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Questions about status of San Onofre nuclear waster transport and new legislation

We love our families, protect their and our health, cherish the beauty of our land and ocean, and depend on finite resources. We must be educated, activated, and purposeful. This is too important to our lives, families, community, homes, business, and world not to matter.

Here are some very current and highly “explosive” particles of information for Laguna and communities within 60+ miles of San Onofre to consider (on a still day). Read and watch for yourselves, facts matter!

Here are my questions and here are the answers that were provided to me when I asked official representatives. If Edison or others tells you otherwise, ask for evidence. If anyone has other facts and evidence, it is welcome. We all want to learn, need to know.

1. Is there any real plan to remove all canisters within 5 years to another safer location?

No. Not technically feasible for many reasons. In addition, no communities want the waste.

2. Does each canister and/or silo have its own monitor to measure radiation, seepage of any toxic substances, and are there sea, land, and air monitor reports read on a daily basis?

No. Instead, the NRC now allows Edison and others to stop measuring and reporting radiation levels from the outlet air vents of the concrete storage overpacks. This is where radiation levels will be highest from leaking canisters. Even after multiple requests from me and others, the NRC has refused to provide radiation levels from the aging canisters’ air vents (located on the roof of the older NUHOMS thin-wall canisters).

3. Do the thin wall (5/8”) (Holtec) canisters assist in more easily transporting them away from San Onofre?

No. The opposite is true. They need to be repackaged into thick-wall casks and the fuel assemblies inspected for damage before they meet transport safety requirements. 

4. Would thicker canisters (casks) mean leaving them on site and in place longer? 

No. The opposite is true from a technical standpoint. See Item 3 and Item 5 answer.

5. Are they now projected to be stored at San Onofre for 20+ years?

Yes. At least 33 years for technical reasons. Possibly indefinitely. They will likely fail prior to that if not repackaged into thick-wall casks (due to the cracking issue and/or the unmonitored hydrogen gas buildup inside the canisters).

6. Where are “we” in terms of removal and alternative storage site negotiations?

Nowhere.

7. What deal has SCE worked out to release them from liability?

They have limited liability right now. SCE’s real plan, it seems, is to have Congress pass a bill that transfers ownership to the Department of Energy at the existing San Onofre site. There was a Senate hearing last week on a proposed bill that would allow this. It’s similar to the 2018 Shimkus (HR3053) bill (for Yucca Mountain and Consolidated Interim Storage) that passed the House last year, but did not pass the Senate. No one in the hearing mentioned the current unsafe, uninspectable cracking storage canisters at San Onofre and elsewhere. No one mentioned the proposed New Mexico Holtec plan and the Texas plan is to return leaking canisters back to sender. No one mentioned current sites and the proposed New Mexico and Texas sites have no plan to prevent or stop leaking or exploding canisters. The assumption in this hearing and this bill is that the NRC is doing its job to protect our safety. You can watch the hearing here:
www.epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/2019/5/legislative-hearing-on-a-discussion-draft-bill-s-nuclear-waste-policy-amendments-act-of-2019

8. How does (if at all) the UK’s declaration of a global climate emergency impact storage and removal of nuclear facilities, materials, and waste?

One or more of these “Chernobyl” disaster canisters will likely explode somewhere before that happens, based on how the NRC is handling climate risks for operating reactors. NRC whistleblowers warned that numerous operating reactors are at risk of flooding from climate change. Instead of addressing this, the NRC and Congress are supporting extending licenses of reactors, regardless of this risk. NRC management tried to cover up the flooding report from the NRC engineers, it has been reported, so those engineers became whistleblowers, but nothing has changed. The focus now in some states is to give financial bailouts (with taxpayer or ratepayer money) to keep aging uninspectable reactors operating. Most of Congress and the public are in denial or trusting the wrong experts. Most of Congress and the public trust the private corporations and/or the NRC to protect our safety. The Senate bill mentioned above relies on the NRC, DOE and private corporations to protect our safety. 

Until the waste is repackaged into proven thick-wall transportable maintainable storage casks, nothing else will matter. Unfortunately, the NRC and nuclear industry have left us no other options. 

What can I do – what can we do? 

Sign and share an online petition to raise awareness about this issue and to learn more. Share it with your elected officials. Contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more details and the petition link.

Leah Vasquez

Laguna Beach