Australian news, and some related international items

‘Chernobyl in a can’ – potential for error, in Holtec’s nuclear waste canisters

Nuclear waste solution remains elusive amidst polarized debate,The Coast News group,  by Jordan Ingram, 8 Mar 19, …………‘Chernobyl in a can’

In November 2018, a retired systems analyst silently held up a fistful of lemons during a Community Engagement Panel discussion with officials from Southern California Edison and the Nuclear regulatory Commission regarding a near-miss canister incident on Aug. 3 at San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS).

Donna Gilmore, who spent her career designing and analyzing IT systems at Caltrans and the state Controller’s Office, had a clear message: the “Holtec nuclear waste dry storage system is a lemon and poses a risk to Californians.”

When Gilmore, 71, discovered that Edison was using “thin-walled” Holtec canisters to store tons of nuclear waste at decommissioning SONGS, she saw a potential for error with an incalculable cost…….

According to Gilmore, each of the canisters currently stored at San Onofre holds roughly the same amount of Cesium-137 that was released after the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

“You basically have a Chernobyl disaster in each can,” Gilmore said.

Stephen Waters, a retired electrical engineer for Dillingham Construction during large hydroelectric projects such as PG&E’s Kerckhoff No. 2 and Edison’s Balsam Meadows, agreed with Gilmore’s assessment.

In an email correspondence with Gilmore, Waters wrote:

“The bottom line is these tables confirm your ‘Chernobyl in a can’ claim.  Each can would contain approximately 35 times the amount of Plutonium, the same amount of Cesium-137 and roughly six times as much Strontium-90 as released at Chernobyl.”…….

Gilmore said there are much safer canisters currently used in other parts of the world, including the CASTOR V/19 — the “Cadillac of the industry, according to Gilmore — which boasts nearly 20-inches ductile cast-iron protection……..

Reports released earlier this year by Samuel Lawrence Foundation further supports Gilmore’s claims, finding that the damage, or “gouging,” caused to the “thin-walled” steel canisters as they are lowered into the vaults is the most serious issue facing the storage facility.

In a 2017 report by the Electric Power Research Institute, steel canisters were found to be susceptible to chloride-induced stress corrosion cracking, chloride-rich salts combined with moisture that eat holes through metals over time.

Several cases of through-wall cracks due to chloride-induced corrosion were reported at nuclear power stations, including Koeberg, Turkey Point, St. Lucie and San Onofre, according to a report by the NRC.

In 2009, three examples of chloride-induced cracks were discovered in steel pipes at SONGS…..

what is more alarming, according to Gilmore and Waters, is that no approved method currently exists to deal with a failed canister.

During an Oct. 11, 2018, meeting on spent fuel storage, NRC Commissioner David A. Wright asked engineer Christian Araguas about the ability to inspect and repair canisters.

Araguas responded that the NRC and DOE are “trying to develop techniques to be able to inspect, you know, casks in service” and hopes that “they’re going to be able to inspect these in the future,” according to the meeting transcript.

Even more damning is the admission by Holtec President Kris Singh that it is “not practical to repair a canister if it were damaged” and that “all it takes is a microscopic crack” to get a release of millions of curies of radiation. ….“Why don’t they make containers that can be inspected and monitored in a manner that they don’t leak or explode,” Gilmore said. “Even the cheapest automobile can be inspected, maintained and repaired before something goes wrong.”

What’s the plan, man?

“The first step in emergency planning is prevention,” Gilmore said. “We have to focus on prevention and not get distracted with anything else. This idea that there’s an evacuation plan is giving false hope.”……

March 9, 2019 - Posted by | General News

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