A timely and urgent wakeup call
with national and global implications.

Eight years in the making, SHUTDOWN: THE SAN ONOFRE STORY is a 90 minute film that presents an in-depth look at how a community empowered itself to force the closure of a dangerous nuclear power plant and explores the legacy issues confronting all of America - and other countries - as aging nuclear reactors are decomissioned.

Alarmed by the Fukushima disaster, concerned Southern Californians rally and win a fight to close their leaky ocean front nuclear power plant, located in a heavily populated earthquake and tsunami zone. But they soon discover the lethal threat isn't over. Over 3 million pounds of high level nuclear waste stored on the site, just yards from the rising sea, was dumped into damaged canisters, each with roughly a Chernobyl’s worth of radioactivity. A profit-hungry corporation with a shady track record takes charge of San Onofre’s waste and is seeking to do the same at America’s other nuclear plants.

As dozens of US nuclear reactors are phased out, how can we safely manage their thousands of tons of highly radioactive waste — essentially forever? How do we insure that public safety is the top priority and not profit? And what lessons can we learn as nuclear proponents push for a new generation of smaller reactors?

Aerial view of San Onofre’s waste-dump-by-the-sea (note red arrow) amidst 8.5 million people.

Aerial view of San Onofre’s waste-dump-by-the-sea (note red arrow) amidst 8.5 million people.

In early August 2018, a brave whistleblower revealed serious problems with Southern California Edison’s (SCE) handling of San Onofre’s high level waste dump by the sea, embedded along a lovely seashore within the most dense population center in the U.S. A 54 ton container of intensely irradiated fuel was almost dropped 18 feet onto cement below, which could have caused a major radioactive disaster between San Diego and Los Angeles.  In early December, 2018, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) released a surprisingly frank report after investigating, listing even more dangerous SCE failures with its equipment that could also cause fatal radioactive releases.  

The severe danger looming at San Onofre is not widely known. A NOAA animation of the smoke patterns from recent CA wildfires suggests that a potential fire resulting from cracked canisters could release deadly, long-lived radiation along the West Coast and eastwards across the entire continent, as apparently happened with the Woolsey fire. 

SHUTDOWN is the empowering story of how an informed and vigilant public can have an impact, as the outraged members of a Southern California community who forced the plant’s shutdown now demand a stop to the current disastrous waste storage plans. SCE is hurrying to continue using its deficient equipment for its 71 canisters of this toxic, long-lived high level waste. 

The flawed storage system structurally damages the already too-thin stainless steel containers.  Even without damage, containers in a seaside environment will corrode quickly.  Structural damage plus the intense heat of the irradiated fuel increases the threat and the speed of potential disasters.

(What to add about Holtec?)

Safer ways to manage this waste will only be utilized if people are aware of the dangers and organize to insist on better solutions, before it’s too late. 

Please help complete the film with
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Local residents say the flawed storage system is a ‘lemon' and want it cancelled.

Local residents say the flawed storage system is a ‘lemon' and want it cancelled.


The following NOAA animation shows how fallout from a nuclear disaster in California could potentially disperse across the country.