Monthly Archives: August 2023

Deconstructing the Doomsday Machine

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, CA – energy.go

By James Heddle, Mary Beth Brangan – EON      Crossposted on Substack

Protests at California’s Thermonuclear Bomb Factory

Every year now for more than a decade advocates of peace and denuclearization have converged on the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, California to commemorate Hiroshima Day, the anniversery of the droping of America’s first atomic bomb on Japan on August 6, 1945.

Livermore Lab, which has billed itself on its website as “The Smartest Place on Earth,” is a key node in the U.S. network of nuclear weapons research, development and production – a perpetually on-going process consuming billions of dollars each year.


The yearly non-violent Livermore demonstrations, organized by Tri-Valley Cares and a coallition of sister organizations, has historically involved a rally and a march and ritualized ‘die-in’ at the Laboratory Gates.

Each year a regular keynote speaker at the ralleys has been the late, legendary Pentagton Papers whistlebolwer Daniel Ellsberg who died this June 16. Along with other video producers, EON has documented many of the past years’ events.

This year, Ed Ellworth of Enlightened Films has been commissioned to produce a video compendium of Ellsberg’s rally talks from past years. We’re glad to have been able to contribute footage to the project. Here is the result.

A Review of Ellesberg’s book Doomeday Machine

We also want to honor Ellsberg by sharing this 2018 Counterpunch article.

Rational Insanity: the Mad Logic of America’s Nuclear ‘Doomsday Machine’

by James Heddle

James Heddle Co-Directs EON, the Ecological Options Network with Mary Beth Brangan. The EON feature documentary S.O.S. – The San Onofre Syndrome – Nuclear Power’s Legacy will be released later this year.

Of Hot Rods and Tin Cans – Updated

A view of the dry spent fuel storage facility in the foreground as surfers ride the waves at San Onofre State Beach, CA, April 21, 2022. Credit: Allen J. Schaben/Getty Images

Compiled byJames Heddle, Mary Beth Brangan – EON
Crossposted on Substack

Stranded Spent Nuclear Fuel with Nowhere to Go – A Clear & Present Threat to National Security

A string of pellets cased in the zirconium cladding is called a fuel rod. Source

It is usually 4-5 meters long. Each rod contains 350-400 pellets. Source


A human being standing close to an unshielded hot fuel rod would receive a lethal dose of radiation in just minutes. Source

Ten years after removal of spent fuel from a reactor, the radiation dose 1 meter away from a typical spent fuel assembly exceeds 20,000 rems per hour. A dose of 5,000 rems would be expected to cause immediate incapacitation and death within one week. Source

Each fuel assembly contains 179-264 rods. Source

Holtec canisters each contain 37 fuel assemblies.


Each canister contains more highly radioactive Cesium-137 than was released from Chernobyl. Source

Even a microscopic through-wall crack will release millions of curies of radiation into the environment states Dr. Kris Singh, President and CEO of Holtec. Source

The San Onofre ISFSI houses 73 vertical Holtec canisters. Source

Another 51 Areva NUHOMS canisters sit in a separate, horizontal dry storage facility nearby on-site, with 13 more in the process of being added. Source

These containers do not meet the Nuclear Waste Policy Act or NRC safety requirements for monitored, retrievable fuel storage or transport.

In any case, a U.S. Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board report suggests that this spent fuel may not be cool enough to meet transportation rules to move until the year 2100. [See pgs. 76 & 77]

These canisters are licensed for 20 years, but have no manufacturer’s warranty.

Some canisters like these have been shown to fail in less than 20 years. Source

Some of the horizontal canisters at San Onofre are already 20 years old. Source

No Federal central repository for high level radioactive waste now exists, nor is likely to be approved and constructed any time soon.

About 88,000 metric tons of spent nuclear fuel from commercial reactors remain stranded at reactor sites, and this number is increasing by some 2,000 metric tons each year. These 77 sites are in 35 states and threaten to become de facto permanent disposal facilities. A proposed new generation of SMRs will produce even more, more toxic forms of waste. Source

Any Questions?


Mary Beth Brangan and James Heddle Co-Direct EON, the Ecological Options Network.. The EON feature documentary S.O.S. – The San Onofre Syndrome – Nuclear Power’s Legacy will be released later this year.