NRC ignores Holtec design problem that gouges walls of all San Onofre nuclear waste canisters


Michael Layton, NRC Director of Spent Fuel Management Division

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) admitted today they plan to ignore the Holtec engineering design problems that cause gouges in the walls of all San Onofre nuclear waste storage canisters. So far 29 canisters are loaded.  An additional 44 canisters are planned for loading states Southern California Edison.

At today’s NRC Pre-decisional Enforcement Conference (PEC) with Holtec regarding the defective basket shim design, Michael Layton, NRC Director of Spent Fuel Management Division, disclosed the NRC does not plan to investigate Holtec for the defective San Onofre Holtec dry storage system even though the NRC admits the downloading system unavoidably gouges the walls of all canisters loaded.

The Holtec HI-STORM UMAX dry storage system is a lemon and must be recalled.  Sign and share petition to our federal elected officials to demand the Holtec system be recalled and replaced with a proven thick-wall cask system.

The decision by the NRC to ignore these Holtec design problems shows the cozy relationship between the NRC and Holtec.  The NRC protects Holtec instead of our safety. The fact the NRC would approve a Holtec dry storage system that gouges the walls of every canister loaded is an outrage.  Even more outrageous is the fact they plan to continue to allow this, risking the safety, security and financial well being of California residents. They also risk destabilizing the California and national economy and security.  The NRC, Holtec and Southern California Edison need to be investigated for jeopardizing our safety, security and economic well-being.

Today’s January 9th, 2019 meeting was about numerous Holtec violations regarding a defective basket shim design that was not approved by the NRC.  San Onofre has four MPC-37 canisters loaded with this defective design. No one knows the condition of the shim pins in these.

Vermont Yankee and the Columbia Generating Station have MPC-68M canisters loaded with the defective basket shim design.  Holtec states 22 MPC-68M canisters were loaded before they knew about the problem.  Instead of recalling the rest of these, 16 more defective canisters were loaded. The NRC did not stop Holtec from loading these additional 16 canisters.

The majority of these canisters were not inspected for defective shims before loading, so no one knows the condition of the shim pins.  NRC regulations require empty canisters be inspected inside and out before loading them with the highly radioactive spent nuclear fuel assemblies.  This was not done. Tom Palmisano, Southern California Edison Chief Nuclear Officer, stated Holtec did not have the tools to inspect the bottom inside of the canisters.


At today’s meeting, the President of Holtec, Kris Singh, blamed everyone but himself for this defective design.  The NRC-approved Holtec technical specifications state the basket shims are required for cooling of the system to prevent fuel damage and to prevent the fuel from going critical (an uncontrolled nuclear reaction).  Singh claimed the shims were not a safety system in order to justify using the 10 CFR 72.48 process that allows licensee’s to make changes without NRC approval.  This new defective design resulted in thin 4″ long pins bending or falling out of the the bottom of the tall hollow aluminum basket shims.

The NRC said the level of violation Holtec will receive may take into consideration other Holtec violations.  However, the issue regarding the defective Holtec loading system at San Onofre wasn’t mentioned by the NRC, but the public raised it in today’s meeting. The public was shocked the NRC refused to investigate Holtec for this major engineering design flaw.

The NRC cut off public comment even though there was plenty of time left in the meeting and many more people wanted to make public comments.  The NRC stopped the recorded testimony before public comments.

The NRC also ignored Holtec’s role in the almost drop of a San Onofre canister 18 feet — also due to a defective Holtec engineering design.  The NRC-approved technical specifications state a canister drop of more than 11 inches requires opening a canister for damage to the fuel. It also states a drop of a canister in a storage hole (vault) is impossible to happen — yet an almost 18 foot drop doesn’t require an investigation of Holtec?

This is the same Holtec HI-STORM UMAX dry storage system Holtec wants to build in New Mexico.

Our elected officials around the country need to know the NRC is not doing their job to protect our safety.  They need to know about Holtec’s inferior design and quality control.  Learn more about Holtec design and quality control problems here.

Watch David Fritch, nuclear safety worker whistleblower, discuss problems with Holtec at San Onofre.   David Fritch transcript of statements.

Watch Kris Singh admit even a microscopic through wall crack in one of these canisters will releases millions of curies of radionuclides into the environment.  He also states it is not feasible to repair these canisters, even if you could find the cracks.

Each canister costs roughly $1 million (not including labor or the storage hole system).  Southern California Edison refused to provide a copy of the contract for this system, even though ratepayer funds paid for it.  There is also no warranty for this system, other than for manufacturing defects.  If Edison chooses to keep this system in spite of known defects, even that warranty is void.

Please sign and share petition and share this post with others including your local, state and federal elected officials.  Holtec systems and other thin-wall canister systems must be recalled and replaced with proven thick-wall cask systems that do not have these problems.

See two-page dry storage inventory to see whether you have thin-wall canister systems in your state.



About Donna Gilmore

This entry was posted in Action Alert, holtec, NRC, Nuclear Waste, Press Release, Southern California Edison, Video, Whistleblower. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to NRC ignores Holtec design problem that gouges walls of all San Onofre nuclear waste canisters

  1. Pingback: Feds File Complaint against Waste Cask Maker

  2. Pingback: Why are the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and the corporate media ignoring the safety problems of Holtec’s thin-walled nuclear waste canisters? « nuclear-news

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