All Holtec nuclear waste thin-wall canisters likely damaged from inferior Holtec downloading systems

All Holtec thin-wall stainless steel canisters (only 1/2″ to 5/8″ thick) are likely damaged from Holtec’s inferior canister downloading system. The downloading system lacks precision, resulting in metal to metal scraping and gouging of canister walls.  This significantly shortens the lifespan of Holtec thin-wall canisters. There are hundreds of these Holtec canisters installed around the U.S. 

In spite of this, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) continues to approve Holtec thin-wall canisters. The canisters are not designed to be inspected or repaired (inside or out), so the full extent of the gouging of the walls is unknown. Once cracks start in these canisters, they can grow through the wall in about 16 years, according to the NRC.  Cracks grow faster in hotter canisters.  In spite of knowing this, the NRC continues to approve hotter fuel in these canisters.

Holtec HI-STORM-100

Holtec HI-STORM 100 above ground system

Both the below ground and above ground Holtec thin-wall storage systems have inferior canister downloading problems that scrape and gouge canister walls.

A carbon steel MPC (canister) guide ring, located inside the cavity of each below ground HI-STORM UMAX storage hole, unavoidably gouges the walls of the thin-wall stainless steel canisters the entire length of the canister (per the NRC).  The HI-STORM UMAX system is used at San Onofre and Callaway. It is also proposed for the New Mexico Holtec Consolidated “Interim” Storage facility, pending NRC approval.

The above ground Holtec HI-STORM 100 system uses a series of carbon steel vertical MPC guide channels instead of a guide ring. These channels scrape the canister walls the entire length of the canister.  See figure of vertical channels located inside each concrete shell of the HI-STORM 100 system.


PDF page 822:  Figure 3.A.12 inner shell and vertical channels finite-element model (3-D view)

The NRC refuses to cite Holtec for the UMAX HI-STORM canister wall damage in spite of admitting the NRC would not have approved the system if they had known there would be metal to metal contact between the canisters and the MPC guide rings.  

Also, the NRC states the carbon steel guides deposit carbon particles on the stainless steel canister walls, resulting in pit corrosion cracking. This is one more of many conditions that can cause early failure of these thin-wall nuclear pressure vessels.  


Holtec HI-STORM 100 vertical MPC guide channels attach to interior of carbon steel lined concrete cask. Channels scrape stainless steel canister walls and embed corrosive carbon particles as canister is lowered into cask (due to inferior Holtec loading system design). Cutaway shows only partial length of channels (near bottom).

The HI-STORM 100 Final Safety Analysis Report (FSAR) – ML16138A100 shows there is only 9/16th of an inch clearance between the thin-wall canister and the vertical MPC (canister) guide channels. Due to the lack of a precision downloading system, the canister walls are unavoidably scraped the entire length of the canister walls.  The inside channel diameter is 69-4/8 inches and the outer MPC (canister) diameter is 68-3/8 inches, leaving only only 1-1/8 inches difference. This results in only 9/16th of an inch clearance around the canister.


All nuclear waste legislation should be halted until this critical safety issue is resolved. Proposed legislation that promises to transport waste to consolidated interim storage (CIS) facilities will no more solve the nation’s nuclear waste storage problem that rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic would have stopped it from sinking.

All thin-wall canister systems must be replaced with thick-wall metal cask systems that have ASME N3 Nuclear Pressure Vessel certification. Instead, the NRC approves numerous exemptions to these minimum American Mechanical Standards and to NRC nuclear storage and transport regulations.

Details and additional references at and SOS Holtec Nuclear Waste webpage.

Reference:  HI-STORM 100 Final Safety Analysis Report (FSAR), Non-Proprietary Revision 13, March 31, 2016, NRC Docket No.: 72-1014  Holtec Report No.: HI-20024444 (ML16138A100)  

FSAR PDF page 78:   All MPCs [canisters] have identical external diameters. The outer diameter of the MPC is 68-3/8 inches and the maximum overall length is approximately 190-1/2 inches. See Section 1.5 for the MPC drawings. Due to the differing storage contents of each MPC, the maximum loaded weight differs among MPCs. See Table 3.2.1 for each MPC weight. However, the maximum weight of a loaded MPC is approximately 44-1/2 tons. Tables 1.2.1 and 1.2.2 contain the key system data and parameters for the MPCs. Dimensions discussed in this section are considered nominal values…

FSAR PDF page 79: Channels.  A single, base HI-STORM overpack design is provided which is capable of storing each type of MPC. The overpack inner cavity is sized to accommodate the MPCs. The inner diameter of the overpack inner shell is 73-1/2 inches and the height of the cavity is 191-1/2 inches. The overpack inner shell is provided with channels distributed around the inner cavity to present an inside diameter of 69-1/2 inches. The channels are intended to offer a flexible medium to absorb some of the impact during a non-mechanistic tip-over, while still allowing the cooling air flow through the ventilated overpack. The outer diameter of the overpack is 132-1/2 inches. The overall height of the HI-STORM 100 overpack is 239-1/2 inches…

FSAR PDF page 85: Channels.  The storage overpack provides an internal cylindrical cavity of sufficient height and diameter for housing an MPC. The inner shell of the overpack has channels attached to its inner diameter. The channels provide guidance for MPC insertion and removal and a flexible medium to absorb impact loads during the non-mechanistic tip-over, while still allowing the cooling air flow to circulate through the overpack. Shims may be attached to channels to allow the proper inner diameter dimension to be obtained…

FSAR PDF page 700: During fabrication the channels are attached to the inner shell by one of two methods, either the channels are welded directly to the inner shell or they are welded to a pair of L-shaped angles (i.e., channel mounts) that are pre-fastened to the inner shell. The results presented in Figures 3.4.16a [PDF page 741] and 3.4.16b [PDF page 742] bound the results from both methods of attachment…



Posted in Action Alert, holtec, NRC, Nuclear Waste, PG&E, Southern California Edison | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

1/24/2019 NRC meeting on defective San Onofre Holtec nuclear waste storage system


SCE system is a lemon. All canisters loaded are damaged.

On January 24th the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) will hear Southern California Edison’s (SCE) reasons to continue to load 44 more Holtec nuclear waste canisters, even though they know every thin-wall canister loaded in the Holtec nuclear waste storage  system will likely, by their own admission, be damaged.  SCE already loaded and damaged 29 canisters.

Register for the January 24th, 12:00PM to 5:00 PM PST webinar here

Meeting details: NRC to Conduct Pre-Decisional Enforcement Conference via Webinar on Special Inspection at San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station

Sign petition to recall and replace San Onofre defective thin-wall canisters with proven thick-wall casks

On August 3, 2018 Holtec almost dropped a highly radioactive San Onofre thin-wall nuclear waste storage canister 18 feet.

It is important to note, these Holtec engineering design problems cannot be fixed with training and procedures. The Holtec HI-STORM UMAX system is flawed and the NRC should be held responsible for citing Holtec accordingly.  Both Holtec and SCE should be held accountable for this defective and unsafe Holtec system.  Alarmingly, this conference is only addressing SCE’s role in these safety problems.

Holtec and SCE knew there were problems with the Holtec downloading system design, but continued to load canisters until they almost dropped a canister 18 feet.  They did not issue a required Event Notification Report to the NRC until 43 days after the “near miss” event, and only after a whistleblower, David Fritch, share the information with the public at an SCE meeting.

Instead of replacing this defective system with a proven thick-wall dry cask storage system, Edison plans to load and gouge the walls of 44 more Holtec thin-wall canisters.

Again, by admission, the NRC cannot determine how bad the gouges are. They admitted to the NRC Commissioners that they do not have the technology to find, measure or characterize canister defects, such as cracks, gouges and other wear marks.  They need this in order to determine the impacts of these defects.  NRC 10/11/2018 Commission Meeting Transcript, pp 104-105

The NRC admits gouged canisters are a problem. Gouges significantly shorten the life of a canister and can lead to leaks and hydrogen explosions. They admit there is no way to stop gouging of the canister walls with this Holtec system. NRC 11/8/2018 Webinar Transcript, pp 50-51

The NRC promises of future solutions to find and repair cracks and to replace failing canisters is unacceptable. Special Inspection Activities Regarding Cask Loading Misalignment NRC website

Clearly those promises are not based on evidence. Detailed measurements and analysis are required.  San Onofre Nuclear Waste Problems, Tom English, PhD Samuel Lawrence Foundation Subrata Chakraborty, PhD UCSD, Dept. of Chemistry and Biochemistry Rear Admiral Len Hering Sr. USN (ret), January 2019

Even Holtec President, Kris Singh, admits on this video that even if you could find cracks, and in the face of millions of curies of radionuclides being released, find a way to repair them, it’s not feasible. Transcript of Singh video statements.

Neither the NRC, SCE or Holtec have a plan in place should something go wrong with the canisters. Worse, the NRC falsely assumes nothing will go wrong.  That is an assumption that should never be presumed. By their own actions, we should no longer trust the NRC, SCE and Holtec to protect our safety.

The clearance between each 54-ton canister and the protruding steel guide ring in the storage hole is only 1/4″.  The Holtec canister loading system causes each canister to swing widely as the workers attempt to download the canister past a steel guide ring.  Since the “fine tuning” of the location of the canister is controlled by the tank-like Vertical Cask Transporter it is impossible to insert the canister into the storage cavity without gouging the sides of the canisters.

Each canister holds roughly the amount of highly radioactive Cesium-137 and other radionuclides that were released during the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

The NRC conference of January 24th will be with representatives of SCE to discuss preliminary findings of a Special Inspection the NRC conducted at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station following the August 3rd fuel-loading incident. The meeting will be held from 2-5 p.m., Central Time at the NRC’s Region IV office at 1600 E. Lamar Blvd., Arlington, Texas. It is open to public observation and will be broadcast via webinar. NRC officials will answer questions submitted via the Internet from the public following the business portion of the meeting. Interested members of the public should register for the webinar. After doing so a confirmation e-mail will be sent with details for joining the webinar via computer or mobile device. There is also an option to listen via a phone bridge; however, participants must first register for the webinar to obtain the phone bridge number. No decision on the final safety significance of the findings identified in a November 28 inspection report or any additional NRC actions will be made at the conference. That decision will be announced at a later date.

For more information on San Onofre and Holtec nuclear waste storage problems, go to

Sign petition to recall and replace San Onofre defective thin-wall canisters with proven thick-wall casks.

Press Release 2019 Jan 24 2pm. pdf



Posted in Action Alert, Events, holtec, NRC, Nuclear Waste, Press Release, Southern California Edison, Whistleblower | 1 Comment

1/23-24/2019: NRC ASLB Holtec New Mexico CIS Nuclear Waste meeting


San Onofre HI-STORM UMAX system should be recalled. Don’t build another one in New Mexico.

On January 23rd and 24th at 8AM to 4PM PST the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Atomic Safety and Licensing Board (ASLB) holds oral arguments on the Holtec Spent Fuel Storage application for the proposed New Mexico Consolidated Interim Storage (CIS) nuclear waste storage facility.

Listen-only call-in number:
888-790-1895 and passcode 5046496

This is the same defective Holtec HI-STORM UMAX dry storage system design used at San Onofre. The NRC admits this Holtec system unavoidably gouges the walls of all thin-wall canisters as they are being downloaded into the Holtec storage holes. The NRC said this is an engineering flaw that cannot be fixed with procedures or training and yet the NRC does not plan to cite Holtec for this problem.  Gouges, cracks and other “wear marks” can lead to failure of the canisters.

Each canister holds roughly the amount of radioactive Cesium-137 and other radionuclides as released from the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

Canisters will not only be gouged when they are downloaded, they will be gouged again when they are retrieved from the storage holes.  Then canisters will be gouged again as they are loaded in the proposed New Mexico Holtec UMAX system.

If canisters arrive leaking in New Mexico, Holtec’s plan is to return them to sender.  Neither the proposed Holtec New Mexico facility nor the San Onofre facility has a system in place to prevent or deal with leaking canisters.  Unbelievably, the NRC finds this acceptable.

This Holtec system is a lemon and should be recalled. Instead of wasting time and money on evaluating another Holtec system, the NRC should focus on recalling this system and revoking both Holtec and SCE licenses for this system.  Sign petition to recall and replace San Onofre defective thin-wall canisters with proven thick-wall casks.

NRC ACRS Holtec New Mexico CIS proceeding details

Location: State Bar of New Mexico, 5121 Masthead NE, Albuquerque, NM
Mountain Standard Time: 9:00AM to 5:00PM

See details on the many San Onofre Holtec System problems and on the many CIS safety issues at


Posted in Action Alert, holtec, NRC, Nuclear Waste, Press Release, Southern California Edison | 3 Comments

NRC ignores Holtec design problem that gouges walls of all San Onofre nuclear waste canisters


Michael Layton, NRC Director of Spent Fuel Management Division

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) admitted today they plan to ignore the Holtec engineering design problems that cause gouges in the walls of all San Onofre nuclear waste storage canisters. So far 29 canisters are loaded.  An additional 44 canisters are planned for loading states Southern California Edison.

At today’s NRC Pre-decisional Enforcement Conference (PEC) with Holtec regarding the defective basket shim design, Michael Layton, NRC Director of Spent Fuel Management Division, disclosed the NRC does not plan to investigate Holtec for the defective San Onofre Holtec dry storage system even though the NRC admits the downloading system unavoidably gouges the walls of all canisters loaded.

The Holtec HI-STORM UMAX dry storage system is a lemon and must be recalled.  Sign and share petition to our federal elected officials to demand the Holtec system be recalled and replaced with a proven thick-wall cask system.

The decision by the NRC to ignore these Holtec design problems shows the cozy relationship between the NRC and Holtec.  The NRC protects Holtec instead of our safety. The fact the NRC would approve a Holtec dry storage system that gouges the walls of every canister loaded is an outrage.  Even more outrageous is the fact they plan to continue to allow this, risking the safety, security and financial well being of California residents. They also risk destabilizing the California and national economy and security.  The NRC, Holtec and Southern California Edison need to be investigated for jeopardizing our safety, security and economic well-being.

Today’s January 9th, 2019 meeting was about numerous Holtec violations regarding a defective basket shim design that was not approved by the NRC.  San Onofre has four MPC-37 canisters loaded with this defective design. No one knows the condition of the shim pins in these.

Vermont Yankee and the Columbia Generating Station have MPC-68M canisters loaded with the defective basket shim design.  Holtec states 22 MPC-68M canisters were loaded before they knew about the problem.  Instead of recalling the rest of these, 16 more defective canisters were loaded. The NRC did not stop Holtec from loading these additional 16 canisters.

The majority of these canisters were not inspected for defective shims before loading, so no one knows the condition of the shim pins.  NRC regulations require empty canisters be inspected inside and out before loading them with the highly radioactive spent nuclear fuel assemblies.  This was not done. Tom Palmisano, Southern California Edison Chief Nuclear Officer, stated Holtec did not have the tools to inspect the bottom inside of the canisters.


At today’s meeting, the President of Holtec, Kris Singh, blamed everyone but himself for this defective design.  The NRC-approved Holtec technical specifications state the basket shims are required for cooling of the system to prevent fuel damage and to prevent the fuel from going critical (an uncontrolled nuclear reaction).  Singh claimed the shims were not a safety system in order to justify using the 10 CFR 72.48 process that allows licensee’s to make changes without NRC approval.  This new defective design resulted in thin 4″ long pins bending or falling out of the the bottom of the tall hollow aluminum basket shims.

The NRC said the level of violation Holtec will receive may take into consideration other Holtec violations.  However, the issue regarding the defective Holtec loading system at San Onofre wasn’t mentioned by the NRC, but the public raised it in today’s meeting. The public was shocked the NRC refused to investigate Holtec for this major engineering design flaw.

The NRC cut off public comment even though there was plenty of time left in the meeting and many more people wanted to make public comments.  The NRC stopped the recorded testimony before public comments.

The NRC also ignored Holtec’s role in the almost drop of a San Onofre canister 18 feet — also due to a defective Holtec engineering design.  The NRC-approved technical specifications state a canister drop of more than 11 inches requires opening a canister for damage to the fuel. It also states a drop of a canister in a storage hole (vault) is impossible to happen — yet an almost 18 foot drop doesn’t require an investigation of Holtec?

This is the same Holtec HI-STORM UMAX dry storage system Holtec wants to build in New Mexico.

Our elected officials around the country need to know the NRC is not doing their job to protect our safety.  They need to know about Holtec’s inferior design and quality control.  Learn more about Holtec design and quality control problems here.

Watch David Fritch, nuclear safety worker whistleblower, discuss problems with Holtec at San Onofre.   David Fritch transcript of statements.

Watch Kris Singh admit even a microscopic through wall crack in one of these canisters will releases millions of curies of radionuclides into the environment.  He also states it is not feasible to repair these canisters, even if you could find the cracks.

Each canister costs roughly $1 million (not including labor or the storage hole system).  Southern California Edison refused to provide a copy of the contract for this system, even though ratepayer funds paid for it.  There is also no warranty for this system, other than for manufacturing defects.  If Edison chooses to keep this system in spite of known defects, even that warranty is void.

Please sign and share petition and share this post with others including your local, state and federal elected officials.  Holtec systems and other thin-wall canister systems must be recalled and replaced with proven thick-wall cask systems that do not have these problems.

See two-page dry storage inventory to see whether you have thin-wall canister systems in your state.



Posted in Action Alert, holtec, NRC, Nuclear Waste, Press Release, Southern California Edison, Video, Whistleblower | 2 Comments

11/29/2018: NRC admits San Onofre Holtec nuclear waste canisters are all damaged

The Holtec nuclear waste storage canisters at San Onofre are lemons and must be replaced with thick-wall casks.


11/29/2018 Oceanside:   The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) admits in their November 28, 2018 NRC Inspection Report and Notice of Violation, ML18332A357 (page 8 and 9) every Holtec canister downloaded into the storage holes is damaged due to inadequate clearance between the canister and the divider shell in the storage hole (vault).  The NRC states canister walls are already “worn”.  This results in cracks. Once cracks start, they continue to grow through the wall.

The NRC stated Southern California Edison (and Holtec) knew about this since January 2018, but continued to load 29 canisters anyway.  Edison’s August 24, 2018 press release states they plan to finish loading mid 2019.

The NRC states Edison must stop loading canisters until this issue is resolved.  However, there is no method to inspect or repair cracking canisters and the NRC knows this.

Instead, the NRC should admit the Holtec system is a lemon — a significant defective engineering design — and revoke both San Onofre and Holtec dry storage system licenses.

The NRC should require all San Onofre thin-wall canisters be replaced with thick-wall transportable storage casks.  These are the only proven dry storage systems that can be inspected, maintained, repaired and monitored in a manner to prevent major radiological releases and explosions.

California state agencies should revoke San Onofre permits and withhold Decommissioning Trust Funds until these issues are resolved.

The Navy should consider revoking the San Onofre Camp Pendleton lease until Edison agrees to replace thin-wall canisters with proven thick-wall transportable storage casks.  This is a national security issue. If the NRC cannot do their job, maybe it’s time to bring in the Marines. The Navy has nuclear experts.

Sign petition to recall and replace San Onofre defective thin-wall canisters with proven thick-wall casks

YellowRadioactiveWarningAttend November 29th SONGS Community Engagement Panel meeting. Tell the NRC and Edison:
The Holtec thin canister system is a lemon and must be replaced. Demand they replace all thin-wall canisters with proven thick-wall casks before it’s too late. Ratepayers didn’t pay for lemons.  

  • QLN Conference Center, 1938 Avenida Del Oro, Oceanside, CA 92056
  • November 29, 2018 5:30 PM – 8:30 PM
  • More meeting details at website

The San Onofre beachside nuclear waste storage systems are defective and must be replaced to prevent nuclear disaster in Southern California and beyond.  This and the other thin-wall canister storage system at San Onofre pose a clear and imminent danger to the health and lives of the citizens, and pose potential financial, security and ecological disaster for the state of California, and beyond. State and federal elected officials and commissioners need to take immediate action to ensure Southern California Edison:

  1. STOPS loading highly radioactive fuel waste into the defective Holtec storage system and REJECTS Holtec nuclear storage system.  It’s a lemon and cannot be fixed with procedures and training.
  2. REPACKAGES all San Onofre nuclear fuel waste into proven maintainable thick-wall transportable storage casks in order to avoid major radiological disasters in Southern California.
  3. MOVES the new thick-wall casks to higher ground, away from coastal flood hazards, and stores them in reinforced buildings.
    Step 2 must be done BEFORE Step 3.

The current storage system puts the public at risk. Nuclear waste stored in thin-wall steel canisters (only 5/8″ thick) cannot be inspected, repaired or safely transported. Thin-wall canisters crack, but technology does not exist to inspect for cracks or repair cracks once canisters are filled with highly radioactive nuclear fuel waste.

The President of Holtec has stated a through-wall crack will release millions of curies of radionuclides and it’s not practical to repair them, even if you could find the cracks. 


Camp Fire smoke spread with the wind across the country. Radioactive particles will do the same, but are invisible.

Yet, they have no plan in place  to stop or contain a cracking, radiation-leaking, and potentially exploding canister.

Each canister contains roughly a Chernobyl nuclear disaster.  Once canisters explode, the radionuclides will travel with the wind, similar to how smoke traveled with the California Camp Fire.
NOAA Camp Fire Map Video.









San Onofre Wind Rose Chart (wind directions - annual frequency) San Diego Nuclear Power Plant Emergency Response Plan 2011 Draft

San Onofre Wind Rose Chart (wind directions – annual frequency). Source data: San Diego Nuclear Power Plant Emergency Response Plan 2011 Draft

Donna Gilmore  949-204-7794
Torgen Johnson  858-342-1664

Handout:  NRC admits San Onofre Holtec nuclear waste canisters are all damaged, November 29, 2018

Posted in Action Alert, California Coastal Commission, California Energy Commission, CPUC, Events, holtec, NRC, Nuclear Waste, Press Release, Southern California Edison | 22 Comments

San Onofre defective Holtec nuclear waste storage system is a lemon and must be recalled


Holtec UMAX lid with lower inlet air vents and upper (round) outlet air vent.

The Holtec nuclear waste dry storage system (Hi-STORM UMAX) is a lemon and is putting California’s safety, economy and security at great risk. It must be recalled. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), Southern California Edison, California Coastal Commission (CCC), and California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) must reject this system on both safety and financial grounds.  They cannot make lemonade out of this lemon. 

Congress must stop focusing on where to transport this unsafely stored nuclear waste and mandate the NRC do their job of protecting our safety.  Pending federal legislation  removes current storage and transport nuclear waste safety requirements, encouraging systems like this to be built, such as a similar one proposed by Holtec in New Mexico (pending state approval and removal of state and federal environmental and other rights).


San Onofre (SONGS) has 89 times the Cesium-137 released from the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster. R. Alvarez

Since Holtec started loading the San Onofre highly radioactive spent nuclear fuel waste into Holtec thin-wall canisters (only 5/8″ thick), there have been numerous Holtec engineering failures that have not and likely cannot be fixed.  Each thin-wall stainless steel canister holds roughly a Chernobyl nuclear disaster. The NRC doesn’t even require pressure monitoring or pressure relief valves in these pressure vessels.

The NRC is investigating numerous Holtec failures at San Onofre, but has yet to issue a final investigation of these engineering failures.  If it wasn’t for whistleblowers, we would not know about any of these serious safety problems that are still unresolved — and likely cannot be solved with this defective Holtec system.

Instead of requiring Holtec take their defective system back, as they likely can do under their limited manufacturing defect warranty, Edison plans to continue loading canisters in order to destroy the spent fuel pools as soon as possible.  The pools cost them millions in overhead costs every year.

Edison also wants to access the over $4 billion in ratepayer Decommission Trust Funds in order to destroy the pools and the rest of the reactor facility (except for the dry storage systems), yet have no other method to replace failing canisters.

10ReasonsToUseThickNuclearWasteStorageCasksDecommission Trust Funds would be better spent replacing the defective thin-wall canister systems with proven thick-wall cask technology used throughout the world. Thick-wall cask systems are 10″ to 19.75″ thick and can be inspected, maintained, repaired and monitored to prevent radioactive leaks and hydrogen gas explosions. They meet Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board (NWTRB) December 2017 recommendations to the United States Congress and the Secretary of Energy, regarding Management and Disposal Of US Department Of Energy Spent Nuclear Fuel, Executive Summary, page 7 – 9. They also meet Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982 safety requirements.

Instead, Holtec and Edison are advocating for H.R. 3053 (pending in the US Senate) and other bills that would remove critical safety requirements for both storage and transport and remove a number of federal and state rights, including transparency, input and oversight. The House already approved this bill, under the misguided assumption they can trust the NRC to protect our safety. The bill would allow the DOE to take title to the waste at the current San Onofre site, eliminating Edison’s liability and responsibility for this mess they created.  All funding for waste management is currently mandatory.  This unfunded bill makes funding discretionary with Congress.

Edison plans to load a total of 73 Holtec canisters at the beach on Camp Pendleton.  There are 29 Holtec canisters already loaded with nuclear waste that are likely already cracking from the defective loading system. The NRC states once a crack starts in stainless steel it can grow through the wall in 16 years.  In hotter canisters, cracks can grow faster.  The NRC assumption that cracking will not start for at least 30 years ignores these canisters may already be cracked from the Holtec loading system (pit corrosion cracking by mechanical means) and the EPRI evaluation of a two-year old Diablo Canyon canister that showed it had a low enough temperature for corrosive salt to dissolve on the canister, one of the triggers for crack initiation.  The NRC is planning to “investigate” this issue, eventually.

HOLTEC FAILURE #1: Canister #29 almost dropped 18 feet due to a defective loading system design. Edison hid this information from the public. A whistleblower, David Fritch, spoke at an Edison public meeting about this once he saw Edison was hiding this from the public.  Fritch, Edison and the NRC admit this canister could have fallen 18 feet into the hole. The canister was hanging by a 1/4″ on a canister [MPC] Guide ring ledge located about 4 feet down from the top of the hole. This is a bad engineering design that cannot be fixed with training and procedures. The NRC admitted on the November 8, 2018 webinar that Holtec knew about the bad guide ring design, but did not fix this problem before delivering the system to San Onofre.

Edison temporarily stopped loading canisters, but downplayed the risk.  Edison did not shared these facts with the public:

  • If a canister drops more than 11 inches inside a transfer cask, contents must be inspected (ML003711865), page 3-10 Accidental Drop).
  • Each canister is approximately 49- tons, according to the NRC August 24, 2018 San Onofre Inspection Report (ML18200A400). The San Onofre Holtec canister is not in a transfer cask when it’s lowered in the storage hole, so even an over 11 inch canister drop has not been analyzed, as stated by the NRC: “It was estimated that the canister could have experienced an approximately 17-18 foot drop into the storage vault if the canister had slipped off the metal flange [MPC Guide] or if the metal flange failed. This load drop accident is not a condition analyzed in the dry fuel storage system’s Final Safety Analysis Report (FSAR).”  NRC Inspection Charter to Evaluate the Near-Miss Load Drop Event at San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, August 17, 2018 (ML18229A203)

HOLTEC FAILURE #2: Canister #30 was in the queue for moving to a storage hole, but is now stuck in limbo in a transfer cask in the Unit 3 fuel handling facility. The NRC and Edison refuse to tell us how they are keeping this canister from overheating.  Canisters require either air cooling or water cooling.  Transfer casks are not designed to cool and store these hot canisters that are 200 to 300 degrees Celsius (just under 30kW).  The transfer casks only function is to transfer a canister from the pool to a Holtec storage hole (vault).

There are already 51 aging San Onofre thin-wall canisters previously loaded from another vendor that are up to 15 years old.

Intergrain Stress Corrosion CrackingNone of these or any other welded thin-wall canisters have ever been inspected for cracks, because they cannot be inspected for cracks or repaired once loaded with highly radioactive nuclear waste. The nuclear industry and government have spent millions of dollars and wasted limited resources over the last 27 years to figure this out, yet still no solutions.  It’s a bad design they need to be abandoned before it’s too late.

Even Holtec President, Kris Singh, admits it isn’t practical to repair these canisters, even if you could find the cracks and a way to repair them.   Singh statement transcript.

At the October 11, 2018 NRC Commissioner briefing, an NRC employee admitted to the Commissioners they currently are still trying to figure out how to identify surface defects and how to characterize them in the canisters.  Commissioner David A. Wright asked NRC engineer, Christian Araguas, the status of industry efforts to find a way to repair, mitigate and inspect [the outside] of these canisters. Araguas said ” I think we have confidence in the industry and the direction they’re going to be able to inspect these in the future.”  After over 27 years of trying, it’s unclear why anyone would have confidence in the ability to inspect, let alone repair.  Instead, the NRC approves elimination of pools once all fuel is in dry storage — eliminating the only method to replace cracking canisters.  Instead they should mandate nuclear waste containers that are not vulnerable to these cracking risks and that can be inspected (inside and out), maintained, repaired and monitored to prevent leaks and explosions.

If fresh water enters the canister through cracks, the canister can go critical, per this NRC document ML13032A008. At the November 8, 2018 webinar on these issues, the NRC staff is apparently not aware of this.

shim-designsHOLTEC FAILURE #3: Holtec loaded fuel in four canisters with defective basket shims. Shims are required to prevent criticality, damage and overheating of the fuel assemblies. Edison said they cannot unload the nuclear fuel back into the pool because the fuel is loaded too hot to return to the pool — even though the ability to unload fuel back into the pool is a requirement of Condition 8 of their NRC license. The NRC is ignoring these issues and pretending Edison can return fuel to the pool.


UMAX Holtec Shield Ring in the canister storage hole is part of an “MPC Guide” system designed to guide the nuclear waste canister into the hole. Instead, the Gussets guide the canister on to the lip of the guide ring. That lip should not be there. Works cannot see what they are loading. Also, the sides of the canisters bump and scrape against the sides of the metal guide ring as they are lowered into each hole, resulting in pit corrosion cracking by mechanical means. Once cracks start, they continue to grow through the canister walls.

HOLTEC FAILURE #4: Holtec loading system caused damage in canisters walls — 29 canisters loaded so far.  Holtec and Edison knew each canister loaded was making metal to metal contact with the metal canister guide ring, yet they continued loading.  There is only 1/2″ clearance between the canister and the guide ring. Each canister wobbles as it is loaded into each hole due to the inferior engineering design.

The NRC knows even microscopic scratches on the thin ~2nm (nanometres) layer of chromium oxide film on these stainless steel canisters can start the cracking process. Why would they consider allowing Edison to continue loading and cracking more canisters?  Cracking canisters cannot be safely stored or transported. And the high burnup fuel inside the canisters must be inspected for damage before transporting even short distances.


2013-06-07 Lemon Drawing UTSDiego

The Holtec dry storage system is a lemon and must be recalled.  Edison finally admitted their replacement steam generators were lemons, but waited until after they leaked radiation into Southern California.  They need to declare this Holtec system a lemon before these containers leak and explode in Southern California.

  • The NRC should revoke the license of this and other Holtec nuclear waste storage and transport systems.  Holtec has repeatedly demonstrated they are not a qualified vendor.  More Holtec Nuclear Waste issues here.
  • Edison should stop loading canisters with fuel and return this system to Holtec. They should issue Requests for Proposals (RFPs) that meet NWTRB and NWPA safety requirements for both storage and transport. The RFP should include a system for replacing all existing thin-wall canisters at San Onofre with thick-wall transportable casks.  This must be done before these canisters start leaking and exploding.
  • The Governor should declare a state of emergency. The State of California should revoke San Onofre state permits until this is done. They should create a multi-agency committee to address these issues and facilitate the development of an expedited solution to this critical problem before Holtec and Edison destroy our economy, security, safety and future.
  • The CPUC should stop funding this Holtec lemon and any further activities at San Onofre until this is done.

Congress and the President should mandate the NRC enforce safety standards as outlined above and force the NRC to stop misleading them about the safety of the systems they approve.  Transporting these thin-wall cracking canisters to another location will no more solve our nuclear waste problems than rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic would stop it from sinking. 

Donna Gilmore



Posted in Action Alert, California Coastal Commission, CPUC, holtec, NRC, Nuclear Waste, Press Release, Southern California Edison, Whistleblower | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

04/26/2016 Sacramento DOE nuclear waste meeting: DOE ignores cracking risk in storage plan

30 years after Chernobyl, Department of Energy meets in Sacramento to discuss storage of hundreds of U.S. “Chernobyls” in a can


Over 2000 U.S. thin-walled canisters cannot be inspected, repaired, maintained, monitored, and some may already be cracking.

Chart SONGS Chernobyl Other Alvarez Figure 4

Curies of Cesium-137

April 25, 2016 (Sacramento, CA) The Department of Energy’s (DOE) nuclear waste “consent-based siting” Sacramento meeting on Tuesday, April 26th at 5 PM is also the 30-year anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster that released 10 tons of highly radioactive materials into the atmosphere that spread around the world. Similar deadly radiation is stored in each U.S. canisters. DOE meeting will also be webcast.


The DOE’s Toxic Waste Agenda for California and the rest of the U.S.

NUHOMS Canister 24 fuel assembly

Thin-wall canister

The DOE plans to discuss criteria for obtaining consent from communities to transport and store hundreds of existing highly radioactive spent nuclear fuel canisters. Each thin-walled (1/2” to 5/8”) canister contains more deadly radioactive Cesium-137 than released from Chernobyl.  What should be addressed first are the current problems with these thin-walled steel canisters. These canisters cannot be inspected, repaired, maintained and are subject to short-term stress corrosion cracking that can result in major radiation releases with no warning prior to the releases.

Manufacturing consent for solutions that don’t exist

The DOE and Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) have no current solutions to resolve these thin-walled canister issues and there will be no warning before these “Chernobyl” cans leak millions of curies of deadly radiation and potentially explode.  These issues should be resolved before discussing “consent” to a consolidated waste storage facility.

The DOE history of choosing inferior toxic waste storage solutions


Areva thick cask

Other countries use thick-walled metal casks (10” to almost 20” thick) that do not have the thin-wall canister problems, yet the DOE and Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) are ignoring the thick cask solution.  The NRC and DOE need to raise their minimum requirements for storage of highly radioactive spent nuclear fuel waste. The DOE has a history of mismanagement and unresolved leaking of nuclear waste at DOE nuclear waste storage facilities such as Hanford in Washington and the Waste Isolation Pilot Project (WIPP) in New Mexico. Their trail is full of broken promises to communities.

Over 2000 “Chernobyl” cans

There are over 2000 “Chernobyl” thin canisters stored in the U.S., including 111 in California (5 at Humboldt Bay, 21 at Rancho Seco in Sacramento County, 34 at Diablo Canyon in San Luis Obispo County, and 51 at San Onofre in San Diego County near the Orange county border).

Holtec’s Hellish history of failure

Diablo Collecting Dust SamplesA 2-year old Holtec Diablo Canyon canister has all the conditions for corrosion and cracking from moisture and salts. No one knows if it is cracking, because there is no technology to inspect the surface or depth of cracks in thin welded canisters filled with spent nuclear fuel.

Once a crack starts, it continues to grow through the wall of the canister undetected until it leaks radiation.  An NRC material engineer, Darrell Dunn, reported a Koeberg Nuclear Plant waste water tank leaked in only 17 years. It did not contain spent nuclear fuel. However, the tank had cracks deeper (0.61”) than the thickness (0.50”) of most U.S. canisters. The NRC considers the Koeberg tank comparable to the thin stainless steel thin-walled canisters used in California and most of the rest of the country.  Holtec is one of the manufacturers of these canisters.

More canisters planned near San Onofre State Beach

In spite of all this, the NRC continues to approve use of these canisters when better options are available.  The NRC plans to allow Southern California Edison (SCE) to install about 100 more thin-walled canisters near the San Onofre State Beach.

California Energy Commission ignores canister problems

Donna Gilmore presented the problems with the canisters at the 2015 California Energy Commission Nuclear Workshop.  Robert Weisenmiller, Chairman of California Energy Commission, will be making the opening remarks at the DOE Sacramento meeting.

Coastal Commission issues license to pollute

The California Coastal Commission approved a permit for the San Onofre Holtec UMAX canister system with “special conditions” requiring SCE solve all the problems with the canisters after 20 years, which isn’t even possible. Watch video of NRC Mark Lombard admitting to the Coastal Commission that inspecting canisters “is not a now thing”.

Updated 4/26/2016: Public Utility Commission approves of $4.411 billion as a reasonable decommissioning cost estimate.  Ignores cost impacts of inferior storage canisters.

The California Public Utility Commission (CPUC) decided April 21, 2016 the $4.411 billion decommissioning cost estimage is reasonable, and ignores cost impact of procuring the inferior Holtec UMAX canister system. The Commission knows these canisters may fail prematurely based on testimony and filed briefs by Donna Gilmore, yet SCE has allocated no funds to address this.

CPUC Administrative Law Judge Maribeth Bushey in her proposed final decision stated “Donna Gilmore presented testimony and filed briefs on meritorious issues related to nuclear power”, but Bushey claims the issues “were outside the scope of this proceeding” and did not make “a substantial contribution to this decision as required by Pub. Util. Code § 1803.”   However, cost issues are within the jurisdiction of the CPUC. The NRC only has jurisdiction over safety. SCE’s waste management assumptions and contingency plans were proven flawed.

Commissioner Florio stated at a past CPUC public meeting we should not have to buy these canisters more than once.  He now has the evidence from this CPUC decommissioning proceeding to know we will likely need to replace canisters. There are no additional ratepayer decommission trust funds to replace canisters, so will this cost be born by the ratepayers?  The Holtec warranty only covers the first 10 years of use.

Holtec President admits his storage solutions are fatally flawed

Holtec President and CEO Kris Singh stated at an SCE San Onofre Community Engagement Panel meeting that it is not feasible to repair canisters.  He said that even if you could find cracks and in the face of millions of curies of radiation being released from even a microscopic crack, find a way robotically to repair them; this would just introduce another area for corrosion and cracking.

Canister vendors (Holtec and Areva) and SCE (Tom Palmisano) have proposed putting failed canisters into thick casks, but NRC Director Mark Lombard said no casks have been approved for this purpose and no vendor has even discussed submitting an application for this. Right now the only approved method of dealing with a failed canister or failing fuel is to put them back into a spent fuel pool, but the DOE is not including pools in their storage design and the NRC allows decommissioned plants to destroy spent fuel pools once they are empty, even though the spent nuclear fuel might remain at the current sites indefinitely. Rancho Seco and Humboldt Bay no longer have spent fuel pools.  SCE plans to destroy San Onofre pools once empty, even though vulnerable “Chernobyl” canisters will remain at the Southern California beach.

Russian Doll nuclear waste containers are a flawed solution

The feasibility of using the Russian Doll approach of putting one leaking canister into another container does not solve the problem. The ability to load a leaking canister into another container has not been proven feasible or safe. The canister vendors need to prove to the NRC they can safely load leaking canisters into casks in the face of millions of curies of radiation and with thermally hot fuel that normally must have convection cooling in a vented concrete cask.  Also, NRC regulations prevent transport of even partial cracked canisters.

“Chernobyl” cans will likely stay in California indefinitely

“The discussion at DOE “consent-based” meetings should be focused on these canister problems,” says Mary Beth Brangan, Co-Director of EON, the Ecological Options Network.  “Until those issues are resolved,” says Brangan, “no one should or will consent to storing this nuclear waste.”

Unfortunately, California and other states are now being forced to store hundreds of these “Chernobyl” cans indefinitely, with no plans in place to address radiation leaking and potential explosions.

April 26th DOE Consent-Based Siting Sacramento Meeting

5 PM, Holiday Inn Capitol Plaza, 300 J Street, Sacramento. Meeting details and DOE contacts at

For more information about these issues contact Donna Gilmore or visit

Print or download Press Release


Posted in Action Alert, California Coastal Commission, California Energy Commission, Chernobyl, CPUC, Diablo Canyon, DOE, Events, NRC, Nuclear Waste, Press Release, Southern California Edison | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

*UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in Sendai — Mitsuhei Murata’s speech, March 16, 2015

Japan Safety : Nuclear Energy Updates

The former Japanese ambassador to Switzerland, Mitsuhei Murata, made the following speech at the UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in Sendai on March 16, 2015.

” Nuclear disaster and global ethics


It goes without saying that genuine denuclearization, both military and civilian, makes the greatest contribution to disaster risk reduction.

The increased menace of nuclear terrorism has awakened the world to the urgent task of abolishing all nuclear reactors in the world. It is no longer an ideal, but an imperative necessity to realize the vision of President Obama for a “World without Nuclear Weapons” just as soon as possible.

Global ethics and human rights

Nowadays the drawbacks of nuclear power are evident, and many even consider this method to generate power a high risk. Nuclear technology was born in a period of paternal civilisation and in the belief, that this technology would solve all problems. Today a maternal…

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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

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 | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The evidence that radiation from nuclear reactors causes childhood leukemia


Radiation spike caused by refueling at one of Bavaria's Gundremmingen reactors. Radiation spike caused by refueling at one of Bavaria’s Gundremmingen reactors.

Last July, we published a piece on recent groundbreaking work from the U.K.’s Dr. Ian Fairlie and the connection between radiation releases from nuclear reactors and childhood leukemia.

We quoted Dr. Fairlie:

“The core issue is that, world-wide, over 60 epidemiological studies have examined cancer incidences in children near nuclear power plants (NPPs): most (>70%) indicate leukemia increases. I can think of no other area of toxicology (eg asbestos, lead, smoking) with so many studies, and with such clear associations as those between NPPs and child leukemias. Yet many nuclear governments and the nuclear industry refute these findings and continue to resist their implications. It’s similar to the situations with cigarette smoking in the 1960s and with man-made global warming nowadays.”

Today, Ian (full disclosure: an old friend and valued colleague) stopped by NIRS’ office to go over a…

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