Updates: November 2018 (2)

San Onofre Update: NRC Cites Multiple Violations, Public Demands Recall of Flawed Nuclear Waste Storage System

Mechanical rigs load 50-ton canisters of nuclear waste into a seaside vault. Photo: Southern California Edison.

Last night the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission revealed its Special Inspection Report, with findings that further amplify our call for safer storage of the 3.6 million pounds of high-level radioactive waste at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station.

The public demands a recall of the flawed HOLTEC U-MAX Dry Canister Storage System and to:

  • Immediately stop loading thin canisters

  • Use thick casks

  • Move the waste to higher ground

In the report, the NRC affirmed the multiple violations of “weaknesses in management oversight” at Southern California Edison led to the two “near miss” 18-foot drops of a 49-ton high-level radioactive waste canister being downloaded into a concrete vault on both July 22 and August 3.  In both “near miss” events, Southern California Edison failed to inform the public in hopes the issue would go unnoticed, subsequently shielding them from public scrutiny.  Those hopes were dashed when an onsite OSHA safety worker alerted the public. Despite temporary suspension of canister loading, Southern California Edison downplayed the seriousness of the “near miss” canister event.

Cristina Byvik of the San Diego-Union Tribune tells the story of the near-miss in this graphic:

One of the findings of the NRC’s Special Inspection Report concluded: “The apparent and root causes for the August 3, 2018, canister misalignment incident involved inadequate training, inadequate procedures, poor utilization of the corrective action program, and insufficient oversight” (NRC 3.1.5, page 19). Southern California Edison intends to restart loading of the high-level radioactive waste canisters in late January 2019.

What can you do to prevent a nuclear disaster at San Onofre:

1. Contact Local Elected Officials: 
Ask that they demand an immediate recall from California Governor and Congress. Declare a state of emergency to expedite the action needed to replace existing inferior nuclear waste storage containers.

2. Contact Nuclear Regulatory Commission:
Revoke Holtec’s dry storage system licenses. Only use proven dry storage containers that can be inspected, maintained, monitored and repaired in a manner to prevent radiation releases. Enforce requirements allowing for retrieval of spent nuclear fuel at the existing site.

3. Contact California Governor and U.S. Congress:
Require the NRC to enforce safety regulations and to disapprove of safety exemptions. Oppose legislation, such as H.R. 3053, which weakens storage and transport safety requirements in the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982 (NWPA).

To learn more about safer storage of nuclear waste at San Onofre and throughout the nation, visit San Onofre Safety.