Tell Energy Commission: Don’t allow cracking nuclear waste canisters

Tell the California Energy Commission (CEC) to change state policy to require nuclear waste storage containers that won’t crack.

Some of California’s thin steel storage canisters may already be cracking and could have a through-wall crack within 8 years, releasing millions of curies of radiation into the environment. Thick cask technology is available internationally that does not have cracking problems and is designed to be maintained.

Submit comments by May 11, 2015 to CEC Docket 15-IEPR-12.  Please share and encourage others to submit comments. See suggested comments below.


Experimental Holtec HI-STORM UMAX vented underground storage

Southern California Edison plans to spent almost $1.3 billion of limited ratepayer San Onofre decommissioning funds to purchase and manage more of these inferior thin canisters even though they know the problems.

Edison plans to purchase an experimental underground version of this system (Holtec HI-STORM UMAX) that has never been used anywhere in the world. The underground concrete portion of the system cannot easily be inspected and can have corrosion from underground chemicals and moisture.  Your help is needed to stop this purchase.

Suggested comments to CEC Docket 15-IEPR-12:

To: California Energy Commission

Re: Docket 15-IEPR-12 Nuclear Power Plants

California thin spent fuel nuclear waste storage canisters may fail as early as 20 years after first loading.  For San Onofre this would be 8 years from now.  The CEC should include the following state policy recommendations and requirements.  (California Holtec and Areva NUHOMS thin dry storage canisters do not meet these requirements.)

The CEC state nuclear policy should include minimum California dry storage requirements to ensure adequate funding and storage for new 100+ year storage requirements. The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has cost jurisdiction, but the CEC can establish state policy on this issue, even though the CPUC may be the one to enforce some of this policy as it relates to cost.

1. Do not allow purchase of dry storage technology for California that does not meet these minimum requirements.

2. Maintainable – We do not want to buy these canisters more than once. Seals are maintainable, cracked canisters are not.

3. Early warning prior to failure and prior to radiation leaks.

4. Inspectable, repairable and not subject to cracking, particularly through-wall cracks.

5. Cost-effective for the expected life of the system and transportable.

6. Ability to reload fuel, if required, without destroying storage container.

7. Do not allow purchase of vendor promises – it’s not state policy to purchase non-existent features (e.g., vaporware). That is what we’re being asked to approve with the San Onofre Holtec contract.

8. Require bids from all leading international vendors to ensure the best storage technology available is evaluated and selected. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) must still license the system, but we should be able to select the one that is the most cost-effective and best suited to our environment.

9. Require replacement of existing thin canisters before the time period in which they may fail.

10. Store in hardened concrete buildings for additional environmental protection, similar to what is done in other countries, such as Germany.

11. Require a fully developed mitigation plan be provided by the utilities now.

12. Do not allow destruction of empty spent fuel pools until nuclear waste is removed from site. No other option is available to replace failed canisters.

13. Install continuous radiation monitors with on-line public access. Allow decommissioning funds to be used for this purpose.

14. Continue emergency planning and required funding until waste is removed from California.

See California’s Nuclear Waste Problems and Solutions, Donna Gilmore, IEPR Nuclear Power Workshop presentation, April 27, 2015

Thank you.

Print and share suggested letter to CEC.


Watch Dr. Singh, manufacturer of the Holtec canisters admit it 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.


At the Koeberg nuclear plant in South Africa, a similar welded steel component had a through-wall crack in 17 years.  The crack was over 0.60 of an inch (15.5 mm), deeper than the thickness of most of California’s spent fuel canisters. Thin canisters are only 0.5 to 0.625 of an inch thick. Thick casks, used internationally, are up to 20 inches thick.

NRC 08-05-2014 Slide 9 Power Plant with SCC

Southern California Edison quotes a 2014 EPRI report that claims a crack will not occur for over 80 years at San Onofre.  However, the EPRI report excluded the Koeberg plant.  It also excluded environmental conditions that were similar to both Koeberg and San Onofre and other West Coast plants: on-shore winds, crashing surf and frequent fog. These are conditions known to induce chloride-induced stress corrosion cracking.

A Diablo Canyon Holtec two-year old thin canister already has all the conditions for crack initiation. No technology exists to inspect for cracks in canisters filled with spent nuclear fuel, so no one knows if any canisters are cracking. We will only know after they leak radiation into the environment.  It’s up to California to take action on this issue.  The Nuclear Regulatory Commission continues to approve these thin canisters, in spite of these unresolved issues.  They approve them for 20 years and ignore any problems that may occur after 20 years, even though they may need to stay at current sites indefinitely.

Would you buy a car that couldn’t be inspected, repaired, maintained and provided no early warning of a pending failure?  That is similar to what Edison wants us to do. They want us to pay for promises of future solutions.  In state government, they call that “vaporware”. State agencies are not allowed to buy “vaporware”. Even the vendor admits it’s not feasible to repair the thin canisters.

The NRC is allowing the thin canister vendors 5 years to develop inspection technology, even though the best way to inspect for cracks cannot be done with canisters filled with spent nuclear fuel.

The NRC does not consider cost. That’s a state issue. So it’s up to California to make this decision. We cannot afford to buy dry storage systems more than once.

Reasons To Buy Thick Casks

Share this handout with your local, state and federal elected officials and othersReasons to buy thick nuclear waste dry storage casks and myths about nuclear waste storage, April 16, 2015

Learn more at

About Donna Gilmore

This entry was posted in Action Alert, California Energy Commission, CPUC, Diablo Canyon, Emergency Planning, How to Help, NRC, Nuclear Waste, PG&E, SDG&E, Senator Barbara Boxer, Southern California Edison, Video and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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