Zombie Nukes – The Slide Show – Updated

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We wanted to take a broad planetarian view of the nuclear revivalist push beyond California. Here’s what we found.

We ask the question, why the push to extend operation of Diablo Canyon’s aged reactors all of a sudden? Why are we being forced to endure the risks and pay for it – both through general funds and as utility rate-payers all over the state?

Seen as a business venture, the US nuclear industry is on its ass.

So is the global nuclear industry.


Climate change is being used as the rationale for extending Diablo Canyon’s operation. But extreme weather is not good for nuclear reactors – as we can see from what France experienced this summer.

Graphic: Donna Gilmore – SanOnofreSafety.org

Even without a heat wave, NRC data show that one or both of Diablo’s reactors have had both planned and unplanned shut downs 40% of the days in each of the last four years.

Diablo is no key to reliability or grid stability. As Sluggo points out, looked at as a single power plant, roof top solar installations already out produce dubious Diablo.

Across the country, climate chaos, electric vehicle mandates, rolling blackouts, jobs are just some of the excuses for nuclear revivalism that are saving old reactors from shutdown. In addition to Diablo in California, 2 plants in Illinois and maybe 1 in Michigan were given operating extensions. In 2016, 3 were extended in New York.

The strong push for continuing old reactors across the country coincides with the push for nuclear weapons and power in space and the push for ‘thinkable’ nuclear war.

Since the ’90’s, back in the days of the Neo-Con Project for the New American Century (PNAC) to today’s Biden Administrations, the quest for Full Spectrum Dominance of land, sea, air and space has remained the basis of US policy.

According to this doctrine, “America has, and intends to keep, military strengths beyond challenge.” That will require a robust nuclear power and weapons complex.

Since the days of Atoms for Peace, nuclear power advocates have pooh-poohed any necessary connection between nuclear power and nuclear weapons. Now they’re using that very real connection as an excuse to apply extreme rescue measures to the dying nuclear energy industry. A commercial nuclear infrastructure and trained labor pool are vital to the military nuclear weapons complex.

Former Energy Secretary Moniz now heads the Energy Futures Initiative, pushing civil nuclear power as an ‘enabler’ of full spectrum national security. Mr. Biden agrees.

Thus his generous funding support (at least $100 billion) for nukes both old and new in his Inflation Reduction Act as well as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill.

The current word from some think tanks is that ‘space nuclear’ – in the forms of both power generation and propulsion – “is the future.”

For that, as well as weapons and the Nuclear Navy, a civilian nuclear infrastructure and trained labor force are seen as necessary.

As our friend Bruce Gagnon of the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space has been pointing out for years, launching radioactive materials into space is a really dumb idea. What goes up, will come down.

Meanwhile, down here on earth, nuclear reactors design life is limited to 40 years because multiple constant stresses, intense radioactivity, heat, corrosion and embrittlement degrade all the components. Potential battle spaces are no place for old nukes.

This is the wider context in which the Church of Nuclear Revivalism is pushing its Rickety Reactor Rescue program.

Fifteen old reactors in a hot battle zone – what could possibly go wrong?

Now a brewing global civil war is threatening to go nuclear. Professor Jeffry Sachs call it “the most dangerous moment since the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962.” 

In such a conflict, the US is full of potential nuclear targets – essentially nuclear bombs-in-place.

California’s string of nuclear targets along a major earthquake fault line is also rich with potential targets.

Even without a war, California’s webwork of interconnected seismic faults makes all its nuclear sites dangerous.

As Dan Hirsch’s slide shows, Diablo sits squarely on the Shoreline fault which connects to all the others – a bad location for rickety old reactors.

Diablo’s radioactive waste storage on the Shoreline fault is already overloaded. Where will the spent fuel from continued operation go?

Graphic: Donna Gilmore – SanOnofreSafety.org

This NOAA graphic shows smoke from the 2018 Camp Fire that mixed with smoke from the 2018 Woolsey fire in Santa Susana, north of LA.  The 2018 Woolsey fire released radioactive particles from the partial meltdown of a reactor in 1959 that had been covered up.  The radioactive smoke is seen going across the entire continent and beyond.

This is what stress corrosion looks like on a Diablo pressure vessel.

Former NRC Commissioner Peter Bradford says stress corrosion cracking “plagues the entire nuclear industry.”

The NRC and the rest of the industry know it.

So does the French nuclear industry. Stress Corrosion Cracking has put 28 of its reactors offline for an indefinite period.

Extension of Diablo’s operation raises serious legal and constitutional issues that could be challenged in court.

There’s always hope!

As Grandmother used to say, “There are many a slip between cup and lip.” Nuclear revivalism is a dangerous pipedream.

How can we organize to stop the nuclear revivalists?

Connecting with our natural allies across all these related issue areas will help our pushback movement grow in scope and strength.

This presentation is available at NoNukesCA.net. Feel free to share. Please check out our forthcoming documentary SOS – The San Onofre Syndrome and visit our other sites.

Thanks for your attention.