3/25/2014 San Clemente: San Onofre decommissioning CEP meeting

San Onofre’s Tom Palmisano will brief the community on decommission planning/activities at the first Southern California Edison Community Engagement Panel (CEP) meeting on Tuesday, March 25, 2014.

6:00 – 9:00 p.m. (Coalition to Decommission San Onofre press conference at 5:00 p.m.)
San Clemente Community Center
100 N. Calle Seville
San Clemente, CA 92672

Meeting Agenda and live webcast:  http://www.songscommunity.com/event.asp

Please attend this meeting. Southern California communities need to be involved to ensure our safety. Edison has a history of putting profits over safety.  It is up to us to make sure this doesn’t happen with the tons of highly radioactive waste that is unsafely stored near our communities.

There are facts you need to know that Edison doesn’t share.  For example, the following is from a Q&A with San Onofre Site Vice President Tom Palmisano.

Tom PalmisanoQ: Does San Onofre have high burn-up nuclear fuel and, if so, how does that affect the way you store this used fuel?

A: Like many other nuclear plants, San Onofre has taken advantage of improvements in fuel technologies that allow nuclear plants to extract more energy from the fuel by achieving higher burn-up levels. SCE is licensed to use this fuel and store it in the spent fuel pool, and our dry storage canisters are licensed separately to store high burn-up fuel. Once this fuel is removed from the reactor, it is stored in accordance with NRC regulations and in the same manner as San Onofre’s other used fuel — initially in a steel-lined, concrete spent fuel pool and later in dry cask storage.

What Mr. Palmisano doesn’t say: 

    • Higher burnup = higher cladding failureNRC won’t renew dry cask storage for high burnup fuel after the initial 20 years, because of insufficient data that it is safe.
    • Scientific data indicates fuel cladding failure with fuel burnup as low as 30 GWd/MTU.  See U.S. Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board (NWTRB) graph.
    • NRC won’t approve transportation containers for high burnup fuel due to scientific data showing cladding embrittlement with high burnup fuel, making the cladding so fragile it may shatter on transport, release radiation into the environment.
    • San Onofre’s decision to switch to high burnup fuel was made to increase profits at the expense of our safety.
    • Because of the potential problems with high burnup fuel, Maine Yankee nuclear plant chose to treat their high burnup fuel as “damaged fuel” by storing high burnup fuel assemblies into steel “damaged fuel cans” before placing in the dry cask system canister.  This provides a layer of protection if the outer canister fails. The NRC doesn’t require this. The NRC agrees this would be a safety precaution and has considered requiring this.  However, the nuclear industry does not want this required.

Since San Onofre’s nuclear waste will be on-site for decades, if not longer, all fuel assemblies should be treated as damaged fuel and canned before placing in dry storage  when in doubt, always error on the side of safety over profits.

Most high burnup fuel needs to cool in the spent fuel pools at least 15 years before it’s cool enough to move to dry cask storage.  Edison’s Fact Sheet says fuel needs to cool “at least 5 years”.  However, they don’t mention the additional requirements for high burnup fuel. And they don’t mention it’s over twice as radioactive as the lower burnup fuel they initially used.

Edison doesn’t tell you there is no method to fully inspect fuel assemblies for cladding damage.  Existing technology and employee safety concerns allow only a partial inspection.  Therefore, it’s impossible to know if the cladding has failed on all the fuel rods.

Chart SONGS Chernobyl Other Alvarez, Figure 4San Onofre’s spent fuel contains 89 times the amount of radiation (Cesium-137) released from Chernobyl. Therefore, it’s extremely important this waste is stored as safely as possible.

Please attend this meeting and support our safety recommendations:

    • Establish better ways to safely store and transport nuclear waste, especially high burnup fuel, to an acceptable remote location as soon as it is available and safe to do so.
    • Improve instrumentation capabilities to monitor spent fuel pools and dry cask storage.
    • Add a layer of protection to dry cask storage by “canning” spent fuel assemblies in individual containers prior to loading into canisters — handle waste with the expectation that it may become damaged by excessive heat and radiation over time.
    • Reduce the number of spent fuel assemblies from 24 units per cask instead of seeking to increase it to 32 units for the sole purpose of saving money.
    • Transfer adequately cooled fuel assemblies to dry cask storage immediately to free up overcrowded conditions in spent fuel pools, making them more secure.
    • Reinforce structures that protect all forms of radioactive waste and develop unmanned systems to respond to any radiological emergency in case the plant is not accessible.
    • Provide on-site capabilities to handle leaking casks should there be a breach in containment.
    • Make public announcements before the release of tons of pollutants into the ocean which is currently allowed as part of the decontamination process.
    • Provide public access to real-time radiation monitoring data.

The overarching message from our community to Edison:


error on the side of


Sources and additional information:  https://sanonofresafety.org/nuclear-waste/
Handout: Nuclear Waste Recommendations
Report: High Burnup Nuclear Fuel — Pushing the Safety Envelope


About Donna Gilmore

This entry was posted in Action Alert, Chernobyl, Events, How to Help, NRC, Nuclear Waste, Press Release, Radiation Monitoring, Southern California Edison and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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