Can CA Set the Standard for Nuclear Waste Storage?

Donna Gilmore, founder of SanOnofreSafety.org, addresses the Environmental Caucus of California’s Democratic Party about making California a leader in responsible, “best-available-technology” radioactive waste management.

Donna Gilmore, founder of SanOnofreSafety.org, addresses the Environmental Caucus of California’s Democratic Party about making California a leader in responsible, “best-available-technology” radioactive waste management.

One Woman Thinks So When Donna Gilmore retired from the stresses of managing critical IT systems in California state government, she chose an upscale seaside town with a year-round perfect climate and bought a home with a perfect view of San Clemente’s sweeping ocean vistas, Dana Point Harbor and Santa Catalina Island. The city chosen by Richard Nixon as the location for his ‘Western White House,’ San Clemente is a famous tourist mecca and undeniably a city of many charms. It also happens to border Camp Pendleton, a major strategic US Marine and Navy base. Oh, and by the way, it’s a close next door neighbor to Southern California Edison’s San Onofre nuclear power plant. “I thought I’d found the perfect retirement location,” Gilmore says. “And then I found out about the problems at San Onofre.” Long-story-short – • SCE ordered a set of new steam generators for its two nuclear reactors from Japan’s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries • The new, huge, souped-up, close to a billion dollar redesigned steam generators were significantly different from those they were replacing. Edison described them to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) as ‘like-for-like,’ so as to avoid having to go through the relicensing review required by law. • Edison and Mitsubishi executives exchanged now-revealed letters which show they knew at the time of the risks posed by installing the new steam generators. • The steam generators were installed anyway. • One leaked radiation within a year and all four showed decades of premature wear in less than two years – the worst record in the nation. This ultimately led to SCE’s June 7th, 2013 decision to permanently shut down and decommission San Onofre’s two reactors. • Gilmore became increasingly involved in the ultimately successful grassroots campaign which led to the historic San Onofre shutdown, which was spearheaded by San Clemente Green local activists and by Friends of the Earth (FOE) at the national level.
San Onofre nuclear plant – now shutdown, but still a storage site for tons of radioactive waste in an earthquake and tsunami zone, in a heavily populated urban area along a major CA highway. Who should pay for executives’ and regulators' mistakes? Is this a preview of what will happen when Diablo is shut down?

San Onofre nuclear plant – now shutdown, but still a storage site for tons of radioactive waste in an earthquake and tsunami zone, in a heavily populated urban area along a major CA highway. Who should pay for executives’ and regulators’ mistakes? Is this a preview of what will happen when Diablo is shut down?

Inconvenient Data In the process, Donna drew on her IT and data research skills to found the now exhaustive web information resource SanOnofreSafety.org. Then, as the euphoria of victory began to fade, another inconvenient truth begin to dawn: over 1600 metric tons of highly radioactive so-called ‘spent fuel’ from the plant’s years of operation had accumulated on-site, and is slated to be stored there for the foreseeable future – in an active earthquake and potential tsunami zone between the major population centers of Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego counties – because, with no Federal radioactive waste repository or interim storage sites yet established, it has nowhere else to go. OK. As a retired state agency manager, Gilmore assumes that those in charge will naturally be planning to employ the safest, most robust, best technology available to store highly radioactive materials, known to be deadly for millions of years, in the highly corrosive seaside environment of San Onofre. No expense should be too great to protect the population, the residential and industrial environments, the nationally and globally vital agricultural growing regions of Southern California, and the economic stability of the 5th largest economy in the world. Right? Wrong. The ‘San Onofre Syndrome’ – Will it Spread? Gilmore’s investigative research – shaped by years of critical systems analysis and management experience, and a commitment to the citing of reputable sources for every assertion of fact – shows that, far from rising to the challenge and opportunity of choosing the best available international radwaste storage technology, SCE and NRC officials are so far opting for inferior technology. Will California’s scandal-plagued Public Utilities Commission step into the breach and refuse funding to inadequate and financially risky radwaste storage technologies? Diablo is Next And what about Diablo Canyon – on the coast between Santa Barbara and San Francisco – now California’s ‘last commercial nuke standing?’ Operated by PG&E, a company now under Federal and state investigations and felony indictments for criminal mismanagement of its gas facilities, Diablo Canyon should be shut down for multiple NRC seismic and fire safety violations as well as non-compliance with California’s ‘Once-through-Cooling’ law. Its on-site accumulation of tons of radioactive waste will also have to be stored into the indefinite future in a tsunami zone over 13 active, intersecting earthquake faults. In exposing the inadequacy of current utility and regulatory approaches to radwaste storage, Gilmore has also pointed the way to “best technology available” alternatives and standards. California Could Lead If adopted by California, the strategies Gilmore is advocating could help set the national standards for responsible on-site management of radioactive waste that will be left behind by the world’s obsolete nuclear energy industry, which now shows signs of being in terminal decline from an overdose of inexorable ‘market forces.’ Video Clips: Gilmore at the Malibu Democratic Club Gilmore at the Coastal Commission in Santa Barbara Gilmore at the CA Democratic Convention To find out more: SanOnofreSafety.org This article is cross-posted at PlanetarianPerspectives.org ============== Check out the preview of EON’s forthcoming documentary SHUTDOWN at ShutdownDoc.TV If you like EON’s work, you can support it, whatever your budget level, here.
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Busted! – A $5 Billion Scam at San Onofre Nuclear Plant

San Onofre nuclear plant – now shutdown, but still a storage site for tons of radioactive waste in an earthquake and tsunami zone, in a heavily populated urban area along a major CA highway. Who should pay for executives’ and regulators' mistakes? Is this a preview of what will happen when Diablo is shut down?

San Onofre nuclear plant – now shutdown, but still a storage site for tons of radioactive waste in an earthquake and tsunami zone, in a heavily populated urban area along a major CA highway. Who should pay for executives’ and regulators’ mistakes? Is this a preview of what will happen when Diablo is shut down?

Stick It to the Ratepayers? ‘Not so fast,’ says San Diego attorney team A once – and (hopefully) future – leader in planetarian energy policy, California is, at the moment, an epicenter of energy policy conflicts, confusion and corruption. It’s Public Utilities Commission – born of early 20th century populist outrage at Robber Barron’s criminality in the hope of protecting the public good against the onslaught of corporate greed and criminality – has now succumbed to the Iron Law of Regulatory Corruption and is due for a major institutional shake-up.

[This article is cross-posted on PlanetarianPerspectives.net ]

Mired in multiple federal, state and local, investigations and evidence-based alligations of major corruption, ex parte communications, and backroom dealings between Commission officials and the executives of the monopoly utilities they are supposed to be regulating, the CPUC has circled the wagons and hired a top-of-the-line million dollar law firm to defend it against advocates of the public interest. In the center of this controversy are law partners Maria (Mia) Severson and Mike Aguirre – both of them former San Diego City Attorneys. Representing a ratepayer client, the Severson-Aguirre team has waged a relentless legal battle which has helped expose the utter dysfunctionality and corruption of California’s current energy regulatory regime. Their work, along with organizations like the San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace, the Alliance for Nuclear Responsibility, EMR Safety Network, and Friends of the Earth (FoE), has helped force the release of a spate of e-mails revealing a deep systemic pattern of collusion and corruption between utility executives and Commission officials and staff, consistently aligned against the public interest. The massive e-mail releases – not yet fully analyzed by researchers and investigators – call into serious question the legality and validity of all the recent rulings of the CPUC, including those relating to San Onofre, Diablo Canyon and the deployment of electro-toxic, wireless, privacy-violating, so-called ‘smart meters.’ The illegal attempt to foist the bulk of the costs of the Southern California Edison/Mitsubishi steam-generator screw-up at the now permanently shut down San Onofre nuclear plant on ratepayers – detailed in this exclusive EON interview with attorney Mia Severson – is only the tip of the CPUC corruption ice berg. Stay tuned… On background, here is our 2014 interview with Mike Aguirre: Check out the preview of EON’s forthcoming documentary SHUTDOWN at ShutdownDoc.TV =========== If you like EON’s work, you can support it, whatever your budget level, here.
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Beginning of the End for Diablo Canyon? – Updated

Diablo Boys  Cartoon by Mark Bryan - ArtOfMarkBryan.com

Diablo Boys Cartoon by Mark Bryan – ArtOfMarkBryan.com

Related: Paul Frey calls our attention to this – Super Shear Earthquakes – Deadlier Than Deadly And from Myla Reson: Cooling Tower Resolution passed CA Environmental Caucus [pdf] For Immediate Release: May 21, 2015

Federal ruling calls future of Diablo Canyon reactors into question

Friends of the Earth:  Decision is beginning of the end for troubled nuclear plant Contacts: Damon Moglen, Friends of the Earth: (202) 352-4223, dmoglen@foe.org David Freeman, (310) 902-2147, greencowboysdf@gmail.com Bill Walker, (510) 759-9911, bw.deadline@gmail.com WASHINGTON – In a major victory that could mark the beginning of the end for the Diablo Canyon nuclear reactors, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commissioners have ruled that an Atomic Safety Licensing Board will decide whether Pacific Gas & Electric Co. was allowed to illegally alter the plant’s license in an attempt to hide the risk from powerful earthquake faults discovered since it was designed and built. The Commission’s referral of the issue to the licensing board parallels a move that presaged the shutdown of Southern California Edison’s San Onofre nuclear plant two years ago. “This is a major victory that could be the turning point for a nuclear-free future for California,” said Damon Moglen of Friends of the Earth, which had petitioned the NRC saying that the secret amendment of the license was an illegal maneuver designed to avoid holding a public hearing on the issue as required by federal law. “PG&E now knows that it is on the same path that forced Southern California Edison to pull the plug on San Onofre.” In a 3 -1 ruling released today, commissioners ruled that Friends of the Earth’s petition will now be considered by an expert panel of the licensing board. Friends of the Earth had alleged that PG&E is operating the 1960-era nuclear reactors at Diablo Canyon in violation of their license and called for the reactors to be closed immediately pending public hearings to prove it is safe. The Commission did not rule on closing the reactors pending public hearings, but ruled that the safety issues should now be considered by the Commission’s executive director for operations. Today’s decision is all but identical to that the Commission in November 2012 in response to a similar petition from Friends of the Earth regarding to the damaged nuclear reactors at San Onofre. In that case, the licensing board ruled in in May 2013 that public hearings should be held as part of a formal license amendment proceeding to assess the safety of San Onofre.. When Edison announced the closure of San Onofre a few weeks later, they referred to the ASLB decision. 920x1240 “This decision is indeed the beginning of the end for Diablo Canyon,” said Dave Freeman, former head of the federal Tennessee Valley Authority, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and the Sacramento Municipal Utility District. “PG&E is not going to get away with running Diablo Canyon when the plant can not withstand the ground motion from the earthquake faults we now know surround these reactors,” said Freeman, a special advisor to Friends of the Earth. The ruling comes days after the NRC sent PG&E a letter requiring the utility to conduct further studies to show whether Diablo Canyon – California’s last nuclear plant, on the Pacific coast near San Luis Obispo – is operating within the bounds of its license. Diablo Canyon was one of only two U.S. reactors required to conduct further seismic risk evaluation because its license does not account for newly discovered hazards. ================= Related: Paul Frey calls our attention to this – Super Shear Earthquakes – Deadlier Than Deadly
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Diablo Meeting in Malibu Sparks NRC Response – Updated

Harvey Wasserman, who originally coined the term “No Nukes” back in the early ‘70s, and is an author, activist and journalist, jokes about his latest book, “Solartopia!” as he kicks off the latest speaker series of the Malibu Democratic Club. Photo: Malibu Times

Harvey Wasserman, who originally coined the term “No Nukes” back in the early ‘70s, and is an author, activist and journalist, jokes about his latest book, “Solartopia!” as he kicks off the latest speaker series of the Malibu Democratic Club. Photo: Malibu Times

11141173_951301371568447_5205277459108237257_n A May 9 meeting on Diablo Canyon sponsored by the Malibu Democratic Club, organized by club President Ann Doneen and Myla Reson, and MCed by Solartopia author Harvey Wasserman drew coverage from the Malibu Times and elicited a letter to the editor from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. [see below] The NRC’s comment that “the history of seismic safety at Diablo Canyon is a long and complicated one” is a bit disingenuous. Frank Egger, who was on the original Coastal Commission during the building of Diablo Canyon, reports the Coastal Commission did know at that time that enough faults were there to warrant nixing the site. He worked hard to block the CC endorsement but was overruled. Related: Paul Frey calls our attention to this – Super Shear Earthquakes – Deadlier Than Deadly And from Myla Reson: Cooling Tower Resolution passed CA Environmental Caucus [pdf] Here is a video of the meeting by The Center For Progressive Urban Politics, Our Diablo – The Case For Shuttering California’s Last Nuke featuring Harvey Wasserman, Linda Seeley, Paul Frey, Donna Gilmore and Richard Mathews… The NRC’s Letter Letter: Nuclear Reaction The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) would like to ensure readers ofThe Malibu Times have as full a picture as possible regarding safety at the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant. The bottom line is that the NRC concludes the plant is operating safely and can continue doing so. The agency’s independent reviews of information about faults near Diablo Canyon consistently find the plant can safely withstand large earthquakes possible in that area. The most recent information about Diablo Canyon comes from an NRC directive in the wake of the March 2011 Fukushima accident. The agency asked every U.S. nuclear power plant to use up-to-date information and modern analyses to re-evaluate their potential earthquake hazard. Diablo Canyon was one of three Western U.S. plants that submitted its re-evaluations in March. The NRC’s review of PG&E’s information concludes the plant can safely operate while additional analysis checks for possible safety enhancements. The most recent work builds on PG&E’s comprehensive seismic evaluation program, put in place in the mid-1980s before Diablo Canyon started operating. This program identifies and evaluates potential new seismic hazards, and the NRC reviews those evaluations to ensure agency requirements are met. Recent examples of this work include PG&E’s examination of the “Shoreline fault” near Diablo Canyon, as well as a state-mandated review of several faults, including Shoreline. An NRC inspector at the plant offered a “differing professional opinion” regarding the Shoreline fault and the plant’s seismic safety. After an extensive, multi-layered review of the inspector’s opinion the NRC’s Executive Director for Operations determined Diablo Canyon remains within its approved design and licensing basis, and there are no current concerns for safe operation. At the request of the staff member, the NRC made the entire opinion and review available on the NRC’s website at https://pbadupws.nrc.gov/docs/ml1425/ML14252A743.pdf The NRC recognizes that the history of seismic safety at Diablo Canyon is a long and complicated one. We have and will continue to review and inspect changes and potential risks to the station in an open and transparent manner to ensure the safety of the citizens of California, and the entire nation. Scott Burnell NRC Office of Public Affairs, Headquarters https://m.malibutimes.com/opinion/article_e634a9ca-ff30-11e4-9ebf-f324fe7735c8.html?mode=jqm
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No Need for Diablo’s Dirty Energy – Mothers for Peace

Diablo-Canyon

MOTHERS FOR PEACE TELLS NRC 

ENERGY NEEDS CAN BE MET WITHOUT RE-LICENSING DIABLO CANYON

GROUP ACCUSES PG&E OF FAILING TO ADMIT THAT RENEWABLES ARE PLENTIFUL AND MUCH SAFER THAN EXTENDED DIABLO CANYON OPERATION COULD EVER BE

NEWS RELEASE For Immediate Release Contacts: Jane Swanson janeslo@me.com (805) 440-1359 Linda Seeley lindaseeley@gmail.com 805) 234-1769

San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace P.O. Box 3608 San Luis Obispo, CA 93403 mothersforpeace.org

In two new contentions filed on April 6 before the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace (SLOMFP) charged that Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) had skewed a new analysis of energy alternatives to ignore or reject a wide range of renewable energy options available to replace the power generated by Diablo Canyon. SLOMFP contends that NRC has no justification for renewing PG&E’s license in light of the wide availability of renewables that are cheaper and safer than running Diablo Canyon another 20 years. The two Contentions, filed by SLOMFP attorney Diane Curran of Washington, D.C. challenge the Adequacy of PG&E’s Environmental Report for Diablo Canyon License Renewal. SLOMFP asserts that PG&E’s Amended Environmental Report, submitted in March of 2015, fails to meet the requirements of federal law because it does not evaluate many of the energy alternatives that currently are commercially viable or will become so by the time the current Diablo Canyon operating licenses for two reactors expire in 2024 and 2025. PG&E also fails to take into account the dramatic reduction in cost of renewable technologies and efficiency improvements in recent years. It also fails to acknowledge the deteriorating economics of aging reactors. SLOMFP also criticized PG&E for understating the environmental impacts of renewing the Diablo Canyon license. “PG&E already has generated tons of highly radioactive spent fuel for which no repository exists and therefore must be stored onsite indefinitely,” said Diane Curran, attorney for SLOMFP. She noted that “as a result, the Diablo Canyon fuel storage pools are filled to capacity with spent fuel. The NRC has admitted pools are vulnerable to catastrophic fire if the spent fuel assemblies are not covered with water for any length of time.” Linda Seeley, spokeswoman for SLOMFP, added that “PG&E should go back to the drawing board and provide an up-to-date comparison of the costs and environmental risks of continuing to operate Diablo Canyon versus adopting renewables and demand and supply management.” She called Diablo Canyon a “dangerous dinosaur” that should be retired. SLOMFP’s Contentions are supported by expert witness Mark Cooper, Senior Fellow for Economic Analysis at the Institute for Energy and the Environment at Vermont Law School. Mark Cooper is an expert in the field of economic and policy analysis with a focus on energy, technology, and communications issues. SAN LUIS OBISPO MOTHERS FOR PEACE’S MOTION TO FILE NEW CONTENTIONS REGARDING ADEQUACY OF ENVIRONMENTAL REPORT FOR DIABLO CANYON LICENSE RENEWAL APPLICATION is available at https://mothersforpeace.org/data/2015/2015-04-07-mothers-for-peace-tells-nrc-that-energy-needs-can-be-met-without-re-licensing-diablo-canyon To view the CV and Expert Testimony of Mark Cooper, email janeslo@me.com and request that it be sent at pdf. The documents will be sent as three separate pdf’s as they are too large to transmit in one email.

BACKGROUND:

San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace (SLOMFP) opposes PG&E’s application for 20-year operating license extensions for Diablo Canyon units 1 and 2. The current operating licenses are in effect until 2024 and 2025, and in November of 2009 PG&E filed with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) an application to extend operations until 2044 and 2045. The Diablo Canyon facility includes two nuclear reactors and the storage of all the high-level radioactive wastes generated by those reactors since 1984. Currently, most of the used fuel (which is more radioactive than the fuel in the reactors) is stored in over-crowded pools. Approximately a third of the spent fuel has been transferred to dry casks. SLOMFP filed a seismic contention in opposition to license renewal in early 2010. The substance of that legal challenge is that “PG&E’s Severe Accident Mitigation Alternatives (SAMA) analysis fails to consider information regarding the Shoreline fault that is necessary for an understanding of seismic risks to the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant. As a result, PG&E’sSAMA analysis does not satisfy the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act [(NEPA)] for consideration of alternatives or NRC implementing regulation 10 C.F.R. § 51.53(c)(3)(ii)(L).” This seismic challenge was put on hold for several years while PG&E completed seismic studies required by the NRC. The NRC has indicated that evidentiary hearings on SLOMFP’s seismic contention will be scheduled at some time in 2016.
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