Jennifer Massey, San Clemente

On Oct. 18, I attended the symposium in San Clemente on nuclear waste and radiation monitoring. I was alarmed at what I learned. How many people here know that San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) is the official location of more than 1,700 tons of highly radioactive uranium and plutonium?

San Clemente has an exceptional amount of nuclear waste, more than enough to produce a Chernobyl or Fukushima-type of catastrophe. Even worse, it appears that this waste will be with us for decades and possibly forever.

Are we prepared? We don’t even have any real-time monitoring of radioactivity if there is an accident or terrorist attack. Don’t people know that no insurance covers contamination by radioactive fallout? As a real estate broker, I know that all homes could become a total uninsurable loss. Everyone would still have to continue paying their mortgages.

Before us is an important City Council election with no fewer than 12 candidates. Only two of the candidates (Jackson Hinkle and Jake Rybczyk) consistently stress the importance of getting nuclear waste out of here. Jackson even went to Washington, D.C. to help persuade members of Congress to take action. Let’s get both Jake and Jackson on the City Council. We need their energy and dedication to what is by far the most important issue for this region: The San Clemente nuclear waste dump.

Editor’s note: Although the highly radioactive nuclear waste is dangerous, a disaster of the magnitude experienced at Fukushima or Chernobyl is highly unlikely as the power plant is offline, according to SONGS officials.

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comments (10)

  • To the Editor.
    Please stop spreading fake news from Edison. They have provided no credible evidence that there won’t be a major explosion if one or more of these canisters is breached. Their MPR Associates white paper, recommending a leaking canister could be moved to a an Idaho hot cell that was destroyed in 2007 shows the level of incompetence or deceit at Edison. Now we have 29 new Holtec canisters already cracking from being damaged by the canister guide ring. Even a microscopic scratch is a crack in these stainless steel pressure vessels. This is Material Corrosion 101. And where is canister #30? Edison won’t tell us.

  • Donna, you are such a liar. Your claim, “Now we have 29 new Holtec canisters already cracking from being damaged by the canister guide ring.” is complete BS and Honesty 101 would dictate not engaging in such manure spreading fear mongering. Where is your evidence that canister guide rings have caused scratches/cracks on the canisters? The canisters are fabricated out of 316L stainless steel, not clay.

    The hot cell destroyed is not the only one Idaho has. In addition, the postulated need for one does not mean there would be any hurry to provide one. The fuel could sit comfortably for months, perhaps years.

    As far as credible evidence that there won’t be a fuel explosion, the evidence is that it is physically IMPOSSIBLE. The fuel cannot explode, it is far below the level of enrichment to do so, period…that’s nuclear physics 101.

    So we have the independent engineering research firm of EPRI, the engineering firm of MPR & Associates, the engineers of Edison and Holtec, David Lochbaum, the Director of the Nuclear Safety Project for the Union of Concerned Scientists (no friends of nuclear power) and independent investigator and chairman of the CEP, Dr. David Victor, all supporting and affirming that used nuclear fuel in SONGS dry cask storage is safe. Then we have you, Donna, a layman with no particular training in the requisite fields necessary to make an informed assessment of the situation claiming the fuel isn’t safe. A thinking public can discern who best to trust for their information when faced with such stark differences in technical experience and educational gravitas.

    Finally, it is ironic that you can speak against spreading fake news when it was on YOUR website that videos appeared of individuals lying about SONGS’ emergency batteries claiming they were disconnected for four years and that all sorts of incredible mutations resulted from the TMI event, mistook the refueling pool for the spent fuel pool, falsely claimed PWRs don’t have reactor vessel level indication, etc. etc. etc.

    Canister #30 is in the Unit 3 Cask Wash Down area awaiting the green light to transfer.

  • @ Jennifer Massey San Onofre’s used fuel is safe in Dry cask storage and safe in the spent fuel pools. It is safer now than when the units were online producing power and they were safe then.

    “Are we prepared?”

    Prepared for what? What do you imagine can happen? Remember, the fuel is a solid, it cannot leak out of any postulated crack and keep in mind, no canister of commercial fuel has ever experienced a through-wall crack. There is also more Uranium in the ground in Utah by a very large number than exists at San Onofre, do you fear another Fukushima from this Uranium?

    I understand people fear what THEY don’t understand and nuclear fuel is a complicated subject. We also have fear mongers who do the public a disservice by attempting to frighten the public with a bunch of false claims and hyperbole.

    “Don’t people know that no insurance covers contamination by radioactive fallout?”

    Aside from the fact that there isn’t any postulated accident that could cause such an event, consider the following:

    All US nuclear power plants have their own private insurance and if this were exhausted (it has never happened), would tap into an insurance pool that all nuclear plants contribute to (currently worth about $13 Billion dollars) and following this, the government would step in.

    All candidates, as far as I am aware, support the removal of used fuel from San Onofre as does Edison itself. Our city council can only petition the government to transfer the fuel out and I believe they already have. Perhaps your two candidates are simply making promises or assertions they can’t keep…that would be a first for a politician.

    Fuel at San Onofre is NOT the most important issue for the region though it may be for you.

    Storage of used fuel in dry cask storage cannot be characterized as a dump, at least not honestly.

    • David,
      Gas and radionuclides are not solids and can leak out of these canisters, along with the helium that is needed to prevent fuel damage and explosions.

      How do you know no canister has ever experienced a through-wall crack? None of the San Onofre canisters have or can be inspected for cracks. The NRC allowed Calvert Cliffs to stop reporting peak radiation levels from outlet air vents — where radiation levels would be highest from through-wall cracks.

      The NRC and Edison refuse to share the radiation readings coming out of the aging Areva canisters which are now up to 15 years old. Edison asked their Areva vendor to have NRC amend their license so they don’t need to report peak levels from outlet air vents. Other than hiding radiation leaks, what other reason could Edison have for doing this? Tom Palmisano knows about this but refuses to give a straight answer as to why Edison would want to do this. Other than hiding radiation levels and giving them and the NRC cover to say they “meet all NRC regulatory requirements”.

      Edison had the NRC give them exemptions so they no longer can tap into that insurance pool.. And $13 billion dollars would not cover loses from evacuations in Southern California, or from food or water contamination, or loss of business or health risks. It’s believing in unsubstantiated hope and false promises of safe storage and claims we must have nuclear power or we’ll have blackouts that is the problem.

      Only two of the San Clemente City Council candidates, Jackson Hinkle and Jake Rybczyk, consistently actively advocate for safer storage containers and take more action that just making election promises. The other candidates do not. Other communities and states don’t want our waste. Even if it were technically and legally feasible to send San Onofre canisters to New Mexico, do you know Holtec’s plan is to return canisters that arrive leaking back to sender? Do you know it is not safe to transport uninspected high burnup fuel rods and partially cracked canisters? Do you know that high burnup fuel makes the rods brittle, where they can shatter like glass.? Do you know the NRC is still studying whether the fuel rods can survive normal train vibrations.? This is likely something Edison won’t admit to you or the other workers.

      We’re stuck with this nuclear waste dump, so we better advocate for thick-wall casks that can be inspected, maintained and monitored to PREVENT radioactive leaks and explosions, and a plan if place if something goes wrong. Instead Edison gives us cracking canisters with no plans to prevent or stop leaks or explosions.

      Other countries, such as Japan and Germany, use proven thick wall casks that can be maintained and monitored and store them in buildings for additional environmental and security protection. Edison refused to consider these thick-wall canister systems and instead chose Holtec — the company that loaded over half the Diablo Canyon canisters incorrectly — over three loading periods. But Holtec promised the fastest loading time out of the pools. Instead, we have defective basket shims and cracking uninspectable canisters and fuel. Another Edison billion dollar boondoggle in the making.. The fact our federal and state government allows this is part of the problem. Edison has the worst safety complaint record from their own employees while the plant was operating. This went on for years. The NRC did nothing. The Governor did nothing. What will the new Governor do? The NRC cited Edison for mismanaging the replacement steam generator project. We came close to losing California, yet this company is allowed to continue managing nuclear waste. What technical expertise does Edison have?

  • David,
    How is canister #30 in the Unit 3 Cask Wash Down are being kept cool, since it’s not in the pool and will overheat if not kept either cooled by water or convection cooling?

    • San Onofre dry cask storage is state of the art and canisters can remain safe for a minimum of 60 years and more likely, over 100 years.

      Your statement, “We came close to losing California…”

      I see, Donna, that you are still addicted to hyperbole. I’ve asked you and followers many times to describe just exactly how you think “we came close to losing California” but making ridiculous claims is far easier than backing them up which is why you refuse to answer the question.

      Your statement, “Gas and radionuclides are not solids…”

      Gas obviously is not a solid but radionuclides can be solids or gases. Do you think the Americium 241 in your smoke detector is a gas that can leak out? Do you think the Uranium and Plutonium in the fuel is a gas? The fission product gases can only leak out of the fuel pin if there is a fuel defect and then it must make its way out of any theoretical crack (there has never been one) without any pressure driving head. This would be a very slow process but even if it all exited immediately, the quantity of gas is very small and would pose no danger to the public.

      Your question, “How do you know no canister has ever experienced a through-wall crack?”

      You have repeatedly made the claim that if a through-wall crack occurred, air entering the canister would (not might) cause the fuel to explode. So, Donna, you can’t have it both ways, either your statement that air entry into the canister would cause an explosion is false or your suggestion that canisters have through-wall cracks is false. So which one of your claims are you going to discard? Which one are you going with? Or perhaps you’re ready to claim that canisters are currently exploding and that we should expect to hear news of Chernobyls and Fukushimas happening across the US? Inquiring minds want to know, Donna.

      In addition, you’ve made a lot of hay out of Dr. Singhs’ statement about millions of curies coming out of a theoretical crack (a statement he corrected as it is absolutely false) so how come radiation dose rates remain unchanged in all the storage facilities across the country? You’ve also lied about Dr. Singh’s statements claiming he said that a theoretical crack couldn’t be repaired, a statement he never made. Why did you feel justified in lying like that?

      Your claim, “None of the San Onofre canisters have or can be inspected for cracks.”

      Repeating a lie over and over will not make it true. It just confirms your habit of lying to the public. Canisters can be inspected and have been inspected at other sites as you are well aware. The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), who you disparage in favor of your own lack of experience and education on this subject, provided presentations on the actual inspections that have already occurred. You were at those presentations so we know you are lying…again.
      Because you lie so much, your statement that “The NRC allowed Calvert Cliffs to stop reporting peak radiation levels from outlet air vents…” needs some explanation.

      Your claim “The NRC and Edison refuse to share the radiation readings coming out of the aging Areva canisters…” Oh really? I gave you a copy of an actual survey and the individual who toured the plant was allowed to take his radiation measuring device which indicated radiation dose rates exactly as described in the survey I gave to you. That didn’t prevent you and he from exaggerating the findings claiming the tiny dose rates measured (which are normal) must be an indication of a canister breach. You never miss an opportunity to engage in hyperbole, alarmism, and outright lying. At least he can claim ignorance…but you? How do you sleep at night with all these lies weighing down on you?

      Your statement “And $13 billion dollars would not cover loses from evacuations in Southern California…”

      So please, describe for your readers your scenario where such an evacuation would be required. When TMI foolishly evacuated, the plant’s own insurance covered it…they never needed to tap into the $13 billion nor were they even remotely close. You watch too many Sci-Fi movies and the events you observe in them has affected your view of reality. Perhaps that’s why you included that ridiculous interview on your website where the individual claimed there were all sorts of science fiction-like mutations from TMI.

      Your question, “Even if it were technically and legally feasible to send San Onofre canisters to New Mexico…”

      Are you now claiming it is NOT technically feasible to transfer fuel canisters to New Mexico, or anywhere else in the US? Please, Donna, let us know because if your statement is correct, some Unit 1 fuel went missing some time ago, reportedly transferred out to another facility and fuel from other facilities must have magically appeared at INL. We also had a fuel transfer expert give a presentation at an early CEP meeting, one you presumably attended, and he, having transferred a large quantity of fuel, was of a different opinion than yours. How come all the experts disagree with you? Strange, huh?

      Your question, “Do you know it is not safe to transport uninspected high burnup fuel rods and partially cracked canisters?”

      You just indicated above that transporting fuel is not technically feasible…you can’t even keep your story straight within a single post.

      To answer you, ALL fuel is inspected prior to loading into a canister, that’s low AND high burnup fuel.

      Your question, “Do you know that high burnup fuel makes the rods brittle, where they can shatter like glass.?”

      Now I’ve handled spent fuel, you haven’t and I haven’t noticed this tendency to shatter as you suggest. As for train vibrations, how does that help your case? Do you think the property of fuel is any different if placed in your preferred casks (which won’t happen) or that they would be any less susceptible to failure if residing in the cask you like?
      Which is the greater agitation, a little train vibration, or being pressurized to 2250 psia and enduring two years of almost half-a-million gallons per minute of water rushing over the fuel?

      Your statement, “We’re stuck with this nuclear waste dump…”

      It’s a storage facility and the fact that you cannot accurately describe it is just another indication of your dishonesty and untrustworthiness. You store your dishes in the cupboard, is your cupboard a dish dump? You dishonestly describe it as a dump because you wish to convey an image that isn’t true.

      “…so we better advocate for thick-wall casks…”

      You can advocate all you want, it isn’t happening for all the same reasons that the casks didn’t meet SCE’s specs including being too heavy (which you never addressed beyond claiming that wasn’t the problem) AND because the canisters are already chosen…a fait accompli. Get over it and move on. Advocate for a hospital here in SC, that we could agree on.

      Your claim, “Instead Edison gives us cracking canisters with no plans to prevent or stop leaks or explosions.” You haven’t established that the canisters are cracking and the NRC, EPRI, Edison, MPR & Associates have all described the plans in place to prevent a crack, you just refuse to acknowledge it…you are pathetically and dishonestly clinging to this issue.

      Your statement, “Other countries, such as Japan and Germany, use proven thick wall casks…”

      And other countries also use the canister based system that ALL US plants use. There are more stainless steel canisters and more fuel in the canister based system than in the cast iron casks you prefer. In addition, Japan has, if memory serves me, now ordered the canister based system. As countries move away from reprocessing fuel (a mistake in my judgment), they will also move away from the cast iron casks that were originally the cheaper choice and are more appropriate for reprocessing, not permanent storage.

      Your claim, “…we have defective basket shims and cracking uninspectable canisters and fuel.”

      Just another in a long train of Donna Gilmore lies.

      Your question, “What technical expertise does Edison have?”

      Vastly more than you do. Tell us again, where did you get your engineering degree specializing in corrosion and fracture mechanics? Nuclear physics? That’s right, you have none but are zealous to share your lack of experience and chastise those who do possess the education and experience.

      I’ll address your other hyperbole, alarmism, and lies in a future post.

  • San Onofre Fuel is safe in dry cask storage and/or the Spent Fuel Pool.

    It is cooled by convection right where it is at. As the heat rises cool air replaces it just as is done when inside the cavity enclosure container (CEC); Heat transfer & Fluid Flow 101. It can remain in this condition indefinitely. From a cooling standpoint, the CEC lid isn’t required and it is in the lid that the inlet and outlet vents are contained/attached.

    • David,
      My understanding is canister #30 is currently stored in a transfer cask. That transfer cask is not designed or approved for storing and convection cooling of that canister per the Holtec NRC approved technical specs, Only for a limited period while it is transferred from the pool to the CEC. Are they using the supplemental cooling system as described in technical specs for the transfer cask? These canisters were approved for over twice the normal temperature as the older Areva canisters, yet no approved plan for this scenario, I am very concerned..

      • SONGS Spent Fuel is safe in the Spent Fuel Pool and in Dry Cask Storage

        Donna, you are confused regarding your “supplemental cooling system”. The canister is dry inside and filled with Helium; the MPC (Multi-Purpose Canister) Alternate Cooling is only used when the canister still has fuel pool water in it.

        A thermal analysis has already been completed supporting indefinite storage in the Fuel Handling Building cask wash down area. At Monticello Nuclear Plant, they left a loaded canister in a transfer cask for three years. Considering these facts, what SPECIFICALLY is your reference for your claims? And “no approved plan for this scenario”? Really? The plan has already been implemented.

        Regarding temperature, the heat load in canister #30 is 25.19 KW. That is almost 45% below the design basis heat load for these canisters (44.1 KW).

        As for your faux “I am very concerned”, yeah and I’m concerned with your consistent display of dishonesty and militant desire to hoodwink the public. I’ve waited patiently for you to regain some integrity on these issues but that ship set sail and sank long ago. Between you, Headrick, and Roger “truck bomb” Johnson, the public has endured a constant barrage of alarmism, falsehood, and hyperbole sprinkled with a dose of crazy such as Roger’s claim that North Korea has nuclear weapons aimed at…San Onofre!

        Alas, Donna, give it a rest.

  • David Davison:
    Both the NRC and Edison admit the 49-ton steel canisters are contacting the metal guide ring as they are being lowered into the holes..
    https://www.nrc.gov/reactors/operating/ops-experience/songs-spec-insp/faq.pdf
    https://www.nrc.gov/reactors/operating/ops-experience/songs-spec-insp-activities-cask-loading-misalignment.html

    Even microscopic scratches can remove the thin ~2nm (nanometre) layer of chromium oxide film on the stainless steel canisters, which creates pitting corrosion cracking by mechanical means.. http://www.hse.gov.uk/research/rrpdf/rr902.pdf

    The Test Area North hot cell destroyed in 2007 in Idaho was the only hot cell large enough to transfer fuel from one canister to another container.

    Where is your technical evidence that “the fuel could sit months and, perhaps years” with through wall cracks?

    Regarding explosion risks, I have never compared an explosion in a canister to a nuclear bomb explosion. Please don’t assume what other people state reflects my position. The explosion type I refer to is hydrogen gas explosions. The moderate and high burnup fuel used by Edison and others in the U.S. creates hydrogen in the metals (zirconium hydrides in the rods (cladding) and in the uranium fuel pellets, and even in the aluminum alloy baskets. The NRC and nuclear industry do not want you to know about this. They continue to ignore the operating data from over 4400 fuel rods, showing oxide and hydride build up in the fuel rods. See my comments to the NRC on draft NUREG-2224 regarding high burnup storage and transport. It contains numerous technical references.
    https://sanonofresafety.files.wordpress.com/2018/09/nureg-2224donnagilmorecomments2018-09-24.pdf

    Regarding the “experts” you refer to, let’s take them one by one::
    EPRI: The utility funded research lab that cherry picks their data to reach the conclusions of their customers.. See Critique of EPRI Flaw Growth and Flaw Tolerance Assessment for Dry Cask Storage Canisters, D. Gilmore, May 17, 2015 (EPRI ignored Koeberg and Diablo Canyon data, and coastal conditions at San Onofre) https://sanonofresafety.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/epri-critiqueandkoebergplant2015-05-17.pdf

    MPR Associates: Hired by Edison, so is not impartial. They ignored high burnup fuel risks. They recommended a hot cell that no longer exists. The MPR San Onofre report reference even mentioned the destruction of the large Test Area North hot cell in the INL..

    Edison and Holtec are not “independent” experts and have given us many reasons to not trust them. See partial list here. https://sanonofresafety.org/holtec-hi-storm-umax-nuclear-waste-dry-storage-system/

    Dave Lochbaum, formerly with Union of Concerned Scientists, recommended the Holtec System without understanding the serious vulnerabilities of the canister system. He is more concerned with the pool risks and ignores risks of high burnup fuel and other risks with these canisters. It was Union of Concerned Scientists that endorsed storing the nuclear waste in this experimental Holtec storage system at the beach. Dave has good intentions, but this is not his area of expertise. He is not a materials corrosion engineer. He did not do independent research or analysis on these issues. A report issued years ago by the Union of Concerned Scientists (Ed Lyman) and other independent “experts”, ignored a Sandia Lab peer review of their paper from a materials engineer that said they needed to address the potential for failure of the dry storage systems before recommending them. They ignored his recommendation.

    David Victor is a policy analyst. He is in no way is an expert on dry storage systems. He was selected by Edison to chair the SONGS Community Engagement Panel. At the time he was an EPRI’Board Member.. His white paper on San Onofre nuclear waste storage was filled with unsubstantiated hope for future solutions of these inferior uninspectable thin-wall canisters.

    My technical sources include NRC, DOE, national and international labs, material engineers and nuclear physicists. I research the technical information and compare findings with them. I co-authored a paper with Dr. Marvin Resnikoff on high burnup fuel. I participate in numerous technical meetings with the NRC and others on these waste issues. I was an invited speaker at the NRC 2014 Annual Nuclear Waste Conference. By background is as a systems analyst and project manager for mission critical systems. I was shocked to learn the NRC would allow systems that could not be inspected or maintained and with no plan in place to prevent or stop leaks and explosions. I only do this because the NRC is not doing their job and Edison and other nuclear waste generators are not doing theirs.

    Regarding your claim of “fake news” on SanOnofreSafety.org, as you know, I corrected the mislabeling of a photo of a pool, at your request. Regarding the other “fake new” you claim is on my website. I do not have any such information on my website. As always, if you find something incorrect, I will correct it or delete it.

    David, be careful who you believe. It’s best to verify your information with technical scientific documents and not take the word of people who have an agenda, be it money, reputation, or are just ignorant of scientific facts.

    As you know, Edison wants to empty the pools asap because of the millions of dollars of overhead costs they will be able to save every year. You know this and they bragged about this in a trade article.

    You know the canisters cannot be inspected on the outside for scratches, scrapes, dents, crevices, cracks, etc., and Edison has no plan in place to repair, replace or otherwise prevent or stop leaks or explosions.

    How can anyone in their right mind think that this is a safe way to store nuclear waste? Read the U.S. Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board December 2017 report to Congress and the DOE. They state the spent nuclear fuel and its containment must be retrievable, maintained and monitored in a manner to prevent hydrogen gas explosions in both short and long-term storage and transport. This is not being done.

    The NRC gives many exemptions to basic critical ASME standards for these Holtec pressure vessels. They do not even have pressure monitoring or pressure relief valves to prevent hydrogen gas explosions.

    Edison must abandon the loading of more thin-wall canisters and replace the system with thick-wall casks that can meet the NWTRB requirements. Instead, they and David Victor are lobbying for H.R.3053 and other bills that promise to take our waste to some other community or state. They don’t tell you that those bills remove basic safety requirement from the current law (Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982). They don’t tell you the bill will legally allow Edison to transfer ownership of the San Onofre waste to the DOE right at the current site. They don’t tell you that current mandatory spending will be gone and we will be at the mercy of Congress to find funding to manage this waste. They don’t tell you the Nuclear Waste Fund was raided years ago, so the ratepayer funded Nuclear Waste Fund does not have the money for a permanent repository and never had money for “interim” storage. Edison and David Victor know this, but you won’t see this in any of their slide presentations at the CEP.
    See details at SanOnofreSafety.org.

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