American Society of Civil Engineers: