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Clear & Present Dangers AND Opportunities at Diablo Canyon

An EON Interview with Mothers for Peace Spokeswoman Linda Seeley

Why are they trying to start up old reactors that are already shut down and build SMRs on the sites that are already down? I know it’s the weapons. It’s the revamping of our nuclear weapons system. – Linda Seeley

By Mary Beth Brangan and James Heddle

[Editors’ Note: The San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace was organized in 1969 and has been steadfastly advocating for local and national nuclear safety ever since.]

Linda Seeley – EON photo

The Current State of Play – A Slim Window of Opportunity

Heddle: So give us the current state of play. How does the situation shake out now? What should informed and vigilant citizens be aware of here?

Seeley: We have several different things going on at Diablo Canyon right now. Number one, at this very moment, the unit one reactor is offline for refueling. It’s a planned outage. And in this particular very precious amount of time that we have right now until they want to start it up again, Mothers for Peace has filed a petition at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which they rejected offhand, by the way. And we knew that they would do that because that’s what they always do. But we had to do it anyway to establish paper trail, if that’s what you want to call it.

Embrittlement

If there were, God forbid, say an earthquake or an error by one of the control room people or several of them, or a cascade of events or an unanticipated attack or any number of different things that could happen at a highly complicated nuclear power plant, and if, God forbid, they had to turn the unit one reactor off quickly, the way they do it is by pouring water, cold water into the reactor vessel to make it shut down.

But unfortunately, the unit one reactor vessel is brittle. And it’s just like if you had a steaming, hot boiling cup of water and you pour ice into it, it cracks. And the same thing could happen to the unit one reactor vessel. And there is no backup safety system for that. If it cracked and shattered like that, it would be literally a worldwide catastrophe on the level of Fukushima. And we are completely unprepared to deal with it. There is no way to deal with it.

The NRC and PG&E say, “No, it’s fine. The reactor vessel is fine.” And so what happened is that several years ago, we found a document that was actually related to the Palisades plant in Michigan, and they had a community meeting. And at that community meeting the NRC listed the various reactor vessels that were embrittled, and on that list was the Diablo Canyon unit one.

We tried to explore that, but we’re not technical, we’re not trained as scientists, as material scientists. But we had a community member here who’s also a member of the Diablo Canyon Decommissioning panel, who is an engineer, not a nuclear engineer, but he started looking after I mentioned at the decommissioning panel that we thought that the unit one reactor vessel was brittle. He started investigating and he started reading all of these papers that were technical and indecipherable to a normal person. And he read 4,000 pages of material over a period of about a year.

And he became very alarmed, and he came to me and he said, this is bad. We need to figure this out because it looks like the reactor vessel of unit one really is going to fail if they must shut it down in an emergency.

So, Mothers for Peace had kind of a miracle in a way because we had been looking for a materials engineer. All the materials engineers work for the nuclear industry, and you can’t hire them because if they work for you, they’re kaput. They can’t work anymore.

So, Michael Keagan out in Michigan sent us a notice about this reactor, or two reactors, I think it was, in Belgium that were embrittled and went offline. And I sent for a report about it, and I started reading this report and it was like, wow, that sounds really like unit one at Diablo Canyon.

And so, we checked the author and it turned out to be a very highly esteemed material scientist. His name is Digby McDonald. He’s elderly. He’s a faculty member at UC Berkeley, and he’s written over a thousand papers. He was nominated for the Nobel Prize in chemistry. This year, he’s nominated for the Enrico Fermi prize. He is a brilliant man, and he agreed to work for Mothers for Peace. We still don’t know why. He was interested. For him, it was a matter of intellectual curiosity. Why are these people yelling about embrittlement? And he had already worked on embrittlement in Belgium and had written a report about it and found that they were embrittled, those reactors. They’re down now.

And so, we started sending him information about it. It took him a while to understand the gravity of the problem, because he is not anti-nuclear. He is pro- nuclear, and he doesn’t want the nuclear industry to get a bad name by allowing a dangerous equipment to be used. So, he started reading through all the documents just as our community panel member had done, and he was aghast, frankly, at what had happened.

Not Collecting Coupons

And here’s what had happened. According to the rules of the NRC, you’re supposed to remove a thing called a coupon out of the interior of a reactor vessel once every 10 years and test it and that coupon is made of the same stuff that’s inside the reactor vessel. The coupons are different. Not all of them are made of the same stuff. The stuff that’s really … Well, it’s all important, but the most vulnerable is the metal that’s made of the weld material inside, because where the welds are, that’s where it’s most vulnerable. So, they had the weld material from unit one back in 2002. They sent it for analysis at a lab, came back, “Oh wow, this reactor vessel is going to not be safe after about 2023, 2024.” So, in all their wisdom, guess what PG&E did? They said, “That’s not valid. We’re going to use a different test.” So, they got some samples from a different reactor vessel, and they used that test. It was very similar to this unit one reactor vessel. So why not use that?

Brangan: Wait, was this a reactor vessel that was at the same location?

Seeley: No, it was a reactor vessel from I think Michigan. It wasn’t even from the same location. It was not subjected to the same conditions. Then they used mathematical equations to prove that the reactor vessel was fine. They have not removed a capsule from the unit one reactor vessel since 2002, even though according to the rules, they’re supposed to do it every 10 years.

Right now, that reactor is down for maintenance and refueling, and Mothers for Peace in our petition to the NRC said, “Hey, you need to order them to take a capsule out and test it and get the results back before you can turn that back on.”

Heddle: That’s according to law, is it? Regulation?

Seeley: The NRC’s own regulations. But the problem with the NRC is if you make the regulations, you can also bend the regulations. I think that’s their motto. Regulations were meant to be changed or made easier for the industry because that’s what they do.

Heddle: Or granted an exception?
Seeley: Grant all the exceptions, yeah.

No Ultrasonic Inspection of the Reactor Vessel

Seeley: And then there’s also another issue, it’s called the ultrasonic inspection of the belt line. The belt line is the part of the interior of the reactor vessel that is under the most heat, stress, and neutron bombardment; it’s the most vulnerable part of the vessel. And so, every 10 years, they’re supposed to inspect the interior of that with ultrasound. That has not happened for 15 years. That’s the other part of our demands on this petition – inspect it, get the results back, let the public know.

Mothers for Peace, if it turns out that that reactor vessel is hunky-dory, well, phew, yay, we would be very happy about that. But we know that it isn’t and we want to get those results back.

Seismic Thrust Faults

Seeley: There’s another part that’s worrisome too, which is the seismic issue at

Diablo Canyon.

In our filings with the California Public Utilities Commission, we decided that it would be wise for us to hire an expert witness, a seismologist, to review all the literature that’s available about the seismic conditions at Diablo Canyon. And he is again, highly respected. His name is Peter Bird. He’s from UCLA, very highly respected seismologist.

And he reviewed of all the history of Diablo Canyon seismic inspections or analysis, and by the way, he’s one of the authors of the prior level three seismic hazard analysis, so he knows about Diablo. What he says is that during the past 10 years since they did any seismic studies at Diablo Canyon, the technology has changed a lot, and there’s a lot more available to analyze what we already know. There are a lot more tools available to analyze. And he says that there’s a very good likelihood that the fault line that runs right under the plant is called a thrust fault, meaning that instead of moving sideways, it moves up and down if it goes off.

And if you have one that moves up and down, the ground motion is a lot bigger than it would be with a lateral fault, and it goes right under the plant. And so, he is requesting, and Mothers for Peace is requesting a level three seismic hazard analysis. The NRC is the one that orders that. They could order it for Diablo Canyon for this license extension. They won’t.

“Fool Me Once…” Overextension – Will Duped Legislators Respond?

Seeley: This is a complicated thing we’ve got going here. Right now, I think the future of Diablo Canyon rests in our state legislature. They’re the ones who were duped into voting for extending the life of it back in August of 2022. A lot of those legislators who were duped are now regretting their choice.

Brangan: How do you know that?

Seeley: We’ve talked to them privately and others have talked to them privately, and they understand that we don’t need Diablo Canyon. I can’t attribute with certainty any motivation to Gavin Newsom. Maybe he sincerely believes that we need Diablo Canyon to keep the lights on, but I don’t think so, and that’s my personal opinion.

But we know that Diablo Canyon, if there were an accident there, that it would completely ruin the economy of California. I mean, that’s the thing they’re the most interested in, I think. For us, it would totally ruin our lives, and it would ruin our food, and it would ruin the ocean, and it would ruin our rivers and streams, and it would ruin the animals, and it would ruin the whole entire ecosystem. And it would be like the most ridiculous tragedy that ever happened for no good reason, because of the egos of some corporate managers or Gavin Newsom. I don’t know. But it would be a tremendous tragedy.

And when you think that we don’t need it, and yet we’re putting two and a half billion dollars into keeping it open and it’s dangerous, why on earth would we pursue such a path? It is insanity to do that.

And so that’s what people can do. People can call their own state legislators and they can say, “Look, this has gone too far. This is a ridiculous situation that we’re in.” There are off ramps. They’re called ‘off ramps’ to SB 846, the law that made Diablo Canyon stay online.

And by the way, this law says that they’ll extend the life of Diablo Canyon for five years. Don’t believe that for a second. PG&E is applying for a 20-year license extension.

Extension Means More Nuclear Waste Stored On-Site

Seeley: With this possible extension of the license at Diablo Canyon, there’s a whole other issue that they haven’t addressed at all, which is the storage of the nuclear waste. Right now, we have 58 casks that are on these pads that are like the size of two football fields. Okay? The casks are each about, I think about 24 feet tall and about 20 feet in diameter. The canister inside the caskets is five eighths inch thick, stainless steel.

Seeley: Each cask that’s there of the 58 holds about the equivalent amount of radiation as was released at Chernobyl. It’s shocking when you think about it. Now what they’re doing at Diablo Canyon is filling the spent fuel pools. They’re packing them very, very tightly. If they continue to operate, there won’t be enough space because they only have space on these pads for 131 casks, and they will fill that.

They were planning on the plant shutting down in 40 years, so they have enough space for that amount of waste. It’s like a parking lot that holds X number of cars. They only have X number of spaces for the nuclear waste when at the end of 2024 and 2025, those waste lots will be full. Okay. Imagine, if you will, huge parking lots. Instead of being filled with cars, they’re filled with casks of radioactive waste.

They are sitting on a bluff above the Pacific Ocean. Okay? They are visible to any aircraft that might come over there. I don’t even want to talk about the possibilities of what could happen there. So, at the end of 2025 they will be filled, but they want to continue operating. So, what are they planning on doing with the new waste that they will be making? Well, PG&E says they will keep it in the spent fuel pools for 20 more years because then they will have a place to move it to, they say, which is completely insane as we know, because there is no place to move it to.

The terrain around Diablo Canyon, it’s jagged. There is no flat land there. To make flat land there, you have to blow up a mountain. So, if they want to put a new pad in to make room for new spent fuel, they must blow up a mountain and flatten it out and get down to the bedrock, because you can’t store and spent nuclear fuel on anything but bedrock. Of course, the bedrock could crack in an earthquake, but who’s looking at that? Nobody. So that’s our situation with the spent fuel. It’s insane.

A Timebomb In Place

Seeley: That’s another generation with it sitting on the coastline with six and a half million pounds of nuclear waste that’s stored out in the open. And a lot of it in the spent fuel pools to generate electricity that we don’t need on 13 earthquake faults. What could possibly go wrong with a nuclear vessel that will crack if you try to shut it down fast? I mean, it’s the height of insanity and absurdity, and yet we’re living with it. And if things, God forbid, go wrong, we’ll pay the price forever. So, it’s not worth it.

Successful Litigation Despite Regulatory Capture

Seeley: But I want to talk about our other lawsuit that we have going in the Ninth Circuit Court. In 2022 the state passed the law to keep it open for another five years. There’s a rule at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission called the Timely Renewal Rule.

What it says is that if a nuclear power plant wants to continue operating beyond its 40-year license, that they must apply for that license extension at least five years before the old license runs out. And the reason for that is… When you think about a nuclear power plant running for 40 years, well, think about your car, okay? I had a Volkswagen 40 years ago. I would no more get in that Volkswagen today and drive it down the freeway at 80 miles an hour than I would jump out of an airplane without a parachute. We have two nuclear reactors that are approaching 40 years old. They want to continue operating for 20 more years.

The NRC says, “Well, wait. We need to go through all these problems, all the wear and tear, all of the parts that need to be replaced, all that stuff. We need to review that. And that takes a long time. That takes five years to do that.”

Well, the NRC granted an exemption a couple of times to nuclear plants down to three years prior to that. Outrageous, right? How could they go through all that paperwork, review, etc. in only three years? But they did it.

But now at Diablo Canyon, PG&E’s application for relicensing Diablo Canyon is going to be submitted to the NRC 10 months and two days before the expiration of unit one and 20 months before the expiration of unit two. That is unheard of!

So, Mothers for Peace filed an objection to that, a petition with the NRC. The NRC rejected it, which we expected. So, then what did we do? We filed it with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and that’s where it is right now. We’ll be having a hearing on that in the Ninth Circuit Court. I think it’s in early January if I’m not mistaken. Our lawyer just filed a reply brief on Thursday to PG&E’s and the NRC’s lame, I must say, explanation of why they actually don’t need to have five years or even three years before their license runs out. So basically, if they prevail, we will have Unit one being given a green light to operate without a license with this unchecked cracked reactor vessel. What could possibly go wrong? It’s insane!

We have racked up huge bills with our expert witnesses, but we needed to do it in order to be able to have a solid case at the CPUC. We have a tremendously excellent lawyer at the CPUC. And the CPUC is going to make the decision about whether Diablo Canyon can continue to operate. We know the NRC will say the CPUC can’t, but the CPUC could say no.

The CPUC, the California Public Utilities Commission, are the ones that make the prudent decisions about whether or not our California rate payers’ and taxpayers’ money is worth putting into a certain project.

And this particular project is horrendously expensive because number one, back in 2016 when they decided to shut down Diablo Canyon and came to a deal, the state of California labor unions, environmental groups, et cetera, made a deal.

Okay, we’re going to shut down Diablo Canyon at the end of its license term in unit one, 2024. Unit two, 2025. Okay, so we’re going to do that.

In the meantime, now we’re in almost 2024 now, right? Back then in 2016, you have an old Volkswagen, you are going to put it in the used car lot pretty soon. Well, you do not spend a lot of money on putting repairs into it. You try to limp along until you get rid of it. That’s what they’ve been doing for the past six years, seven years now They have all this undone maintenance that they are trying madly right now to catch up on to get ready to relicense the plant. So, they’re sinking tons of money into it.

Of course, they got a whole bunch of money from the state, and they’re getting the money from the feds, so they’re flush. And for any capital projects where they put build something or do something significant, not just maintenance, that does not come out of PG&E’s pocketbook. That comes out of the rate payer’s pocketbook with a guaranteed 10% return rate for the investors who are invested in the utility. This is like a gravy pot for PG&E. They are loving it.

They’re also getting all these bonuses for the workers out at Diablo Canyon – 25% per year bonus to their salary. And they’ve been getting that since 2016. And they are continuing to get that. Now they are well paid, let me tell you.

Heddle: But that was premised on the idea that it was going to fade out and they were going to lose their job.

Seeley: That’s right. But now, no. The reason they were getting a 25% bonus was to keep them working there so they didn’t quit and go somewhere else until the plant shut down. So now with the plants not going to shut down, supposedly, unless Mothers for Peace prevails, they’re going to continue to get this 25% bonus. I mean, talk about a money trap. It is the biggest money trap that ever existed in this county, I’ll tell you.

Brangan: I am so surprised you could challenge an NRC decision in federal court.

Seeley: Yeah, we’ve done it before and won. We won back in 2010, I think. When they were building the spent fuel facility, the dry cask storage, we filed a lawsuit about a dry cask storage facility, and our contention was that it was vulnerable to terrorist attack, and then it needed to be guarded better with HOSS, Hardened On- Site Storage. Right. And we won that case that it is vulnerable to terrorist attack in the Ninth Circuit Court – the Ninth Circuit court ruled in our favor.

And then what did the NRC do? Squat. Nothing. They didn’t change their rulings at all because they said, “Well, the possibility of a terrorist attack, we have done the analysis on it, and it is so remote that we don’t even need to take that under consideration in our ruling.” Isn’t that something? They’re a captive agency. It is amazing. And the longer I work in this, the more I understand that. I used to hear the term captive agency and think, huh? What exactly does that mean? What it means is they are under the absolute control of the industry that they are supposed to be regulating. That does not work.

Heddle: Regulatory capture.
Seeley: Right.
Brangan: It’s because they get paid by the industry.

Seeley: Right. 80% of their budget comes straight from the industry. And that was the deal that Congress made, which is insane. It should be independently funded by the taxpayers, and it should be an agency that actually regulates. This is the most toxic substance in the whole history of the world here that they’re dealing with and trying to regulate. And well, if they regulate it, they’ll lose their jobs because they’ll shut down the nuclear plants. But don’t get me started.

Diablo’s Surplus Power Blocks Renewables

Seeley: Then there’s another issue, which is the fact that we don’t need Diablo Canyon to make enough electricity to keep our lights on. And that … I mean, this was sold to us or to the legislators by Gavin Newsom as the reason for keeping Diablo going, “Oh, if we don’t have Diablo Canyon, we’ll have blackouts.”

No, we won’t. The battery storage is coming on so strong right now, the solar – no matter … they’re trying to squelch it. But the solar and the wind and the hydro storage and all of the different flexible sources of electricity are there. And all Diablo Canyon does is prevent renewables from coming online. It’s a behemoth. It’s a dinosaur. We don’t want it. We don’t need it. And the reason … I mean, I don’t know exactly why they want to keep all these nuclear plants going the Department of Energy, especially having granted $1.1 billion to PG&E to keep this monstrosity going along with our $1.4 billion from the state of California. I mean, that’s quite a gift to PG&E.

Diablo Canyon is sitting there with these transmission wires that can be used for offshore wind. I know that’s controversial, but they’re planning on putting in 40 miles offshore giant wind turbines. And if those come online, they would, I think it’s 14,000 megawatts that they’re planning on putting online, which is four … No, seven times as much as Diablo Canyon produces. Diablo Canyon is 2200 megawatts. Wow. I never even thought about that. But they’ve got the transmission lines at Diablo Canyon to carry that power. And if it’s all clogged up with nuclear, it can’t be used for anything else, including solar. And then we have a lot of battery storage coming online right now, a tremendous amount in California. And even though the governor is fighting community choice energy, along with the utilities, community choice energy is going to prevail.

And in community choice, we use renewable energy. And this lie about nuclear power being a solution to a climate change because it’s carbon free, that is one of the most ridiculous arguments that I’ve ever heard in my life.

The Myth of ‘Emissions Free’ and ‘Carbon Free’ Nuclear Power

When you look at the nuclear fuel chain from the beginning, from mining and milling and enrichment and transportation and all that, just with the uranium. And then you get to the building with hundreds of millions of tons of cement and pipes and electrical wires and all that stuff – all that is horribly intensive with carbon. And then for a while, it doesn’t produce a lot of carbon, although it does produce radioactive carbon called Carbon 14, and it produces radioactive isotopes that go into that are in the steam that come out of it, and it heats the water because of the oceans and the rivers that it’s next to.

So, it contributes to warming because nuclear power is hot. It’s 5,000 degrees. That’s hot. And if you have something boiling at 5,000 degrees for 40 years, don’t tell me it hasn’t contributed to global warming. Right? And then you get to the point where you’ve got to tear the thing down and you have to haul out everything that’s been there, all the cement, all the wires. And the bonus is, it’s all contaminated with radiation! So, you have to find a place to put it, and there’s nowhere to put it. It’s insane. That’s all I have to say.

Why the Frenzied Push for Zombie Reactors and Unproven New Nukes?

Heddle: So finally, why do you think this orchestrated campaign for revival of

nuclear energy enthusiasm is going on?

Seeley: I think it’s about the weapons. I think it’s about the plutonium, because that’s where they get the plutonium from the nuclear plants and they need it to make more nuclear weapons and the depleted uranium bullets or shells, those horrible things, and they want to enhance our nuclear weapons. I think they’ve dedicated over a trillion dollars to revamping our nuclear weapons in this country, which is like, I don’t know. It’s enough to make you want to puke to think about the real motivation for this.

Brangan: There’s a connection between weapons and energy? Seeley: They started it.
Brangan: The commercial energy production?

Seeley: Well, yeah. That’s why they started commercial energy production. They started commercial energy production for the purpose of being able to harvest the plutonium and the highly enriched uranium, and I don’t know what other materials out of nuclear power plants in order to create this horrendous arsenal of nuclear weapons that they now want to enhance. They want to make the strategic nuclear weapons and the small nuclear weapons that will only contaminate 20,000 people instead of a million people. But you get enough of them, you can contaminate the entire world. It’s outright evil. Unfortunately, the Biden administration is 100% behind it.

Heddle: Nuclear weapons and nuclear energy are codependent?

Seeley: You can’t have one without the other. Yeah. Nuclear energy and nuclear weapons are married, and they have taken a vow. They can’t get along without each other. And so, this nuclear energy consortium that is pushing so hard right now, and it’s not only in the US, but also all over the world – they are in it for the weapons. It’s terrifying.

Heddle: So, the Mothers For Peace come full circle, right? You started out opposing the weapons and now you’re back.

Seeley: And we’re back. We’ve come full circle in the Mothers for Peace because we started as an anti-Vietnam War group. And then being posed with this Diablo Canyon plant here, we’ve been focusing for the past 40 years on Diablo Canyon. And now here we are again looking at the world’s situation and understanding even more deeply how connected nuclear weapons and nuclear power are. And we realize, and the anti-weapons people are also realizing what an integral part nuclear power plays in this. And so, we are coming together, and I think what’s happened is that we’ve all been so busy trying to squelch our own fires that we haven’t realized that our fire is dependent on their fire and vice versa. And so, we really have to come together during these next few years to help the public understand how deeply connected these things are.

A Call to Action. What Can Readers Do?

Heddle: So what needs to happen now, and how can people support that happening?

Seeley: Well, they can donate money to us for one thing. We have a donate button on our website at mothersforpeace.org. Mothers for Peace really needs donations. We have hired a raft of consultants. I’ll tell you the experts we’ve hired. We have hired our seismic expert. These are all fantastic people, and our materials engineering expert, who has been absolutely a treasure for us. We’ve hired someone who was the head of the Midwest Independence Systems Operator, analogous to California Systems Operator, which analyzes the energy needs, who is articulate and certain about this, that we do not need Diablo Canyon as part of our energy mix. In fact, it hurts our flexible energy supply in California.

We’ve hired experts, and they’re great experts. And we have our attorneys too, who give us a great rate, but it’s still super expensive. So, we have a donate button on our website, and we are grateful for every single donation that we get.

Brangan: Yeah. You’re doing this for everybody.

Seeley: We are. Oh, the other thing about Mothers for Peace is that we’re not paid. We are an all-volunteer organization. We don’t even have an office. And we work because we’re Mothers for Peace, because we want to protect the future generations. And we know that with nuclear power and the nuclear waste that’s produced with nuclear power, that it’s a threat to all the future generations.

Folks need to contact their state senator and their state assemblyman and assemblywoman. I think you should also get in touch with your local government, your city council, your board of supervisors, because we’re all downwind from Diablo Canyon.

And the local officials need to know that their constituents are concerned about this death threat. The government is interconnected, and they have relationships with the local assembly members and local senators too. So, I think that’s a good point of pressure that could be made.

Letters to the editor, those help those inform. Op-eds, there was a fantastic op-ed in the Santa Barbara independent this past week, just brilliant. Our local paper doesn’t tend to run op-eds that are disparaging or questioning PG&E and Diablo Canyon, though they run an occasional letter to the editor to keep it balanced, but you don’t see many op-eds about it.

What people can do is get in touch phone calls and letters to their state representatives, their assembly members, and their state senators – their local representatives, their board of supervisors, their city council. Go to the Mothers for Peace website. It is filled with information. It’s absolutely chock-full mothersforpeace.org.

Ed. Note:  A seismic assessment report is now on-track to be completed by January 2024, with details of the findings expected to be available for the public and the NRC around the first quarter of 2024. In a recent California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) meeting on Diablo Canyon, Linda Seeley raised the following question: “If the seismic assessment report isn’t going to be submitted until the end of the first quarter in 2024, how can we make a rational judgment now about extending the life of Diablo?”
That question still hangs in the air...
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James Heddle and Mary Beth Brangan are co-founders of EON – the Ecological Options Network. The EON production SOS – The San Onofry Syndrome: Nuclear Power’s Legacy received its World Premier at the Awareness Film Festival in Los Angeles, CA October 10, 2023, where it won the Grand Jury Award for feature documentary. SOS was directed by Heddle, Brangan and Morgan Peterson, who also served as editor. SanOnofreSyndrome.com

 

SOS on Canadian Radio – Spreading the Word

SOS Directors Mary Beth Brangan, James Heddle & Morgan Peterson with their Awareness Film Festival Grand Jury Award for Feature Documentary – Photo: Moca Media

This is the transcript of an interview conducted by program host Sheila Ferrando and broadcast October 8, 2023 on CKUT Radio’s New Spin Library in Montreal, Quebec [At minute 16:00].

Participants are SOS filmmakers Mary Beth Brangan and James Heddle, together with Dr. Gordon Edwards, mathematician, physicist, nuclear consultant, and president of the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility ( www.ccnr.org ),

Crossposted on Substack

Host Sheila Ferrando:  San Clemente is a beautiful place in California in the United States with a beach, parks, hiking, and swimming. But San Clemente has a problem. It’s a situation that may take hundreds of thousands of years to resolve. Concerned citizens are gathering to discuss and change a deadly, dangerous future. That’s why some concerned humans have made the film SOS – The San Onofre Syndrome. San Onofre is a nuclear reactor site near to San Clemente. Today we have Dr. Gordon Edwards from Hampstead in Montreal, joined by Mary Beth Brangan and James Heddle, and these people are going to comment both on the film and on the state of nuclear energy in North America and the world today. First, please introduce yourselves and tell us how you came to be involved in SOS – The San Onofre Syndrome, the film, and how you have been contributing to the fight and activism for nuclear responsibility. Start with you, Mary Beth.

Mary Beth Brangan:  When Fukushima began its triple meltdown in 2011, we became totally concerned about the state of the nuclear situation once more. We had been nuclear safety proponents for 40 years by that time, and we realized that we needed to do whatever we could to prevent a Fukushima-like tragedy from happening here in California along the West Coast of America. And so we began documenting and working with others to shut down the nuclear reactors that operate along our coast here in California, because they, too, just like in Fukushima, are surrounded by earthquake faults and in tsunami zones.

Sheila Ferrando: And James Heddle, how did you become involved in SOS – The San Onofre Syndrome?

James Heddle:  Well, at the same time Mary Beth did, but I’ve been involved in documenting nuclear safety issues since the early eighties. The first film we made together was called Strategic Trust: The Making of a Nuclear-Free Palau. And we’ve been involved in various aspects of the issue ever since. So as Mary Beth says, when we learned of the Fukushima issue, we sprang into action and were very gratified to find a number of people up and down the coast who had the same concerns and were mobilizing to deal with it.

Sheila Ferrando: Now you, Mary Beth Brangan and you, James Heddle, were part of the crew that actually made the film SOS – The San Onofre Syndrome. Am I correct?

Mary Beth Brangan:  Actually, there’s only three of us who made the film. It’s Jim, myself, and our wonderful editor, Morgan Peterson.

Sheila Ferrando:  Dr. Gordon Edwards, what have you contributed to the activism for nuclear responsibility?

Dr. Gordon Edwards – EON Photo

Gordon Edwards:  I was approached by the filmmakers to add some illumination as to the nature of these poisons, these radioactive poisons. We call them wastes, and most people think of waste as being leftovers. These materials which are created inside the reactor were never there to begin with. They are actually created inside the reactor, hundreds of different radioactive elements that were never found in nature before 1939. What they are, they’re radioactive versions of non-radioactive materials, which we find in the environment. We have materials in the environment like iodine, which is not radioactive. Well, nuclear power plants create radioactive iodine. Similarly, with strontium and cesium, they’re non-radioactive minerals in the soil. You can find them anywhere, but the nuclear reactor produces radioactive varieties of these. So what is radioactivity? The radioactive materials have atoms that are unstable and that explode. They’re like little time bombs that will explode.

That doesn’t happen with non-radioactive materials. And when those little explosions occur, submicroscopic, they damage the DNA molecules in the human body or animal bodies, and that causes a host of illnesses, including cancers and including genetic damage. So my job in the film is simply to provide a little bit of illumination as to the nature of these wastes and why it’s reasonable to be afraid of them. Just like it’s reasonable to be afraid of fire, it’s reasonable to be afraid of earthquakes, it’s reasonable to be afraid of war. Well, it’s reasonable to be afraid of these things, too. And in fact, we’ve seen in the Ukraine War where Russia is invading Ukraine, we’ve seen the Atomic Energy Commission chairman announcing to the world that there is reason to be afraid of a nuclear catastrophe as a result of military actions that might release these materials into the environment. That’s basically my role.

Sheila Ferrando:  Let’s delve further into the story at San Onofre what is the story at San Onofre and why was the film SOS – The San Onofre Syndrome made?

Mary Beth Brangan:  Well, the situation at San Onofre, people were becoming concerned because whistle-blowers were contacting the residents around the plant and alerting them that things were not right there, that they were having a lot of safety violations that were not being addressed by the management. And so they were very brave and contacted people that they hoped would help them. And then sure enough, there was a leak of radioactivity from the reactors and they had to close it down. So then people really began educating themselves even more deeply and discovered that the management wanted to restart the broken reactor without fixing it first. They just wanted to protect their investment. So there was a huge outcry and effort by people on many, many levels. There were legal challenges, there were backroom negotiations with the governor and the utility company, and then there was a huge amount of grassroots organizing and it all miraculously came together. The people were able to have it shut down.

James Heddle:  Those are the two focal points of San Onofre the film. One is the power of informed citizen action to influence policy and practice, and the other is the fact that San Onofre with its stranded waste there is a microcosm of a situation that exists all over the country and in fact all over the world. And that was our intention, to start the discussion of this really under-discussed, off the radar screen issue. And the reason we wanted to involve an expert like Dr. Edwards is that we had read his opinion that the age of nuclear waste is just beginning and we really need to get ahold of what scant solutions or at least safety approaches there are at this date. We’re already in great danger all around the country.

Mary Beth Brangan:  And the world.

James Heddle:   And the world. I’d appreciate it, Gordon, if you’d expand on your idea that the age of nuclear waste is just beginning.

Sheila Ferrando:  What was being done in San Onofre to change the situation into safety for the populace?

Mary Beth Brangan:  Well, not enough, and that’s why we’re sounding the alarm. What we wanted to highlight in our film was that there is something that we could do immediately, well, on the scale of nuclear facilities, that means like within the next 10 years. So when we heard Dr. Edwards speak in Chicago way back in 2015 about Rolling Stewardship, it really resonated with us because we had already been appreciating the concept of guardianship that Joanna Macy, who’s a Buddhist scholar and anti-nuclear activist, among other things, had been promoting. And we really appreciated that and wanted people to have a sense that there was something that could be done. And Dr. Edwards had a really brilliant articulation of that, which is the Rolling Stewardship concept.

Sheila Ferrando:

Dr. Edwards, could you please explain the Rolling Stewardship concept?

Gordon Edwards:  Yes. The Rolling Stewardship concept was actually evolved decades ago by the National Academy of Sciences. They were dealing with materials which are highly toxic and which have an infinite lifetime, heavy metals like mercury and lead and arsenic and so on. We have waste which must be safely guarded, kept out of the human environment because of their harmful effects. And their idea was instead of just dumping it somewhere and hoping for the best, to have a Rolling Stewardship program which is intergenerational in nature, where each generation passes on the knowledge and responsibility for looking after these wastes, packaging them, and making sure that any leakage that occurs is immediately addressed and corrected, and that repackaging takes place regularly in sturdier and sturdier packages, hopefully, so that the risk is being managed, not eliminated because we don’t know how to eliminate these materials, but we can manage the risk and safeguard our children and our grandchildren.

Well, the same thing can be done with radioactive waste if we accept the fact that we don’t really have a solution. We can’t wish these things out of existence. We have created them. We have hundreds of radioactive materials which never existed before 1939. I was born in 1940, so that means these wastes are no older than I am, and it’s quite possible in the next hundred or 200 years that we may find a way of actually solving the problem by destroying these wastes, truly destroying them, or rendering them harmless. And there are various things you can think about. For example, if we had a magical way of putting these wastes in the center of the sun, that would destroy them. That would actually destroy them. But we don’t know how to do that safely. Meanwhile, we should not abandon the waste as the industry wants to do.

Both the industry and the regulatory agency wants to put these wastes somewhere deep underground and simply walk away from it. That’s abandonment. We believe that’s irresponsible because these wastes are going to remain dangerous far longer than human civilization, in fact, far longer than the human species. So we’re talking about hundreds of thousands and millions of years, in fact. In the meantime, we believe that we should accept the fact that we don’t have a final solution to this problem, therefore, we should adopt a policy of intergenerational Rolling Stewardship, packaging and repackaging this waste, and having people on guard, on duty all the time to ensure that whatever leakage occurs is immediately corrected and the spilled material is retrieved and put back into proper containers. That’s the idea of Rolling Stewardship. But one thing that you mustn’t do is leave them in highly vulnerable positions right beside the ocean in a high earthquake zone where at any moment, these wastes could simply be taken by nature, by some natural disaster out of our control.

Also, there’s a problem of human activity. For example, military conflicts. The concept has developed, it’s called the HOSS, hardened onsite storage. Hardened onsite storage means that we keep these waste in bunkers in very heavy containers, not thin-walled containers as we now have, but thick-walled containers which are able to resist a great deal of abuse and which can then be corrected and repackaged later on as well. That’s the idea of Rolling Stewardship. It’s not a solution, but it is a countervailing current to just blind fear where you just say, we’re helpless. We can’t do anything about this. Of course we can do things about this, but it becomes a societal problem and not merely an industry problem.

Sheila Ferrando:  During the making of the film SOS – The San Onofre Syndrome, what roadblocks did you encounter?

James Heddle:  I don’t know that we encountered any roadblock, aside from trying to get funding and a few technical problems. There is an interest in this issue. We found since we released the film that there’s a great deal of enthusiasm among reactor communities, organizations, for using the film. One of the early comments from a group in the east of the United States, the Stop Hole Tech Coalition, was that this film is made for organizers, and that’s largely due to the perspectives of Mary Beth, but we’re very pleased that activist organizations and individuals around the country are eagerly adapting it to their own purposes.

What it ties into, too, is the current push for a new generation of small nuclear reactors and also the resuscitation of old rickety over-aged and embrittled reactors. And we were curious initially why this is happening, why the big push now? And it turns out that it’s the joined at the hip nature of nuclear energy and nuclear weapons that is the motivation for this. They are codependent industries. They share infrastructure and educational institutions. One can’t exist without the other. They demand each other’s presence. And this is something we didn’t go into depth with in the film, but the process of making the film made this very clear to us, and hopefully in future films, we will explore and develop that insight.

Mary Beth Brangan:  Now, about a third of the population of the United States lives in close proximity to a nuclear reactor or radioactive waste from weapons facilities, probably closer to half when you count in the weapons waste and weapons making horrible messes all over the country. And in Canada as well, I would say. Absolutely. So there are a lot of people who need to be aware of this, a growing number are, and do want to use the information in the film.

Sheila Ferrando:  Where is the film SOS – The San Onofre Syndrome currently being shown, and is anyone trying to stop this and why?

Mary Beth Brangan:  You mean stop the showing of the film?

Sheila Ferrando:  Have you been prevented anywhere from distributing information about nuclear consciousness?

Mary Beth Brangan:  No, we haven’t, thank goodness. And actually, though the purpose, well, we’re encouraging people to understand the risk of transportation so that they know that you can’t just ship it away and contaminate another site, which would normally be somewhere by people who were so poor that are politically disempowered that they couldn’t refuse to accept the waste.

James Heddle:   There’s a movement now for informed consent citing. That means they’re going to approach various communities and regions and say, wouldn’t you like to have this waste? We can pay you a lot of money, or we can do this or that for you. But it’s almost guaranteed to make targets out of the minority communities with much less political clout than other communities.

Sheila Ferrando:  Where is the film SOS – The San Onofre Syndrome currently being shown?

James Heddle:  Well, it received its world premier in Los Angeles at the Awareness Film Festival where it was awarded the Grand Jury Award for documentary features. That got us off to a great start and that stimulated a lot of interest. Just last night, we had a Zoom showing by an organization in Topanga Canyon, which was well received, and the fact the film was introduced by Dan Hirsch, one of the experts in the film, and also commented on by Harvey Wasserman, who is a longtime friend and lifetime nuclear safety advocate. So we have a wonderful team of impact producers. That’s the new designation for the enterprise of promoting the showing and awareness of films on social issues. So there’s a whole long list of future showings that is being developed in communities across the country, and it’s already been accepted into the Uranium Film Festival. It will be shown in Rio de Janeiro and Berlin, and at least 18 other cities across the United States in the coming year. So we’re very pleased with the reception, and so far we haven’t been attacked or prevented from disseminating our message, and we hope that it continues.

Mary Beth Brangan:  The politician who is in the area of San Clemente, [Democrat Mike Levin] he represents them in national Congress. He’s a proponent of moving it to other places, promising the local communities, oh, we’ll just get it out of here and we’ll put you on the top of the list to move it. He made a video to go with our documentary so he could put out his perspective, which is let’s move it out of here. Also, to promote building of small nuclear reactors. Everybody’s being polite and trying to coexist, but there’s a lot of differing opinions here that we’re encountering.

And even in the movement. Some people think it’s too dangerous to keep this waste on the surface of the planet and that it should be in holes in the ground, which it’s a real dilemma. Those in the Nuclear Safety Movement who hold that position think, well, it won’t be able to be repackaged after a while, and it will inevitably go critical because it’ll fall to the bottom of the canisters, cause another fission and maybe explosion. So that’s what we’re encountering now is that deep discussion. What would be the best way to handle this?

James Heddle:  And that is very gratifying for us because as I said, our main motivation is to trigger or catalyze a discussion of this very under-discussed issue.

Mary Beth Brangan:  But discuss from the point of a moral point of view, an ethical point of view, so that you’re considering if you move it, what are you doing? You’re risking people all along the transportation route and then the ultimate destination, of course, and you are increasing the contamination that way.

James Heddle:  We were really hoping that we will collectively discover the most ecologically, technologically, and morally or ethically effective way of dealing with this very serious ecological and really an existential problem.

Gordon Edwards:  Well, that’s fine. I just wanted to say that one of the positive things is that ethics and practicality sometimes are in conflict, but in the case of energy, renewable energy doesn’t create any new toxic materials. It’s already four times cheaper than nuclear and four times faster to deploy. And in fact, the International Energy Agency says that 90% of new electricity worldwide over the next five years will all be wind or solar. So this is a very positive outlook in the fact that we had transitioned to a truly renewable future which will not pose these dangers. Meanwhile, we just have to look after the problems that the industry has left us with. But let’s not go down that rabbit hole again.

Sheila Ferrando:  If our listeners wish to see the film SOS – The San Onofre Syndrome, where should they be?

Mary Beth Brangan:  They should send an inquiry to info@SanOnofreSyndrome.com, and we would love to have more people showing it all over the world.

James Heddle:  That is our website. They can go there for much more information.

Mary Beth Brangan:  SanOnofreSyndrome.com.

Sheila Ferrando:  Thank you for your interview today. You have been listening to Mary Beth Brangan, James Heddle, and Dr. Gordon Edwards speaking about nuclear energy, the nuclear problem, and SOS – The San Onofre Syndrome. I’m your host, Sheila Ferrando.PMocaMeccia


James Heddle and Mary Beth Brangan are co-founders of EON – the Ecological Options  Network.  The EON production SOS – The San Onofry Syndrome: Nuclear Power’s Legacy received it’s World Premier at the Awareness Film Festival in Los Angeles, CA October 10, 2023, where it won the Grand Jury Award for feature documentary.  SOS was directed by Heddle, Brangan and Morgan Peterson, who also served as editor. SanOnofreSyndrome.com

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.

Source: clearpath.org

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

                                             Credit: world-nuclear.org

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.

Photo: holtecinternational.com

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?

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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.

What the Red Queen Believes Before Breakfast – Updated

Credit: theregister.co.uk

The Red Queen on Nuclear Energy, Nuclear Weapons, San Onofre, Diablo Canyon, and Radioactive Waste

“Alice laughed. ‘There’s no use trying,’ she said. ‘One can’t believe impossible things.’ I daresay you haven’t had much practice,’ said the Queen. ‘When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.’“ – Louis Carroll – Through the Looking Glass

By James Heddle – EON
Crossposted on Substack

Six Impossible Things The Red Queen Believes Before Breakfast About Nuclear Energy

1.     It’s clean and green, never has any radioactive emissions in normal operation, and has no carbon emissions at any part of the nuclear cycle from mining, to milling, to refining, to transport, to operation, to radioactive waste management.

2.     It’s safe; history doesn’t show there’s been at least one a major nuclear disaster every 10 years since the birth of the Nuclear Age.  Nobody died at Chernobyl or Fukushima, and now nature and wildlife are flourishing around the plants.

3.     There are safe dose levels of radioactive exposure; in fact, a little can actually be good for you.  It’s called ‘hormesis.’

4.     There is no real connection between the nuclear energy and nuclear weapons industries, but we need both to maintain national security.

5.     Small Modular Nuclear Reactors (SMNRs) will be inherently safe and won’t produce much radioactive waste, which is, anyway, easy to manage and isolate from the environment for millions of years.

6.     A revival of the failing commercial nuclear energy at tax-payer and rate-payer expense is necessary to save us from climate change and will be well worth the price.

Six Impossible Things The Red Queen Believes Before Breakfast About Nuclear Weapons

1.     The United States does not maintain and constantly upgrade its nuclear weapons arsenal in order to threaten or dominate other countries, but only for deterrence of potential attacks by others.

2.     The nuclear weapons industry is completely separate and independent from the private, investor owned commercial nuclear energy production industry.

3.     The nuclear weapons industry and the nuclear powered Navy are not in any way dependent on the continued existence of the financially troubled commercial nuclear power industry; they do not benefit from the tax-payer and rate-payer subsidized manufacturing infrastructure, the university-educated labor pool and the research facilities of commercial power production.

4.     There are many enduring roles for U.S. nuclear weapons to maintain world peace.

5.     “The conditions do not now exist for the United States to safely take additional steps to further reduce the number and role of U.S. nuclear weapons.” Source.

6.     Other countries have refused to join the growing international consensus against nuclear weapons represented by the 2021 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons ( TPNW ), and continued U.S. national security requires possession of up to date nuclear weapons.

 

Six Impossible Things The Red Queen Believes Before Breakfast About San Onofre’s Radioactive Waste Dump by the Sea

1.     Southern California Edison and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission can be trusted to always make decisions in the best interests of public safety.

2.     The l,800 tons of stranded, highly radioactive spent fuel rods now stored at San Onofre in a flood, tsunami and earthquake zone are sure to remain safe well into the future.

3.     The air-cooled, thin metal, welded canisters in which the irradiated rods are now stored will not develop through-wall cracks and leaks as a result of stress-corrosion cracking in the damp, salt air.

4.     As soon as the location for a Consolidated Interim Storage Facility (CISF) can be found – hopefully in New Mexico or Texas – the San Onofre canisters will be the first to be moved there by rail or highway.

5.     Though the canisters are not approved for transport, they can be placed in protective over-packs for transport when the time comes. Despite reports that coastal cliffs are crumbling under the railroad tracks over which the heavy containers will have to be moved, there will be no problem getting them out of there, once a target location has been found.

6.     There will be no need to spend the money to build an expensive hot-cell facility in which the canisters can be robotically opened and the fuel rods inspected before they are repackaged in safely storable, transportable, thick casks for indefinite storage in a secure, climate-controlled building to await eventual transport.

Six Impossible Things The Red Queen Believes Before Breakfast About Diablo Canyon’s Extended Operation

1.     There are no credible risks involved in operating an aged nuclear reactor – reportedly one of the  most embrittled in the nation and located near several active earthquake faults – for 10 or twenty or more years past its designed lifespan.

2.     No inspection of the embrittled reactors is necessary to assess risks.

3.     The electricity produced by the plant is necessary to prevent blackouts of the state power grid.

4.     The plant’s operation will not interfere with inputting electricity from renewable sources.

5.     It is only fair that rate-payers around the state outside PG&E’s service area be charged for power they are not receiving.

6.     Diablo’s continued operation is necessary to help save the planet from climate change.

Six Impossible Things The Red Queen Believes Before Breakfast About Radioactive Waste

1.     Radioactive waste is an economic and energy resource and can now be safely reprocessed for a number of peaceful uses, and does not lend itself to intentional deployment as a weapon of mass destruction.

2.     The management, storage and reprocessing of radioactive waste can be an ecologically valid growth industry far into the future, thus supporting the continuation of nuclear power production, which, as we all know, is the only solution to climate change.

3.     We now have the know-how and existing state-of-the-art technologies and containment systems necessary to keep fast-growing tons of corrosive radioactive waste from nuclear energy and weapons production safely isolated from the environment for millions of  years.

4.     The approximately 88,000 metric tons of highly radioactive Spent Nuclear Fuel (SNF) in the form of used irradiated fuel rods sealed in thin, welded steel containers vulnerable to corrosion cracking now stranded at over 93 commercial nuclear reactors operating in the United States at 55 locations in 28 states around the country are not ticking time-bombs waiting to be detonated by accident, terrorist sabotage, or rocket attacks from foreign adversaries.

5.     The development of technology able to transmute radioactive waste into harmless and even useful substances is just around the corner.

6.     It’s only a matter of time before a site is found in the U.S. for a federally operated, deep geological repository where the tons of unwanted radioactive waste materials from around the country can be safely transported over rails, roads and barges and dumped for eternity, that will never infiltrate into the water or soil, and be perpetually overseen by highly trained, well-funded teams of expert technicians.


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.