Update on California’s 2 Remaining Nukes

by on April 1, 2021 · 3 comments

in California, Energy, San Diego

Nuclear Shutdown News April 2021

By Michael Steinberg / Black Rain Press

Nuclear Shutdown News chronicles the decline and fall of nuclear power in the US and beyond, and highlights the efforts of those working for a nuclear free future.

Since I began writing Nuclear Shutdown News in 2014, I’ve learned that the No Nukes Movement resembles a woe-begone tale with more twists and turns than anyone would care to imagine.

The now outdated nuclear power technology began as the Atoms for Peace program following the mass nuclear destruction of multitudes of humans at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Now nuke power freaks don’t seem to know how to give up the ghost.

Perhaps nothing illustrates this better- or worse– than the current situation with California’s two remaining nukes, both overshadowed by the legacy of multiple meltdowns at Fukushima 10 years ago

These two nuclear plants both hug the California coastline. Perhaps forces of the instantaneously immolated   are taking their revenge from the Other Side.

Let’s start with too appropriately named Diablo Canyon nuke plant, now the last running such monstrosity in the state. Fraught with controversy from its inception, it spawned the Abalone Alliance no nukes group and Jane Fonda in the anti-nuke movie China Syndrome, released in 1979 at the same time as the Three Mile Island nuclear plant in Pennsylvania melted down.

Sited along California’s central coast near San Luis Obispo in an earthquake riddled area, with absentee owner Pacific Gas & Electric hundreds of miles away in San Francisco, the plant’s two nuclear reactors never escaped their public image as some sort of mutant death manifestation.

In 2018, in the wake of Fukushima, PG&E agreed to permanently shut down Diablo Canyon in the mid 2020s. In return, the electricity it produced would be replaced from renewable sources. But as shutdown approaches, how feasible is that?

In February of this year, the Union of Concerned Scientists took on that issue in its report “Diablo Canyon Is Shutting Down. Is California Ready?”

The answer’–NO.

That’s because so far the state has been dragging its feet in meeting the goals of the 2018 agreement. If this trend continues the replacement electricity will come too much from petrochemical sources like natural gas, thus increasing greenhouse gases rather than eliminating them in California.

The target date for zero emissions in the state is 2030. To achieve this the Union of Concerned Scientists recommends “a diverse mix of renewables (wind, solar, hydro) “and accelerated energy storage technology.”

Source: Union of Concerned Scientists, ususa.org

Watching the Nuclear Follies

Further south down the west coast, the San Onofre nuclear plant, which shut down prematurely in 2012 due to gross mismanagement, is pushing a new scheme to get rid of 3.6 million pounds of high level nuclear waste buried only 100 feet from the Pacific Ocean.

On March 17 World Nuclear News reported the plan for this potential catastrophic cargo is being promoted by principal owner Southern California Edison (SCE), whose track record includes ruining its nuke plant and then trying to stick its customers with billions of dollars in costs for the mistakes it made.

Edison is calling the the group to carry out the plan, “Action for Spent Fuel Now.” Spent fuel is the technical name for all the high level nuke waste buried under the popular surfing spot at San Onofre, as well as at many other shut down nuke plants across the US. The federal government was supposed to take custody of all this Atoms for Peace shit long ago, but of course nobody in their right mind would want to have anything to do with it.

Besides Edison, other members of the gang are “the counties of Orange and San Diego, the city of Riverside and San Diego Gas &Electric,” a minority owner of San Onofre.

The group’s stated purpose is to “enable stakeholders, including local governments, business and labor leaders, Native American leaders, environmental groups. and community members, to join forces and make offsite used fuel storage and/or interim storage a priority.”

Now that’s a mouthful. Perhaps Edison President and CEO Kevin Payne will be the first to step up and take a load of that hot stuff to his own “interim” back yard.

Source: World Nuclear News, world-nuclear-news.org




{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

David Weisman April 2, 2021 at 4:40 pm

While the CPUC may be dragging its feet on approving procurement of renewable energy to replace the retiring Diablo Canyon, the state legislature is not. The good news is that California legislators—including San Luis Obispo assemblyman Jordan Cunningham—have been sparked into action. AB 525, of which he is a co-author, lays out an expedited pathway for offshore wind energy that will make use of the Central Coast’s existing transmission infrastructure, bring needed jobs and opportunity to the region after Diablo closes, and mitigate environmental injustices. AB 525 will be heard in the Assembly Committee on Utilities and Energy Wednesday, April 7th, and SLO residents should be encouraged to write Jordan Cunningham and the Committee to voice support for this bill. The Alliance for Nuclear Responsibility Legal Fund is endorsing this important legislation.


Michael Steinberg April 7, 2021 at 11:09 pm

Thanks so much David–that’s exciting news. Michael


Donna Gilmore May 5, 2022 at 7:24 am

The nuclear waste is not “buried” at San Onofre. The nuclear waste canisters are stored in open holes with lids over the holes that have huge air vents. The only protection is a thin-wall (5/8″ thick) stainless steel canister that the NRC admits is vulnerable to short-term cracking, yet they no way to find cracks or repair them. A number of us encouraged Edison to buy thick-wall metal casks (10″ to over 19″ thick), the safety standard in most other countries. Thick-wall casks are designed to be maintained and monitored to PREVENT radioactive releases. Only thick-wall casks can meet ASME N3 Certification standards for nuclear pressure vessels used for storage and transport of highly radioactive nuclear waste.


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