Are California and other U.S. nuclear waste canisters cracking?
No one knows because there is no technology to inspect or repair cracks in these thin stainless steel canisters.
Southern California Edison has no adequate plan to replace cracked canisters at San Onofre and their monitoring system only alerts us after the canisters leak radiation into the environment.
Edison plans to spend almost $1.3 billion of ratepayer funds to store over 1600 metric tons of San Onofre nuclear waste in thin 5/8” steel canisters that may crack within 20 years after loading. Existing canisters were loaded as early as October 2003.
The unproven Holtec UMAX underground storage system Edison plans to buy has never been used anywhere in the world. And the President of Holtec says it’s not feasible to repair these thin steel canisters. He also states even a microscopic crack will release millions of curies of radiation into the environment. In addition, the NRC and their concrete experts state the concrete base of underground storage system are at higher risk of failure (due to moisture and soil chemistry) and challenging to inspect.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) plans to license this UMAX system effective April 6, 2015, for low seismic areas, for 20 years, by ignoring known aging problems that may occur after 20 years! The NRC is requiring additional seismic analysis and a License Amendment before approving this system for high seismic areas such as San Onofre. However, the NRC has a history of approving nuclear power plants and storage canisters in high seismic areas, such as Diablo Canyon in San Luis Obispo County. And the NRC only requires evaluation of seismic risk on intact canisters, not canisters that may be cracking.
Conditions for cracking were found on a Diablo Canyon canister in service for only two years. The Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant is located near the Pacific Ocean in San Luis Obispo County. Salt in marine environments corrodes stainless steel and leads to cracks. Numerous other environmental factors can also corrode thin steel canisters, but the NRC has not evaluated those yet. More…
Take action now
- Share handouts
- Propose City Council Resolutions (see samples and handouts)
- Contact us to become more active
- Make presentations or host presentations
- Sign petition to STOP California from wasting million on inferior thin nuclear waste storage canisters that may crack within 30 years, and have no adequate method for inspection, repair or replacement. NOTE: Edison’s revised estimate to the CPUC for spent fuel storage and management is almost $1.3 billion dollars ($1,276,196,000). This assumes the Department of Energy will start taking the waste in 2024. However, Edison has provided no data to support this unlikely date. It also assumes the canisters will never crack and will never need to be replaced even though the NRC says the waste may be here indefinitely.
Current Regulatory Actions
- Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) – federal regulator
- Make comments to the NRC on Edison’s decommissioning plan Docket NRC-2014-0223 via email to email@example.com. Include Docket No. NRC-2014-0223 in subject line. For sample comments, see Comments submitted by SanOnofreSafety.org
- ML14269A033 – San Onofre Units 2 and 3 Post-Shutdown Decommissioning Activities Report (PSDAR). (36 pages), 9/23/2014
- ML14269A034 – San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, Units 2 and 3, Site Specific Decommissioning Cost Estimate. (93 pages), 9/23/2014
- ML14269A032 – San Onofre Unit 2 and 3 Irradiated Fuel Management Plan (IFMP), (12 pages), 9/23/2014
- Comments submitted by SanOnofreSafety.org, December 22, 2014
- California Public Utility Commission (approves funds)
- CPUC Scoping decision by Commissioner Florio, April 22, 2015
- Specifically, the Commission must determine if the applicants have
justified the Nuclear Decommissioning Cost Estimate, the proposed adjustments
to contributions to the Nuclear Decommissioning Trust, and processes for annual
review of decommissioning cost expenditures.
- Edison must also justify its proposed balancing account for unanticipated decommissioning costs, and SDG&E its share of the decommissioning costs and proposed revenue requirement.
- The reasonableness of the Nuclear Decommissioning Cost Estimates does
not include operational decisions, such as vendor selection or equipment
specifications, but does include the soundness of cost assumptions and
- Applicants serve supplemental testimony – May 11, 2015
- Intervenor Testimony served – July 15, 2015
- Rebuttal Testimony served – August 3, 2015
- Evidentiary Hearings – August 25, 26, and 27, 2015
- Specifically, the Commission must determine if the applicants have
- CPUC Pre-hearing conference video, April 2, 2015
- Donna Gilmore’s Pre-Hearing Conference Statement (A1412007), March 20, 2015
- Joint Application of Southern California Edison Company (U 338-E) and
San Diego Gas & Electric Company (U 902-E) for 2014 SONGS Units 2 & 3
Decommissioning Cost Estimate and Related Decommissioning Issues, December 10, 2014 (A1412007)
- SCE Testimony on the Nuclear Decommission of SONGS 2 & 3, December 10, 2014 (A1412007)
- Response to CPUC regarding San Onofre Decommissioning Plan and Costs (A1412007), January 9, 2015, submitted by SanOnofreSafety.org
- CPUC San Onofre decommissioning proceeding information. Enter A1412007
- CPUC Scoping decision by Commissioner Florio, April 22, 2015
- California Energy Commission (CEC) (sets energy policy)
- California’s Nuclear Waste Problems and Solutions slides, D. Gilmore, April 27, 2015
- Notice to Consider Adoption of Final 2014 Integrated Energy Policy Report Update Docket No. 14-1EP-1 February 25, 2015 10 a.m., Sacramento.
- Comments submitted to the CEC by SanOnofreSafety.org, February 6, 2015
- 2015 Integrated Energy Policy Report – make comments by 5/11/2015
- Suggested comments: Recommendations to CEC Docket 15-IEPR-12 Nuclear Power Plants
- California Coastal Commission (enforces Coastal Act)
- Video of May 14, 2015 and other Coastal Commission meetings
- Letter opposing Coastal Permit Waiver to Convert Spent Fuel Cooling System to chillers, May 14, 2015
- Proposed Coastal Permit Waiver to Convert Spent Fuel Cooling System to chillers (No. 9-15-0162-W), April 27, 2015
- Proposed Coastal Permit Waiver to replace SONGS current salt water cooling pumps with smaller dilution pumps, install 2 chillers that are not dependent on ocean water cooling, and reroute an effluent discharge pipe (No. 9-15-0417-W), May 4, 2015
- Reasons to buy thick nuclear waste dry storage casks and myths about nuclear waste storage, January 30, 2015
- San Onofre’s Decommissioning Plan is not what it’s cracked up to be, October 27, 2014
- Diablo Canyon: conditions for stress corrosion cracking in 2 years, October 23, 2014 Implications for San Onofre and other nuclear plants.
- Dry Cask Storage Issues, September 23, 2014
- Petition on Dry Cask Storage for CPUC Action
- San Onofre Dry Cask Storage Recommendations Summary, September 14, 2014
- Presentation: Dry cask storage – We cannot kick this can down the road, D. Gilmore, January 2015,
Reports and other Documents
- Response to CPUC regarding San Onofre Decommissioning Plan and Costs (A1412007), January 9, 2015
- Dry Cask Storage Issues, D. Gilmore, September 23, 2014
- Myths about Continued Storage of San Onofre Used Nuclear Fuel, D.Gilmore, January 2, 2015
- Premature failure of U.S. Spent Nuclear Fuel Storage Canisters, CPUC action needed, August 20, 2014
- Letter to Edison regarding dry cask storage system decision, August 24, 2014
- Dry Cask Storage Recommendations to Edison’s Community Engagement Panel (CEP), July 17, 2014
- High Burnup Nuclear Fuel — Pushing the Safety Envelope, January 2014
- NRC Press Release: August 26, 2014, NRC Approves Final Rule on Spent Fuel Storage and Ends Suspension of Final Licensing Actions for Nuclear Plants and Renewals
- NRC decision for indefinite on-site continued storage of nuclear waste
San Onofre’s nuclear reactors are shut down. However, thousands of metric tons of radioactive nuclear waste, such as Cesium-137 will remain in California for decades. San Onofre’s spent fuel contains 89 times the amount of Cesium-137 released from Chernobyl. The waste is not safely stored, putting us at risk for a major nuclear disaster. Please read these facts and share the information. The facts are from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and other government and scientific sources. More…
The (1/2 – 5/8 inch) thin stainless steel canisters storing radioactive nuclear waste at U.S. nuclear power plants may fail within 30 years. There is no current replacement plan. Waste may need to be stored at nuclear plants sites for over 100 years. Once canisters are loaded with waste, they are no longer inspected for aging or monitored for helium leaks. These are just some of the problems with U.S. dry storage systems. More…
This is SanOnofreSafety.org founder Donna Gilmore’s presentation to the NRC on dry cask nuclear waste storage issues, delivered by invitation as part of an NRC Regulatory Conference held Nov. 19-20, 2014 in Rockville, Maryland. Why are the NRC and Southern California Edison favoring inferior, short-lived, thin-walled, unsafe stainless steel canisters to store San Onofre’s tons of nuclear waste in a corrosive seaside environment instead of the long-lasting, thick-walled, top-of-the-line technology available?
Gilmore presents a strong case for regulators and utilities to take the lead in setting the highest possible standards for America’s growing inventory of radioactive waste that will remain deadly for hundreds of thousands of years longer than human civilization has yet existed. With no safe long-term storage sites having been found despite over half a century of attempts to find them, Gilmore urges officials not to ‘play bureaucratic roulette’ with the future of California and the rest of the nation.
Thanks to EON3 for producing this video. EON3 is a non-profit organization that can use your help to support producing more videos like these. Please donate to EON3 here.
Nuclear industry vendor, Areva, admits to having no answer to replacing failed nuclear waste storage canisters once spent fuel pools are destroyed. NRC admits to no current method to inspect for cracks in nuclear waste canisters.
More questions than answers regarding critical dry storage issues at the NRC November regulatory conference on nuclear waste.
Dr. Wolfgang Steinwarz, Executive Vice President of the German dry cask manufacturer Siempelkamp – whose highly robust nuclear waste storage containers are in use around the world (with only limited use in the U.S.) – explains how his company’s technology is setting a high international bar for safe, long-term radioactive waste containment. Dr. Steinwarz is an internationally renown expert in ductile cast iron technology. This is his presentation from the November 19-20, 2014 NRC Annual Regulatory Conference, held in Rockville, Maryland.
HIGH BURNUP FUEL: San Onofre and other U.S. reactors switched to more dangerous high burnup nuclear fuel over a decade ago. High burnup fuel is low enriched uranium that has burned longer in the reactor than lower burnup fuel.
It’s hotter and over twice as radioactive as lower burnup fuel and unpredictable and unstable in storage and transport. The protective Zirconium fuel cladding is more likely to become brittle and shatter.
The majority of spent nuclear fuel at San Onofre falls into the danger zone as shown by the yellow in this Waste at SONGS chart.
Burnup levels as low as 30 GWd/MTU show indications of damaging the protective Zirconium cladding.
Other U.S. nuclear plants have spent fuel that falls within the danger zone, including Diablo Canyon in San Luis Obispo County. More…
There is no approved method to safely store high burnup fuel in dry casks for more than 20 years. And there is no approved method to safely transport high burnup fuel waste. This fuel is so hot, it must cool in the spent fuel pools years longer than lower burnup fuel. Edison plans to store high burnup fuel in a new model dry cask that would make it even more dangerous. More….
The San Onofre Nuclear Power Plant has the worst safety complaint record of all U.S. nuclear reactors according to Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) safety allegation data. See charts for details. Employees are retaliated against for reporting safety problems. See Safety Allegations Section for details on this and other safety complaints by employees and others. More…
Southern California Edison wanted to restart the Unit 2 nuclear reactor without fixing the defective steam generators. Both reactors have been shut since 1/31/2012, when Unit 3 leaked radiation into the environment. All four poorly designed replacement steam generators show decades of tube wear after less than two years of installation — the worst in the nation.
The NRC concluded Southern California Edison was at fault. “…a significant design deficiency in replacement steam generators, resulting in rapid tube wear of a type never before seen in recirculating steam generators.” In the NRC’s 12/23/2013 Notice of Violation, they stated: “…design control measures were not established to provide for verifying or checking the adequacy of certain designs.”
Edison now admits the steam generators are lemons. However, they were willing to restart Unit 2 without repairing them. Edison and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) redesigned the steam generator tube anti-vibration system in order to increase profits. They removed the central stay cylinder in order to add about 400 extra tubes to each generator. Read Arnie Gundersen’s Fairewind Associates Report San Onofre’s steam generators: significantly worse than all others nationwide and 10/2/2014 NRC Office of Inspector General report where former NRC directors say the steam generators should never have been licensed. More…
California has excess power without California’s unreliable nuclear power plants, even during peak summer months, according to California government documents. There should be no power problems with San Onofre shut down, even during the summer. And the California ISO’s electricity grid Transmission Plan says there will be no grid stability concerns with San Onofre shut down. More…
The San Onofre and Diablo Canyon nuclear plants kill millions of fish and other marine life every year, due to their once-through cooling (OTC) systems. The Federal Clean Water Act §316(b) regulations declared OTC illegal. However, California is allowing both plants to continue OTC for years. More…. .
.Senator Barbara Boxer to NRC Commissioners
Four NRC Commissioners undermine safety. Rep. Darrell Issa appears to support them.
San Onofre, designed for a 7.0 earthquake, but has 8.0+ earthquake probability — 10x larger, 32x stronger, & overdue. Ratepayers funding $64 million in new seismic studies, even though the USGS states no scientist can predict the size of any earthquake. Some recent large quakes:
- Chile 4/1/2014 8.2 – 63x stronger
Nuclear meltdown at San Onofre would poison the nation’s food supply, create permanent “dead zones” and create financial ruin around the nation. If you live within 50 miles of San Onofre, you are at even higher risk of losing everything you care about here. Five counties are within the 50 mile zone: Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and San Diego.
There is no safe level of radiation, according to the National Academy of Sciences. Children, unborn babies and women are more susceptible to the effects of radiation. Ingesting radiation is extremely dangerous. More…
Tuna near San Diego was found to contain radiation from Japan. Kelp along the Orange County coast also contained Fukushima radiation. Radiation monitoring is inadequate. Government resources and priorities for radiation monitoring are too low to protect us. More…
The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster continues and radiation from Fukushima has traveled to the U.S., yet limited radiation data is available to the public. See NRC Fukushima Lesson’s Learned for status of what the NRC and U.S. reactors are doing [or not doing] to avoid similar problems.
What if the Fukushima nuclear fallout crisis had happened in California? These radioactive plumes from severe nuclear accidents were calculated by NRDC based on the actual weather patterns of March 11-12, 2011. The result on any given day will vary according to the type of reactor accident and on the prevailing weather patterns at the time. These plumes artificially extend only to 50 feet. Winds can carry them further. See NRDC interactive U.S. map.
Without public awareness and involvement this nuclear energy experiment will continue. Our government will only stop approving high burnup nuclear fuel if our elected officials know they will not be reelected if they support this nuclear energy experiment. We need better nuclear waste storage containers that are designed for safety over cost. We don’t need to live with these serious risks for energy we don’t need. See Energy Options.
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About San Onofre Safety (SOS)
This website is a self-funded public resource for creditable information about San Onofre Nuclear Power Plant safety issues, cost issues and related information. Much of the information is relevant to other nuclear power plants and their nuclear waste. The information was extensively research and fact checked by local citizens and organizations concerned about the risks from San Onofre and other nuclear power plants. By improving public awareness, our goal is to reduce the likelihood of a nuclear disaster in California and elsewhere. The San Onofre nuclear reactors and highly toxic radioactive waste storage facilities are located just south of San Clemente, California. Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant is located in San Luis Obispo county. California’s Humboldt and Rancho Seco nuclear reactors are shut down, but their highly toxic radioactive waste is stored on-site — indefinitely.
Southern California Edison decided to decommission the San Onofre nuclear reactors on June 7th, 2013, after the NRC’s Atomic Safety and Licensing Board said restarting the Unit 2 reactor would be a nuclear experiment.