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SCSQUARED halfGary Headrick, San Clemente

In January of 2012, one of the newly replaced steam generators at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station began leaking radiation into the environment, causing the plant to be shut down permanently. Had the leak not been detected in time, it could have easily escalated into a full-blown emergency, far worse than what Japan continues to endure today. Whistleblowers had predicted such an outcome back in 2009, accusing the company of taking reckless shortcuts. Retaliation against employees was one of several reasons why Edison had the worst safety record of all.

Now that the plant has stopped producing electricity, it might seem logical to eliminate most of the emergency plans, as was recently approved, but that is not the case. The problem is that highly radioactive waste has accumulated at the site, amounting to more than 89 times the radiation released in the Chernobyl accident. Since the Department of Energy has failed to provide a permanent solution, the waste is stuck here indefinitely. Two-thirds of it is in pools that are vulnerable to earthquakes, and everyone agrees the fuel rods would be safer in dry cask storage, the way the other third is now being stored.

In a chaotic emergency caused by a major earthquake we’d only have 17 hours to prevent fuel rods in pools from catching fire, sending plumes of radiation into the environment.

But even these casks, which they claim to be twice as safe during an earthquake, were not designed to hold this extremely long-lived, highly radioactive material indefinitely. There have been cases in which wall cracks have developed in less than 17 years at other locations near corrosive beach environments like ours. The containers used here are only licensed for 20 years, with only eight years left on some of the earliest loaded casks we have at San Onofre.

Rather than reducing our safety response capabilities, we should be enhancing them. We know that the science and technology community has grossly underestimated the power of nature, as seen in Japan’s ongoing crisis. We also know from Osama Bin Laden’s computer files that nuclear power plants are one of the preferred targets for terrorists. Ours is especially tempting with the likelihood of Camp Pendleton being destroyed in the process. With that in mind, we should be moving the nuclear waste as soon as possible to an interim storage site where seismic concerns and protection from terrorist have been addressed. That may take decades, so while the waste remains here, we must use the best casks available (not the ones they intend to use), anticipate the need to reload dry casks that are leaking, reinforce the pools and protect the waste, enhance security from cyber attacks or other terrorist plots and improve on emergency response systems to protect the public. The last thing we should do is to relax our emergency response capabilities.

Contact gary@sanclementegreen.org to help reject this reckless policy that will be going into effect this summer if we do nothing about it. Also, please watch some very compelling evidence against those making these decisions on YouTube under “$5 Billion Cover-up at San Onofre.”

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comments (10)

  • Southern California Edison has a long history of incompetence at that facility. The songs plant was not safe when it operated and it’s not safe now that it shut down.
    The 1600 tons of nuclear waste is a disaster waiting to happen. Southern California Edison’sduplicity knows no bounds

  • @ Headrick,
    “… it could have easily escalated into a full-blown emergency, far worse than what Japan continues to endure today.”

    Oh do tell how this science fiction scenario could come about. Don’t spare the details on this exercise in hyperbole…more accurately described as horse manure.

    “…it might seem logical to eliminate most of the emergency plans…”

    Logical to most people but with the fear mongers, such as yourself, facts, logic, and common sense have no role to play.

    “Since the Department of Energy has failed to provide a permanent solution…”

    How disingenuous of you considering the fact that the anti-nukes opposed Yucca Mt. BEFORE any studies were complete and your whole cavalcade of zealots have also expressed hostility toward opening Yucca Mt. Would you care to weigh in on YOUR role in this sordid affair?

    “…89 times the radiation released in the Chernobyl accident.”

    Wow, 89 times! What you conveniently neglected to state was that it is safely stored. No member of the public has been harmed from storing commercial used nuclear fuel, an amazing record of safety. The public receives zero dose from the used fuel at San Onofre and this fuel has been safely stored for 45 years!

    How about the water behind any large dam? Should the dam fail, and many have, large numbers of civilians living downstream could perish. This is exactly what happened in China at the Banquiao Dam that resulted in 171,000 deaths, destroyed 6 million buildings, and left 11 million homeless, and that is JUST ONE DAM! see here for a list of dam failures:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dam_failure

    “…is in pools that are vulnerable to earthquakes, and everyone agrees the fuel rods would be safer in dry cask storage…”

    There has NEVER been a failure, or even damage to a Spent Fuel Pool from an earthquake. Indeed, Fukushima suffered the 4th largest earthquake in history yet no Spent Fuel Pool at any of Japan’s facilities experienced anything beyond cosmetic damage. Furthermore, IF it is so recognized that fuel is safer in dry cask storage (the NRC maintains there is no safety advantage here) then why do you local fanatics keep trying to delay progress on this issue?

    “…we’d only have 17 hours to prevent fuel rods in pools from catching fire…”

    Where did you get that bogus figure? News flash, the fuel has cooled sufficiently to preclude under any circumstances a fuel pool fire…not that there has EVER been one.

    “But even these casks…were not designed to hold this extremely long-lived, highly radioactive
    material indefinitely…”

    And what container has been designed to last “indefinitely”? Who says or claims, besides the activists looking for any reason to reject nuclear power, that a cask has to survive indefinitely?

    There are NO casks that have developed wall cracks either in 17 or 70 years, you are, as usual, attempting to deceive the public. As for the 20 year license on fuel canisters, that has all been explained ad nauseam and your use here is again, illustrative of your duplicity. Canisters are licensed for 20 or 30 year periods; the NRC inspects them, verifies an aging management system in place and then renews the license, just like YOU need to renew YOUR driver’s license.

    “…that nuclear power plants are one of the preferred targets for terrorists. Ours is especially tempting…”

    Oh horse manure! The only commercial nuclear power plant in history attacked by terrorists was one under construction in Europe, ie., no fuel present, and the attack was by environmentalists. Furthermore, why on God’s green earth would terrorists attack a plant NO LONGER IN OPERATION?

    see here for expose on the bogus claims by anti-nuke zealots regarding terrorism:

    http://theenergycollective.com/robertwilson190/2148016/do-terrorists-attack-nuclear-power-plants-every-couple-years-use-pseudo-sic

    “…where seismic concerns and protection from terrorist have been addressed.”

    There isn’t even a proposed interim site so how can you claim that seismic and terrorist concerns have been addressed at a non-existent site? Your deception knows no bounds.

    Gary Headrick, untrustworthy at any speed. Not content to bask in the glory of helping to put 1200 hard working people with families out of work harming local businesses in the process, these zealots continue their attack on the nuclear industry oblivious and uncaring to the hurt they do. Haven’t these folks done enough harm to the state and the city of San Clemente?

  • For backup to many of the facts Gary has addressed in his letter, go to SanOnofreSafety.org. You will find links to scientific and government references — not opinion pieces. The following handout contains a summary of many of these issues. Please share with others.
    https://sanonofresafety.files.wordpress.com/2011/11/reasonstobuythickcasks2015-04-16.pdf

    The most urgent concern right now is the thin steel storage canisters at San Onofre. Some of these could have through-wall cracks in as little as 5 years. None of the San Onofre canisters have ever been inspected for cracks due to limitations in inspection technology for canisters filled with spent nuclear fuel. San Onofre canister loading started in 2003. A similar component at the Koeberg nuclear plant in South Africa failed in 17 years from stress corrosion cracking due to the harsh marine environment. The crack depth was 0.62″. San Onofre canisters are only 0.625″. Koeberg and San Onofre share the same harsh environment that caused the stress corrosion cracking: on-shore winds, surf, and frequent fog. The Koeberg component was a tank, but the NRC considers it a similar component (made out of the same materials and manufacturing techniques used for spent fuel canisters). And the canisters are not designed to be repaired. What is Edison doing about this? They plan to buy almost 100 more of the same inferior canister technology. This is unacceptable. Even South Africa knew better than to use thin stainless steel to store spent nuclear fuel. They use the thick (up to 20″) German ductile cast iron casks to store their waste. That is what we must insist be done here. The CPUC must reject the funds for the thin canisters. The Coastal Commission must not grant a Coastal permit for this inferior canister system and must not allow it to be located so close to the bluff. There is still time to stop Edison from wasting over a billion dollars of ratepayer money on an inadequate spent fuel management system. The Holtec canister vendor said even a microscopic crack will release millions of curies of radiation. Each canister holds as much radiation (Cesium-137) as was released by Chernobyl and there are currently 51 canisters stored at San Onofre. He also said it’s not practical to repair these. There is also no plan in place to deal with a failed canister. Edison plans to destroy the spent fuel pools, so there will be no way to return the nuclear fuel back into the pool. Edison counts on nothing going wrong. Unfortunately, they don’t have the facts to back up that assumption. And neither does David Davison, even though he has good intentions.

    And activists didn’t cause all those employees to lose their jobs; Edison did by approving a redesign of the steam generators that their own staff warned them was a bad design. David knows this. Edison knows this. And they wanted to restart the broken Unit 2 reactor. The activists educated people on the facts. The majority of these activists are just concerned citizens that rallied together and gave up a large part of their time to help stop Edison from restarting a broken reactor. We were right about the steam generators. Now we are warning the public again. With the reactor, we could shut it down and keep the nuclear waste in the pools. However, with these thin storage canisters, there is no plan in place to stop the radiation from being released into the environment.

    When the steam generators were delivered, Edison promised they would last 40 to 60 years. One leaked radiation into the environment in less than one year. All four of the generators showed years of excessive wear to the point they needed to be replaced again — but that would have been almost a billion dollars and lots of down time with Edison making no money. Why should you believe Edison when they claim these thin canisters are safe? Who has the better track record — Edison or the concerned citizen activists?

    • @ Donna,
      “Who has the better track record–Edison or the concerned citizen activists?”

      You’re kidding me right? Your “concerned citizen activists” who lied about San Onofre’s emergency batteries claiming they were disconnected for 4 years (could you drive your car with the battery disconnected…for 4 years!?). How about Gene Stone’s statements at the first CEP claiming TMIs canisters were leaking or that 2000 MWs of solar generation, apart from roof top solar, had replaced San Onofre’s generation just since the shutdown? Both totally FALSE; or Roger Johnson’s malarkey regarding the physics defying truck bomb that he claims could take out a Spent Fuel Pool from OUTSIDE the PERIMETER!, or his jaw dropping statement at the first CEP about how North Korea has nuclear missiles aimed…AT SAN ONOFRE! Or the statements on YOUR website of the individual claiming PWRs don’t have reactor vessel level indication; or the farcical TMI video of the guy claiming all sorts of wild mutations from the accident including one of a cow being born with his skeleton on the outside of his torso, so ridiculous that you took it off your web site (thank you for that…seriously); or Gary Headrick’s bogus statements to news gal, Vikki Vargas, that San Onofre planned to rotate fuel in and out of canisters and that moving used nuclear fuel was dangerous despite the fact that it has been moved at least a million times in the US alone (this is not an exaggeration); or how about Ace Hoffman’s WHOPPER he told to the Malibu Times:

      “But there are literally a thousand ways to melt down a reactor. A pipe could break; an operator could flip the wrong switch. (Yes, it’s that easy, or nearly so, and there’s nothing to stop him or her from melting the reactor down on purpose, for that matter.)”

      Needless to say, he didn’t enlighten his readers as to what this magical switch might be.

      Just where is this supposed documentation to back up the hogwash Gary Headrick is ladling out? Please indulge your readers on how San Onofre’s tube leak “could have easily escalated into a full-blown emergency, far worse than what Japan continues to endure today.” While you’re at it, you could answer this question I asked you months ago:

      “On your video, Safety Over Profits, at about 2:50 and again about 4:00, you say that if O2 gets into the canister, an explosion can result. Can you describe for me the mechanism of that explosion? You say this explosion will be on the scale of Fukushima, really? From one canister?”

      Why is it that most every postulated problem your “concerned citizen activists” bring up, result in an accident “worse than Fukushima?” Are your “concerned citizen activists” that addicted to hyperbole? Is there no imagined faux pas that simply results in elevated dose rates or does your narrative require post apocalyptic scenarios to frighten the public into endorsing your hysteria?

      As this is long, I’ll continue in a future post…yes folks, there really are that many problems with the claims of these anti-nuke, zealots.

      • David,
        You have not addressed the main point of my response, which is the most important issue for Southern California residents. The very real issue of early canister failure. I have provided data to back up my information and you have not responded to that.

        Regarding various other items in your email, I cannot respond to issues that I have no knowledge of. I was addressing issues raised by Gary in this email. As you know, if you find any incorrect information on SanOnofreSafety.org I will correct it, assuming you provide information to back up where it is incorrect. Also, the spent fuel pools should not be removed. We will need them to transfer fuel from one canister to another when/if one of these thin steel canisters cracks. Hopefully, before it cracks all the way through. A question for you. If the spent fuel pools remain, will you be able to keep your job? If the pools are destroyed, will you lose your current position at San Onofre?

  • Donna,

    Do you think your readers are aware of the fact that the ductile, cast iron canisters you insist SCE use, have been rejected by the entire US nuclear industry? That after an experimental trial at a single site with just a handful of them, they were never ordered by any commercial nuclear plant? Do you think they know that these canisters you insist upon are NOT licensed in the US and that they NEVER had a license for trans-shipment, that the NRC refused them this license partially because they feared they might shatter if dropped? Are they aware that these canisters CANNOT be used at SONGs because they are too heavy for the crane equipment SONGs has? Yes, I recall you said this wasn’t “thee reason” SCE rejected them, but it IS, ANOTHER reason for the rejection.

    I’ll support your case for using these cast iron canisters when YOU support (and we’re successful) the reprocessing of the used nuclear fuel these cast iron canisters were designed to facilitate. With the bolted head, fuel can be inserted, cooled for a period, and later removed to be reprocessed. That is WHY they have a bolted head which is inferior to the welded heads that the US nuclear fleet uses. Unfortunately, Jimmy Carter unwisely outlawed reprocessing so we, as an industry, don’t need to use bolted heads, we double weld them shut…the way it ought to be done for permanent storage.

    Have your followers read the report from independent investigator, David Victor, which fully substantiates the reasons SCE chose the canisters they did, and utterly rejects the claims you and your followers make?

    How do you respond to David Lochbaum’s (Safety Engineer with the Union of Concerned Scientists) statement regarding your big issue with high burnup fuel? Here it is:

    “In this case, the self-serving conclusion by the researcher has spawned an army of activists around the country who contend that high burn-up fuel in dry storage is the greatest risk to humanity yet created. That’s so far from the truth that the truth could not be seen using the Hubble telescope (with a good lens).”

    Who do you suppose this army of activists could be and just what does it take to get through to them?

    I ask anti-nukes all the time if they have seen Pandora’s Promise. Rarely do they bother to answer. I’m sure I’ve asked you before, so I’m asking again…have you seen Pandora’s Promise, the pro-nuclear documentary produced by former anti-nukes? Is it not worthwhile to find out why former anti-nukes such as yourself, and still leaders in the environmental community, have ditched the solar fantasy (they’re still pro renewable, they just understand the impracticality of renewables solving the problem) in favor of nuclear reality?
    Have you seen all the links I’ve posted regarding the tremendous pollution from the manufacturing of solar panels and wind turbine blades? see below:

    http://www.businessinsider.com/solar-panel-makers-grappling-with-waste-2013-2

    http://www.businessinsider.com/a-chinese-solar-plant-is-shut-down-after-4-days-of-violent-protests-over-pollution-2011-9

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9HSQYZSiu34

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MSnzXo_1N-o

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tw2qlYxeSj4

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8tz9rrtRG8g

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QaP-NySKjeo

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/moslive/article-1350811/In-China-true-cost-Britains-clean-green-wind-power-experiment-Pollution-disastrous-scale.html

    http://tinyurl.com/q4r5cuz

    http://tinyurl.com/kc5wx8r

    http://tinyurl.com/oyka5l9

    http://tinyurl.com/pmpxvqp

    http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/wind-energy-firm-sues-block-bird-death-data-release/
    http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2010/03/are-your-solar-panels-toxic

    http://www.lowtechmagazine.com/2008/03/the-ugly-side-o.html

    https://www.stanford.edu/group/sjir/pdf/Solar_11.2.pdf
    http://spectrum.ieee.org/green-tech/solar/solar-energy-isnt-always-as-green-as-you-think

    Lastly, let me say without fear of contradiction, that nuclear power saves lives by NOT burning coal. It is worth repeating, nuclear power saves lives by not burning coal.

    http://www.giss.nasa.gov/research/briefs/kharecha_02/

    Deaths caused by other fuel sources http://www.newscientist.com/article/m

    European deaths due to coal use
    http://www.theguardian.com/environmen

    Indian deaths due to coal use
    http://india.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/0

    Deaths from coal in the US. http://www.catf.us/fossil/problems/po

    Although eenews is not a reliable source as far as I’m concerned, environmental activists seem to like it:

    http://www.eenews.net/stories/1059991738

  • Dick Davidson ( not a typo, just a name befitting his personality a lot more than the stupid one his Idiot parents came up with.) and any other maggot with legs that profited off the dangerous eyesore we residents of SoCal are endangered by, are stuck paying for removal of waste and toxic structure it’s self should be thrown in prison and have all their assets seized for participating in the nuclear waste nightmare we and generations to come are stuck with. He can babble on about how there is no danger from leaks, meltdown or Terrorist attack all he wants but all thinking persons KNOW he is full of “horse manure” between his ears and running uncontrollably from his keyboard lips. Go find a stick Dick, you know what to do with it.

    • Way to go Marc, you’ve really contributed to the conversation here…the way you usually do. I’m sure your anti-nuke pals are appreciative of the help you provide.

  • @ Donna and the anti-nuke cartel,

    “You have not addressed the main point of my response…”

    We’ve been over this before so I am here again to correct the misinformation you and your followers use to fool the public. Let me say here that I don’t personally care which canister or cask is used with the caveats that I prefer one that maximizes American job creation and that ALL information on choices made is accurate and complete. Here is where I immediately depart from Donna and the anti-nukes as they relay ONLY the information that supports their anti-nuke agenda. Information contrary to their narrative and that would be important for any citizen to consider, is ignored.

    Canisters can be repaired with remote welding OR they can be placed in another container…either solves the problem with the latter being the simpler solution. Donna and her followers consistently exaggerate perceived and real technical difficulties with anything nuclear. Her original claim was that canisters could leak in as little as 30 years, now that is down to 17. With regard to the tank at Koeberg South Africa, she conveniently neglects to say that the tank is filled with water heavily borated with boric acid, that it, like similar Tanks at San Onofre (which show no evidence of corrosion), sit outside in the environment at ambient temperature, fully exposed to the full effects of the environment including rain and wind. Canisters at San Onofre are encased in very thick, concrete shells that serve both as shielding and protection against missiles (flying objects) as well as the environment. The Holtec design SCE has chosen will be mostly underground!

    Similarly, her citing of the few salt particles on canisters at Diablo Canyon and her interpretation of its significance, is a gross exaggeration. As there has been no defined lower limit of salt deliquescence, any amount at all will fit the definition so that her statement “all the conditions of chloride stress corrosion are present” while literally true, is not to be interpreted by the impartial observer that these canisters are corroding; the salt content is far too low.

    All this is not to say these are not issues, they are and they have been addressed as Donna is fully aware since she has been involved in the discussions. So, when she states that “there is no plan in place to stop the radiation from being released into the environment” she is stating what she knows to be a lie. She is well aware of all the activities to address these issues but chooses to mislead the public with such claims. The public needs to know that none of these issues Donna raises have been observed in commercial spent fuel canisters. Despite the falsehood anti-nuke, Gene Stone, made to the contrary, NO commercial, spent fuel canisters have leaked nor has any gross corrosion been observed. These are “PROPOSED” problems that though unlikely, could occur and are being addressed with a variety of solutions. Should Donna tomorrow, magically lose her philosophical opposition to nuclear power, she could regale you with the efforts to mitigate this “proposed” problem; the fact that she chooses not to at this time says more about her philosophical attachment, than about facts relevant to the issue under discussion.

    Again illustrative of the exaggeration and outright falsehoods promulgated by Donna and the anti-nukes, is her statement above:

    “…they wanted to restart the broken Unit 2 reactor.”

    Unit 2 reactor was NOT broken, this is a materially FALSE statement! This is worth repeating. Her statement claiming Unit 2 reactor was broken is a materially FALSE statement. By orders of magnitude, Unit 2 Steam Generators did NOT experience the kind of wear observed in Unit 3. Though wear was greater than anticipated, it was still acceptable. Never-the-less, SCE took the conservative decision to place heavy cables inside and plug, every tube location where Unit 3 had experienced a problem. Unit 2 was not “broken” before this fix, nor after it, and the conservative decision was made to start Unit 2 but limit its power to 70%, a power level that no modeling in existence anticipated concerns. The NRC was fully engaged in and commended the efforts SCE made to address this issue. They fully supported the startup and it wasn’t until Barbara Boxer, on behalf of the anti-nukes (principally FOE), backed stabbed the workers at San Onofre and people of the state, getting the Atomic Safety Licensing Board to rule that limiting power to 70% required a license amendment…a process that could take a year. Approximately 1200 people have lost their jobs as a result of this foolishness.

    “Why should you believe Edison when they claim these thin canisters are safe?”

    No one has to believe Edison on this point; the NRC placed their seal of approval licensing both the canisters SCE already has, AND the canisters from Holtec, which SCE will use in the future. The canisters Donna and the anti-nukes wish SCE to get stuck with are neither licensed for storage (apart from Surry) nor for transportation in this country. Indeed, those who in the past have tried to get NRC approval for her European casks have failed. Should SCE choose a cask that the entire US industry has rejected AND risk not being able to transfer the fuel from San Onofre? Where is the guarantee that the NRC will license these cast iron casks and who, besides the anti-nukes, make the claim that the Areva or Holtec canisters are unsafe? (See canister testing on the Holtec International website under news and videos where 600 mph missiles are shot at canisters). See also the report by independent investigator and chairman of the Community Engagement Panel, Dr. David Victor, who concluded SCE made the right choice for spent fuel canisters, a stunning rebuke to the claims of the anti-nukes.

    http://www.holtecinternational.com

    There is much to say about the plethora of half-truths on Donna’s website a few of which she has been honest enough to remove. I do wish to say that I have no personal grudge against Donna and that she has always been friendly with me. I am uncomfortable with exposing those who have been thusly cordial, but she has mislead the people. I speak only and directly to that.

    Nuclear Power saves lives by not burning coal.

  • To Mr Marc Schroeder re SONGS, dave Davidson, etc:

    Your trolling post above is beneath my contempt. However, as far as dave Davidson’s bonafides on nuclear disposal and nuke power plant operation … I trusted him and his equally trained and disciplined coworkers for 23 years daily with my family’s income source (e.g. my life.)

    Yes, I was one of those *fill in blank with childish trolling adjective* nuke workers that heated your home, kept the a/c and refrigerator running, and made certain your lights came on when you needed them during floods, earthquakes and wildfires.

    dave Davidson earned my respect. Conversationalists such as yourself …. well … see first sentence.

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