Paul Blanch, West Hartford, Connecticut

I write this as an expert on nuclear plant radiation monitoring being part of the American Nuclear Society dictating requirements for nuclear plant radiation monitoring. I was also an expert witness after Three Mile Island (TMI) and a member of the post TMI NRC group for accident monitoring.

Your recent article titled “SONGS Representatives Explain Radiation Monitoring” should have read “SONGS attempts to mislead the public.”

The only concern during and after decommissioning is a radioactive release from either the Spent Fuel Pool or the Holtec canisters, which have been publicly documented as defective. Properly engineered air radiation is the only means to detect a leak, not a monitor designed to only detect background radiation. Edison needs a monitor to detect the primary isotope of concern; Cesium-137.

The monitor depicted in the Edison photo appears to be aimed skyward, and unless a catastrophic canister accident occurs, these monitors will detect nothing! When there is a release, it will probably not be detected by these monitors, only seeing cosmic radiation from the sky.

These monitors are solely meant to provide a warm feeling of protecting the public when, in fact, they are incapable of detecting any leakage from the Spent Fuel Pool or Holtec canisters.

Mark Lewis stated: “I’ve been working here for 38 years, and my lifetime occupational radiation exposure at each millirem has been carefully counted throughout my career. My number is 1,004.” So what?

I have been in the industry for 55 years. My number is more than 5,000. So what?

I am happy to live on the East Coast, 2500 miles from the devious PR from Edison and potential radiation from San Onofre.

About The Author Capo Dispatch

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  • For decades, the technical licenses of the dry storage systems required measuring radiation levels at the inlet and outlet air vents of the structures where thin-wall canisters are stored. Canister radiation levels (from cracking leaking canisters) will be highest at the outlet air vents. Edison and the NRC refuse to share the outlet air vent radiation measurements from the aging San Onofre NUHOMS dry storage system where 51 thin-wall canisters are already up to 17 years old. Instead, the NRC approved NUHOMS license changes so nuclear facilities are no longer required to even measure radiation levels at the outlet air vents, let alone report them.

    Regarding the San Onofre Holtec system, the photo shown above this article doesn’t show the Holtec outlet air vents. It only shows the inlet air vents. Please stop using this misleading photo that doesn’t show the outlet air vent part of the Holtec lid structure. See accurate photos at SanOnofreSafety.org.

    In addition, Holtec requested the NRC allow them to change the Holtec UMAX dry storage license to no longer requiring measuring radiation levels from any of the air vents.

    It appears the real plan by both the NRC and US nuclear facilities is to hide from the the public the radiation levels from these canisters. They have no other current method to deal with leaking cracking canisters. They cannot inspect for cracks or know how deep the cracks are. Even Holtec President Kris Singh admits canisters cannot be repaired.

    The only approved solution the NRC and US nuclear industry have left us with is to build a dry fuel handling facility (hot cell) at San Onofre (and elsewhere where these thin-wall canisters are stored) and transfer the highly radioactive fuel waste from thin-wall canisters to thick-wall metal casks.

    Thin-wall canisters are only 1/2″ to 5/8″ thick. Thick-wall casks (10″ to 19.75″ thick), are the standard in most of the world. Thick-wall casks are designed to be maintained and monitored to PREVENT major radioactive releases. The thin-wall canisters are not.

    Thick-wall casks are transportable and proven to survive earthquakes, such as the 9.0 earthquake at Fukushima. Thin-wall canisters with even partial cracks have no seismic earthquake rating, admits former San Onofre Chief Nuclear Officer, Tom Palmisano.

    Attempting to transport these uninspectable thin-wall cracking canisters even short distances will no more protect our safety, than rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic would have stopped it from sinking.

    Instead, Edison continues to require workers to load fuel into thin-wall canisters during this coronavirus pandemic, further risking our safety and the safety of these workers.

    The reason Edison wants to expedite the fuel loading is to stop maintaining the spent fuel pools where remaining fuel assemblies are currently stored. Edison stated in a trade article this will save them millions of dollars in annual overhead costs.

    Proposed legislation that promises to allow transporting this waste to another location (such as the House Shimkus bill and Senate Feinstein bill) also allows Edison and others to transfer ownership and liability for these inferior dry storage systems to the federal government at EXISTING LOCATIONS. These bills also eliminate critical safety requirements from the Nuclear Waste Policy Act such as monitored retrievable spent fuel storage.

    Once cracks start in these thin-wall canisters, the NRC has stated the cracks can grow through the wall in as little as 16 years. The Holtec canisters are already gouged due to the poorly engineered canister loading system, likely accelerating this time frame.

    Each canisters holds roughly the amount of radionucludes released from the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. These thin-wall pressure vessels also contain various hydrides, hydrogen gas, and other potentially explosive materials, yet have no pressure relief valves or pressure monitoring.

    Also, Holtec and the NRC admit if water enters canisters through cracks there will be a nuclear reaction (criticality). They have no method to prevent or stop explosions or criticalities in these thin-wall canisters. References and evidence at SanOnofreSafety.org. If someone claims otherwise, ask for their technical evidence Not their “expert opinion”.

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