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Nuclear Fuel Buried 108 Feet From the Sea

Nuclear Fuel Buried 108 Feet From the Sea

Photograph Source: D Ramey Logan – CC BY-SA4.0

“The most toxic substance on Earth is separated from exposure to society by ½” of steel encased in a canister.” (Blanch)

That eye-opener comes from renowned nuclear expert Paul Blanch in reference to spent fuel rods removed from San Onofre Nuclear Generation Plant buried near the sea on California’s southern coastline 50 miles north of San Diego.

Seventy-three 20-foot tall canisters of highly toxic nuclear spent fuel rods are nestled underground within 108 feet of the Pacific Ocean and not far from Interstate 5 from which passersby catch a glimpse of 73 large rectangular lids poking above ground, thus sealing the most toxic substances on Earth ensconced in ½” dry casks. (Footnote: In contrast, German CASTOR V/19 ductile cast iron casks, with permanent integrated monitoring, are nearly two-feet thick)

What could possibly go wrong on the seashore?

At the outset of San Onofre’s plans for its 73 buried canisters, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission itself admitted: (1) the thin ½” stainless steel canisters could crack within 30 years (2) there’s no current technology to inspect, repair or replace cracked canisters (3) limited monitoring means leaks may not be detected soon enough. (Source: Sanonofresafety.org) It is not believed the foregoing has changed one iota.

Unfortunately, when it comes to nuclear risks, what can go wrong isn’t known until it actually goes wrong. Then, it’s too late. Which explains the contention of a professional group associated with publicwatchdogs.org that discussed issues of credibility and truthfulness of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission at a public hearing on March 9th, 2021. More on that follows later.

The 73 San Onofre rectangular lids symbolize the final act of decommissioning San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, remnants of 50 years of nuclear power…

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…


Nuclear waste disposal drilled deep into earth’s crust

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is frack-hole-drilling.jpg

Preface. One the greatest tragedies of the decline of oil will be all the nuclear waste left to harm future generations for up to a million years. We owe it to them to clean up our mess while we still have the fossil energy to do it, they won’t be able to discard the waste with horses and biomass-based energy like the civilizations before fossils that we’re returning to.  If we don’t do anything, nuclear waste will sit at  reactors, military and nuclear warhead sites.

The first of three articles below criticizes the deep borehole method of disposal that follow.  I disagree.  There are groups opposed to moving nuclear waste to a faraway site in case the train goes off the rails or there is a truck accident making it hard to use any repository anywhere.  Drilling a borehole onsite gets around that.  It is also much easier, faster, and far cheaper than new tunnel sites like Yucca mountain, which has cost $15 billion so far.  Of course there are issues with boreholes, but no showstoppers.  It is simply politically impossible to build large repositories. Nevada is one of the least populated states and it couldn’t be done there.  The perfect is the enemy of the good, so I vote boreholes.  Equally good, reopen Yucca Mountain, which the book “Too Hot to Touch: The Problem of High-Level Nuclear Waste” shows is a perfectly fine place– thousands of combinations of scenarios of earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, high rainfall, and other hazards have been modeled and nothing released the wastes below.

Related: posts on nuclear waste, especially “A Nuclear spent fuel fire at Peach Bottom in Pennsylvania could force 18 million people to evacuate”


Krall, L. 2020. Nuclear waste disposal: Why the case for deep boreholes is … full of holes. Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Nuclear reactor issues

Nuclear reactor issues

Preface.  There are half a dozen articles below. Although safety and disposal of nuclear waste ought to be the main reasons why no more plants should be built, what will really stop them isbecause it takes years to get permits and $8.5–$20 billion in capital must be raised for a new 3400 MW nuclear power plant (O’Grady 2008). This is almost impossible when a much cheaper and much safer 3400 MW natural gas plant can be built for $2.5 billion in half the time or less.

U.S. nuclear power plants are old and in decline. By 2030, U.S. nuclear power generation might be the source of just 10% of electricity, half of their 20% production of electricity now, because 38 reactors producing a third of nuclear power are past their 40-year life span, and another 33 reactors producing a third of nuclear power are over 30 years old. Although some will have their licenses extended, 37 reactors that produce half of nuclear power are at risk of closing because of economics, breakdowns, unreliability, long outages, safety, and expensive post-Fukushima retrofits (Cooper 2013).

If you’ve read the nuclear reactor hazards paper or my summary of it, then you understand why there will continually be accidents like Fukushima and Chernobyl.  That makes investors and governments fearful of spending billions of dollars to build nuclear plants.

Nor will people be willing to use precious oil as it declines to build a nuclear power plant that could take up to 10 years to build, when that oil will be more needed for tractors to plant and harvest food and trucks to deliver the food to cities (electric power can’t do that, tractors and trucks have to run on oil).

And if we are dumb enough to try, we’ll smack into the brick wall of Peak Uranium.

Nuclear Safety in the news

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Nuclear Power Offers an Abundant Supply of Low-Carbon Energy. But What to Do With the Deadly Radioactive Waste?


The race is on to develop new strategies for permanently storing some of the most dangerous materials on the planet.

Intro image

Photo of Chernobyl confinement structure © iStockphoto.com/E_Kryzhanivskyi 

There’s a small red hammer and sickle flag of the old Soviet Union on my dresser at home. I found it years ago on the floor of a primary school in Pripyat, the town built for workers at the doomed Chernobyl nuclear plant in what is now Ukraine. Perhaps it had been waved by a child at a state occasion, or had been left behind in the rush to evacuate Pripyat after the world’s worst nuclear disaster in April 1986.

Less than 2 miles (3 kilometers) away, the stricken, crumbling Reactor No. 4 was one of the most dangerous places on Earth. Everything for miles around, from the mushrooms in the woods to the trucks left in the parking lots to the toys in the nursery and the hospital beds, was radioactive to some degree.

Even though a dosimeter showed that after being washed down, the little flag was barely more radioactive than normal background levels found in nature, it should have been packaged up and landfilled as low-level nuclear waste.

By contrast, Chernobyl’s reactor No. 4 site will remain dangerous for tens of thousands of years. In July 2019, 33 years after the explosion, 200 metric tons (220 tons) of uranium, plutonium, liquid fuel and irradiated dust was finally encased below an enormous 36,000-metric-ton (40,000-ton), €1.5 billion steel and concrete structure taller than the Statue of Liberty. The new sarcophagus will last about 100 years — after which it will deteriorate and future generations will have to decide how to dismantle and store it permanently.

The new sarcophagus covering Chernobyl’s reactor No. 4 is expected to remain functional for a century. Graphic courtesy of Berria from Wikimedia Commons, licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0. Click to enlarge.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Book review of Jaczko’s “Confessions of a rogue nuclear regulator”

Book review of Jaczko’s “Confessions of a rogue nuclear regulator”

Preface. After presenting a lot of evidence for why nuclear power plants are inherently unsafe, Jaczko concludes: “There is only one logical answer: we must stop generating nuclear waste, and that means we must stop using nuclear power. You would think that it would make sense to suspend nuclear power projects until we know what to do with the waste they create”. 

Jaczko isn’t the first to sound the alarm on the safety of nuclear power plants.  There’s also the 128 page report by Hirsch called “Nuclear Reactor Hazards Ongoing Dangers of Operating Nuclear Technology in the 21st Century”, or my summary of this paper at energyskeptic “Summary of Greenpeace Nuclear Reactor Hazards”.

I read this book hoping Jaczko would explain why he shut Yucca mountain down.  The 2013 book “Too Hot to Touch: The Problem of High-Level Nuclear Waste” by William M. Alley & Rosemarie Alley, Cambridge University Press goes into great detail about why Yucca Mountain is the ideal place to put nuclear waste.

I have a lot of problems with Yucca being shut down. How is it safer to have 70,000 tons of spent nuclear reactor fuel and 20,000 giant canisters of high-level radioactive waste at 121 sites across 39 states, with another 70,000 tons on the way before reactors reach the end of their life?  

Spent fuel pools in America’s 104 nuclear power plants, have an average of 10 times more radioactive fuel stored than what was at Fukushima, most of them so full they have four times the amount they were designed to hold.

All of this waste will harm future generations for at least a million years, all of these above ground sites are vulnerable to terrorists, tsunamis, floods, rising sea levels, hurricanes, electric grid outages, earthquakes, tornadoes, and other disasters.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Help Stop Radioactive Waste Dump and Thousands of Dangerous Shipments Across the US

Help Stop Radioactive Waste Dump and Thousands of Dangerous Shipments Across the US

The private company Waste Control Specialists (WCS) or “Interim Storage Partners” wants to place a high-level radioactive waste dump site (called a “centralized interim storage facility”) in West Texas.

If approved, opening this high-level waste dump would launch nation-wide transports of a total of 40,000 tons of irradiated reactor fuel (misleadingly known as “spent” fuel), to Texas from all over the country. The shipments are to be by rail, highway, and floating barge (even on Lake Michigan!). The planned-for thousands of such transports create risks for nearly everyone in the United States, because the ferociously radioactive material would pass near schools, hospitals, businesses, and farms, would travel on and over lakes, rivers, and waterways, and go through areas where our food is grown and where families live, play and work. Amazingly, no public meetings on the subject are planned in Texas or elsewhere.

Act now to stop this dangerous nuclear waste dump

Environmental and community right-to-know groups are demanding: 1) public meetings in Texas and along transportation routes across the country; 2) a halt to these transport and dumping plans; and 3) uniform publication of application and related materials in Spanish.  You can add your voice to these urgent demands by writing to the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) on the license application by WCS until Oct. 19th .

Tell NRC: Listen to the people! No mass radioactive waste shipments to Texas.

Under WCS’s license application, the 40,000 tons of high-level waste from commercial power reactors could move on railroads, highways and even on waterways using barges for decades. Then, because the Texas site is supposedly “temporary,” after being shipped there the waste would have to be packed-up and transported again, to a “permanent” waste dump site — if one is ever approved. This means that new transportation and repackaging dangers will continue for additional decades.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

“Chernobyl in a Can” – 71 Vulnerable-To-Cracking Radioactive Waste Canisters Set for CA Ocean-Front Burial at San Onofre: Donna Gilmore, NH #335

“Chernobyl in a Can” – 71 Vulnerable-To-Cracking Radioactive Waste Canisters Set for CA Ocean-Front Burial at San Onofre: Donna Gilmore, NH #335

This Week’s Featured Interview:

  • Donna Gilmore of SanOnofreSafety.org reports on Southern California Edison’s plans to bury 1,800 tons – that’s 3,600,000 pounds <!> of high-level radioactive waste a mere 36 yards from high tide in canisters that are vulnerable to cracking and leakingEach one contains a Chernobyl’s worth of radiation on the Pacific Ocean less than 70 miles from Los Angeles!

What to do:

  • Download petition and info sheets HERE – it’s the top story on the page.
  • Get signatures on the petition and send to San Onofre Safety (hard copy signatures on paper are necessary).
  • Use the info sheet to engage in conversation on the issues.
  • CA RESIDENTS:  Call your state representative; locate her or him HERE: www.findyourrep.legislature.ca.gov
  • CALL the California Coastal Commission: (562) 590-5071
  • To read the Federal Register containing the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s admission of no requirements for aging of radioactive waste-containing canisters, CLICK HERE.

Numnutz of the Week (for Outstanding Nuclear Boneheadedness): 

“Shelter in place” after a nuclear accident… and stay there?  New study provides a great way to keep the bodies out of the streets and the clean-up to a minimum!  Beware of “*NEW IMPROVED*” methods of measuring radioactive risk… and always check out who’s behind the funding for this kind of bogus pro-nuclear “research.”

The Real Nuclear Triad: Energy, Weapons and Waste

The Real Nuclear Triad: Energy, Weapons and Waste 

Photo by Maxwell Hamilton | Public Domain

Clear and Present Danger

Never before has the unbreakable connection between nuclear energy, weapons and waste been so blatantly obvious to the public eye…yet, with so little notice.

Although President Trump has threatened to obliterate North Korea and its 25 million people ‘with fire and fury the like of which the world has never seen,’ the NYT is reporting that America’s Asian allies doubt Washington’s ‘resolve’ to defend them with nuclear weapons and they want their own – an idea recently also floated by Trump himself.

In a new twist on the last century’s discredited ‘Atoms for Peace’ meme, the new nuclear delusion seems to be that the more countries that have nuclear weapons (Iran and North Korea excepted), the more ‘secure’ the world will become.

Speaking recently at Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota, Trump’s VP Mike Pence, a self-declared devout Christian who ‘gave my life to Jesus,’ declared “… there’s no greater force for peace in the world than the United States nuclear arsenal.”

Implication: every country should feel safer if they have a nuclear arsenal of their own. That seems precisely Kim Jong-Un’s own calculus, given his country’s previous horrific carpet-bombing experience with the US – “we… eventually burned down every town in North Korea,” Gen. Curtis LeMay told Congress – not to mention the recent history of Iraq, Libya and Syria.

Nuclear Circular Firing Squad

As agitation reportedly builds in South Korea and Japan for building their own nuclear arsenals, the Times reveals that, as a result of the radioactive waste output of their already existing nuclear energy reactor fleets, each of these tiny countries has accumulated enough weapons-grade plutonium to produce – respectively – 4,600 and 6,000 nuclear bombs.

How about that? Nations without their own ‘commercial power’ nukes must certainly take note.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Nuclear Power Costs Enter Uncharted Territory

Nuclear Power Costs Enter Uncharted Territory

    Many international businesses are hoping to cash in on disposal of nuclear waste. (StefrogZ via Flickr)

LONDON—If you want a job for life, go into the nuclear industry—not building power plants, but taking them down and making them safe, along with highly-radioactive spent fuel and other hazardous waste involved.

The market for decommissioning nuclear sites is unbelievably large. Sixteen nations in Europe alone face a €253 billion waste bill, and the continent has only just begun to tackle the problem.

Among the many difficulties the industry faces is lack of trained people to do the highly-paid work. Anyone who enters the business is likely to be sought after for the rest of their career because the job of decommissioning Europe’s nuclear sites alone will take more than 100 years—even if no new nuclear power stations are ever built.

Add to the European nuclear legacy the dozens of old nuclear power stations in North America, Japan, Russia and central Asia, and nuclear decommissioning could already be classed as one of the biggest industries in the world, and it can only grow.

And this does not count the millions of dollars still being spent annually to contain the damage from the nuclear accidents in Chernobyl, Russia, in 1986, and Fukushima, Japan, in 2011.

Longer-term problem

So far, the nuclear industry has largely avoided drawing too much attention to this legacy, emphasising that its sites are safe, and concentrating instead on claiming that new nuclear stations are the answer to climate change.

But this approach has not solved the longer-term problem of how to safely contain the radioactivity of old sites to avoid damaging future generations.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

“This Is Catastrophic” – Thousands Of Gallons Of Radioactive Waste Leak At Nuclear Site

“This Is Catastrophic” – Thousands Of Gallons Of Radioactive Waste Leak At Nuclear Site

The ongoing radioactive leak problems at the Hanford Site, a nuclear storage tank in Washington State, are nothing new.

We first wrote about the ongoing radioative leakage at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, created as part of the Manhattan Project to build the atomic bomb, in 2013.

As a reminder, during the Cold War, the project was expanded to include nine nuclear reactors and five large plutonium processing complexes, which produced plutonium for most of the 60,000 weapons in the U.S. nuclear arsenal. Alas, the site has been leaking ever since, as many of the early safety procedures and waste disposal practices were inadequate and Hanford’s operations released significant amounts of radioactive materials into the air and the neighboring Columbia River.

Hanford’s weapons production reactors were decommissioned at the end of the Cold War, but the decades of manufacturing left behind 53 million US gallons of high-level radioactive waste, an additional 25 million cubic feet of solid radioactive waste, 200 square miles of contaminated groundwater beneath the site and occasional discoveries of undocumented contaminations.

The Hanford site represents two-thirds of the nation’s high-level radioactive waste by volume. Today, Hanford is the most contaminated nuclear site in the United States and is the focus of the nation’s largest environmental cleanup. The government spends $2 billion each year on Hanford cleanup — one-third of its entire budget for nuclear cleanup nationally. The cleanup is expected to last decades.

However, as Krugman would say, the government was not spending nearly enough, and after a major documented leak in 2013, over the weekend, thousands of gallons of radioactive waste are estimated to have leaked from the Site once again, triggering an alarm and causing one former worker to label it as “catastrophic.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Disaster waiting to happen’: ‘Dustbin ship’ with 25 tons of nuclear waste heading to Australia

Disaster waiting to happen’: ‘Dustbin ship’ with 25 tons of nuclear waste heading to Australia

The World’s Never Seen Anything Like This

The World’s Never Seen Anything Like This


The Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant No. 2 nuclear reactor fuel is missing from the core containment vessel. (Source: Up to 100% of No. 2 Reactor Fuel May Have Melted, NHK World News, Sept. 25, 2015.)

Where did it go? Nobody knows.

Not only that but the “learning curve” for a nuclear meltdown is as fresh as the event itself because “the world has never seen anything like this,” never.

Utilizing cosmic ray muon radiography with nuclear emulsion, researchers from Nagoya University peered inside the reactors at Fukushima. The nuclear fuel in reactor core No. 5 was clearly visible via the muon process. However, at No. 2 reactor, which released a very large amount of radioactive substances coincident with the 2011 explosion, little, if any, signs of nuclear fuel appear in the containment vessel. A serious meltdown is underway.

“The researchers say further analyses are needed to determine whether molten fuel penetrated the reactor and fell down,” Ibid. In short, researchers do not yet know if the molten hot stuff has penetrated the steel/concrete base beyond the containment vessel, thus entering Mother Earth.

The Nagoya University research team, in coordination with Toshiba Corporation, reported their findings at a meeting of the Physical Society of Japan on Sept. 26th.
Thus, therefore, and furthermore, it is advisable to review what’s at stake:
“High-level nuclear waste is almost unimaginably poisonous. Take for example cesium-137, with a half-life of 30 years, which makes up the largest fraction of long-lived radionuclides residing in spent nuclear fuel. One gram of radioactive cesium-137 (about half the size of a dime) contains 88 Curies of radioactivity. 104 Curies of radioactive cesium-137, spread evenly over one square mile of land, will make it uninhabitable for more than a century,” Comments on Draft of Nuclear Waste Administration Act of 2013, Physicians for Social Responsibility, May 23, 2013.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai IV: Courage
In progress...

Olduvai II: Exodus
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