By Richard Warnock, Dana Point
Many of Roger Johnson’s assertions relate to nuclear weapons and warfare. It is important for the readers to differentiate between the assured damage from a nuclear weapon explosion and what might result from a nuclear power plant accident. They are orders of magnitude different.
San Onofre Units 2 and 3 have been shut down for about seven years. A very large part of the radioactive material has decayed away. Most of the spent fuel is now in steel canisters entombed in massive concrete shields.
Former Representative Darryl Issa’s alleged historical comments about potential worst-case damage from a San Onofre nuclear accident are not relevant to the present reality, because the plants are shut down and partially dismantled.
The cited Bulletin of Atomic Scientists article by financial analyst David Epstein relates to the projected financial aspects of a nuclear weapons detonation, a dirty bomb explosion in a major city or a “hacked” operating nuclear power plant. Mr. Epstein draws potential financial market parallels between a nuclear attack and the post-World War II German and Japanese economies. A check of world financial history does not reveal a worldwide market collapse after the Three Mile Island, Chernobyl or Fukushima reactor accidents.
Exposures from low-level liquid and gaseous releases from San Onofre are in accordance with Federal limits as defined in 10CFR50 Appendix I. These limits keep annual public exposures to a small fraction of natural background. You will receive a greater additional radiation exposure by flying to and from New York than from sitting outside San Onofre for a full year. Annual Radioactive Effluent Release Reports and Annual Radiological Environmental Operating Reports are publicly available and substantiate no radiological impact to the public or the environment from San Onofre releases. I know this information, because the early reports were my responsibility.
I fully agree with Mr. Johnson regarding the glaring lack of a U.S. spent fuel and military waste repository. The National Academy of Sciences studied this issue from the 1950s to about 1987. Disposal in a deep geological site was recommended and selected. Yucca Mountain, Nevada, adjacent to the weapons test site, was selected and work began. The President Obama/Senator Reid cabal quickly halted funding and work. President Donald Trump requested funds to assess restarting Yucca Mountain. Congress has not allocated funds. Here, San Onofre, all other U.S. nuclear power plants, and the military sit, waiting for our federal government to do its job and provide a high-level radioactive waste repository.