Saturday, October 18, 2014

Suggested preamble to San Clemente city resolution...

Here's a suggested preamble to San Clemente's resolution about the nuclear waste, and some comments.

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Our forefathers made a mistake accepting the production of this waste within our community.

Nuclear power was and will forever remain a forbidden fruit, because the so-called by-products in the "production" of electricity are, in fact, the real products of the process, with electricity being just a fleeting byproduct (easily achieved many other ways). We want offshore wind farms. We want clean energy.

The fact that nuclear waste is the product of nuclear fission -- not "just" a by-product -- is a very important point. We're stuck with the waste. And we want to warn others who are making such waste that they should stop now -- don't wait -- the sooner you stop making waste, the less waste you'll have to deal with in the future. And to anyone contemplating this technology: Don't do it.

Nuclear waste has nowhere to go. Don't believe us? After 30 years and 15 billion dollars, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission approved Yucca Mountain as safe for the next million years. That's a big claim. They claim the waste will be safe at San Onofre for hundreds of years. That's a big claim too.

The last big thing the NRC approved for San Clemente was San Onofre's replacement steam generators which were supposed to last 60 years or longer, but which only lasted 11 months and then nearly wiped out southern California when they failed! An investigation by the Office of the Inspector General found numerous procedural flaws in the NRC's methodology -- flaws which can be applied throughout the commission, to every decision they make. The NRC is the ultimate lap-dog agency. Every time anyone within the NRC even thinks about throwing in the towel on nuclear power, they are drummed out of the industry forever.

Were the NRC to ever decide to shut down civilian nuclear power -- AS THEY SHOULD -- the U. S. Nuclear Navy would remind the NRC that the USN uses nuclear power for ships and submarines, and where will their reactor control room operators work after their stint in the navy is through if there are no more "civilian" power reactors?

And the U.S. Air Force has its atomic bombs -- where would they get material for those bombs if not for commercial reactors producing copious quantities of plutonium "just in case" World War III breaks out and it last more than 90 minutes before we're all smoke and ruins?

"With that in mind, we resolve that:..."

After that, San Clemente can continue to beg someone to take the nuclear waste for them. Until then, at least San Clemente can be happy that SCE/CPUC plan to spread out the costs for future generations to pay for the upkeep, replacement shielding, catastrophic loss of life and property (values) -- and all other additional expenses that might be incurred -- among communities far away from San Clemente. But if even a tiny fraction of the waste got out, it would destroy San Clemente first. And the Price-Andersen insurance will limit pay-outs long before even San Clemente's destruction can be covered. A fraction of a single fuel pellet the size of an adult human pinky bone can render San Clemente uninhabitable if its contents ignite and burn. There are millions and millions of fuel pellets, each the size of one adult human pinky bone, being stored at San Onofre. And, if one burns, probably at least all those in that dry canister will also burn, possibly igniting other cani
sters
.

Each pellet will be deadly for far more than a million years, although for the next few decades, and for the first few centuries, the used fuel is especially dangerous because it includes a lot of relatively short-lived fission products (with half-lives in the 30 year range).

Ace Hoffman
Carlsbad, CA

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Notes on what might make a better dry cask:

Thick layers of copper (used in other countries for additional shielding for long-term waste storage, but long-term applicability to its use here has not been confirmed).
Thick layers of gold (probably the 2nd best protection for all the other layers, after iridium (but not enough iridium exists on the planet (nor does enough gold)).
Fewer fuel assemblies per dry cask (this reduces the risk and potential size of a criticality event).
Gold plating on the outside (protects from insects and many other things).
Alternately-magnetized layers of steel -- thousands of them (stops many substances from creeping through the material).
Canister integrity monitoring (to ensure cracks are not developing).
If a monolith is used, fewer casks per monolith (so that the monolith can move more easily as one object in an earthquake).
High stone pyramids (to protect the area from missiles and jet airplane impacts).
After closure of all power reactors, military reactors, and research reactors (they can put one on Mars if they want) -- and ONLY after that time: Reprocessing that removes the zirconium and fission products from the plutonium and uranium, and then stores everything in a safer way.

And lastly:

A global agreement on what that best way to solve the nuclear waste dilemma. Right now there are a dozen or so different "best" storage solutions for nuclear waste used around the world. None are adequate. There is no safe place to store the waste, no safe way to transport it, no safe way to reprocess it, and absolutely no reason to make more of it.

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