Donna Gilmore, San Clemente

San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station’s (SONGS) nuclear waste thin-wall canisters can crack and leak in the short-term. Southern California Edison has no method to prevent or stop radioactive leaks. Edison and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) refuse to require proven thick-wall casks that can be inspected (inside and outside), maintained, repaired and monitored to prevent leaks—requirements we would expect for a car. The public and elected officials need to know they cannot trust the NRC nor Edison to protect our safety. SONGS spent fuel must be inspected and stored in thick-wall casks before it can be safely transported. To do otherwise risks permanent evacuation of our communities.

Fifty-three canisters are already loaded, some 15 years old, each holding roughly a Chernobyl nuclear disaster. The NRC admits once a crack starts it can grow through the wall in 16 years. If water enters canisters, they will go critical—an uncontrolled nuclear fission reaction. They assume there won’t be cracks by making the unbelievable claim there isn’t enough humidity at SONGS to corrode the metal, ignoring frequent fog and on-shore winds and surf.

A 2-year-old Diablo Canyon canister has conditions for cracking. No one knows if it’s cracked because they cannot inspect for cracks. A Koeberg nuclear plant tank leaked in 17 years. The NRC said these are comparable to SONGS canisters.

SONGS has high burnup fuel, which burns longer in reactors and causes fuel rods to become brittle. The NRC is still studying whether they will fail in transport. The NRC engineers said high burnup fuel in aging canisters must be inspected before transport. Edison has no way to inspect welded canisters. The NRC says canisters cannot be shipped with cracks. Edison cannot inspect for cracks.

High burnup fuel creates metal hydrides. Five percent air in canisters can trigger a hydrogen explosion.

Edison’s response is to ask their AREVA vendor to reduce safety standards (NRC Amendment 4) to reduce reporting radiation levels from outlet air vents, where radiation levels would be highest, and to demolish empty spent fuel pools as part of decommissioning to eliminate Edison’s only method to replace failing canisters.

Thick-wall casks are the only option. Learn more at

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comments (4)

  • Dishonest Donna still clinging to debunked reports

    @ Donna Gilmore

    “The Koeberg RWST operates near ambient temperature and pressure and is reported to be fabricated of 304L (A12).  The Tank is comprised of five different thicknesses of welded plates with the history of leakage shown in Table A-35 below.”

    The above is quoted from a 3/17 EPRI report (which I can view but not copy or paste). The table it refers to can be found in the link above on page 23.
    In Table A-35 of the EPRI study (or Table 3, at the above link), found on page A-51, we discover that ONLY the 5 mm plate experienced through-wall leakage in 16 years.  As of 2016, ie., 32 years after going into service, there has been no through-wall leakage in even the 13 mm section.  SONG’s canisters are 16mm.  Keep in mind that the canisters are made of 316L stainless steel (SS) which is of better quality (more corrosion resistant) than the 304L found at Koeberg. 

    In addition, according to this report, Koeberg’s RWSTs do not have a heat source (important in preventing this corrosion) and have no air flow past them as the canisters do.  The latter is important in reducing the deposition of salts.

    Furthermore, the industry has a great amount of experience with SS in marine environments having literally miles of pipes that have NOT experienced CISCC corrosion. The handful of examples where corrosion has occurred do NOT outweigh the vast quantity of SS that has not experienced corrosion particularly since those examples were in inferior stainless steels, penetrated shallower depths and had no heat source to inhibit corrosion.

    When Donna claims the NRC says canisters can leak in 16 years, she is lying. It is dishonest to cling to debunked reports simply because doing so undermines your narrative.

    Independent investigator and chairman of the CEP, Dr. David Victor, wrote a report where he discussed the issue of canister longevity. He said:

    “Based on an extensive review and re-review of all the evidence I don’t see any support for these rapid corrosion, cracking and through wall penetration scenarios. Moreover, I note that EPRI has recently released a report that examines exactly this scenario. That report looks at the scenario that would unfold after conditions for cracking had been established and after a crack had initiated. How long would it take for a crack, then, to travel through the walls if the crack were not detected and stopped? EPRI’s answer is about 80 years.”

    This is in agreement with the clip Donna posted elsewhere where in answer to her question, the NRC representative stated that AFTER the initiation of a crack (it takes years for crack initiation), it would take 86 years as a “most conservative” estimate, to go through wall. Begin at 29:15 for the relevant portion of this discussion.

    On page 21 of the MPR study linked at the top of this post, we find that the design life of these canisters is 60 years and that designed life is “based on the canister being exposed to the assumed worst case environmental conditions and represents the shortest expected canister lifetime.” Service life is listed as 100 years.

    So, contrary to Donna’s dishonest claims, the NRC actually told her that once a crack begins (it takes years to begin if it occurs at all), it would take 86 years as a “most conservative” estimate to go through-wall. View the NRC telling Donna this in the Youtube clip above.

    2nd, independent investigator and chairman of the CEP categorically stated in his report that after reviewing EPRI documentation, AFTER crack initiation, it would take about 80 years to go through- wall.

    In the MPR study found in the link at the top of this post, they conclude these canisters will last 100 years and that the new Holtec design, because they were laser peened to reduce the stress associated with CISCC, will likely NEVER undergo CISCC corrosion.

    The manufactures of these canisters state that under the “worst case environmental conditions”, they will last 60 years.

    The NRC, EPRI, MPR & Associates (who performed the MPR White paper), and the manufacturers of the canisters all have expertise in stainless steels and corrosion mechanisms. Engineer, Dr. David Victor, reviewed the literature and concurs with their findings. Then we have Donna Gilmore, with no formal training (that I am aware of) in the relevant disciplines necessary for an accurate assessment of canister longevity, claiming, based on a debunked report (the Koeberg Tank), that the canisters can fail in as little as 16 years.

    The unbiased can make up their own mind on who has the credibility and the educational gravitas to best inform the public on these issues. It seems an easy choice.

  • patricia borchmann Reply

    Public stakeholders in reactor communities near San Onofre appreciate Donna Gilmore’s technical comments in the LTE in San Clemente Times, to inform and educate those in our communities about the real new risks, and technical threats that SCE Edison has so far, concealed and failed to fully disclose. Over 8.7 million people living within 50 miles of San Onofre have been cheated, or duped by Edison officials, and consultants retained by Edison during series of 20 Community Engagement Panel (CEP) Meetings over past 4 years, and non-public internal IPC Interjurisdictional Panel Meetings since SONGS became operational during early 1980’s. Public stakeholders expect more, demand more, and deserve more from utility, CEP, and elected officials who have mandated duty to protect public health and safety. Public stakeholders don’t believe SCE Edison officials, CEP Panel chair David Victor, or elected officials who never object to grossly flawed analysis.

  • Patricia, your statement, “Public stakeholders in reactor communities near San Onofre appreciate Donna Gilmore’s technical comments…”

    Name the stakeholders who appreciate being lied to, given false statements or claims, or appreciate hyperbole.

    As to “technical comments”, is referring to the vessels of the world’s predominant choice of storing used nuclear fuel as “Chernobyl canisters” YOUR idea of these appreciated “technical comments”?

    Your statement, “…to inform and educate those in our communities about the real new risks, and technical threats that SCE Edison has so far, concealed and failed to fully disclose.”

    So what are these “technical threats” that SCE is supposed to be concealing? Are you claiming they’re concealing them from the NRC? EPRI? Independent investigator and chairman of the CEP, Dr. David Victor? The Engineering firm MPR & Associates?

    Are you also suggesting they’re all on the take or covering for SCE and the nuclear industry as Donna sometimes claims?

    Or is it more because their engineering expertise leads them to the opposite conclusion arrived at by anti-nuke zealots who have demonstrated their willingness to lie and/or make false claims? Do you need me to run through the rather lengthy list of lies and false statements made thus far by those who claim they’re only acting in the best interest of the public they lie to?

    Your statement, “…since SONGS became operational during early 1980’s.”

    Unit one went online in 1968. That’s right, SONGS has had nuclear fuel on site for 50 years and while anti-nukes have enjoyed the electricity they provided, they, nor anyone else, has ever been harmed in the slightest by this fuel’s presence.

    Public stakeholders expect more, demand more, and deserve more from those liars and deceivers in the anti-nuke community who claim to be speaking on their behalf.

    YOU don’t speak for public stakeholders and THIS public stakeholder doesn’t believe anything emanating from you, Donna, or the rest of the tin-foil hat crowd who object to ANY engineering analysis conflicting with their/your preordained narrative.

  • SCE spent fuel canisters’ service life is 100 years. Design life is 60 years.

    Donna claims that Edison is not addressing the concerns with CISCC corrosion of spent fuel canisters but that is precisely what laser peening of the welds is doing, addressing these concerns. SCE is, as far as I am aware, the first site to require a manufacturer to laser peen (this reduces the stress component in Chloride Induced, STRESS corrosion cracking). Donna knows this but dishonestly portrays Edison as unconcerned.
    The NRC, the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), and SCE have all spent enormous amounts of time and effort studying this phenomenon as Donna is well aware but doesn’t acknowledge.

    As far as inspections are concerned, the NRC typically licenses the canisters for 20 years following which an aging management system (which the NRC must approve) must be in place and a VISUAL inspection of the canister or canisters performed. This, of course, is contrary to Donna’s assertion that the NRC says canisters can leak in 16 years. Why would the NRC allow 20 years prior to visual inspection if they think the canister can leak in 16? The answer is that Donna’s claims are false. This is also demonstrated by the following video where in answer to Donna’s claims, the NRC unambiguously states that the best conservative estimate for a through wall crack once this crack initiates, is 86 years.

    Begin at 29:15 for the relevant portion of this discussion.

    Continuing on the discussion of inspections, if a canister or canisters is visually inspected and shows NO signs of corrosion, then there is no need for further evaluation (at this time). As discussed in the MPR White Paper below and in EPRI’s own studies, there are visual telltale signs of CISCC corrosion if it is present. This corrosion doesn’t magically appear with zero trace of its presence.

    Again, contrary to Donna’s narrative that there are no plans in case of a canister crack, through-wall or not, the MPR White Paper and EPRI studies both discuss methods of dealing with the said situation. The honest stakeholder would never know this if they only listened to Donna. In addition, here is an NRC study that goes into great detail on how non-destructive examinations (NDE), which include the Ultra-sound and Eddy-Current testing that are performed specifically to detect cracks, are done.

    In the abstract we find these statements:

    “…an assessment of bulk ultrasonic (UT) and eddy current (ECT) methods and techniques is performed for inspecting the surfaces of dry cask storage systems (DCSSs) canisters.”


    “UT and ECT methods and techniques are already used to inspect nuclear power plant components and this experience, along with their relative maturity, makes these methods and techniques likely frontrunners for near-term application to examination of dry storage canister surfaces.”

    The above report was from 5 years ago. In addition, EPRI gave the following demonstration at the 9/14/17 CEP:

    This video was shown demonstrating actual inspections:

    So, when Donna makes the statement, “Southern California Edison has no method to prevent or stop radioactive leaks.” the honest observer understands she is lying, or at a minimum, in error.

    Donna’s statement, “…thick-wall casks that can be inspected (inside and outside)…”

    Really? How do you inspect the inside of a cask full of fuel?

    Donna’s hyperbole, “To do otherwise risks permanent evacuation of our communities.”

    She has already risked and evacuated any semblance of integrity by her consistent false claims.

    Her claim, “If water enters canisters, they will go critical…”

    First, how is water going to get in? 2nd, it is called “spent” or “used fuel” for a reason. It could no longer maintain criticality in the Reactor and was why it was removed in the first place.

    Donna’s statement, “A 2-year-old Diablo Canyon canister has conditions for cracking. No one knows if it’s cracked because they cannot inspect for cracks.”

    The canister was visually inspected, it had ZERO corrosion on it and therefore did not merit further inspection for cracks. Even assuming this salt was on a weld, which it was not (a requirement for CISCC), it was an infinitesimal amount that Donna has exaggerated the significance of. Indeed, the MPR report linked above documented that the amount was .005 grams per square meter, below the threshold that EPRI has recommended for further inspections. When Donna presented this to the NRC suggesting it was something to be alarmed about, the NRC reply was that they disagreed.

    Donna has made a big deal about hi burn up fuel in the canisters. Here is what David Lochbaum, nuclear safety officer for the Union of Concerned Scientists (no friend of nuclear power), had to say on the subject:

    “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).”

    Any guesses as to who would be included in that “army of activists”?

    Donna’s statement, “The NRC engineers said high burnup fuel in aging canisters must be inspected before transport. Edison has no way to inspect welded canisters.”

    Does this statement even make sense? Donna is claiming the NRC has approved a process that cannot actually be done. Does she think the NRC are idiots or does Occam’s Razor apply here?

    Regarding her statement about metal hydriding and explosions, independent investigator, Dr. David Victor had this to say:

    “Results from an actual cask that has been allowed to leak slowly for 2 years show, as well, that intrusion of water and the formation of hydrogen gas can’t reach explosive levels (section 4.4.3, page 4-25). I learned two things from this work. First, there is simply zero basis for the highly emotive statements that I have seen in the press and various other locations for the view that long-term storage of the fuel on site at SONGS has put “another Fukushima” or “another Chernobyl” in our backyard. We do the public a disservice with such emotive language since it creates images that are not in any way rooted in the technical assessment of the real risks.”

    Who do you think the good doctor was referring to?

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