Updated: San Onofre, feel the heat!

A knowledgable reader has written to correct the number of fuel rods I have mentioned in the post.  My information was obviously dated.  Here is the corrected information provided by the reader:

There are 1,726 fuel assemblies from unit 2; 1,734 from unit 3. Only 792 are in dry cask storage.  1115 are “high burnup fuel”


It’s not even June and already multiple wildfires pepper the coast of California following a crazy-quilt path of destruction.  

Right in the middle of it all, halfway between the huge population centers of Lost Angeles and San Diego,  is the recently decommissioned San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station with its spent fuel stockpile of 1,677 rods still sitting in cooling ponds.

Water is the only thing preventing the rods from melting down and releasing unimaginable amounts of deadly radiation into the environment; and water is the first thing to go in a boiling environment.

Friends of the Earth estimates that the spent fuel at San Onofre contains 89 times the quantity of Cesium-137 that was released from the accident at Chernobyl.

If any of the possible scenarios for loss of water from the cooling ponds due to fire were to occur, not only would an enormous human population be immediately endangered, but the impact of food security for the entire nation is unimaginable.  For better or worse, California has come to be the “breadbasket” of the United States.

Destroy California’s arable environment and we will see large-scale starvation in this country.

“Alarmist,” you say?  Yes, I am.

I am alarmed by the fact that, faced with all of this grim potential, the NRC is still in a position to grant absolution from responsibility for emergency planning  to power companies whose nuclear facilities have ceased to produce power.

One can’t help but fault the media for doing a piss-poor job of shining the bright light of attention on systemic regulatory failure over the decades at the NRC.  We wouldn’t be in the fix we’re in now with spent fuel piling up at nuclear plants all over the country and no real plan for its permanent disposal, if the public had been fully educated from the start.

The new Godzilla movie, I am told, carefully avoids the antinuclear theme of the original.  Why is this, I wonder? Post Fukushima, with every opportunity to give the giant lizard a new timeliness, why would the filmmakers not do so?

Big business enables big business.  Energy companies are knitted together with entertainment and communications giants and other energy companies, so that the interests of one can become inseparable from those of the other.

So, instead of updates on the chronic radiation release from Fukushima and our unsecured stockpiles of nuclear waste in the U.S., we get a warm-and-fuzzy about post nuclear catastrophe (“The Wolves of Chernobyl”) and twenty-four-seven coverage of “the plane.”

‘Nice knowing you, California.

About Sue Prent

Artist/Writer/Activist living in St. Albans, Vermont with my husband since 1983. I was born in Chicago; moved to Montreal in 1969; lived there and in Berlin, W. Germany until we finally settled in St. Albans.

3 thoughts on “Updated: San Onofre, feel the heat!

  1. be considered “alarmist” for pointing out the risks such as this:

    If any of the possible scenarios for loss of water from the cooling ponds due to fire were to occur, not only would an enormous human population be immediately endangered[..]

    Proximity of the plant — between fire-prone areas —  must be a bit disconcerting to the residents.

    Esp in California or any area known for its out-of-control wildfires with Nuclear Power Plants nearby. I feel spoiled by comparison for the perhaps less-riskier VY sitting on a river bank little danger of a miles-wide or even acres-wide out-of-control wildfire.

    Call me loco but its proximity to the fire-prone areas, w/tens of thousands of San Deigans evac-ed is rather concerning.

    Yeah, gotta love the never-ending nuclear-sponsored propaganda designed to usher in a new era of the “safe” thorium & fast-breeders & state-of-the-art “micro-plants”


    Backyard/neighborhood nuke plant anyone, for those who would like to see more “local control” of energy sources


    Then there’s the “floating nuclear power plants” oh joy! designed by Russia in same story.

    Apparently, the state-of-the-art plant-sized micros are “not a panacea” according to auther as coal & gas plants yield a smaller cost-per-MW. This author kinda sounds like shill for carbon industry but haven’t really researched. Old article but shows the busy bees buzzing w/in the nuke industry trying their dangdest to keep the gravy-train & the massive subsidies rolling down the line.

  2. Nuclear Power is PERFECT in every way!  It’s Safe, Clean, and Cheap!!! What do you think you are doing, pointing out the obvious problems???

    Now ignore reality and get with the pro-nuke program!!!

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