Expert warns that lethal radiation geysers are possible at San Onofre

Legal filing to NRC warns of potentially deadly radioactive geysers at the failed San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS)

Dateline, February 4, 2020, San Diego —
Today, Public Watchdogs announced that it has filed a new 2.206 Petition with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to revoke Southern California Edison’s ability to bury deadly nuclear waste at the site of the failed nuclear power plant. The hot, radioactive “spent nuclear fuel,” which can reach temperatures as high as 750°F, is deadly for at least 250,000 years.  The hot nuclear waste is being stored by Edison in thin-walled (5/8” thick) stainless steel canisters that are warranted to last 25 years. Once the waste is canned, it is lowered into a concrete reinforced carbon steel silo located in an earthen berm, 108 feet from the beach at San Onofre State Beach Park.

The “Yellowstone Effect” could cause radioactive steam geysers similar to the Old Faithful Geyser on the beach at San Onofre.

According to the report, if the superheated silos are flooded, they could potentially erupt with deadly radioactive steam geysers. The phenomenon has been dubbed “The Yellowstone Effect,” because the geysers are likely to mimic the action of the famous “Old Faithful” geyser at Yellowstone National Park. According to Edison’s own documents, the beachfront nuclear waste storage facility is subject to flooding and bluff collapse.

The exterior temperature of the thin-walled canisters average 452°F, while the surface of the silos that hold them are at least 350°F, well above the boiling point of water (212°F). In the event of flooding, cold ocean water will flash to steam once it enters the superheated silos, ejecting a deadly blast of radioactive steam from the outlet vents at the top of the below-ground silos.

According to Paul Blanch, a Public Watchdogs’ subject matter expert, “If the site is flooded, the integrity of the 5/8” thick stainless steel canisters may be compromised by pressure and thermal shock. We expect the phenomenon to occur whenever water floods the silos.”

“The Yellowstone Effect is an unanalyzed condition which requires the NRC to halt all movement of deadly spent nuclear fuel at the failed SONGS facility until the threat has been properly assessed” says Charles Langley, Public Watchdogs Executive Director.

Click here for a copy of the petition.

UPDATE:  02-18-2020:  NRC refuses to release its Flood Analysis for San Onofre.

For background, or interviews with subject matter experts, contact 
Charles Langley (858) 752-4600  or langley @


7 thoughts on “Expert warns that lethal radiation geysers are possible at San Onofre

  1. Fukushima Daiichi happened nearly 9 years ago- do you really think they haven’t accounted for that since then? If you’re wondering- I live about 15 miles from there.

    1. Travis: First, who are “They?” How did “They” fix the problem? What have “They” done to help you? Second, it is understandable that if you live near Fukushima that you are reluctant to accept the consequences of what happened there. Denial is a perfectly normal response, and cheap real estate is hard to find. We get it.

  2. Langley is a fraud. He has assembled individual statistics and reinterpreted all of them in the worst context. This is what you get when you distill a report to numbers and reinterpret with a wild imagination. It is lying with data.

    The 5/8″ steel is not the only barrier nor structure in a cask. It is the air tight part. Outside of that is additional concrete and steel.

    25 years is not the end of life for these containers. It is the interval that they are reinspected for damage or corrosion. These are airstrike rated for many inspection intervals.

    Finally, 452° is not the operating temperature. It is their rated tolerance.

    1. The canister has a 5/8″ thick wall made of 316L austenitic stainless steel. It is placed in a “canister enclosure cavity” that is essentially a concrete reinforced carbon steel silo. Because the silo is carbon steel, it is vulnerable to rusting. We never stated that 25 years was the “end life” of the canisters. We simply state the facts: They are only warranted for 25 years. Meanwhile, the radioactive material inside them remains deadly for at least 250,000 years. Those are all established facts. Finally, your suggestion that 452° is the rated tolerance is specious. Do you even know what an engineering tolerance is?

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