Hell, Fire and Brimstone: California's Godzilla-Sized Nuke Problem

San Onofre Nuclear Power Station.It's not even June and already multiple wildfires pepper the coast of California following a crazy-quilt path of destruction.  

Right in the middle of it all, halfway between the huge population centers of Los Angeles and San Diego, is the recently decommissioned San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station with its spent fuel stockpile of 1,677 rods still sitting in cooling ponds.

Water is the only thing preventing the rods from melting down and releasing unimaginable amounts of deadly radiation into the environment; and water is the first thing to go in a boiling environment.

Friends of the Earth estimates that the spent fuel at San Onofre contains 89 times the quantity of Cesium-137 that was released from the accident at Chernobyl.

If any of the possible scenarios for loss of water from the cooling ponds due to fire were to occur, not only would an enormous human population be immediately endangered, but the impact of food security for the entire nation is unimaginable. For better or worse, California has come to be the "breadbasket" of the United States. Destroy California's arable environment and we will see large-scale starvation in this country.

"Alarmist," you say? Yes, I am.

I am alarmed by the fact that, faced with all of this grim potential, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is still in a position to grant absolution from responsibility for emergency planning to power companies whose nuclear facilities have ceased to produce power.

One can't help but fault the media for doing a piss-poor job of shining the bright light of attention on systemic regulatory failure over the decades at the NRC. We wouldn't be in the fix we're in now with spent fuel piling up at nuclear plants all over the country and no real plan for its permanent disposal, if the public had been fully educated from the start.

The new Godzilla movie, I am told, carefully avoids the antinuclear theme of the original. Why is this, I wonder? Post Fukushima, with every opportunity to give the giant lizard a new timeliness, why would the filmmakers not do so?

Big business enables big business. Energy companies are knitted together with entertainment and communications giants and other energy companies, so that the interests of one can become inseparable from those of the other.

So, instead of updates on the chronic radiation release from Fukushima and our unsecured stockpiles of nuclear waste in the U.S., we get a warm-and-fuzzy documentary about post-nuclear catastrophe ("The Wolves of Chernobyl") and 24/7 coverage of "the plane."

Nice knowing you, California.

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