By Sarah “Steve” Mosko
Two recent scandals confirm that public safety is not top priority of either the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) or SoCal Edison as they lurch forward with a faulty engineering design for removing spent nuclear waste from cooling pools and loading into dry storage at the now shuttered San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station.
In August 2018, a conscience-driven whistle blower exposed how, because of a system design flaw and human error, a 54-ton canister loaded with highly radioactive waste nearly crashed down 18 feet during a procedure to load it into a dry storage silo in the ground. He also detailed a general atmosphere of neglect for public safety by both the NRC and Edison.
In the latest scandal, it was revealed that the approved loading system can’t avoid scratching the thin (5/8-inch) steel-walled canisters as they are lowered into the concrete-reinforced steel silos. According to the advocacy group SanOnofreSafety.org, the NRC admits that scratches are unavoidable and can trigger cracking which can grow through the canister wall, causing uncontrolled radiation leakage. CEO Kris Singh of Holtec, the company that manufactures the cans, acknowledges that even a microscopic crack would release millions of curies of radiation (one curie is enough to kill you).