On January 24th the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) will hear Southern California Edison’s (SCE) reasons to continue to load 44 more Holtec nuclear waste canisters, even though they know every thin-wall canister loaded in the Holtec nuclear waste storage system will likely, by their own admission, be damaged. SCE already loaded and damaged 29 canisters.
Register for the January 24th, 12:00PM to 5:00 PM PST webinar here.
On August 3, 2018 Holtec almost dropped a highly radioactive San Onofre thin-wall nuclear waste storage canister 18 feet.
It is important to note, these Holtec engineering design problems cannot be fixed with training and procedures. The Holtec HI-STORM UMAX system is flawed and the NRC should be held responsible for citing Holtec accordingly. Both Holtec and SCE should be held accountable for this defective and unsafe Holtec system. Alarmingly, this conference is only addressing SCE’s role in these safety problems.
Holtec and SCE knew there were problems with the Holtec downloading system design, but continued to load canisters until they almost dropped a canister 18 feet. They did not issue a required Event Notification Report to the NRC until 43 days after the “near miss” event, and only after a whistleblower, David Fritch, share the information with the public at an SCE meeting.
Instead of replacing this defective system with a proven thick-wall dry cask storage system, Edison plans to load and gouge the walls of 44 more Holtec thin-wall canisters.
Again, by admission, the NRC cannot determine how bad the gouges are. They admitted to the NRC Commissioners that they do not have the technology to find, measure or characterize canister defects, such as cracks, gouges and other wear marks. They need this in order to determine the impacts of these defects. NRC 10/11/2018 Commission Meeting Transcript, pp 104-105
The NRC admits gouged canisters are a problem. Gouges significantly shorten the life of a canister and can lead to leaks and hydrogen explosions. They admit there is no way to stop gouging of the canister walls with this Holtec system. NRC 11/8/2018 Webinar Transcript, pp 50-51
The NRC promises of future solutions to find and repair cracks and to replace failing canisters is unacceptable. Special Inspection Activities Regarding Cask Loading Misalignment NRC website
Clearly those promises are not based on evidence. Detailed measurements and analysis are required. San Onofre Nuclear Waste Problems, Tom English, PhD Samuel Lawrence Foundation Subrata Chakraborty, PhD UCSD, Dept. of Chemistry and Biochemistry Rear Admiral Len Hering Sr. USN (ret), January 2019
Even Holtec President, Kris Singh, admits on this video that even if you could find cracks, and in the face of millions of curies of radionuclides being released, find a way to repair them, it’s not feasible. Transcript of Singh video statements.
Neither the NRC, SCE or Holtec have a plan in place should something go wrong with the canisters. Worse, the NRC falsely assumes nothing will go wrong. That is an assumption that should never be presumed. By their own actions, we should no longer trust the NRC, SCE and Holtec to protect our safety.
The clearance between each 54-ton canister and the protruding steel guide ring in the storage hole is only 1/4″. The Holtec canister loading system causes each canister to swing widely as the workers attempt to download the canister past a steel guide ring. Since the “fine tuning” of the location of the canister is controlled by the tank-like Vertical Cask Transporter it is impossible to insert the canister into the storage cavity without gouging the sides of the canisters.
Each canister holds roughly the amount of highly radioactive Cesium-137 and other radionuclides that were released during the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster.
The NRC conference of January 24th will be with representatives of SCE to discuss preliminary findings of a Special Inspection the NRC conducted at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station following the August 3rd fuel-loading incident. The meeting will be held from 2-5 p.m., Central Time at the NRC’s Region IV office at 1600 E. Lamar Blvd., Arlington, Texas. It is open to public observation and will be broadcast via webinar. NRC officials will answer questions submitted via the Internet from the public following the business portion of the meeting. Interested members of the public should register for the webinar. After doing so a confirmation e-mail will be sent with details for joining the webinar via computer or mobile device. There is also an option to listen via a phone bridge; however, participants must first register for the webinar to obtain the phone bridge number. No decision on the final safety significance of the findings identified in a November 28 inspection report or any additional NRC actions will be made at the conference. That decision will be announced at a later date.
For more information on San Onofre and Holtec nuclear waste storage problems, go to SanOnofreSafety.org.