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By Eric Heinz

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) held a second webinar on Jan. 24, during which the officials from San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) presented their case regarding an incident on Aug. 3.

The incident involved a canister that became stuck on the outer ring of the concrete storage facility, and the NRC stated it did not think it was reported in a timely fashion. More than that, the commission claims SONGS officials did not provide adequate training to some of the on-site contractors.

Southern California Edison, the majority owner of SONGS, said the incident occurred because of inadequate additional training during personnel turnover, as well as not relaying important information to incoming workers. Edison has since said it is taking corrective actions and would get the workers currently at the site up to speed. SONGS has halted the process of moving spent nuclear fuel rods from wet to dry-cask storage since September.

The next step is for the NRC to announce its findings and enforcement proceedings, but a date for that has yet to be announced.

On Jan. 25, Rep. Mike Levin, D-CA, announced that a new task force dedicated to SONGS would be assembled. The objective of the task force is to find ways to get the spent nuclear fuel off the site near the beach.

The task force will meet on “a regular basis,” Levin’s press release stated, to find solutions to moving the waste. Included on the task force are Rear Admiral Leendert “Len” Hering Sr., USN (Ret), and former NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko.

Edison officials said they welcome Levin’s task force and are aware of the glacial pace at which nuclear-waste-regulation laws move.

“Any option to move the spent fuel takes action by the federal government to approve such a site, an effort that is now decades behind schedule,” the Edison release stated. “Achieving a long-term storage solution requires working together in the timeliest and most efficient manner.”

SCE also mentioned its own outreach efforts with the Community Engagement Panel since 2014, and the utility extended an invitation to the congressman to its panel.

“Hopefully together, all stakeholders can collaborate to accelerate national efforts to approve and complete spent fuel storage alternatives,” the release stated.

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comments (1)

  • Mike Levin made clear in his Oceanside Town Hall meeting that this is an “independent” task force, separate from the CEP. I’m glad to see he has chosen Len Hering and Greg Jaczko as co-chairs of the task force. Unlike the CEP, which is a Southern California Edison public relations forum, Levin’s task force is truly independent with the only goal to protect our safety.

    Step One must be to recommend replacement of the unsafe San Onofre thin-wall nuclear waste canisters. They must be replaced with proven thick-wall transportable storage casks that can be inspected, maintained and monitored in a manner to prevent radioactive leaks and hydrogen gas explosions. Instead, Edison is doing the opposite and the NRC is complicit in this unsafe storage. Until the NRC starts enforcing its own safety regulations instead of weakening enforcement, none of us are safe.

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