Living in the Shadow of San Onofre
Meeting notes from 13 June 2019 at RSF DEMS, Loma Santa Fe Country Club.
During the presentation at the meeting, several concerns were highlighted by the guests:
- -- Southern California Edison has been less than forthcoming on issues concerning San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) over the years. They have usually only responded to events by the force of lawsuits or whistleblowers.
- After several attempts over the last 50 years, there is still no long term viable solution for the disposal of nuclear waste in the U.S., despite the fact that we have 3.6 million pounds of waste piling up.
- In spite of protests by Nuclear agencies, Plutonium isotopes of the kind produced by SONGS and others, are among the most deadly substances known to man.
- The handling of the waste at SONGS has been done in minimally effective containers with substandard supervision and training.
- The dangers of erosion of the containers and subsequent contamination of the site is listed at 15%, which is unacceptably high.
- Collusion of the industry with the regulators is at an all time high. Accountability needs to be forced at every level from the California Coastal Commission to the state legislature and the governor, to the halls of Congress and the Department of Energy.
Alison St. John, KPBS
- History: SONGS is much less dangerous than active reactor
- The engineers she has talked to at SONGS see no risk with spent fuel
- Jan 2012, closed reactor for several days which extended to 18 mos.
- Mitsubishi built new steam generators which were shutdown 24 mos later for "premature wear.” The reason given, was a "computer modeling glitch"
- Ratepayers cost to shutdown was $3.3B reduced to $700M by efforts of State AG and Mike Aguirre
- Investigation revealed a secret meeting in Poland by state PUC and Edison
- Waste issue-- 3.6 Million pounds
- CA Coastal commission -- 20 year delay in inspection report
- Began burying canisters without permit
- Not sure how long they will be there.
Mike Aguirre, Consumer Attorney
- SCE has history of pursuing actions before approval even though they are aware of bad consequences because they have increased lobby power
- Aguirre has sued NRC over August 3 accident and canister practices as well as violations of supervision and training of handling of nuclear waste.
- Aguirre has sued to prevent Edison from receiving a coastal permit.
- Edison agreed to relocate waste and announced a plan director
- Biggest danger at SONGS is erosion and Coastal commission agrees
- Aguirre suggests waste be moved to Arizona Palo Verde reactor, chiefly because SD rate payers have already subsidized the decommissioning of Palo Verde to the tune of $1B in exchange for energy.
- SCE is also a partner in Palo Verde and thus would be able to move waste to its facility.
- Highest rate of waste transportation has so far occurred between co-owned facilities.
- Aguirre claims Democratic leadership botched leadership of control of plant and waste.
Len Hering RADM, USN(ret)
- Problem: One canister at SONGS containing 54 tons of nuclear waste is equivalent to one Chernobyl radioactive incident.
- SONGS has 17 canisters already involved and 43 ready over the next two years.
- Because of his experience as Nuclear Safety Officer he is appalled at how many guidelines are compromised ashore compared to his naval experience.
- Congress has done a dismal job of oversight: 30 years without significant dialogue
- Seventeen years since Yucca mountain was shuttered.
- 2800 canisters buried nationwide with half-inch thickness, compared to much thicker in Europe
- In many cases restrictions have been waived without peer review
- Location of SONGS was originally called "Earthquake Bay"
- Decisions made over 20 years ago have conditions that are no longer valid
- Short term storage extended, not by close examination, but merely by waiver.
- There is enough waste that it would take 50 years just to move one canister per day!
- Hering recommends starting all over with nuclear regulations, find out the status of plans, THEN: Reinstitute oversight and reinstate proper safety precautions
Dr. Tom English, Nuclear Waste Expert
- Reactors produced 600# of Pu239 waste daily, placed in liquid pools
- These are safer than dry storage
- Experts that erosion at SONGS might result in 25% submerged in salt water
- Governor has shut down secondary storage
- Aguirre -- two choices remain -- Acquiesce or force new choices.
Hering -- Storage longer than anticipated, conditions different than at beginning
- No hearings on collusion between regulator and industry
- NRC approved system that has not been inspected or tested
- Evidence provided to NRC has been ignored.
- Individual workers on SONGS site hired off street without training or certification
- Without whistleblower, these items would not have come to light.
- Survey of NRC members reveals that 25-38% are in the process of retiring
- We are losing knowledge pool without power of accountability