SUPPORT THIS INDEPENDENT JOURNALISM
The article you’re about to read is from our reporters doing their important work — investigating, researching, and writing their stories. We want to provide informative and inspirational stories that connect you to the people, issues and opportunities within our community. Journalism requires lots of resources. Today, our business model has been interrupted by the pandemic; the vast majority of our advertisers’ businesses have been impacted. That’s why the SC Times is now turning to you for financial support. Learn more about our new Insider’s program here. Thank you.
By Eric Heinz
Following a contractor’s statements at a Community Engagement Panel (CEP) meeting on Aug. 9, the nonprofit organization Public Watchdogs garnered $50,000 in donations to start the process of filing an injunction lawsuit against Southern California Edison, the majority owner of San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS), from storing more of its spent nuclear fuel on-site.
Charles Langley, the executive director of Public Watchdogs, said he couldn’t give too many details related to the pending lawsuit at this time, but he did confirm that the organization is trying to get some kind of injunction, likely through San Diego or Orange Superior Courts.
“I’m not allowed to talk about the strategy, but the (goal) is to get a court-ordered injunction that forbids them from deploying more nuclear waste cans on the beach, and they can’t put it there,” Langley told the San Clemente Times.
Ray Lutz, the director and engineer with Citizens Oversight Projects, Inc., sent out a press release later in the week, stating his organization will seek an injunction through the California Coastal Commission (CCC), and the organization has already penned a letter to the commission.
“Edison says there was no risk because computer model testing shows that canisters can be dropped 25 feet without failing,” Lutz said in a prepared statement. “However, those models were considering damage to canisters contained in much stronger transportation or ransfer casks, and not the relatively thin, 5/8-inch thick stainless-steel interior canister alone. Computer models of the canister alone (inside the HI-STORM overpack) consider drops of only 12 inches.”
Lutz, whose organization was part of a lawsuit that amended the permit agreement for SONGS officials to store the spent nuclear fuel on-site, said that the California Coastal Commission should take action before any more of the spent nuclear fuel canisters are loaded.
In his letter, Lutz said there should be a full stop of the process of storing the spent nuclear fuel until a full review of the safety procedures can be completed.
As of Wednesday, Aug. 22, there were 29 canisters stored of the 73 SCE is loading into cavity enclosure containers (CEC), just about 100 feet from the ocean.
David Fritch, the contractor tasked with OSHA oversight, said at a recent CEP meeting that many of the safety procedures at SONGS are not being observed by everyone who is working on the site, that or they don’t have the proper training.
Edison sent out a press release following the CEP meeting on Aug. 9 explaining that a canister had been left on the outer ring of a CEC, and as the crane lowering the canister continued, its line lost tension and the canister could have dropped 18 feet—a risk the nonprofit organizations said was too close for comfort.
Edison said it would take measures to ensure safety training will be administered to the appropriate employees and contractors. Since the information was released by Fritch, loading of canisters from wet storage to dry storage canisters had stopped, with work possibly resuming in the next couple weeks.