PSR-LA Press Release: Study Finds Radioactivity Migrated from Contaminated Santa Susana Field Laboratory During Woolsey Fire

From Physicians for Social Responsibility

Congressional and Local Elected Officials Release Letters to CalEPA Complaining that the SSFL Soil Cleanup, Which Was to Have Been Completed by 2017, Hasn’t Even Begun

For Immediate Release: October 14, 2021

Contact: Denise Duffield, 310-339-9676 or dduffield@psr-la.org
Melissa Bumstead ‪(818) 835-5258‬ or melissabumstead@sbcglobal.net
Dr. Marco Kaltofen mpkaltofen@gmail.com

A peer-reviewed study, just published by the Journal of Environmental Radioactivity, found that radioactive contamination from the Santa Susana Field Laboratory (SSFL) migrated offsite during the 2018 Woolsey Fire, which began at SSFL. The study calls into question widely distrusted claims by the California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA) and its toxics department that no contamination was released.

SSFL is a former nuclear and rocket-engine testing facility located in the hills above the Simi and San Fernando valleys. Decades of accidents, spills, and releases – including a partial nuclear meltdown – resulted in extensive radioactive and chemical contamination that still has not been cleaned up.

The study “Radioactive microparticles related to the Woolsey Fire in Simi Valley, CA” was conducted by Marco Kaltofen of the Dept. of Physics, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and Maggie and Arnie Gundersen of Fairewinds Energy Education. It examined 360 samples of household dust, surface soils, and ash from 150 homes as well as other locations collected in December 2018 through February 2019 by community volunteers who received training in sample and safety protocols. Photos and video of the sample collection can be downloaded here. The study found radioactive particles associated with the fire at SSFL as high as nineteen times background (normal) as much as nine miles away.

The study concludes that while most samples collected were at background levels, “some ashes and dusts collected from the Woolsey Fire zone in the fire’s immediate aftermath contained high activities of radioactive isotopes associated with the Santa Susana Field Laboratory (SSFL). The data show that Woolsey Fire ash did, in fact, spread SSFL-related radioactive microparticles….Alpha and beta counting, high-resolution alpha and gamma spectroscopy, and X-ray microanalysis using SEM/EDS confirmed the presence of radioactive microparticles in the Woolsey Fire-related ashes and dusts.”

“Most of the fire-impacted samples found near the SSFL site’s perimeter were on lands accessible to the public. There were, however, scattered localized areas of increased radioactivity due to the presence of radioactive microparticles in ash and recently-settled dusts collected just after the Woolsey fire. These radioactive outliers were found in Thousand Oaks, CA, and Simi Valley, CA, about 15 and 5 km distant from SSFL, respectively. The Thousand Oaks samples had alpha count rates up to 19 times background, and X-ray spectroscopy (SEM) identified alpha-emitting thorium as the source of this excess radioactivity. Excessive alpha radiation in small particles is of particular interest because of the relatively high risk of inhalation-related long-term biological damage from internal alpha emitters compared to external radiation.”

The findings contradict conclusions by CalEPA’s Dept. of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC), which, a mere 9 hours after the fire began on November 8, 2018, declared that the fire didn’t result in releases of hazardous materials. CalEPA/DTSC issued an interim study in December 2018, affirmed in a final version in December 2020, which asserted that “data from sampling and measurements did not detect the release of chemical or radiological contaminants from SSFL.” The CalEPA/DTSC claims were widely criticized (see, e.g., Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists).

The new findings call these claims into question and further reinforce concern about their failure to clean up SSFL as long promised. Had the state and the parties responsible for the contamination (Boeing, Dept. of Energy, and NASA) met their legally binding obligations to clean up SSFL by the 2017 deadline, the 2018 fire couldn’t have released contamination. And further failure to remediate the site will pose continuing risks to the offsite population, as set forth in letters by Congressional and local elected officials released today.

Congressional Letter to CalEPA Complaining About Failure to Clean Up The Site

Congressmembers Sherman, Brownley, Correa, and Napolitano and Senator Padilla sent a letter to CalEPA today, stating:

“The 2007 Consent Order and 2020 Administrative Orders on Consent govern clean-up of the site and tasked the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) with responsibility for overseeing the clean-up. These Orders required that soil cleanup be completed by 2017, however the agreed upon soil remediation at the site has yet to begin. We are deeply concerned about the lengthy delays in the clean-up of SSFL….”

“We strongly support the existing cleanup agreements between the state and the three responsible parties. These agreements should be vigorously enforced and proceed with all appropriate urgency.”

Eleven Local Elected Officials Confront CalEPA About Its Delayed Cleanup, Failure to Enforce Cleanup Agreements, & Negotiations With Boeing to Weaken Cleanup Standards

Also today, County Supervisors from Ventura and LA County, six mayors, and an LA City Councilmember sent a letter to CalEPA saying:

“It is now four years after the clean-up was supposed to have been completed per adopted agreements, and as yet the promised soil clean-up has not begun. We are opposed to any action that would significantly delay or weaken site clean-up. We are specifically concerned with the following activities of your agency:

  • No State effort to enforce the 2007 Consent Order and 2010 Administrative Orders on Consent.
  • Confidential negotiations between DTSC and Boeing that could delay or weaken clean-up by Boeing as required by the Consent Order and Administrative Order on Consent (CO & AOC).
  • Proposed further delays in the Programmatic Environmental Impact Report while having not addressed shortcomings in the EIR that the City of LA, the County of Ventura, and others identified over three years ago.
  • Possible changes to the Standardized Risk Assessment Methodology (SRAM2 Update) that would allow Boeing to delay and weaken clean-up.”

As indicated in the letter, there is widespread concern among electeds and the community about secret negotiations between the state and Boeing that could have the effect of further delaying the cleanup while allowing Boeing to walk away from cleaning up most of its contamination. In particular, there is concern that the core of such a Boeing-Newsom Administration deal would be to revise the Standardized Risk Assessment Methodology, or SRAM, which forms the basis for the cleanup standards, and to do so in a way that would allow as much as twenty times higher levels of contamination than permitted in the current SRAM.

“The community is incredibly grateful that our elected representatives are standing up for us, especially now while CalEPA remains in secret negotiations with Boeing. Given the agency’s conduct with the SSFL cleanup and its failure to protect many other impacted communities in California, we are concerned that CalEPA will cut a deal with Boeing that will leave the vast majority of contamination at SSFL,” said Jeni Knack, a community member who helped collect samples for the radiation study.

“Federally funded studies have previously confirmed that contamination has migrated offsite over U.S. EPA levels of concern, and that the incidence of key cancers in the neighboring communities increases with proximity to the site,” said Denise Duffield, Associate Director of Physicians for Social Responsibility-LA. “In addition, site owner Boeing has been fined hundreds of thousands of dollars for exceeding contamination limits in surface water runoff leaving the site over many years. Until and unless CalEPA and the parties responsible for the pollution finally live up to their cleanup agreements, people living around the site will be at further risk to their health.”

“The bottom line is, if SSFL had been cleaned up by 2017 as required by the cleanup agreements, the community wouldn’t have had to worry about contamination released by the Woolsey Fire,” said Melissa Bumstead, co-founder of Parents vs. SSFL. “My daughter is a two-time cancer survivor, and no parent should have to worry that the SSFL might give their child cancer when there’s a fire on site, or when it rains or it’s windy.”

MSNBC to Air Award-Winning Documentary About the Santa Susana Field Lab

MSNBC has announced the acquisition of the documentary, “In the Dark of the Valley,” which follows the story of Melissa Bumstead and other local mothers whose children have been diagnosed with rare cancers and are fighting for SSFL to be fully cleaned up. The film has won numerous awards on the festival circuit, including Best Documentary at the Phoenix and Catalina Film Festivals. The film will air nationwide on November 14, 2021 at 10pm EST.

###

Physicians for Social Responsibility-Los Angeles (PSR-LA) has worked for the full cleanup of SSFL for over 30 years. PSR-LA advocates for policies and practices that protect public health from nuclear and environmental threats and eliminate health disparities.

Parents vs. SSFL is a grassroots group of concerned parents and residents who demand compliance with cleanup agreements signed in 2010 that require a full cleanup of all radioactive and chemical contamination at the Santa Susana Field Laboratory.

https://www.psr-la.org/study-finds-radioactivity-migrated-from-contaminated-santa-susana-field-laboratory-during-woolsey-fire/

— California’s Governor Newsom and Diablo Canyon

UPDATE: See below

Gavin Newsom may be forced to step down as Governor of California if a recall is approved September 14 by California voters.

He and the Democratic Party leaders are busy branding the recall a Republican effort, including a lawsuit by Newsom and divisive ads with Elizabeth Warren as spokeswoman – “distract and confuse” tactics. Many Californians are not interested in party power games and actually care about officials’ actions, such as when they protect special interests including utility companies and Big Oil, and allow risks or harm to the public and the environment.

For example, in 2016, when Newsom was Lieutenant Governor and on the California Lands Commission. Pacific Gas and Electric applied for a new permit for Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant. The plant had never had state environmental review which many now urged the Commission to require. In addition,

– in 2015, it was revealed that PG&E had used incorrect safety data – since 1982 – and altered its operating license with the help of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to appear in compliance.

– Mothers for Peace SLO reviewed data and found PG&E committed 29 safety violations in 2014 alone, including inoperable backup generators. Fukushima meltdowns were initiated when the electricity grid shut down and backup generators failed when turned on. PG&E called these violations “gaps in excellence”.

PG&E improperly packed high burn-up spent fuel rods into dry cask storage in 2015, creating a serious risk of a nuclear accident.

– the plant and its desal plant cause extensive damage to the ocean, including its devastating once-through water intake system that kills marine life.

– the plant sits amidst an active, connected network of earthquake faults

– a nuclear accident at Diablo Canyon would impact critical agricultural lands north in Monterey, San Benito, and Santa Cruz Counties, east to the Central Valley, and south to Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties, harm millions of people including Los Angeles, cause environmental destruction on land and to the Pacific Ocean, and devastate California, ranked the 5th largest economy in the world.

These are some of the issues. Friends of the Earth said in March 2015, “Diablo Canyon should never have been constructed in the first place, and now it is clear it should not be allowed to operate another day.”

Further, the Commission hearing was occurring as PG&E was on trial for the San Bruno disaster.

Despite the facts and the dangers from continued plant operation, Gavin Newsom refused to require environmental review and refused to delay the hearing to allow the public and experts to evaluate new information and Commission reports.

Instead, Newsom led the Commission in voting to approve the new permit, and applauded a recent agreement allowing the plant to operate for nine more years.

June 2016 hearing transcript; Diablo Canyon consideration starts on p. 78

Preceding April 2016 hearing transcript; Diablo Canyon starts on p. 55

Newsom’s comments at the hearings were very disturbing, given the issues and risks and PG&E’s safety history.

After 2016, California was hit with the powerful Ridgecrest earthquake and its many strong aftershocks – a powerful reminder of the daily risks. And even a power outage can cause a catastrophic nuclear accident, because nuclear power plants rely on grid power to keep fuel rods and spent fuel pools cool.

Newsom’s critical decision affecting the lives and future of so many is one example of his priorities and judgment. This is the reason many Californians support a recall.

– – –

See also:

https://nonukesca.net/diablo-canyon-shut-down-proposal-a-critical-view/

https://nonukesca.net/nrc-diablo-canyon-among-most-embrittled-plants-in-the-u-s/

UPDATE:

From ABC10 Sacramento:

Fire-Power-Money www.firepowermoney.com

https://www.abc10.com/article/news/local/abc10-originals/fire-power-money-california-wildfires-investigation-pge/103-c273fb35-1c43-4d9a-9bdc-3d7971e5540b

“For nearly three years, ABC10’s Fire – Power – Money team has been at the forefront covering California’s wildfire crisis, the danger of PG&E’s power lines, and how the company avoids accountability. 

Now, ABC10’s award-winning investigative series reveals how California’s state government, under Governor Gavin Newsom, responded to PG&E’s deadly crimes by giving the company rewards and protection.”

— Ukraine energy crisis affecting reactors: EU urges lifting rail blockade of Donbass coal

To understand the situation in Ukraine — 

http://www.globalresearch.ca/a-documentary-youll-likely-never-see-ukraine-on-fire-by-oliver-stone/5574843
http://www.globalresearch.ca/indepthreport/ukraine-report

From Fort Russ

February 16, 2017 – Fort Russ News –
– Sputnik France, translated by Tom Winter –

“Donbass, the Heart of Russia.” 1921 poster has two coal miners at top, and the map serves well today to show how suicidal blocking the coal trains was.
This is Sputnik France’s illustration for this report.  “The EU urges lifting the Commercial blockade of Donbass.” And the picture’s hidden label reads “Instead of aid, blockade.”

Faced with the prospect of revolving power outages in Ukraine, the European Union has at last taken note of the commercial blockade of the Donbass, with Kiev no longer receiving the anthracite coal absolutely necessary for the Ukrainian power stations.

The commercial blockade of the Donbass
a) violates the rights of Ukrainians living in the territories that are currently beyond the control of Kiev, and
b) is likely to trigger an energy crisis in the country, warns the representation of the European Union in Ukraine, adding that the organizers of the blockade must immediately lift it.

The blockade of the railway connections with Donbass started at end of January, when a group of veterans of the volunteer battalions participating in the hostilities [on the side of the Kiev regime], with deputies of the Supreme Rada (Ukrainian parliament), blocked traffic on the railway line.

The organizers of the blockade claimed that any trade with the self-proclaimed People’s Republics of Donetsk (DNR) and Lugansk (LNR) was illegal, and that all goods transported were therefore contraband.

The railway blockade has led to problems in getting anthracite coal from the Donbass, causing difficulties in Ukraine’s energy sector. As a result, Kiev is already considering revolving power cuts in most parts of the country.

http://www.fort-russ.com/2017/02/eu-urges-lifting-rail-blockade-of.html

— Nuclear terrorism could be used to blackmail Europe and Russia

The situation in Ukraine is frightening on many fronts. The mainstream news severely censors the news, as it does on Fukushima. Fort Russ is one website translating and publishing articles on the situation. Global Research is another.

There are 15 nuclear reactors operating in Ukraine right now — 6 reactors at Zaporozhye (and there has already been an accident there) and 2 at South Ukraine, both in the south eastern part of Ukraine. Imagine an accident at one or both of these plants.

Peace in Ukraine and the cessation of US and Western support for the Kiev regime that has brought about this dangerous state of affairs has to be a top priority. When just one reactor at Chernobyl in Ukraine erupted in 1986, the land as far away as North Wales was so severely contaminated that the dairy industry to this day continues to be impacted and monitored.

From Fort Russ

Zhuravko: Islyamov Could Engage in Nuclear Terrorism for the Sake of Blackmailing Russia

Translated by Ollie Richardson for Fort Russ
27th June, 2016

The situation in Ukraine continues to be alarming, and, unfortunately, does not create hope and optimism. The state under the control of the coup is rapidly approaching collapse on all fronts. In this sense, unfortunately, the threat is not only to the State of the country or the welfare of its inhabitants, but also the lives of millions of people, and not only in Ukraine. The Kiev government largely does not control the situation in Ukraine, does not control its own militants, and cannot prevent many emergencies, among which the safety of Ukrainian Nuclear Power Plant has special status.

This was discussed on the TV programme “Special Status” on the TV channel “Zvezda”, which the Ukrainian opposition politician Alexei Zhuravko participated in.

“I am receiving disturbing information from Ukraine almost every day. The threat of a terrible collapse and many deaths exists. We mustn’t joke on the topic of nuclear plants. In addition, experts seak about one other threat: it is Islyamov, it is “Azov” militants, fighters of “Dnepr”. And no one knows where the gun will turn. The worst thing is that the safety of nuclear power plants, which was ensured by the State, internal security, no longer exists. That is, there is no protection, there are no guns that were defending the stations before, all was stolen, money for major repairs of the stations was looted, very little resources were allocated. In Zaporozhye, according to my real information, there was already a shutdown of this station, and it is linked with experiments. (I still have connections, I used to work with “Energoatom”) In this situation, we need to unite, to connect media, to reach out to the Ukrainians, otherwise there will be a disaster,” he said.

Zhuravko doesn’t exclude that the fugitive Crimean Tatar terrorist Lenor Islyamov and his fighters, who have repeatedly threatened Russia with terrorist attacks, can bring his threats to life. Among those may be the explosion of nuclear facilities, nuclear power plants.

“It is simple. If some fool will get guns and mortars, after that it can explode. It’s scary! If today Islyamov wants to blackmail Russia, he has everything to do it. He can order the militants to close the stations and just to install terror. Nuclear terror. Because in Ukraine, the President does not control the country! And this process must be controlled by specialists,” said the politician.

“I ring all the bells around and I hope god will forbid those bastards from entering into nuclear power plant and chemical plant, and it’s just hard to imagine what the consequences and human toll would be,” adds Zhuravko.

“If today Russia will not interpose, we will have such a blast that it will not look like something small. And it will be Belarus, Russia, Europe, and other countries that will suffer the most! It is necessary to “rear up” Europe… it is necessary to inform Ukrainians, it is necessary to show and to tell the truth on this matter. And to prove to people that they need to rise because a catastrophe will whip up, and humanity will be no more. Think about it for the time being it’s not too late,” warns the politician.

At this time, in the South of Ukraine, armed militants that are massively deployed in the region, continue criminal terror. According to Zhuravko, robbery of the population gains the scope of this disaster.

“Kherson region. 50 people armed to the teeth took away the farmer’s tractor, covers, chemicals, and seed material to the amount of twelve million hryvnias.

Mykolaiv region, Bashtansky district, 25th June 2016, 40 people armed with machine guns and other machetes seized the entire crop from this year.

According to available information, in Ukraine, on the black market and near the area of the ATO, you can buy any kind of weapons, machine guns, grenades, machine guns, explosives, anti-tank mines, and more.

Private territorial battalions in Ukraine are growing like mushrooms after rain. The example of Isylamov’s battalions and their ISIS-isation of the Kherson region is already enough of a problem.

The President does not control the situation in Ukraine, the Security Service of Ukraine is not fighting against private territorial battalions with radical ideas, and are not fighting terrorism,” writes the ex-MP on a social network.

Alexei Zhuravko’s data was unexpectedly confirmed by the famous Ukrainian militant, leader of “Brotherhood” Dmitry Korchinskiy. Battalions under the leadership of businessman Lenur Islyamov, formed on the border with Crimea in Kherson region, are engaged in robbery, he said to the TV channel “112 Ukraine”.

“They have already proclaimed the necessity of national autonomy of the Crimean Tatars, without asking the Ukrainian people. Crimean Tatars, even in the times of Geray (dynasty of Kahn in the 15th Century – O.R), were not a majority in Crimea. And today they say that Crimea should be a national autonomy of Crimean Tatars!

Today in two districts in Kherson region… Tatars under the command of Lenur Islyamov, the former Deputy Prime Minister of the occupational government of Crimea, already have military formations that are very well armed, and are also engaged in robbery and all sorts of boorishness,” said Korchinskiy.

http://www.fort-russ.com/2016/06/zhuravko-islyamov-could-engage-in.html

Article on nuclear power in Ukraine:

http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/Country-Profiles/Countries-T-Z/Ukraine/

— Researcher asks for investigative help to verify major nuclear accident(s) in 2016 and cover-up

From Allegedly Apparent
May 1, 2016

Request for Investigative Assistance! WANTED: Verification of MAJOR Nuclear Accident(s) in 2016: WHEN, WHERE, HOW BAD, and WHO is covering it up?

https://goo.gl/ZYEdai — short link

Excerpt on detections:

Ruthenium-103, mid-January 2016, Southern Norway
Cesium-137, early/mid-March 2016, Far-Northern Finland
Tellurium-103, late April 2016, Northern Germany

https://allegedlyapparent.wordpress.com/2016/05/01/request-for-investigative-assistance-wanted-verification-of-major-nuclear-accident-in-2016-when-where-how-bad-and-who-is-covering-it-up/

— California Senate Bill 968 supporting PG&E’s Diablo Canyon faces sharp opposition

Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant faces increasing calls for closure. It is the only power generating nuclear plant currently operating in California. Its problems have been ongoing from the beginning. It is at daily risk from the four earthquake faults in the vicinity. The many frightening safety violations there by Pacific Gas and Electric and the NRC whistleblower exposé that the plant is out of compliance have caused alarm bells. Recent comments by Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom on the California Lands Commission mean Diablo Canyon’s future is being questioned in Sacramento.

But in February, Sen. Bill Monning introduced Senate Bill 968, co-written by Sen. Katcho Achadjian (San Luis Obispo) and Assemblywoman Hannah-Beth Jackson (Santa Barbara-Ventura), calling for a study of the adverse economic effects of closing Diablo Canyon. Many profit by its continued operation. The study would be funded by the public. The bill and its unbalanced study has encountered strong opposition from environmental and health organizations. Though Monning has now amended the bill to add ‘beneficial’ economic effects from a closure to the investigation, this seems merely a cosmetic change. The intent of the authors and this bill is clear.

Sen. Monning and co-authors state they want an independent evaluation, but the California Public Utilities Commission – an agency notorious for biasing results and ignoring unwanted conclusions – will oversee the selection. Furthermore in 2011, Monning as Assemblyman helped choose, and then affirmed findings of, the California Council on Science and Technology on Smart Meters. CCST was a supposedly independent group, but flaws in the review panel, the data, and the report were exposed by state health officials, scientists, and medical experts. However, Monning stood firm, despite what was widely known about Smart Meter problems, despite formal comments to the CPUC on overbilling and health issues, and despite public testimony to the Commission and Monning’s own office of the harm being inflicted by Smart Meters. CCST’s pro-industry report gave cover to PG&E and other utility companies for the continued roll-out of the very dangerous and controversial meters.

Bill Monning has proven a reliable supporter for utility company initiatives and Democratic Party positions and backers, despite his former position as Executive Director for the International Physicians for Social Responsibility. The San Francisco Bay and Los Angeles Chapters of Physicians for Social Responsibility called their decision to oppose this bill and its author “painful” because of Monning’s previous affiliation with their group, but they felt they had no choice.

PSR reluctantly has concluded that this bill would be at variance with the fundamental principle “do no harm”. By calling on PG&E to submit an analysis of the supposedly adverse economic impacts of closing the plant at the end of its designed life with no discussion of impacts of a Fukushima-type disaster were the plant to keep running, the study would amount to a piece of advocacy for continued operation of this dangerous facility.

Each Diablo unit contains 1000 times a long-lived radioactivity of the Hiroshima bomb. Each year Diablo produces enough plutonium for hundreds of nuclear weapons as well as waste toxic for half a million years.

The plant was built based on the assumption there were no active earthquake faults within 30 kilometers. Now we know there are 4. It is a catastrophe waiting to happen.

The public should not be forced to pay as taxpayers or ratepayers for a wasteful, unbalanced, and unnecessary report that may have the effect of implicitly pushing for the continuation of these risks. Thank you.

Monning: “One slight correction on the opposition testimony. We do remain open to working with them. This would not be a study conducted by PG&E. It would be supported by an independent study.”

The economic and environmental damage that Diablo Canyon inflicts on San Luis Obispo County now and on the ocean now is not considered by Sen. Monning and Co.. And “a catastrophe waiting to happen” decimating all industry and population centers within many miles is simply not a part of their equation, economic or otherwise – a startling realization. It is especially surprising that Senator Jackson co-authored this bill, since her district does not have the economic gain that SLO County enjoys, and both of the counties she represents — Santa Barbara and Ventura — would suffer terrible impacts if Diablo Canyon underwent an accident. Ventura County was impacted by the Santa Susanna Field Laboratory’s multiple nuclear accidents starting in the 1950s. Why would Sen. Jackson risk more nuclear danger?

Given Sen. Monning and co-authors’ intent for his bill, it is doubtful that an evaluative group would do anything other than rubberstamp the original goal — to show that closing Diablo Canyon would cause adverse economic impacts to San Luis Obispo County (and also, to PG&E investors) – and thereby slow any process to close the plant.

When Monning states that the bill’s authors remain open to working with the groups in opposition, one thing is clear: for the authors, these environmental and health groups are the opposition. The authors are against reason, against the science, and against public safety.

Below is an unofficial transcript of the May 2 Senate Appropriations Committee hearing. The links to the video are here:http://senate.ca.gov/media-archive – Videos, May 2, 2016 Appropriations Comm hearing

http://vod.senate.ca.gov/videos/2016/20160502_Appropriations_high.mp4

Appropriations Committee hearing, May 2, 2016

SB 968 goes from 10:20 – 17:28 on the video.

SB 968 – Diablo Canyon

Sen. Monning: Good morning, Chair, members.

Senate Bill 968 requires an economic assessment of the adverse and beneficial impacts that could occur in the event that the Diablo nuclear power plant shuts down. The economic assessment is an appropriate use of ratepayer funds, because allr atepayers have benefited from the energy generated from Diablo Canyon. There are past examples of ratepayers-funded studies only benefiting a single region.

Even if there is disagreement on this point, the actual impact to ratepayers will be de minimis.

San Luis Obispo’s economy is heavily reliant on Diablo Canyon which is why an independent accurate assessment to help identify ways to mitigate the impacts is indeed prudent.

I along with Asm. Achadjian have a duty to protect the region that we represent from economic harm, and SB 968 is a means for the San Luis Obispo community to plan and discuss in the event of the plant’s closure. I recognize this is a candidate for suspense and would urge an aye vote at the appropriate time. And we have a couple of witnesses in support. Thank you.

In support:

1 — Derek ? on behalf of the San Luis Coastal Unified School District. This is a school district that encompasses the power plant and surrounding region and so it’s really impacted by the local economy that’s brought to the area by PG&E and the power plants.

This nexus we think with state funding here is the fact that when the local economy becomes depressed because of a sudden instance like the closure of a power plant, we’d see an augmentation in state funding required under the local control funding formula and our unique funding system here in California. So we think that some point, there could bee a big augmentation devoted to this very school district and surrounding area, given its $80 million dollar annual operating budget and the fact that it might fall out of basic aid status. And so we urge you to support the bill.

2 — Good morning, Chair, members. Karen Lang (?) of the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors. This county collects almost $26 million dollars in property taxes from the existence of the plant. Obviously that goes to all the tax entities including the school district. With concerns about any sudden or over time closure of the plant, and so a third party analysis would be really helpful we think and we urge your aye vote when the time comes.

Witness in support:

In opposition:

1 — I am Molly Johnson. I am here to present the opposition of more than 30 environmental and other health organizations including Public Citizen, Greenpeace, LA and San Francisco Chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility, San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace, Northern Band Chumash Council

We remain troubled by the bill’s one-sided nature although it is getting better, and we are working with to continue that, Uit still focuses on adverse economic rather than a balanced, and we would like to it more balanced.

We do see that there has been an amount put to the bill which we did not see until just a little bit ago. So even though these matters are now touched upon by the staff report, we feel that this still is a wasteful expense unless it is a balanced bill. Thank you.

2 — Good morning. I am Tabez Zadi (sp?) and am appearing on behalf of the San Francisco Bay and Los Angeles Chapters of Physicians for Social Responsibility which has long worked to address nuclear risks. And Sen. Monning once served as Executive Director of PSR’s parent international physician’s organization.

And PSR’s opposition to his bill on Diablo Canyon is thus painful and hasn’t been entered into lightly. PSR reluctantly has concluded that this bill would be at variance with the fundamental principle “do no harm”. By calling on PG&E to submit an analysis of the supposedly adverse economic impacts of closing the plant at the end of its designed life with no discussion of impacts of a Fukushima-type disaster were the plant to keep running, the study would amount to a piece of advocacy for continued operation of this dangerous facility.

Each Diablo unit contains 1000 times a long-lived radioactivity of the Hiroshima bomb. Each year Diablo produces enough plutonium for hundreds of nuclear weapons as well as waste toxic for half a million years.

The plant was built based on the assumption there were no active earthquake faults within 30 kilometers. Now we know there are four. It is a catastrophe waiting to happen.

The public should not be forced to pay as taxpayers or ratepayers for a wasteful, unbalanced, and unnecessary report that may have the effect of implicitly pushing for the continuation of these risks. Thank you.

Monning: One slight correction on the opposition testimony. We do remain open to working with them. This would not be a study conducted by PGE&. It would be supported by an independent study. With that again, I would request at the appropriate time an aye vote.

——————-

More information:

http://mothersforpeace.org/blog/29-gaps-in-excellence-in-2014

http://nonukesca.net/?p=539

http://www.foe.org/news/news-releases/2015-03-diablo-pge-secretly-used-wrong-data-for-safety-equipment#sthash.8DQl1ReI.dpuf

https://healfukushima.org/2016/02/29/take-action-on-diablo-canyon-npp-tell-california-state-lands-commission-to-do-full-ceqa-review/

http://mothersforpeace.org/blog/topics-to-address-at-august-5-2015-nrc-meeting-in-slo

http://www.ktvu.com/news/news/ap-exclusive-expert-calls-diablo-canyon-shutdown/ng8Tj/

http://lompocrecord.com/news/opinion/mailbag/hartmann-nuke-risks-oil-trains/article_9f1703e4-4a34-5f16-997c-6be468a26bc9.html

Belgian nuclear reactors riddled with 16,000 unexplained cracks

From the Ecologist
by Oliver Tickell
18th February 2015

The discovery of over 16,000 cracks in two Belgian reactor vessels may have global implications for nuclear safety, says the country’s nuclear safety chief. He and independent experts are calling for the immediate checks of nuclear reactor vessels worldwide.

The safety of every nuclear reactor on the planet could be significantly compromised … What we are seeing in Belgium is potentially devastating for nuclear reactors globally due to the increased risk of a catastrophic failure.

Thousands of cracks have been found in the steel reactor pressure vessels in nuclear reactors Doel 3 and Tihange 2 in Belgium – vessels contain highly radioactive nuclear fuel cores.

The failure of these components can cause catastrophic nuclear accidents with massive release of radiation.

The pervasive – and entirely unexpected – cracking could be related to corrosion from normal operation, according to leading material scientists Professor Walter Bogaerts and Professor Digby MacDonald.

Speaking on Belgian TV, Professor MacDonald said:

“The consequences could be very severe … like fracturing the pressure vessel, loss of coolant accident. This would be a leak before break scenario, in which case before a fracture of a pipe occurred … you would see a jet of steam coming out through the insulation.

“My advice is that all reactor operators, under the guidance of the regulatory commissions should be required to do an ultrasonic survey of the pressure vessels. All of them.”

Professor Bogaerts added:

“If I had to estimate, I would really be surprised if it … had occurred nowhere else … I am afraid that the corrosion aspects have been underestimated.”

Jan Bens, Director-General of the Belgian nuclear regulator the Federal Agency for Nuclear Control (FANC),  has said that this could be a problem for the entire nuclear industry globally – and that the solution is to begin the careful inspection of 430 nuclear power plants worldwide.

An unexplained embrittlement

The problem was discovered in the summer of 2012. Both the Doel 3 and Tihange 2 reactors have been shut down since March 24th, 2014 after additional tests revealed an unexplained advanced embrittlement of the steel of the test sample.

At the time the reactors’ operator, Electrabel, dismissed the cracks as being the result of manufacturing problems during construction in the late 1970’s in the Netherlands – but provided no supporting evidence.

FANC also stated that the most likely cause was manufacturing – but added that it could be due to other causes. Following the further tests FANC has now issued a statement confirming that the additional 2014 tests revealed 13,047 cracks in Doel 3 and 3,149 in Tihange 2.

“In carrying out tests related to theme 2 during the spring of 2014, a fracture toughness test revealed unexpected results, which suggested that the mechanical properties of the material were more strongly influenced by radiation than experts had expected. As a precaution both reactors were immediately shut down again.”

As nuclear reactors age, radiation causes pressure vessel damage, or embrittlement, of the steel mostly as a result of the constant irradiation by neutrons which gradually destroys the metal atom by atom – inducing radioactivity and transmutation into other elements.

Another problem is that hydrogen from cooling water can migrate into reactor vessel cracks. “The phenomenon is like a road in winter where water trickles into tiny cracks, freezes, and expands, breaking up the road”, says Greenpeace Belgium energy campaigner Eloi Glorieux.

“It appears that hydrogen from the water within the vessel that cools the reactor core is getting inside the steel, reacting, and destroying the pressure vessel from within.”

He adds that the findings mean that “the safety of every nuclear reactor on the planet could be significantly compromised … What we are seeing in Belgium is potentially devastating for nuclear reactors globally due to the increased risk of a catastrophic failure.”

Immediate action needed to prevent another catastrophe

On February 15th the nuclear reactor operator, Electrabel (GDF / Suez parent company) announced that it would be prepared to “sacrifice” one of its reactors to conduct further destructive tests of the reactor pressure vessel in order to study this poorly understood and extremely concerning damage phenomenon.

Electrabel’s findings will be submitted to FANC which will organize a new meeting of the international panel of experts to obtain their advice on the results of the new material tests and on the new data.

According to Electrabel, the findings constitute a “Level 1 occurrence on the International Nuclear Event Scale (INES)” but the company emphasises that the event “has no impact whatsoever on the wellbeing or health of the employees, the local residents, or the surrounding area.”

But Glorieux dismisses such complacency:

“As we approach the fourth anniversary of the Fukushima-daiichi nuclear disaster, evidence has emerged that demands immediate action to prevent another catastrophe. Thousands of previously unknown cracks in critical components of two reactors point to a potentially endemic and significant safety problem for reactors globally.

“Nuclear regulators worldwide must require reactor inspections as soon as possible, and no later than the next scheduled maintenance shutdown. If damage is discovered, the reactors must remain shut down until and unless safety and pressure vessel integrity can be guaranteed. Anything less would be insane given the risk of a severe nuclear accident”

There are 435 commercial nuclear reactors worldwide, with an average age of 28.5 years in mid 2014. Of these, 170 reactors (44 percent of the total) have been operating for 30 years or more and 39 reactors have operated for over 40 years. As of 2015, Doel 3 has been operating for 33 years; Tihange 2 for 32 years.

Oliver Tickell edits The Ecologist.

http://www.theecologist.org/News/news_round_up/2758982/belgian_nuclear_reactors_riddled_wi%20th_16000_unexplained_cracks.html