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DONNA GILMORE, San Onofre Safety

Focusing on location will no more solve our nuclear waste storage problem than rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic would have stopped it from sinking. 

The problem is the uninspectable, unmaintainable, thin-wall canisters that are only 5/8-inch thick. 

Rep. Mike Levin should be proposing legislation to require the NRC to enforce existing regulations and current Nuclear Waste Policy Act (NWPA) requirement for monitored retrievable fuel storage. These thin-wall canisters do not even meet minimum ASME N3 Nuclear Pressure Vessel requirements for storage and transport. The NRC gives numerous exemptions to these and other safety requirements.

The Swiss already meet these U.S. requirements. We don’t need more studies or a new government agency, as this Levin report proposes.

The Swiss use thick-wall transportable storage casks up to 19.75-inch thick that can be maintained and monitored to prevent major radioactive releases and explosions. They have an on-site hot cell facility (Dry Transfer System) for inspection, maintenance and repackaging of fuel assemblies, as needed. Thick-wall casks don’t have the short-term cracking problems that the thin-wall canisters have.

Some San Onofre canisters are already 17 years old. We’re on borrowed time with these degrading canisters. 

Edison and the NRC refuse to share radiation levels from the rooftop outlet air vents where the aging NUHOMS canisters are stored. What are they hiding?

Proposed legislation such as Sen. Diane Feinstein’s S.1234 promises to legalize moving the nuclear waste somewhere else. However, S.1234 and other similar legislation allow title transfer to the federal government at existing sites, and with no or inadequate funding. We’ll be at the mercy of Congress to provide annual funding. 

Also, the legislation removes essential minimum safety requirements from the NWPA. The legislation also removes public and state rights, such as transparency and oversight.

Levin is aware of these issues. Hopefully, he will address these in proposed legislation. If he doesn’t, who will?

Editor’s Note: Officials from Edison, as well as a member of the SONGS Task Force, have argued that the canisters are retrievable, which has been demonstrated to the NRC, per guidelines.

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comments (1)

  • Regarding Editor’s note: The Nuclear Waste Policy Act requires fuel assemblies be monitored and retrievable — not just the canisters they are stored in.. The fuel assemblies and fuel baskets holding the fuel assemblies inside can degrade during dry storage. And welded shut canisters are not designed to be opened for inspection or retrieving fuel assemblies. The NRC is ignoring their own safety requirements by allowing these welded shut canisters.

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