Edward “Ted” Quinn, Dana Point 

During the last four years that I have volunteered to serve on the San Onofre Community Engagement Panel (CEP), I have learned that most people in the surrounding communities agree on the importance of moving the used nuclear fuel offsite. I also have learned that there is quite a bit of inflammatory misinformation that clouds the issue. Let me offer some well-established facts, based on my 40 years of work in the safety of naval and commercial nuclear facilities.

U.S. nuclear power plants have been safely storing used nuclear fuel for more than three decades. This excellent safety record includes the San Onofre nuclear plant, which stores its used nuclear fuel using robust, proven technologies.

These important facts were missing from the San Clemente Times coverage of the Dec. 30 protest in San Clemente of used nuclear fuel storage at San Onofre.

I recognize the factual errors by critics at the protest because I have heard them time and again during my service on the CEP. The panel’s diverse group of serious-minded leaders has devoted the large majority of time to one topic—advocating for constructive, feasible solutions to get the fuel off site at the earliest opportunity.

San Onofre will store all of its fuel in licensed, stainless steel canisters encased in concrete, a process known as dry-cask storage that has been repeated hundreds of times in the U.S. Not only is this a proven technology, we know that placement canisters facilitate transfer to off-site storage because the fuel must be in a canister to be accepted by a storage facility.

Southern California Edison has shared and sought public input in the development of plans to move the fuel from deep pools of water to dry-cask storage by mid-2019. Preparations are underway to begin that transfer and progress reports are on the San Onofre website, www.songscommunity.com.

I encourage your readers to take advantage of well-established facts on that website before embracing the inflammatory rhetoric of critics. If we in the local communities can remain focused on the facts and focus on what’s important—getting the used fuel off site—we will do best to serve the interests of those who live, work and play in Southern California.

 Editor’s note: Edward “Ted” Quinn is the American Nuclear Society, San Diego Chapter representative for the San Onofre Community Engagement Panel. 

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comments (7)

  • Southern California Edison continues to ignore these Nuclear Regulatory Commission facts:
    Thin-wall canisters (only 5/8″ thick) are vulnerable to cracking. Canisters cannot be adequately inspected (inside or outside) for cracks, let alone repaired. No inspection or repair technology exists that can currently be applied to canisters filled with spent nuclear fuel assemblies.

    A 2-year old Diablo Canyon canister was found to have all the conditions that make it vulnerable to cracking, but since no canisters can be inspected, no one knows how many cracks it may have or how deep the cracks are. Diablo canisters are only 1/2″ thick,

    Once a crack starts it can continue to grow through the wall within 16 years.

    Holtec president, Kris Singh, admits even a microscopic through-wall crack will release millions of curies of radionuclides.. Singh admits it’s not practical to repair even if you could find a way to do it. It would introduce another area for cracking. Edison’s Tom Palmisano disagrees with Singh, but has provided no evidence and hired Holtec to build and management the system.

    The NRC tries to claim there is not enough moisture at San Onofre for marine salts to dissolve on the canister surface (which is one of the major triggers for cracking). They are ignoring daily fog that is common along the Pacific. I sent them evidence of the fog (including photos and climate zone evidence), but they have ignored this.

    The NRC is not doing its job to protect our safety. The state regulators claim it’s not their job. That leaves us. Most local, state and federal elected officials and others don’t know the truth. It is up to us to share that. Find handouts and references at SanOnofreSafety.org. Share this handout. https://sanonofresafety.files.wordpress.com/2011/11/drystoragerecommendationsdg2017-08-24fivepage.pdf

    Most of the world and some U.S. nuclear plants use proven thick-wall casks (10″ to 19.75″ thick) that can be inspected inside and out, repaired, maintained and monitored to PREVENT leaks. Edison refuses to use these.

    Edison has no approved plan to deal with cracking or leaking canisters.

    Holtec and the NRC admit if water (other than borated spent fuel water) enters the canisters they will go critical — an uncontrolled nuclear reaction that they have no plan to deal with. Both the NRC and Holtec just hope this doesn’t happen.

    Edison ignored warnings from their own staff about the poorly redesigned reactor steam generators. They leaked after only one and two years of use, resulting in the permanent shutdown of San Onofre. Edison and state and federal regulators are ignoring the history of that billion dollar boondoggle and allowing this corporation with the worst safety complaint record in the nation to manage this lethal nuclear fuel waste.

    Each canister contains a Chernobyl disaster’s worth of lethal radionuclides (e.g.. Cesium-137). What could possibly go wrong?

    • @ Donna Gilmore
      Donna continues to lie about canister technology.

      Your statement, “Southern California Edison continues to ignore these Nuclear Regulatory Commission facts…”

      Would that be the same NRC that put its stamp of approval on the canisters Edison is using, an approval conspicuously absent from the casks YOU want Edison to use? Have you informed your followers that the NRC rejected the casks you prefer, declining to license them for transport due to their fear that these cast iron casks would shatter if dropped in cold weather? Do they know that the mechanical seals on your preferred casks are INFERIOR to the double welds on the canisters Edison is using in terms of positive sealing?

      You have continued to ignore the fact that the casks YOU prefer are too heavy for SONGs crane equipment, evidence you really don’t care what the facts are, you have an agenda to promote.

      Your statement, “Thin-wall canisters (only 5/8″ thick) are vulnerable to cracking…”
      What does “vulnerable” mean, particularly in light of the fact that your preferred casks are vulnerable to shattering if dropped?

      Your statement, “Canisters cannot be adequately inspected (inside or outside) for cracks, let alone repaired.”
      This is false, you know it is false, and yet you continue to repeat it, ie., you’re a liar. The inspection technology was demonstrated at a CEP meeting and the process was conducted at two different plants on their dry cast storage systems, ie., this wasn’t theoretical. So when you claim that no inspection technology exists, you’re making a claim against something that has already been done…and you know it.

      More of your baloney: “Once a crack starts it can continue to grow through the wall within 16 years.”

      That is not what EPRI or the NRC have said and you know it. As has been quoted numerous times, the NRC gave an estimate of 85 years AFTER crack initiation and it would take years for a crack to begin.

      Regarding Dr. Singh, I see you’re being more careful and not outright lying about what he said as you have repeatedly done in the past. Dr. Singh did NOT say canisters cannot be repaired, his company chooses to place this theoretically cracked canister (it’s never happened) into another one, either option solves the problem, a solution you continue to pretend doesn’t exist…because you’re dishonest. In addition, Dr. Singh was wrong about his phraseology regarding the millions of curies. The canister contains millions of curies, but these millions of curies are NOT escaping through a theoretical, hairline crack.

      “…but they have ignored this.” The NRC should make it a habit of ignoring known liars and the fact that they have indulged you thus far is a testament to their patience.

      “Most local, state and federal elected officials and others don’t know the truth. It is up to us to share that.”
      How magnanimous of you to insist nobody knows the truth but YOU and to offer your assistance in what in reality, has become a consistent effort to misinform and frighten the public. Fear and deception work hand in hand and yours has been the most consistent in its attempts at generating hysteria.

      “Most of the world and some U.S. nuclear plants use proven thick-wall casks…”
      I asked you once before to list all the new casks (the ones you prefer) being ordered around the world, particularly for countries that don’t reprocess fuel…your response was crickets. I included in my request the numerous countries that are ordering the canister based system like Edison and the rest of the entire US nuclear industry is using. BTW, only one plant has the casks you prefer, about 8 of them which they can’t ship because the NRC has refused to license them, so for you to claim “some U.S. nuclear plants use” them is at best, disingenuous, just what I’ve come to expect from you. Furthermore, the canister based system is proven as well and as the orders around the world and the US demonstrate, are the preferred choice for dry cast storage. Strange, huh?

      “Holtec and the NRC admit if water (other than borated spent fuel water) enters the canisters they will go critical — an uncontrolled nuclear reaction that they have no plan to deal with. Both the NRC and Holtec just hope this doesn’t happen.”

      What crap! We could fill the Spent Fuel Pools with unborated water right now and there would be no criticality, you’re just fear mongering again. And just how is water going to get into a sealed canister?

      “Each canister contains a Chernobyl disaster’s worth of lethal radionuclides…”
      So do the hills and mountains of Utah and the other sites around the globe that mine Uranium. What do you intend to do about those radionuclides?

      I suspect your efforts to hoodwink the public will continue, a practice I would think you would be embarrassed over, but some peoples’ consciences are seared as if with a hot iron.

  • Mr. Quinn has made the unseemly suggestion that the language surrounding this discussion by local business people and respected community leaders is somehow “inflammatory.” Mr. Quinn is entitled to his opinion, but he is not entitled to the facts.

    An important fact is that that Edison had the worst safety record of any U.S. nuclear facility (see https://goo.gl/N6kAa4 ). A second critical fact is that Edison is currently the subject of a criminal investigation by the Department of Justice for its handling of the decommissioning of San Onofre (Get the sworn criminal affidavit here: https://goo.gl/D2Y87z ).

    The public has a right to know these facts, and the facts are that Edison is planning to store radioactive waste that’s deadly for millions of years in substandard nuclear trash cans made out of a type of steel that is vulnerable to salt corrosion 108 feet from the beach in containers that are guaranteed to last fewer than 25 years.

    Shame on Ted Quinn for portraying Edison as having an “excellent safety record” when the facts do not support his claims.

    • @ Charles Langley
      Anti-nukes do a disservice to the community by their lies.

      Your statement Charles, “Mr. Quinn is entitled to his opinion, but he is not entitled to the facts.”

      So which facts are you in disagreement over Charles? Mr. Quinn stated, “U.S. nuclear power plants have been safely storing used nuclear fuel for more than three decades. This excellent safety record includes the San Onofre nuclear plant, which stores its used nuclear fuel using robust, proven technologies.”

      His statement is a fact, if you disagree, where is the support for your disagreement?

      Mr. Quinn also stated, “San Onofre will store all of its fuel in licensed, stainless steel canisters encased in concrete, a process known as dry-cask storage that has been repeated hundreds of times in the U.S. Not only is this a proven technology, we know that placement canisters facilitate transfer to off-site storage because the fuel must be in a canister to be accepted by a storage facility.”

      This also is a fact, do you dispute this? If so, where is the support for your dispute?

      Here is YOUR statement which is NOT a fact, “Edison is planning to store radioactive waste that’s deadly for millions of years in substandard nuclear trash cans…”

      If this used fuel is so deadly, why aren’t the people who work within feet of it not dead, dying, or sick?

      The canisters Edison is using are state of the art, used by the entire US nuclear fleet and used around the globe as well. They are approved for usage by the NRC an approval lacking for those casks anti-nukes want Edison to use. Indeed, the casks the anti-nukes want Edison to use were refused a license by the NRC because they feared these cast iron casks would shatter if dropped in cold weather, an issue the canisters Edison is using don’t have.

      In addition, the casks anti-nuke zealots want Edison to use are too heavy so even if Edison thought they were better (which they don’t), they couldn’t use them because they exceed the crane capacity of the installed equipment.

      So Charles, if and when the anti-nuke zealots begin basing their views on the facts instead of anti-nulcear hysteria, then Edison, the public, and the anti-nukes will be on the same page.

  • Being how you guys lied about replacing those steam generators, it just kind of makes it difficult to trust you, especially when the ultimate goal of the Community Engagement Panel is to silence voices of reason while facilitating a way for San Onofre’s owners to bury the waste and be free from the responsibilities of caring for it. What happens when that cliff crumbles into the sea?

    • @ Laurel Kaskurs
      Anti-nuclear dishonesty hurts the community.

      Your claim, Laurel, “Being how you guys lied about replacing those steam generators…”

      And what lies would that be? I can think of a number of anti-nuke lies on the subject beginning with Gary Headrick’s horse manure claim that we almost suffered another Fukushima.

      Your claim, “…ultimate goal of the Community Engagement Panel is to silence voices of reason while facilitating a way for San Onofre’s owners to bury the waste and be free from the responsibilities of caring for it.”

      Really? So allowing anti-nuke liars a podium to spread their false claims is a method to silence “voices of reason”? The used fuel is not being buried so you are wrong there, AND, Edison maintains responsibility for the fuel as long as it is on site so you are again wrong.

      “What happens when that cliff crumbles into the sea?”

      Is that a serious question? Think about it, if the cliff magically crumbled into the sea, then workers would have to retrieve the canisters at some effort. If that same cliff crumbled into the sea and the fuel was still in the Spent fuel pools, then you would have unshielded loose fuel in the ocean. Which do you think is worse? Do you even know enough to discern the difference?

      What happens when Hoover Dam, or Grand Coulee Dam, or any other large dam, fails and all that water cascades down upon the people below. Just ask the Chinese who lost 171,000 people after the Banquiao Dam failed in 1975, or the people in Idaho after the Teton Dam failure, or really, any of the numerous dams that have failed. Do we still build dams? Are you against building dams?

  • @ Edward “Ted” Quinn

    Excellent observations Mr. Quinn. You are 100% correct. However, the factual errors “by critics” at the protest and at the many CEP meetings are often not just errors but indeed lies. Donna Gilmore knows many of her statements are false but she keeps repeating them no matter how many times they are refuted. The only recourse in this sad situation is to do what you have been doing, keep presenting the facts, but I would also add that the CEP should start demanding anti-nuke zealots defend their many bogus statements.

    Again, great job.

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