U.S. Supreme Court kicks nuclear cans down the road to our children

For Immediate Release

Public Watchdogs learned today that the Supreme Court of the United States has denied our petition for a hearing regarding the right of private citizens to sue utilities over safety issues involving toxic high-level nuclear waste.   At issue is the storage of highly radioactive “spent” nuclear fuel.  3.6 million pounds of this  fuel, which is deadly once it is “used up” or “spent,” is  being stored in thin-walled canisters at the location of the failed San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) in northern San Diego County.

Southern California Edison abruptly shuttered the nuclear power plant on January 31, 2012,  due to a flawed design and a radiation leak.

“This is an issue of national consequence.  It sets a dangerous precedent across the country for all other decommissioning nuclear power plants.  Edison has buried this radioactive nuclear waste in an unsafe manner,” says Nina Babiarz, a Public Watchdogs Board Member.  “The failure of the Court to hear our case doesn’t mean the problem has been solved.  The nuclear can has been  kicked down the road for our children to deal with later.  It’s a lousy deal.” says Babiarz.

Critics of the thin-walled canisters, which are manufactured by Holtec Corporation, have called the 5/8″ stainless steel storage cans “Mobile Chernobyls.”

As a result of today’s decision, nuclear waste that is  deadly for more than 250,000 years will continue to be stored at San Onofre State Beach Park in containers that are only warranted to last 25-years  (get warranty here).  What’s more, the beachfront nuclear waste dump is located in a tsunami inundation zone, on an earthquake fault line in the middle of millions of people.

The case, Public Watchdogs v. Southern California Edison, et al, pitted a small consumer group against some of the USA’s biggest utilities including Southern California Edison, San Diego Gas & Electric, Sempra Energy, and the manufacturer of the 25-year canisters, Holtec International.

“Under current law, the sole responsibility for regulating the safety of deadly nuclear waste rests squarely on the shoulders of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission,” says Charles Langley, the Executive Director of Public Watchdogs.  “Unfortunately, this is a regulator that is refuses to regulate.  The NRC is not living up to its responsibility to enforce federal regulations that were enacted to keep the public safe.  This is why the rights of  taxpaying citizens to question the NRC’s authority in a court of law is so very important.  It is about the public’s right to due process.”

Public Watchdogs is an IRS-approved public nonprofit dedicated to the premise that “The public has a right to know.”


2 thoughts on “U.S. Supreme Court kicks nuclear cans down the road to our children

  1. Hello, I hate being picky about details, but I think accuracy is important. The San Onofre NPP was not abruptly shuttered on Jan. 31,2012. The Unit 3 steam generator tube leak occurred on Jan.31,2012 while Unit 2 for offline for refueling. The announcement that SCE would be permanently closing the plant occurred on June 7, 2013. I actually wrote a letter to Gov. Jerry Brown on May 2, 2013, in easy to understand language, informing him that SCE was not being truthful about their ability to re-start Unit 2 at 70% power, because reducing “plant power” does not change the normal operating pressure (PSI) of the reactor vessel nor dose it change the flow rate from the reactor vessel into the newly replaced steam generators. The governor did not answer my letter, but I like to think that my letter was a warning shot to SCE that the gig was up and they were no longer able to lie about what was going on with the defective replacement steam generators. Also, I do not believe that the sole responsibility of creating a permanent solution for the spent nuclear fuel lies with the NRC, they are just the licensing agency. The Department of Energy (DOE) formerly known as the Atomic Energy Commission(AEC) is supposed to implement a plan for a long term geological repository. I am sorry that the Supreme Court will not address this issue, but we must continue to find a way to resolve our spent nuclear fuel problem. Thank you for your efforts.

    1. Bethann, I think your letter probably had a positive effect on the Governor, who was deeply involved in the scandal. Regarding use of the word “shuttered,” we mean that San Onofre “stopped generating electricity” on January 31. In our book that is a closed down or shuttered power plant. Either way, SONGS was never operational after January 31. As you observed, the management of SONGS did claim they could restart both units and run them safely at 70% power, but we believe this claim was nothing more than a negotiating ploy to orchestrate a publicly-funded bailout of Edison’s defective steam generators. Edison’s plans for a bailout worked beautifully. It is noteworthy that the bailout was brokered illegally in a hotel room in Warsaw Poland, behind closed doors. This document explains the criminal activity that occurred in Poland, and how the bailout worked: https://bit.ly/3oBX53h

      Unfortunately, these crimes were never prosecuted because our Attorney General allowed the statute of limitations to expire. But that’s another story.

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