Fraud and Earthquake Risks at California Nuclear Plants Jeopardize Safety

George Washington's picture

Fraud Makes Nuclear Plant Unsafe

California's San Onofre nuclear plant suffered a "very significant" event in February: a steam tube rupture and nuclear leak. The plant has been shut down ever since. In fact, San Onofre has been riddled with fraud for decades ... leading to very dangerous conditions:

A recent change in San Onofre's cooling system - done under the radar to avoid government scrutiny - has also put the plant at risk:

California's Other Plant Could Be Another Fukushima

California's other nuclear plant - Diablo Canyon - is also located on numerous earthquake faults, and a state legislator and seismic expert says it could turn into California's Fukushima:

On July 26th 2011 the California Energy Commission held hearings concerning the state's nuclear safety. During those hearings, the Chairman of the Commission asked governments experts whether or not they felt the facilities could withstand the maximum credible quake. The response was that they did not know. This is similar to what happened at Fukushima: seismologists dire warnings were ignored (and see this.) Yet the Nuclear Regulatory Commission doesn't even take earthquake risk into account when deciding whether or not to relicense plants like Diablo Canyon.

California Ballot Initiative May Shut Down Nuclear Plants

There’s a 2012 California ballot initiative to shut down all nuclear reactors in the state. See this, this and this. The initiative is spearheaded by someone who has already successfully shut down a nuclear power plant through a ballot initiative.

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anonnn's picture

As an ex-nuker, look at these graphics to understand what it means to "fix" a failed Steam Generator. 

The dense packing of over 9700, 3/4 inch, U-shaped tubes that anchor in a 13-foot diam tubesheet [>2 ft thick] with >19,000 penetrations will give you pause. Maybe take your breath away, as it is now doing to engineers at a West coast Nuc Pwr Plant.

 Bear in mind, it is daunting to consider any possible  "fix" of SGs could be done without first cutting a hole in the containment dome and removing them for teardown outside. Recall, each weighs abt 640 tons.

Perhaps now you can understand the only real fix, it seems, is to order new ones with abt a 3-year lead time. Possible, meanwhile to run crippled at 50-80% operation which the engineers might be able to do safely with frequent outages for inspections. Perhaps run only during hi-demand periods, like a "peaker" plant.

Another thought. The maker of the SGs, Mitsubishi in Japan, expects to complete their investigation of the problems by August 31. So do you think it wise to even try to start-up before then? Without Mitsuishi's agreement to do so?

Just for some twisted laughter, ask yourself: Did the NucRegCommission ask Mitsubishi whether the new SGs were "like-for-like" the verify Edison's claim they were [to avoid any heavy review by the NRC]. Or did the NRC take Edison's word for it without checking further?

New_Meat's picture

annonnnnnnnn: it is clear why you are an ex-nuker.  The fix is, in fact, and done many times, to open up the containment building wall {not dome}.  Three year lead time?  so what?

There are thingiez called "Technical Specifications" that limit the total amount of water leakage and no, not running crippled, but running under some control.  MHI is not the only "maker" of replacement SGs.

Duuuuuude, check out 50.59, don't cha' know.

- Ned

Stuck on Zero's picture

This plant could easily be made ultimately safe,  There is a large hill behind the plant.  A water reservoir could be installed at the top of the hill and in the event of a loss of power situation like Fukushima the reservoir could gravity feed the plant.  Simple things like this are enough.  Our stupid regulatory system will never require it.


Walt D.'s picture

George - don't forget when the Pacific Ocean rises due to Global Warming that these two plants will be under water. Mind you, the Pacific Ocean is a pretty good heat sink.

Joebloinvestor's picture

A long time ago I had a friend who worked at the NRC.

He swore that when it was announced Calif was building a nuclear reactor on a fault (Diablo) everyone in the NRC thought it was a prank, until they found out it was true.

Then he said,"You Californians are crazy".

We proved that by giving Jerry another bite of the apple (I didn't vote for the asshole).

worbsid's picture

Tough call ... whose spin should one believe?  The science as best we know it is not complete but if my dog  unexpectantly really wants to come in the house, I think I'll shut all the doors and windows, move my chair back away from my dest and .... KMAG.  YMMV but we are down wind of that plant though fortunately more than 150 miles. 

BTW:  Fun stuff.  My friend needed a pickup to haul some hay and other things and we traded my Isuzu PU for his LEAF for a day or two.  Very cool.   

GrinandBearit's picture

About 8 years ago I was considering on buying a home in San Clemente.  Even back then the San Onofre plant worried me.  I'm glad I decided not to settle there. 

Captain Nukem's picture

I completely agree that operating nuclear power plants in earthquake/tsunami zones is absolutely crazy. Even Californians must see that!

Obviously California needs to pass a ballot initiative to ban earthquakes and tsunamis anywhere within the state.

DaveyJones's picture

George did you see this:

In a rare move, a federal judge has struck down part of a controversial law signed by President Obama that gave the government the power to indefinitely detain anyone it considers a terrorism suspect anywhere in the world without charge or trial — including U.S. citizens. Judge Katherine Forrest of the Southern District of New York ruled the indefinite detention provision of the National Defense Authorization Act likely violates the First and Fifth Amendments of U.S. citizens. We speak with Chris Hedges, a journalist who filed the suit challenging the NDAA along with six others, and Bruce Afran, the group’s attorney. "This is another window into ... the steady assault against civil liberties," Hedges says. "What makes [the ruling] so monumental is that, finally, we have a federal judge who stands up for the rule of law

The most frightening point of procedure was when the court asked the government tell that this act could and will not be used to silence and imprison a journalist exercising their 1st amendment rights and the government answered - "we can't answer that question." 

suckitbitchez's picture

A client of mine worked as San Onofre.  She was terminated by Edison... as she had many safety related concerns that they were not willing to address.

As I understand it, she is now being interviewed by CBS and other local news outlets. 

Normalcy Bias's picture

Your client has a lot of guts for speaking out. I hope she doesn't get Silkwooded...

DaveyJones's picture

she's obviously a terrorist sent to divert our attention and resource away from the cause of democracy in the middle east

Westcoastliberal's picture

Thanks, George. Great reporting.  Both plants need to be closed and decommissioned and replaced with solar from the Mohave. 

Channel 2 KCBS has been airing a series of reports on the unsoundness of San Onofre, and last night a very strange story regarding a Woman who was visiting San Onofre State Beach, which is spitting distance from the plant.  She & the family were beachcombing and her kids found some strangely-colored rocks, which she slipped into a pocket in her shorts.  Believe it or not shortly thereafter they caught her shorts on fire.  She's in the hospital with 3rd degree burns, her hubby had 2nd degree burns trying to douse the flames.  Here's the link:

Whether there was any connection between the plant & rocks remains to be seen, but the proximity sure is weird.  Camp Pendleton is just down the beach as well.

boogiedown's picture

I love how the news report states, "Beleive it or not, these flammable rocks may be naturally occuring...coated with white phosphorous" and, "Investigators believe that the power plant has nothing to do with it, or next door neighbor Camp Pendelton, either." ROTFL

Found this posted on --

reply posted on 17-5-2012 @ 06:26 AM by watchitburn

Originally posted by CosmicEgg
So white phosphorus would do this sort of thing. Why did it look like rocks and why was it lying around on a beach in CA? Where did it come from?

This is pretty crazy. This stuff is illegal practically everywhere, which means the source is most likely "official" in origin. So....what gives?

I was thinking White Phosphorus as soon as I started reading the story, the location sold me on it.

WP is used in Sea Markers(Signal smoke for at sea). There is a lot of military training in that area. The WP can crust over protecting it from the air. The two "rocks" rubbing against each other in her pocket would be enough to compromise the crust around the WP. That stuff can burn for quite a while if only a small portion is exposed to oxygen. I have seen WP still burn after decades buried in the ground.

I would bet dollars to doughnuts it's WP.

-------------------------------- Another post from -- To: Free ThinkerNY

The key to the puzzle is that she found the "rocks" off San Clemente Beach, just north of Camp Pendleton. Chances are, she picked up crusted over felt wedges from a fired white phosphorus artillery round.

The felt wedges are soaked with white phosphorus and ignite when the round opens and they are exposed to air, producing the dense white smoke used for screening and marking targets. Felt wedges often crust over, sealing some of the remaining white phosphorus until some uninformed individual picks one up or steps on it (as I did once: set my boots on fire).

WP is nasty stuff and produced deep and painful burns. Have to be careful what you pick up near training bases.

31 posted on Thursday, May 17, 2012 6:16:58 AM by Chainmail [ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies] -------- Or it could be tsunami debris from Japan (a blob from industrial/marine flares which was inert while covered in water)


New_Meat's picture

Willy Pete was my friend one night ;-) - Ned

Walt D.'s picture

"Both plants need to be closed and decommissioned and replaced with solar from the Mohave."

Hillarious - since Diablo Canyon provides a large amount of the Pacific Gas and Electric nightime load!

New_Meat's picture

"bbbbbuuuttt, the computer is still plugged into the wall socket!  Why won't it boot up?"

tda325's picture

and then there's the woman who picked up some pretty rocks from the beach near San Onofre, put them in her pocket, and HER PANTS IGNITED....

Walt D.'s picture

This gives new meaning to "liar, liar pants on fire  !" :-)

George Washington's picture

And – despite Fukushima – the Obama administration’s nuclear regulators have actually weakened their emergency response plans for a U.S. nuclear accident.

HungrySeagull's picture

The plans I have from a month or so ago show three zones.

No go, Intermediate 24 hour go/later capped no go, and containment zone designed to prevent ANY and ALL attempts to leave or enter. (Other than Govt, Military etc)

If you are unfortunate to be in the no go zone, you will be left to die.

If you are in a middle zone, start working your way out. By the sunrise next morning, you will too be left to die.

Forget trying to breach the containment zone. in or out./


A simple cold war question from the duck and cover days.

What are the Nuclear targets within 4 miles of you? What about 20 miles. 50?

And what is the prevailing winds in your area. Are you able to shelter in place with the equivalent of 4 feet earth above you?

Finally but not least. Are you armed and able to defend yourself and family against those who have nothing to lose and seek to take what little you have.

NotApplicable's picture

As always George, you've got it backwards. It's not "despite" but "because of."

How can you write all of these articles while remaining ignorant that it's a criminal cartel? All you do is to further allow them to destroy by pretending they are legitimate.

Better yet, how can you do so here at ZH, where the Coup of '13 is well known?

Nobody For President's picture

Come on NA, GW is just giving us the information as it is being reported, without too much editorializing - do you serious think he does not know what the fuck is going on? He is spending his *life* digging out this shit, and the Fukishima shit. and relaying it to us.

YOU are the one that has it backwards - please correct your rectal-cranial inversion.


And thanks again, GW. Once upon a time, I resigned a junior exec position at PG&E, and one of the drivers was Diablo. I have been off the grid for 40+ years now because of Diablo, ("We need to build nuclear plants because of the demand" - so I removed myself from the demand equation) which is big time accident waiting to happen. I'm also south of the Humboldt plant, shut down these many years and storing lots of bad, bad shit - 40 feet msl and 20 miles minus from the triple junction. Scary ain't even close.

HungrySeagull's picture

Humbolt? As in the large several hundred mile zone with just salt and rocks?