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"San Onofre is a Disaster Waiting to Happen"

- Edward Maibach, PhD.
Professor, George Mason University

Over 8 Million Californians Live Within 50 Mi. Of Stored Radioactive Waste

Risks of Nuclear Waste Stored at San Onofre

A primary focus of the Samuel Lawrence Foundation is the environmental threat arising from 3.6 million pounds of nuclear waste at San Onofre State Beach.

Time is not on our side

  • Nuclear waste is the most deadly poison on the planet

  • Thin-metal canisters (5/8") are prone to corrosion and through-wall cracking in about 20 years.

  • Radioactive waste is deadly for 100,000 years, or more

  • Radioactive waste is expected to remain on the coastline for centuries 

Worst possible storage location

  • Stored 100 feet from ocean and just 18 inches above ground water

  • Thin-walled canisters are susceptible to corrosion cracking from salty air

  • Risks of sea level rise, earthquakes, landslides, tsunamis, and terrorist attacks

Southern California Edison’s Mismanagement

  • Consistent pattern of risk denial, and lack of transparency

  • Violations and cover-ups occurred and exposed by whistleblowers

  • Received most severe citation from regulators for safety violations

Potential for Radiation Exposure

  • Damaged canisters can release deadly radiation into the air, land, and ocean

  • 5/8" thin-walled metal canisters were scratched and gouged when lowered into storage

  • Canisters cannot be adequately monitored, inspected, repaired, or replaced

  • There are no emergency plans in place to protect the public in event of a disaster

Admiral Hering reveals the dangers of NRC and Edison’s Mismanagement of Nuclear Waste at San Onofre

Clear Solutions


Install most sensitive radiation and leak detection technology, from University of California San Diego


Construct an on-site handling facility to repair and replace the thin metal canisters


Move nuclear waste off the beach.  San Onofre is geologically unstable with earthquakes faults, tsunami potential and wildfires

Thomas English PhD, Subrata Chakraborty PhD, Len Hering Sr. RADM USN


The most serious issues concerning the storage of nuclear waste at S.O.N.G.S. include the damage done to the waste canisters when lowered into the storage vault. These 54-ton thin-walled steel canisters are loaded with nuclear waste and are transported to the on-site concrete storage vault.

The current  storage configuration provides the factors contributing to gouges in the external steel walls of the canisters: operators have no visibility of the canister when lowering into storage and precise adjustments cannot be made.

The damage remains undetected and unrepaired due to the lack of thorough inspection and monitoring at the San Onofre Independent Spent Fuel Storage Installations (ISFSIs). The preliminary findings are found in the report below.

The Guardian: ‘A combination of failures:’ why 3.6m pounds of nuclear waste is buried on a popular California beach

Failures at San Onofre Nuclear power plant hit the front page of the The Guardian newspaper (2021). 

In the article, reporter Kate Mishkin picks apart San Onofre’s political and regulatory gridlock, as well as a history of near accidents. This is one of the best summary of the dangerous decisions leading to the current crisis at San Onofre, an environmental disaster waiting to happen.


Potential Impact: A Waste Storage Accident Could Cost $13.4 Trillion

In early 2019 SLF released two expert reports on the potential economic impacts and the technical problems of the San Onofre nuclear waste storage. A collaboration of physicists, former military personnel, and engineers with considerable nuclear experience issued the reports.


A potential impact of a nuclear waste accident at San Onofre could exceed $13.4 trillion.

2020 S.O.N.G.S. Task Force Report

The San Onofre Nuclear Generating Task Force Report was released this week after 18 months of fact-finding. SLF is proud to have joined scientists, policy makers and community leaders in preparing the document. Thanks so much to Rep. Mike Levin for bringing us together.


We will continue to appreciate his leadership as he advances eight key policy recommendations contained in the report.

We encourage you to review the report and share it widely:

San Onofre Radioactive Waste Poll Results

In February 2021, SLF collaborated with UCSD to survey registered voters in the County of San Diego and the County of Orange. The data makes clear that large majorities of registered voters in both counties are highly concerned about the potential consequences of storing radioactive waste at the San Onofre nuclear power plant and support more transparency form utility companies when it comes to radioactive waste storage.


The results further show that, after learning about the radioactive waste stored at San Onofre, an overwhelming majority support more aggressive federal, state, and local action to contain radioactive waste in order to protect the environment, the economy, and our communities.

Containment Challenges

"Is HHS Blocking Cancer Study?"

Federal Roundtable on Potential Health Effects Among Individuals Residing Near Nuclear Power Plants

February 14, 2023; 10 AM to 1 PM ET
Meeting Summary

Do Emissions from Nuclear Power Plants Cause Cancer?

Roger Johnson, PhD

Professor Emeritus, San Clemente, CA

Cancer is the #1 killer in the US, and over 100 million Americans live near nuclear plants.

It recently came to light that the US Department of Health and Human Services declined to conduct a study of cancer around nuclear plants, even though Congress appropriated the money for it last year and directed HHS to carry it out.  First the NRC and now HHS have blocked such studies for over a decade. Read the HHS decision document and a short summary of the issue by Roger Johnson, PhD.

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