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The $trillion danger of San Onofre’s 1,400 tons of radioactive trash

san-onofre-4A Spent Fuel Accident at San Onofre Nuclear Waste Dump Could Cost a Trillion Dollars Intro by Paul de Burgh-Day for Salem-News.com

Article by Ace Hoffman of Carlsbad puts a straight face on a severe potential problem that could bankrupt California.

– A HELL OF A WAY TO BOIL WATER! – So said Albert Einstein.

Somebody back then should have listened to him and acted accordingly…

Instead, with nuclear power stations around planet earth, humanity faces a massive and utterly intractable disaster – to which there is currently no answer.

It is a while since I posted from Ace Hoffman.

He has been part of a ‘victory’ which has lead to his local San Onofre (CA) being permanently closed. Which of course is a good thing.

BUT it still leaves unresolved a gigantic problem – a ticking time-bomb.

The powerful nuclear industry has a vast problem to deal with – with little inclination to do so. As we are seeing, just with the out of control Fukushima situation – more dangerous than ever – with no remedies in sight – see

and

http://www.nypost.com/p/news/national/radioactive_water_from_japan_quake_mycMTkUC7kCa06iPlsz6EP

planet Earth and its denizen face an extremely grim future.
Is it best to do what most do – close our eyes and minds and hope the future goes away?
Human hubris, greed and blind stupidity faces no limits!

 A spent fuel accident at San Onofre Nuclear Waste Dump could cost a trillion dollars. Deal with it. Ace Hoffman July 13th, 2013 Some people would be happy to leave San Onofre’s 1,400 tons of accumulated radioactive spent fuel, from nearly half a century of leaky, unreliable, expensive and disquieting operation, right where it is.

On an earthquake fault line, in a tsunami inundation zone, amongst 8.7 million of the most beautiful, industrious, peaceful and creative people in the world — from all over the world — who live within a 50 mile radius of the waste, and tens of millions more who live just slightly beyond that artificial marker.

The highly radioactive used reactor cores will be stored locally in relatively flimsy (for their purpose) containers called dry casks. These casks — about 40 are on site now, the oldest about 10 years old, with 100 or more yet to come to empty the spent fuel pools of fuel — cannot resist significant forces of any sort (manmade, natural, you-name-it).

Indeed, the casks are not even DESIGNED to withstand forces such as earthquakes greater than 7.0 (i.e., “The Big One” is not covered), or submersion in greater than 50 feet of water (i.e., any reasonably large tsunami), or boats crashing into them during the tsunami, or large jet airplane strikes (accidental or purposeful). Why aren’t they built to withstand these things?

Because they’re considered temporary solutions to the waste problem. But these casks will sit here for decades, near major shipping lanes and under several commercial airline routes. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission optimistically suggests it might only be 60 years of storage but they plan for it to be several centuries. They might as well say it’s forever.

During that time, however long it is, the spent fuel will not be secured against terrorist attacks with satchel charges or rocket-propelled grenades — or depleted-uranium spears dropped from balloons, for that matter. These containments just aren’t that good.

Rail accidents on the nearby tracks could cause massive explosions, as we’ve seen recently and horrifically in Canada.

San Onofre’s dry casks have some lead, a couple of inches of steel, and three to five feet of concrete. The main purpose is for shielding of gamma rays and protection from water vapor in the air (the casks are filled with inert gases to prevent any air getting in).

For comparison, San Onofre’s reactor pressure vessels (which still sit on site, and one of which is still loaded with fuel) have six to eight inches of steel, and then a 4 to 8 foot thick reinforced concrete dome enclosing that. But it is well-known that even those thick domes would not be sufficient protection against airplane strikes by large commercial or military aircraft. (There are, of course, many other hazards an operating reactor is vulnerable to, as well.)

And stacking the dry casks together as they are doing at SanO is also inappropriate. There needs to be more separation between each cask because in the event of an impact of any kind, they can all be pushed together and the cement crumbled, making a criticality event at least theoretically possible. If the impact is from a large jet, the burning jet fuel can ignite multiple casks.

The only reason the casks are packed so tight together is because SCE didn’t lease much land for San Onofre in the first place — they didn’t expect to “need” to build dry casks. The local residents and local elected officials were promised the waste would be removed as soon as it had cooled sufficiently for transport — about five years, they were told. San Onofre Nuclear Waste Dump is located on about 75 acres of coastal bluffs a few hundred feet west of an eight-lane freeway and a major railroad line. SoCal Edison also leases about 400 acres on the east side of the highway for administration, training, and so forth. They have a state-of-the-art reactor simulator there, which somehow failed to train them for what actually happened. (When the leak that closed San Onofre forever occurred on January 31, 2012, operators were completely baffled as to what was had caused the tube degradation. Frankly, they still don’t know. They were going to experiment with a 70% restart, but the citizens opposed such a plan so vehemently that on June 7, 2013, SCE gave up and announced they would decommission the plant.)

The entire San Onofre area is vulnerable to many natural and manmade hazards, but if the waste remains on site, any such disaster could also burden society with the additional problems of widespread radiation exposure, which would be much more devastating, for an immeasurably longer period of time……..http://www.salem-news.com/articles/july142013/san-onofre-bdb-ah.php

 

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July 15, 2013 - Posted by | wastes

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