By Gary Headrick, San Clemente
This issue will be better understood once you’ve had a chance to watch what may be regarded as one of the most significant movies of 2015, The Big Short. The film explains just how the housing crash of 2008 came about, leaving the masses holding the bag while those responsible ran off with our homes and hard-earned savings, never to be held accountable.
Basically, Wall Street bankers gambled with our livelihoods while regulators looked the other way, denying any possibility of a “bubble.” They knew all along that eventually the government (you and me) would have to bail them out once the truth was no longer avoidable. The same kind of scenario is unfolding in the nuclear industry today, specifically at San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station.
Our “bubble” consists of tons of radioactive materials being stored in containers that are known to be susceptible to cracking, possibly within just a few short years from now. Hard evidence of dirty little secrets and unscrupulous activities has been uncovered by those who are really paying attention, while countless innocent and unwary people stand in harm’s way.
Like Wall Street, Edison and its cronies seem anxious to stick us with the risk while they reap the profits. They intend to bury 89 times more radiation than was released in the Chernobyl accident, and will do so in sandstone bluffs 100 feet from the Pacific Ocean and only inches above the water table, using inferior stainless steel tanks only a half-inch thick, surrounded by concrete. Apparently, the industry’s objective is to meet the minimum standards (already lowered by its captured regulators) and get all the waste into dry cask storage before any radiation begins to escape these cheaper thin canisters. (Other countries use containers 10 to 20 inches thick.) At that point, the waste becomes the taxpayers’ problem. Should there be a leak, it would be too late to move the highly radioactive waste, and 8.5 million people living within 50 miles could be left stranded and exposed.
Those who saw the inevitable defaults coming in 2008 invested wisely by betting against the banks, but we can’t afford to win a bet resulting in all of us becoming irradiated. Instead, we need to invest in the best storage system possible with many layers of redundant safety features, adequate emergency handling capabilities and a realistic plan to relocate this menacing waste ASAP. The appalling truth is that these already-approved plans have been made by people who are either currently under investigation or should be (see www.sanonofresafety.org).
Let’s make 2016 the year we stop a plan that would shift liability from a reckless nuclear power industry to the public, leaving us with the consequences. We must stand together and call for responsible steps to be taken to protect ourselves and our precious planet. We can’t let the insidious desires of selfish and unrepentant fools, like those who propped up the lies of Wall Street, pop this bubble. It’s not just financial; it’s radioactive!