NRC Letter Faults Holtec for Violations

Updates: April 2019

The manufacturer of equipment used to store nuclear waste at San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station employed inadequate design control measures and failed to document design changes as required by federal regulations, a high-level regulator said in a letter issued this week.

The April 24 letter from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to Holtec International details violations by the company contracted by Southern California Edison to store 3.6 million pounds of nuclear waste at an oceanfront vault on the grounds of the shuttered nuclear plant.

“The NRC has determined that two violations of regulatory requirements occurred,” George Wilson, the NRC’s Office of Enforcement director said in a letter to Holtec President and CEO Dr. Krishna P. Singh.

The letter states that the violations relate to design changes for “shim standoffs,” a component of the spent fuel canisters. Holtec installed the shim standoffs in canisters at the San Onofre, Vermont Yankee, Columbia and Grand Gulf nuclear plants.

According to the letter, Holtec failed to establish adequate design control measures when selecting materials, parts, equipment and processes “that are essential to structures, systems and components important to safety…” That failure presented “moderate safety significance” and has been categorized as a Security Level III violation.

Holtec also failed to perform a written evaluation to show that design changes met requirements.

The NRC will verify corrective measures promised by Holtec “to preclude repetition,” Wilson states in his letter.

Inspectors identified the violations during a visit to San Onofre in May 2018. Months later, in August, workers nearly dropped a 54-ton canister filled with nuclear waste into an 18-feet-deep storage cavity. The NRC faulted Edison for poor supervision for that incident and fined the utility $116,000.

Two from SLF Team Appointed to Rep. Mike Levin’s Task Force

Torgen Johnson, San Onofre Program Director, and Chelsi Sparti, SLF Associate Director, have accepted appointments from Rep. Mike Levin to serve on a task force charged with examining safety challenges at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station

Torgen and Chelsi will bring a wealth of talent to a panel led by Rear Admiral Len Hering, Sr., USN (Ret)., and former U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Gregory Jaczko.

Congratulations, Torgen and Chelsi!

Write to us with your toughest technical questions about San Onofre’s nuclear waste and Holtec’s thin-walled canisters.

Send them to hello@samuellawrencefoundation.org

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