By Eric Heinz
Ray Lutz, the executive director of Citizens’ Oversight Projects, Inc., a watchdog group actively checking the policies and procedures of decommissioning and storage of spent nuclear fuel at San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS), has a petition currently being considered by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) that would require more safety measures around the casks stored at the offline power plant.
The proposal is called HELMS, which stands for “hardened, extended-life, local, monitored and surface space storage,” and it asks the NRC to adopt policies that would further protect the storage of the spent nuclear fuel.
“Basically, it’s not asking them to swap them out of the casks,” Lutz said. “What we’re trying to get them to do is think about the long-term and plan ahead, and upgrade the canisters with an additional wall, which is pressurized with helium.”
Lutz said this would further enable the company that handles the spent nuclear fuel to check for any kind of problems.
The current canisters are provided by Holtec International and have been criticized by some as not having a guaranteed security expectancy past 40 years.
The public comment period for the petition ends on Tuesday, June 5 and will be followed by several public hearings before the NRC considers it. The proposal can be found at a link in this article at www.sanclementetimes.com.