2018 - 03 - 14 Mothers for Peace to attend national Summit on radioactive waste

Two members of the local non-profit, San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace, will join with representatives of dozens of environmental organizations in Chicago, IL March 16 – 18, 2018 to explore options for both short-term and long-term storage of radioactive wastes. These lethal by-products of energy production and weapons have been accumulating at nuclear plants, uranium mines and mills, and nuclear weapons complexes for decades.


Molly Johnson and Jane Swanson, Spokespersons for San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace (MFP), will share their knowledge of the high level wastes that have accumulated at the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant during over three decades of operation at the National Grassroots RadWaste Strategy Summit.

Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), owners of the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant, have transferred about a third of the wastes into thin-walled canisters that are encased in casks manufactured by the Holtec Corporation. These dry casks, cooled by the movement of air, sit on a concrete pad near the two reactors. The remainder of the “spent fuel”, which is a thousand times more radioactive than the same fuel before it undergoes fission in the reactors, is stored in two spent fuel pools. Borated water is used in the pools to cool the rods and prevent further nuclear fission. If the top 18 inches of the rods should be uncovered by the loss of this cooling water, exposure to air would cause the spent fuel rods to burn, releasing large amounts of radioactive particles into the atmosphere.

At this time, MFP favors Hardened On-Site Storage (HOSS) for the wastes at Diablo Canyon. This would involve moving all of the spent fuel out of the pools and into the most robust casks available. The casks would be stored in hardened bunkers to offer protection from terrorist attacks. HOSS also avoids the dangers of transporting high-level wastes by barge, rail or truck. Any transportation to other sites would involve transporting the wastes through major metropolitan areas, such as Los Angeles. It would also lead to dumping these wastes, which will be lethal for at 250,000 years if leaked into the environment, in poor communities, most likely in impoverished areas or on Native American lands.

PG&E for economic reasons has decided to close Unit 1 of the Diablo Canyon plant in 2024, and Unit 2 in 2025. The California Public Utilities Commission, which approved the plans for closure, has left the door open for PG&E to shut down the plant at an earlier date if economic conditions warrant such a change.