Breaking – Dangerous cracks in CA’s radioactive waste storage plans!



“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.

DESCRIPTION OF CIRCUMSTANCES
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 SanOnofreSafety.org,  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 SLO-Span.org, 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 SanOnofreSafety.org, 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.
https://youtu.be/aieWYO_6E7w

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

WE REALLY NEED EVERYONE TO CALL THEIR US REPS and ASK THEM TO VOTE NO on HR 3053 NOW!!!

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.

RESOURCES and BACKGROUND:

NIRS Don’t Waste America campaign pages https://www.nirs.org/campaigns/dont-waste-america
Beyond Nuclear http://www.beyondnuclear.org/radioactive-waste/

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 https://sanonofresafety.files.wordpress.com/2016/06/nwpa1982withhr3053notescolor-dg.pdf (can take a few minutes to load)

Black and White annotations https://sanonofresafety.files.wordpress.com/2017/10/nwpa1982withhr3035notesbw-dg.pdf
Find other HR3053 related documents, including a version of the bill incorporating the approved amendments, at https://sanonofresafety.org/

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.  https://midwestepi.files.wordpress.com/2017/10/mepi-infrastructure-and-climate-change-final.pdf

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

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A National Nuclear Waste Shell Game? – Yucca Mtn. Redux

We have a radioactive waste emergency! 

In addition to the threat of imminent burial of intensely radioactive waste on the beach in San Clemente, California, we also have a NATIONAL radwaste emergency….


As you probably know, the Trump administration’s goal is to deregulate industry, privatize essential government services and preempt local authority. 


Now legislation is being moved quickly through the U.S. House of Representatives to do just that to radioactive waste handling!  The bill, HR 3053, would preempt any local authority, prohibit oversight and authorize eminent domain over local resources such as water, etc. 

SanOnofreSafety.org has an excellent overview and analysis. 

Thousands of shipments of deadly radioactive waste would be moving on barges, railways and highways through our country for decades if this bill is passed.  Major disasters would be inevitable with each canister of waste containing the equivalent amount of radioactivity of a Chernobyl just in the cesium alone.

We need your help!  Please call your legislator’s office in the House of Representatives.  Get the right staffer for this bill and use the following talking points. 

The main goal at this point is to prevent an automatic vote on HR 3053 by putting the bill onto the ‘suspense calendar.’  An automatic vote would not allow for any discussion about these ultra crucial issues to the planet’s DNA.  We must demand that these issues be carefully debated!

WHAT YOU CAN DO – Calls Needed!  (Capitol Switchboard is (202)224-3121)

Oppose H.R. 3053:
This bill would provide funds and plans to restart the faulty Yucca Mountain project in Nevada. It would also begin the process and funding of “consolidated (centralized) interim storage” (CIS) facilities operated by private companies.  

The WCS site is being targeted for Andrews County, in West Texas and the Holtec/ Eddy Lea Energy Alliance site is targeted for a site between Hobbs and Carlsbad in Southeast New Mexico. 

Both the Yucca project and the proposed facilities would result in massive numbers of shipments of spent reactor fuel on the nation’s deficient railways, and deadly radioactive waste could be shipped to ports in Houston and Corpus Christi, and then be transported by train across Texas.

ACTIONS:

  • Contact your federal representative (Capitol Switchboard is (202)224-3121), urging him/her to oppose H.R.3053, or any legislation that calls for a Yucca Mt. re-start or construction of a CIS (Consolidated Interim Storage) facility, which would threaten the health and safety of people in Texas and New Mexico and along all transport routes throughout the country.  
  • PLEASE ALSO SAY: DO NOT CUT OFF DEBATE ON YUCCA MOUNTAIN AND WASTE STORAGE—ask your Representative to oppose putting H.R.3053 on the “SUSPENSION CALENDAR” H.R.3053 is a controversial bill—nuclear waste policy is controversial! Only non-controversial bills should be handled by automatic voting on the ‘suspension calendar.’
  • Tell your reps to SUPPORT “HOSS” –  Hardened OnSite Storage of high-level radioactive wastes at reactor sites as a better alternative until a permanent repository is ready.  Don’t move this stuff twice!
  • Make sure to add “comments” to any news accounts in print, online, or on radio/TV opposing Yucca and CIS funding and construction, and promoting HOSS instead.
  Not sure who represents you?  Go to https://www.house.gov/representatives/find/ and enter your zip code. 

__________________________________________________
Nuclear Waste in the House!
A hearing on HR 3053 – the Nuclear Waste Policy Amendments Act of 2017 was held Sept. 26, 2017  in the Interior, Energy & Environment Subcommittee, of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Rep. Blake Farenthold of Texas chairs the subcommittee. 
Committee members – Republicans: Paul Gosar, AZ-4, Dennis Ross FL-15, Gary J. Palmer, AL-6, James Comer, KY-01, Greg Gianforte, MT.  Democrats: Stacey E. Plaskett, Virgin Islands, Jamie Raskin, MD-08, Jimmy Gomez, CA-34.   https://oversight.house.gov/subcommittee/interior/  
You can watch THE VIDEO online at:  https://oversight.house.gov/hearing/examining-americas-nuclear-waste-management-storage/  (There are other documents posted there including testimony)
Before going to the House floor, HR 3053 will go to the Armed Services Committee and Natural Resources Committee, where we hope the committees will fully consider the bill and not waive jurisdiction.  


What Wasn’t Talked About in the Hearing

Comments by Donna Gilmore – SanOnofreSafety.org

Some transport risks and economic costs were mentioned at the Oversight Hearing yesterday. However, members were misled into thinking the over 2400 existing U.S. nuclear fuel waste dry storage canisters are safely stored and present little or no storage risk unless there is an earthquake or other major disaster. That is not true.
No mention was made of the short-term risks of these ticking time bomb “Chernobyl” cans (each containing about as much highly radioactive Cesium-137 as was released from the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster).
Rep. Jamie Raskin (MD) asked great questions, but did not receive good answers.
  • No mention these Chernobyl cans may already be cracking and are not being and cannot be inspected (inside or out), cannot be repaired, and cannot be maintained or monitored to PREVENT leaks.
  • No mention a two-year old Diablo Canyon canister has all the conditions for cracking. We don’t know if cracks have started, but the NRC says once a crack starts it can grow through the wall in about 16 years.
Here’s a list of U.S. dry storage containers and year first loaded in each state. 
Calvert Cliffs has some of the oldest thin-wall canisters (Areva NUHOMS), similar to those at San Onofre. The vendor (Areva) now wants the NRC to approve measuring peak radiation levels at only the inlet air vents of the concrete overpack the thin-wall canisters are stored in, even though they know the high levels from leaking canisters will be at the outlet air vents. It appears the nuclear industry’s real plan is to hide radiation leaks.
  • No mention these cans are not being stored in hardened buildings for needed environmental and security protection.  They would be out on pads, exposed.
  • No mention there is no plan in place to deal with leaking or potentially exploding canisters. No mention we likely need hot cells (helium filled buildings) to unload the canisters, but none are available on site and none are available elsewhere that are large enough to transfer fuel to another container. (They could be build though.)
  • No mention proposals for DOE and private interim storage sites do not address these issues, either.
  • No mention the NRC is still studying whether train vibrations will cause the commonly used  high burnup fuel components to fail in transport.
  • No mention the NRC recently approved a Holtec transport cask by ignoring NRC transport regulations that require no partial cracks in canisters and that require inspection of canister contents for damage before shipping.  Are these regulations eliminated?
  •  No mention Holtec transport license excludes approval for unloading the canister once it reaches the destination.
  • No mention a disaster at a facility or in transport can result in permanent evacuation of local communities and beyond.
  • No mention the NRC statement that nothing can go wrong once fuel is in dry storage is based on false assumptions.  See Sierra Club Comments to NRC regarding NRC proposed decommissioning regulations, NRC ML16082A004
  • No mention by David Victor that Southern California Edison (Tom Palmisano) admitted at the recent Community Engagement Panel (CEP) meeting for San Onofre that partially cracked canisters have no seismic safety rating and they don’t know if any of their existing canisters have cracks or how deep the cracks are. 
Victor also didn’t mention that the majority of public comments at the CEP meeting demanded thick-wall casks because they don’t have the safety problems of the thin-wall canisters.  Victor responded to Rep. Raskin’s question about community safety concerns by stating at the hearing that a minority of people concerned about the safety of the dry storage system are uninformed about the safety.  David Victor knows better. Did he just lie under oath? 
Please share the below short letter from California communities and this email with other elected officials in order to know the real community concerns and facts regarding H.R. 3053 and nuclear waste storage issues.
What is the solution? 
See this summary of problems and solutions and recommendations regarding H.R.3053.
Oversight Hearing video and testimony documents link.

 ____________________________________
Why Not Yucca Mountain?
From the Nevada Nuclear Waste Task Force

=====================

CALL TO ACTION on the proposed Shimkus Nuclear Waste Bill

From Mary Olson, NIRS (Nuclear Information and Resource Service)

The Nuclear Waste Bill HR 3053 in the US HOUSE is moving…there was a hearing this week (link to video above and below). The sponsor, Shimkus, of Illinois, wants to move the bill by the end of October. We need ACTION!

Here is the current ALERT from NIRS to send an email:

http://org2.salsalabs.com/o/5502/blastContent.jsp –this is a simple email to the House action… At the very bottom of this email are links for MORE INFO.

We need a lot more than emails! Shimkus has stated that he wants to use a “suspension” rule that would cut off debate, and call the bill non-controversial. Please tell your US REP that Yucca and consolidated storage of nuclear waste is worthy of debate!

Please CALL your own US Representative and if you have a group that has a broader reach, please do CALL as many as possible—speak to STAFF who work on the issue. Get their email. Follow-up with written info (links and talking points below) directed specifically to them.

Capitol switchboard: 202-225-3121

VERY GOOD TALKING POINTS:

Ask your Rep to OPPOSE HR 3053, the Nuclear Waste Policy Amendments Act of 2017

The staff are often people who do not know as much as you. Here are the basics:

HR 3053 would try to restart the Yucca Mountain site that was shut-down more than a dozen years ago because of the geology and rock-type. Yucca will fail to isolate waste and leak, and because the people of Nevada oppose it they have a robust set of issues waiting to litigate if the licensing of the site resumes. The total cost of the proposed site is $100 BILLION—and that is not likely to be spent under current budget constraints, so Yucca provides only the “illusion of a solution.”

The first step to a permanent site for this waste is to permanently cancel Yucca. Moving the deadly waste is dangerous and should be done only once. Most US House districts have one or more transport route (roads and rails used invariably ALSO go through major cities). See here for Report on Congress and Routes: http://www.state.nv.us/nucwaste/news2017/pdf/Congressional_Districts_Affected.pdf

(these are pretty much applicable to NM, TX and NV…but specific to Yucca)

See here for nuclear waste transport routes to NV NATIONAL Map:

http://www.state.nv.us/nucwaste/news2017/ymroutes17.png

See here for state-by-state maps:

http://www.state.nv.us/nucwaste/news2017/pdf/States_Affected.pdf

See here for maps of 20 key cities (detail):

http://www.state.nv.us/nucwaste/news2017/pdf/Cities_Affected.pdf

Anyone can say that nuclear waste transport is “safe” until it is not. One single container holds more cesium than several hundred atomic bombs, and on a par with the release from the Chernobyl reactor…which means catastrophic impacts in the local area where that would happen. The Department of Energy EIS for the Yucca project forecasts 4—6 major accidents over the decades of shipments it would take to move the existing waste to a site in the West. This waste should only be moved one time.

HR 3053 promotes moving the waste more than once by setting up multiple options for consolidated storage sites that would supposedly be temporary. However the bill removes many safety provisions in the current nuclear waste law, overrides state authority and would be a worse-deal for taxpayers. The bill would drop protections in current law that require a permanent site to be in operation before the federal government accepts ownership and liability from the corporations that made the waste. Under HR3053  the taxpayers could get stuck paying indefinitely for problems at sites intended to be temporary.

Many letters would be good to send to your HOUSE MEMBER’s staff.

ALSO: Letters to the editor of your print-press papers. The US House members look at the letters daily! Probably Twitter too…

MORE INFO / LINKS

Donna Gilmore’s resource page: https://sanonofresafety.org/

REPORT showing the congressional districts that have transport routes: 

http://www.state.nv.us/nucwaste/news2017/pdf/Congressional_Districts_Affected.pdf

(these are pretty much applicable to NM, TX and NV…but specific to Yucca)

See here for nuclear waste transport routes to NV NATIONAL Map:

http://www.state.nv.us/nucwaste/news2017/ymroutes17.png

See here for state-by-state maps:

http://www.state.nv.us/nucwaste/news2017/pdf/States_Affected.pdf

See here for maps of 20 key cities (detail):

http://www.state.nv.us/nucwaste/news2017/pdf/Cities_Affected.pdf

HOT CARGO Fact sheet on basics of nuclear transport:

https://www.nirs.org/wp-content/uploads/radwaste/hlwtransport/hotcargoupdate2013.pdf

NIRS Don’t Waste America (sub page on End Yucca, Stop CIS and Implement HOSS)

https://www.nirs.org/campaigns/dont-waste-america/

High-Level Waste fact sheet:

https://www.nirs.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/Fact-Sheet_NuclearBasics_HLW_2017Final.pdf

Cosponsors list: https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/3053/cosponsors

Don’t Dump on Texas!

Karen Hadden – SEED Coalition

WHAT YOU CAN DO – Calls Needed!  
(Capitol Switchboard is (202)224-3121)

Oppose H.R. 3053:
This bill would provide funds and plans to restart the faulty Yucca Mountain project in Nevada. It would also begin the process and funding of “consolidated (centralized) interim storage” (CIS) facilities operated by private companies.  

The WCS site is being targeted for Andrews County, in West Texas and the Holtec/ Eddy Lea Energy Alliance site is targeted for a site between Hobbs and Carlsbad in Southeast New Mexico. 

Both the Yucca project and the proposed facilities would result in massive numbers of shipments of spent reactor fuel on the nation’s deficient railways, and deadly radioactive waste could be shipped to ports in Houston and Corpus Christi, and then be transported by train across Texas.

What You Can Do:

  • Contact your federal representative (Capitol Switchboard is (202)224-3121), urging him/her to oppose H.R.3053, or any legislation that calls for a Yucca Mt. re-start or construction of a CIS (Consolidated Interim Storage) facility, which would threaten the health and safety of people in Texas and New Mexico and along transport routes throughout the country.  
  • PLEASE ALSO SAY: DO NOT CUT OFF DEBATE ON YUCCA MOUNTAIN AND WASTE STORAGE—ask your Representative to oppose putting H.R.3053 on the “SUSPENSION CALENDAR” H.R.3053 is a controversial bill—nuclear waste policy is controversial!
  • Tell your reps to SUPPORT “HOSS” –  hardened onsite storage of high-level radioactive wastes at reactor sites as a better alternative. 
  • Make sure to add “comments” to any news accounts in print, online, or on radio/TV opposing Yucca and CIS funding and construction, and promoting HOSS instead.

  Not sure who represents you?  Go to https://www.house.gov/representatives/find/ and enter your zip code. 

Scores of groups oppose H.R. 3053!  

See the environmental coalition’s June 27, 2017 letter to the U.S. House of Representatives, here.

 




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CALIFORNIA’S ATOMIC BOMB SHOP – Abolition or Extinction? That IS the Question.


The Nation’s Nuclear Ecocide Brainworks – Mission Unconscionable
On it’s website it humbly bills itself as “The Smartest Place On Earth.” Actually, it may well be the dumbest and most self-deluded institution on the planet. 

Although it makes the Orwellian claim, “Our mission is to make the world a safer place,” Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) in Livermore, CA is arguably THE key research and development hub in America’s nuclear weapons industry.  It’s staff of ‘Best Minds’ works daily on ever more effective ways  of killing, maiming and genetically poisoning large masses of people, contaminating the environment for millennia, and very possibly destroying the planet. Mission Unconscionable.

Founded by the University of California in 1952, and funded by the Department of Energy (DOE), Livermore Lab is now run by Lawrence Livermore National Security, LLC (LLNS), a partnership of the University of California, Bechtel, BWX Technologies, AECOM, and Battelle Memorial Institute in affiliation with the Texas A&M University System.

Resisters
Every August a coalition of organizations led by the Livermore-based Tri-valleyCARES.org and its indomitable Director Marylia Kelly, holds a rally, march and non-violent action at the Lab to commemorate the 1945 American (as we now know, militarily unnecessary) atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. 

This year the geopolitical context was unique in its combination of both heightened nuclear threat and post-nuclear possibilities.  Bellicose blustering by two thermonuclear monarchs was in stark contrast to the recent vote by 122 United Nations member countries to promote a treaty making the possession, use and threatened use of nuclear weapons illegal under international law.

From Hypocrisy to Insanity
Obama had began his presidency with his dramatic Prague Speech calling for the US to lead the world to “a world free of nuclear weapons.”  He ended his second term by approving a $1 Trillion upgrade program for the US nuclear weapons arsenal over the coming decades, including new nuclear weapons and production facilities, a violation of the terms of the 1968 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.  Former US officials like Senator Sam Nunn, ex-Sec. of State Charles Schultz and ex-Defense Secretary William Perry are warning that the move risks triggering a new global nuclear arms race, and liken the current threat of nuclear war to that at the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis. 

Trump has begun his White House tenure by threatening North Korea with “fire and fury the likes of which the world has never seen.”  His proposed budget would boost federal spending on the production of nuclear weapons by more than $1 billion in 2018, while de-funding diplomacy, social programs and climate research.

According to the Arms Control Association, the world’s 9 nuclear-armed states have a combined total of approximately 15,000 nuclear weapons.  The US has about 6,800 total nuclear weapons—about 1,400 strategic weapons in ground-, air-, and sea-based missiles, and the remainder stockpiled or retired, and the Russian stockpile is about the same.  More than enough to destroy the world many time over.



Voices of Sanity in a Mad, M.A.D. (Mutually Assured Destruction) World

Here is EON’s video coverage of this year’s Livermore Lab event,
Nuclear Abolition for Global Survival, held August 9, 2017.

Nuclear Abolition for Global Survival – The Movie
Advocacy in Action – A Rally, March & Non-Violent Action – Hiroshima Day – 2017

In a world rife with nuclear threats, on a day commemorating the anniversary of 1945 US atomic bombing of Japan, TriVallelyCARES Director Marylia Kelly, Hiroshima Survivor Takashi Tanemori, Anthropologist Barbara Rose Johnson, Cancer doctor Jan Kirsch, Asia historian Christine Hong and celebrated Pentagon whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, together with musicians Pat Humphries & Sandy O. Of ‘Emma’s Revolution Now’ and Daniel Zwickel inspire a spirited rally, march and dramatic peaceful protest action at the gates of Livermore Lab, California’s national atomic bomb shop.

The UN Nuclear Weapons Ban vs.CA’s Nuclear Bomb Factory – Marylia Kelly

Marylia Kelly, Director of TriValleyCARES.org, speaks at the August 9, 2017 rally and march outside Livermore Lab, CA;s nuclear bomb design center, commemorating the Atomic bombing of Japan.

How a Hiroshima Survivor Learned to Forgive – Takashi Tanemori

Hiroshima Survivor Takashi Tanemori speaks at the August 9, 2017 rally and march outside Livermore Lab, CA;s nuclear bomb design center, commemorating the Atomic bombing of Japan.

The Nuclear Legacy of the Marshall Islands – Barbara Rose Johnson

Anthropologist Barbara Rose Johnson speaks at the August 9, 2017 rally and march outside Livermore Lab, CA;s nuclear bomb design center, commemorating the Atomic bombing of Japan.

A Cancer Doctor’s View of Nuclear War – Jan Kirsch M.D.

Oncologist and Public Health doctor Jan Kirsch speaks at the August 9, 2017 rally and march outside Livermore Lab, CA;s nuclear bomb design center, commemorating the Atomic bombing of Japan.

The Suppressed History of North Korea – Christine Hong

Asian-American historian Christine Hong speaks at the August 9, 2017 rally and march outside Livermore Lab, CA;s nuclear bomb design center, commemorating the Atomic bombing of Japan.

A Former Pentagon Warplanner Against Nuclear War – Dan Ellsberg

Daniel Ellsberg whistleblower, former Pentagon war planner, disarmament advocate speaks at the August 9, 2017 rally and march outside Livermore Lab, CA;s nuclear bomb design center, commemorating the Atomic bombing of Japan.
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Nuclear Waste Issues at San Onofre – A National Challenge – Guest Blog by Donna Gilmore



The previous NoNukesCA article was cross-posted on CounterPunch as

The Ethics and Politics of Nuclear Waste are Being Tested in Southern California


Donna Gilmore, founder of SanOnofreSafety.org responded with the following comments which we post as a Guest Blog:

Good article, Jim. Also, important to know:
  • Any “consolidated” interim storage bill may trigger a mass movement of all the spent nuclear fuel in the country to the Southwest (Nevada, Texas and New Mexico are the current targets). 
  • This could be 10,000 or more Chernobyl cans, mostly high burnup fuel.
  • The Shimkus bill could accelerate the procurement of inferior thin-wall canisters, with cost and liability transferred from the utilities to the DOE (taxpayers). 
  • The Shimkus bill would allow existing civilian nuclear power waste sites to become defacto long-term interim storage facilities, (referred to as Monitored Retrieval Storage Facilities in this bill, in spite of not being required to be monitored or retrievable fuel storage). It allows title to be transferred to the DOE, if the State agrees. “MRS Agreements” would allow the DOE to contract with private entities to build and manage facilities as they see fit and with whatever budget appropriations Congress is willing to approve.  
  • States and local elected officials may agree to be an MRS Facility for the promised financial annual benefits of millions of dollars, with the false promise that the waste will be safely stored.
  • MRS Facilities will be totally controlled by the DOE with no other federal, congressional, state or public oversite, input or transparency.
Every DOE owned Defense Waste site has leaked. The causes parallel what will happen with the Shimkus bill, only worse, due to transport risks and the volume of high level and potentially explosive waste.  Reasons DOE Defense waste sites leak:
  • poorly designed containers that cannot be adequately monitored or maintained to PREVENT leaks, and with no adequate contingency plans for failure.
  • Inadequate funding from Congress
  • No state or public oversite or authority
  • Inadequate technical staff and project management
  • Reliance on vendors for technical expertise, who put profits before safety or are incompetent, or both.
  • Short-term planning for a long-term problem.
  • Lax regulation and oversite by the DOE and NRC.
  • DOE buying vaporware. Vaporware is promises of future solutions that don’t exist. When did it become legal for government to procure something that doesn’t exist?
  • Politics and money override safer technical solutions
  • DOE and NRC minimum requirements do not meet the object of managing nuclear waste to PREVENT LEAKS
A few clarifications
  • Thick wall casks are 10″ to 19 3/4″ thick. It’s important to state this correctly, because the industry tells elected officials “we are not aware of any casks 20″ thick.” They are technically correct by 1/4 th of an inch.
  • Canisters contain about as much lethal radioactive Cesium-137 as was released from the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.  The industry response is to say “it is not a Chernobyl reactor in a can”. They are technically correct. But they have not denied that each can contains about as much Cesium-137 as was released from Chernobyl. Calling these Chernobyl cans drives the nuke industry nuts and is easy for the public to comprehend, so we should repeat this as much as possible. The last thing the nuke industry wants to do is argue about how much Cesium-137 and other radionuclides are in one can.
My recommendations
  • Stop procurement and fuel loading of all thin-wall canisters.
  • Mandate the NRC and DOE meet current NWPA requirements for monitored retrievable fuel storage and transport. (Instead of deleting these requirements as the Shimkus and Issa bills do).
  • Mandate they require best available technology internationally. 
  • Mandate aging management be built into the design of the containers (just as you would expect in a car).
  • Mandate NRC and DOE only approve and use containers that are transportable, can be inspected (inside and out), repaired, maintained and monitored to prevent leaks, and have a plan in place to deal with leaks, and an on-site plan to replace containers. Use containers designed for long term storage (e.g., no short-term cracking risks), and have defense in depth. Current thin-wall canister systems meet NONE of these requirements.  
  • Containers should be stored in reinforced buildings for additional environmental and security protection and should have  remote monitoring systems that warn to prevent leaks and to alert after leaks.
  • An on-line radiation monitoring system with public access, so we know which way to run.
  • Allow states to set higher standards than the federal government, instead of taking away more states’ rights.
We have over 2400 of these ticking time bomb Chernobyl cans right now. Many could start leaking at any time and NO ONE is dealing with this. 
A state of emergency should be declared at both the state and federal level to deal with this before it’s too late. 
Fuel in thin-wall canisters must be moved to thick wall casks. This may require on-site hot cell facilities filled with helium, due to the hydrogen gas build up in these canisters and the explosive nature of these materials.
Canisters with even partial cracks cannot be safely transported according to NRC transport regs. And these canisters cannot be inspected for cracks and cannot be repaired or replaced without a hot cell. The NRC has approved reloading fuel in a pool. However, this has never been done with fuel welded shut in dry storage canisters. The NRC has not confirmed it’s safe to do this with high burnup fuel that’s been in dry storage.
Regarding moving fuel to another interim site
Until the fuel is inspected and loaded into thick casks, it’s not safe to move off nuclear plant sites. 
However, the need to move the waste from certain locations is critical. Instead of abolishing site specific environmental reviews as proposed in the Shimkus bill, independent site environmental reviews are needed to determine how soon waste must be moved and the nearest location it can be moved to, minimizing transport risks.
We’re running out of time. The fuse is lit.
In project management there are only 3 variables. Time, resources and scope.  
We are not in control of time. Thanks to the NRC, thin-wall canister vendors (Holtec, Areva-TN, NAC), nuclear utilities and the nuclear industry, we have been deceived and put in this mess.  We only have a few years, maybe less, before these thin-wall Chernobyl cans start to leak and possibly explode. 
We cannot do everything at once, so we must limit scope. Instead of focusing on moving the waste, we must focus on replacing canisters. 
Federal resources must be used to fund this. This should have higher priority that building bombs. The federal government has already allowed these Chernobyl bombs to be built, but the bombs are pointing at us.
 
It’s up to us to make this a priority.  Most of our elected officials and others with power and influence don’t have this information. Now is the time to share this with them. And remind them:
Leaders need to operate on the basis of facts, not on wishful thinking. — Madeleine Albright
And Holtec vaporware will not save us.
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What Would Hippocrates and Jesus Do? – Our Nuclear Waste Perplex

Courtesy NIRS.org

Help Prevent Fukushima Freeways

Let’s work to block House passage of H.R. 3053 the Nuclear Waste Policy Amendment Act of 2017, known as the Shimkus Bill – a very dangerous piece of proposed legislation.

Here’s How:

Visit SanOnofreSafety.org and check out the following:
Reasons elected officials should oppose H.R. 3053 NWPA amendment
HR 3053 Community Opposition Letter, June 27,2017
H.R. 3053 as of June 26, 2017
House Energy and Commerce Committee Members
House Energy and Commerce Committee hearings

Beyond Nuclear advises:
Now that the bill is moving to the U.S. House floor, likely in the near future, everyone should contact their own U.S. Rep., and urge opposition to this very dangerous bill. See Beyond Nuclear’s press statement about H.R. 3053, for ideas on points to communicate to your U.S. Rep. You can look up your U.S. Rep.’s full contact info. at this website, by typing in your ZIP code in the upper right, clicking GO, and following the internet links.

Here’s Why:

What Would Hippocrates and Jesus Do?

The Ethics and Politics of Nuclear Waste are being Tested in Southern California
By James Heddle, EON

Chronic Nuclear Constipation

For more than 70 years – basically for my entire 77-year lifetime – nuclear waste has been building up at nuclear weapons and energy production and waste storage facilities across the US and around the world.

The most basic tenet of the nuclear religious cult’s belief system over that entire time has been a cheery

“Don’t worry. Be happy. Methods and places for isolating these manmade materials, toxic to all life forms, will soon be found to isolate them from the environment and all future generations for longer than human civilization has yet existed. Or, better yet, we will find a way to transform them into benign and productive forms to benefit our own and all future generations.”

Despite decades of research by the best minds of the species and billions of dollars of public and private wealth invested, that has not happened. Nor does it seem likely to any time soon, despite continuing assurances from the pro-nuclear True Believers.

Meanwhile the total global inventory of this deadly stuff continues to grow. Now, although a new nuclear weapons race seems to be in motion thanks to US initiative, there are signs that the international nuclear energy industry is tanking.

Six US nukes have closed in the last five years, with more scheduled. The International Energy Agency expects almost 200 reactor closures between 2014 and 2040. Plants now under construction are all behind schedule and way over budget. Existing orders are being canceled.

In the US, as more and more energy reactors are being shut down and are entering the decommissioning process, the overriding question is becoming unavoidable at reactor communities across the country: What do we do with all these decades of tons of accumulated radwaste now being stored on-site? Each canister contains a Chernobyl’s-worth of cesium; each cooling pool, hundreds more.

Utilities are suing the Federal Government for not keeping its promise to take responsibility of the radwaste in a centralized geological repository. Local communities are agitating to ‘just get it outa here.’ But to where? And, given the decrepitude of existing highway and railway transportation infrastructures, how would you move all those thousands of tons of potential bomb material through numerous on-route communities despite local public resistance on safety grounds, not to mention the risks of terrorist attacks?

Click here to find out how much nuclear waste is in your state.


The San Onofre Syndrome

Perhaps nowhere is this conundrum more starkly illustrated or contested than in Southern California’s archetypally ‘conservative’ Orange County, home of the recently shutdown San Onofre nuclear generating station.

Known by the happy-sounding acronym SONGS, the plant’s two nuclear reactors, operated by Southern California Edison, were shutdown in 2013 after its 4 newly installed steam generators (2 per reactor) failed and leaked radioactive steam due to design flaws made by Edison and their manufacturer, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. The design flaws, known to exist by both corporations, was concealed in reports and missed by lax regulatory oversight by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).

Local activist groups like San Clemente Green, SanOnofreSafety.org and Residents Organized for a Safe Environment (ROSE) and others allied with the national organization Friends of the Earth (FoE) in a successful campaign for shutdown, only to discover Edison’s crazy plans to bury its tons of accumulated radioactive waste in extremely thin, unmonitorable and unrepairible canisters, inches above the water table, just yards above the rising ocean surf in an earthquake and tsunami zone – just like Fukushima.

Now the idyllic region of high-end retirement communities and tourist havens is locked in a microcosmic debate whose outcome may well set a precedent for the country’s radwaste policies.

“Do No Harm” & “Do Unto Others…”
The regional activist community is currently polarized between those who advocate “just get it outa here to somewhere else by any means necessary,” and those who are trying to deal with the technical, ethical and political dimensions of arriving at a ‘least worst’ compromise that takes both the safety of the 8.5 million surrounding population AND the national policy implications into consideration.

Dan Hirsch is a longtime nuclear safety advocate, a Professor at UC Santa Cruz and President of the Committee to Bridge the Gap, a non-profit nuclear policy organization focusing on issues of nuclear safety, waste disposal, proliferation, and disarmament.

In a recent discussion, Hirsch suggested two guiding principles for reactor community members to consider in their deliberations: the “Father of Modern Medicine” Hippocrates’ dictum, “First, do no harm,” and the so-called Golden Rule common to the world’s religions, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

In this case, that means not acting so as to set precedents based on local self-interest that make things worse locally or nationally, and not dumping waste on other communities with less political or economic clout and risking millions all along the transport routes on the way to them.

Hirsch, who, with others around the state and the country, has spent his life in often successful fights for improved nuclear safeguards against seemingly hopeless odds, fears that those decades of dedicated work could now be undone if the ‘just get it outa here’ faction of so-called ‘environmentalists’ are tricked into being willing allies of the nuclear industry in its long-term quest to wash its hands of nuclear liabilities and hand them over to the American public.

Centralized Interim Storage (CIS)

The immediate context that makes these issues of currently vital significance, is the fact that presently moving through Congress at warp speed is the so-called the Shimkus bill – the H.R. 3053 Nuclear Waste Policy Amendment Act of 2017.

According to close analysis by SoCal activists Donna Gilmore and Judy Jones, the Shimkus Bill “will make us less safe and not solve the nuclear waste problems, yet preempts existing state and local water and air rights and other rights [and] removes safety requirements needed to prevent radioactive leaks.” It also removes all oversight.

The Bill’s main sponsor, Republican Congressman John Shimkus, is Chair of the Subcommittee on the Environment of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. Shimkus comes from Illinois, stronghold of nuclear energy giant Exelon, and home to 11 nuclear reactors.

BeyondNuclear.org reports,

Despite a 50-group environmental coalition in opposition, H.R. 3053, the Nuclear Waste Policy Amendments Act of 2017, as amended, passed the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee by a vote of 49 to 4. All Republican members, and all but four Democrats (Schakowsky of IL, Ben Lujan of NM, Loebsack of IA, and Engel of NY) who were present, voted in favor of reviving the cancelled Yucca Mountain, NV high-level radioactive waste dump, and legalizing private de facto permanent parking lot dumps, targeted at TX and NM. If enacted, the legislation could pave the way for unprecedented numbers of irradiated nuclear fuel truck and train, as well as barge, shipments to begin moving in just a few years, through most states, many major cities, and most U.S. congressional districts, risking Mobile Chernobyls, Floating Fukushimas, and Dirty Bombs on Wheels.

The Shimkus Bill is an attempt to move forward the concept of Centralized Interim Storage (CIS), a kind of stop-gap strategy to stop the hemorrhaging of Federal funds to utilities suing for non-compliance with its legal obligation under the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982 to take possession of radwaste from energy and weapons production. It also provides a way for nuclear operators to continue producing more of this lethal waste.

In the absence of a national central radioactive waste repository, CIS means taking radwaste from current on-site storage at nuclear plants and moving it to ‘temporary’ above ground storage facilities, with locations in poor, rural minority communities in Nevada, Texas and New Mexico the most currently favored.

Not only does this plan necessitate moving shipments of tons of deadly radwaste on America’s crumbling rails, roads and bridges for years to come – vulnerable to accident and terrorist attack – but it also means the waste will have to be moved again, when and IF, a central repository is ever agreed upon. Given the history of Yucca Mountain, that seems very unlikely indeed. A sincere effort needs to be made in the search for permanent repositories.

The Nulear Waste Policy Act originally called for the identification of three sites in the Eastern US and three sites in the West. Political maneuvering led to a ‘Screw Nevada’ strategy because it had the fewest Congressional votes, and the million dollar development of the state’s Yucca Mountain site. Originally thought to be dry and impermeable to the migration of radioactive elements, the discovery that trace elements from explosions at the nearby Nevada Nuclear Test Site had penetrated deep into the Yucca Mountain facility in a relatively few years debunked that contention. The project was terminated by the Obama Admistration and is now essentially an abandoned relic of bad politics, wishful thinking, and failed scientific hypotheses.

The current attempt in the Shimkus Bill at resuscitating the failed Yucca Mountain dump is a desperate fool’s errand that reveals the utter moral and ethical bankruptcy of US Nuclear Waste policy.

The San Onofre Solution – Looking for the ‘Least Worst’

That’s why the current attempt by the groups in the San Onofre reactor community to agree on a ‘least worse’ way of dealing with the plant’s tons of accumulated waste represents what may be a pivotal microcosm in this vital national and international issue.

None of the options being considered are totally satisfactory by any standard:
• Bury it just above the water table, in the sand, on the beach, in flimsy cans, in an earthquake and tsunami zone, vulnerable to terrorist attack, yards from the rising sea;
• Ship it to poor communities in Nevada, Texas or New Mexico;
• Send it to Arizona’s Palo Verde reactor site;
• Take it to California’s Mojave desert (already the site of a successful ten year fight to block a proposed nuclear dump);
• Move it farther from the ocean, across I-5 to higher ground, out of tsunami range on the Camp Pendleton Marine base land the reactor operator is already leasing.

Applying Hirsch’s criteria, which option is likely to do the least harm to the least people and bioregions?

Keeping it anywhere on Camp Pendleton still poses a risk to the millions in the regional population between San Diego and LA. But moving it anywhere else would endanger millions more there and along all the shipping routes; and, in the case of the Texas and New Mexico sites, the millions more who are dependent on the vast Ogallala Aquifer, supplying drinking and agricultural water in eight key breadbasket states.


Packaging

Underlying and complicating all these considerations is the choice of containers for storage of the highly radioactive nuclear fuel assemblies.

Extensive documented research by San Onofre Safety founder Donna Gilmore shows that the Edison’s container choices – currently being implemented – are not only unsuited to San Onofre’s corrosive salt air marine environment, but make monitoring for leaks and repackaging leaking containers impossible. That, in turn, disqualifies them for transport under current Nuclear Regulatory Agency regulations, even if a target location could be found. And, as Donna puts it “Would you buy a car that couldn’t be checked for leaks or be repaired?”

Studies to determine whether the cladding holding the intensely irradiated fuel would hold or fail during the vibrations of transport haven’t been completed yet.

Meanwhile Southern California Edison is executing their plan to bury the lethal waste on the San Clemente beach with no opposition from public agencies.

The state agencies (Coastal Commission, Energy Commission and Public Utilities Commission) are all appointed by Governor Brown, and have all been informed that these storage canisters have fatal flaws. Yet, they continue approving storage of more canisters by the beach, and giving Edison millions of dollars to buy more of them.  Research data show that existing canisters may leak and potentially explode in a few short years, but these agencies don’t see this as their problem.  Governor Brown has yet to speak on these issues.

The SanOnofreSafety.org site offers handouts for elected officials and others

Urgent nuclear waste canister problems
Coastal Commission should revoke nuclear waste storage permit
Comments to DOE consent based siting: Plan risks major radioactive leaks
Dry Cask Inventory by State as of June 30, 2013

Another element in the mix is the California Coastal Commission’s approval of the Edison storage plan, an approval currently being contested in the suit brought by the legal team of Mike Aguirre and Mia Sieverson on behalf of their client Ray Lutz, and his Citizens’ Oversight organization. The suit has led to closed-door negotiations with Edison, the outcome of which have yet to be announced.

Any ultimate agreement which would meet Dan Hirsch’s criteria of ‘first, do no harm and then, don’t do to other communities what you would not want to have done to yours,’ would have to embody the highest current standard for radwaste management: Hardened, monitorable, retrievable on-site storage.

Those standards should be the minimum foundation of any responsible nuclear waste policy which admits the existential risks that the tragic choices of Atomic Age technocrats have imposed on us and all future generations.

A first step in that direction should be the defeat of the deadly and anti-democratic Shimkus Bill.

A second would be to demand Edison contain the waste in the most robust, monitorable, retrievable container casks available. Most industrialized countries use casks 12-20 inches thick. Edison’s are only 5/8ths of an inch thick.

=============
James Heddle is a filmmaker and writer who co-directs EON – the Ecological Options Network with Mary Beth Brangan. Their forthcoming documentary SHUTDOWN: The California-Fukushima Connection Pt. ! – The Case of San Onofre is now in post-production. He can be reached at jamesmheddle@gmail.com
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