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By Eric Heinz

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) recently wrapped up its interviews and site investigation at San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS), with a report coming in the next few weeks.

The investigation was prompted after a whistleblower announced at a Community Engagement Panel (CEP) meeting in August that a canister with spent nuclear fuel in it was improperly loaded into one of the storage units, and that it took more than 20 minutes to correct.

Although there was no increase to radiation levels, members of the public were not happy with it and called on the commission to do something about it.

In another document from the NRC, Holtec International, the company that has built the spent nuclear fuel canisters at SONGS, is having its application reviewed to construct a facility for temporary storage in Lea County, New Mexico. The NRC is asking for Holtec to provide more information related to the facility.

Currently, federal legislation under the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982 does not permit temporary storage of spent nuclear fuel. There is currently a bill that’s passed the U.S. Congress, H.R. 3035, authored by Rep. John Shimkus, R-Illinois, but it hasn’t done anything in the Senate, possibly because of the election year and more pressing issues on Capitol Hill.

Dr. David Victor, chairman of the CEP, said he was surprised to see how quickly the private sector has been moving on its interim facility applications, but he said he does understand that the companies want to be prepared in the event federal legislation is changed.

The NRC is expected to finish its report sometime in October regarding the canister incident.

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comments (5)

  • Please sign our petition to make sure Edison and Holtec do not resume moving nuclear waste until the public has heard a presentation by the NRC and that a contingency plan is in place in case we are not so lucky next time. This petition is in support of the letter written by San Clemente City Council shortly after the “serious near miss”. The more signatures we get, the more likely the NRC and other decision makers will be to listen to us. Link

  • I forgot to mention that the petition also calls for around-the-clock independent radiation monitoring available to the public in real time.

  • Holtec almost dropped a canister 18 feet — twice. The Holtec approved technical specifications state a canister drop over 11 inches (inside a transfer cask), must be opened to inspect for damage. This canisters was not even in a transfer cask.

    This article implies it’s the public’s fault for being concerned and causing delays. That is far from the truth. Both Holtec and Edison mismanagement and Holtec’s inferior engineering caused this problem. Edison did not report this or the previous almost drop. The NRC cited them saying they should have reported it. The whistleblower brought this issue to the public and then the NRC found out.

    Holtec loaded over half the nuclear waste canisters at Diablo Canyon incorrectly. Edison knew this, but still selected Holtec. Edison and Holtec prioritized a January 2019 unloading deadline over safety. Employees should not be working 60 hour weeks. That is not safe.

    Tired employees, inadequate staffing, inadequate training, poor engineering loading design — another Edison boondoggle that almost cost us Southern California.

    Neither Holtec nor Edison should be allowed to do any work related to nuclear. The NRC needs to do their job and suspend their licenses. The Navy needs to take away Edison’s lease at Camp Pendleton until Edison has a way to prevent and sto radioactive leaks and explosions. Edison has neither. The NRC knows this, but is looking the other way.

    Edison needs to quit blaming the public for their incompetence that led to the San Onofre shutdown and this dry storage boondoggle.

    The NRC rightly cited Edison mismanagement for the steam generator failures that shut the reactors down. They mismanaged that project like they are mismanaging the waste project.

    Governor Brown needs to stop Edison from loading these inferior storage containers that vannot be inspected, maintained or monitored to prevent leaks.

    Existing inferior waste canisters, already up to 15 years old must be replaced with thick-wall casks that can be maintained and monitored to prevent leaks and explosions.

    The older canisters are already releasing radiation at high levels (6 microsieverts/hr), but the NRC refuses to tell us why. California regulators have gone silent. What are they not telling us?

  • More false and horse manure claims from the chief purveyor of anti-nuclear bovine ordure.

    “The older canisters are already releasing radiation at high levels (6 microsieverts/hr), but the NRC refuses to tell us why.”

    I provided Donna a radiation survey map of the original Areva canisters, these readings are the same as they were four years ago and she knows it, she is just being dishonest…as usual. The readings are simply gamma radiation passing through the canister and overpack and the stated amount is very small; it also drops off to vanishingly tiny amounts within a dozen feet of the vents. As Donna should know, any theoretical canister leak (there has never been one) where the fuel is damaged, the small amount of gas would slowly escape out the exit vent, NOT the inlet where the uninformed individual took the readings Donna cites. She is again being dishonest in attempting to alarm the public on this non-existent problem.

    Her statement, “This article implies it’s the public’s fault for being concerned and causing delays.”

    The article does no such thing, it simply states the fact that “members of the public were not happy with it and called on the commission to do something about it.”

    Donna’s claim, “Edison and Holtec prioritized a January 2019 unloading deadline over safety.”

    There has been no prioritization of deadline over safety by Edison, that is a false claim, just one of scores made by this siren of doom.

    Donna’s complaint, “Edison needs to quit blaming the public…”

    Edison isn’t blaming the public so when making false claims like this, Donna should at least attempt to cite examples to support her false claims.

    Disingenuous Donna says, “The NRC rightly cited Edison mismanagement for the steam generator failure…”

    Here, Donna cites the same NRC that she accuses of being in the pocket of the nuclear industry. This is the NRC that gave Edison the green light to start up Unit 2 before Barbara Boxer backstabbed the Edison employees and ratepayers of California (how do y’all like your electric bill since San Onofre shut down?).

    Regardless of what proof, documents, video evidence, or experts weigh in to educate Donna to the fact that canisters ARE maintained, can and ARE inspected, ARE monitored, and cannot explode, she cannot accept or acknowledge these facts…because this undermines her whole raison d’etre.

    The canisters Edison is using are used by all US nuclear plants and throughout the world. They are the best design for purpose of storing nuclear fuel. The casks Donna prefers are NOT used by any plant in the US except one and they chose to never order another. They are more appropriate for use in plants that reprocess fuel, a practice Jimmy Carter outlawed. They are also too heavy to be used by San Onofre, an issue Donna ignores in her efforts to delay progress by any means. Castor casks are not appropriate for use at San Onofre and they will NOT be used by San Onofre…and probably never again by any plant in the US.

  • The nuclear waste must not be located at San Onofre. Where does the military store its nuclear waste ? The waste must be stored as far away from humans as is possible. There have to be places better suited for nuclear waste storage than at the juncture of two heavily populated California counties: Orange & San Diego.

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