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Fight over plan to dispose of nuclear waste

The fight continues over how to dispose of the nuclear waste from the now shuttered San Onofre nuclear plant.
Fight over plan to dispose of nuclear waste

SAN DIEGO (NEWS 8) - The fight continues over how to dispose of the nuclear waste from the now shuttered San Onofre nuclear plant.

Momentum is growing to stop Southern California Edison from storing 3.6 million pounds of nuclear waste at the former nuclear plant.

At a community meeting Thursday in Encinitas, the Citizens Oversight group, who filed suit to stop the California Coastal Commission from allowing Edison to bury radioactive waste, tried to come up with an action plan.

"This is an organization that won't let you plant roses in the coastal zone and they are allowing a nuclear waste dump," said Ray Lutz, Citizens Oversight founder.

In 2012, a radiation leak forced Edison to close the plant in 2013. New places to store the waste continue to be explored. Proposed locations include: Palo Verde near the Mojave Desert, Camp Pendleton or near Andrews Texas or South East New Mexico.

By law, Edison cannot comment about the settlement negotiations and neither can Citizens Oversight's Lutz.

Last month, Edison agreed to look for ways to relocate the waste.

"They have gone off board and everything has gone insane and we need to get them back on board," said Lutz.

Activists said they just want the deadly waste far away from the ocean.

Some believe mother nature can solve the problem. "As crazy as it sounds mushrooms have a lot of healing properties, but they also have an interesting neutralizing radiation," said Ekayani Chamberlin of Encinitas.

Others believe in prayer.

"No matter who impossible things look, through God, all things are possible," said Sasha Rana, Encinitas resident.

Citizens Oversight has had community meetings in San Juan Capistrano and Oceanside. On June 8th, it will host another community meeting at the Vista library at 5:30 p.m.

The next court date is set for July 14th in downtown San Diego.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission issued a low-level violation to Southern California Edison earlier this month for not testing the density in the ground that will store fuel canisters.

Below is a statement from Edison regarding this inspection report:

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has issued an inspection report that documents the results of the commission's comprehensive review of Southern California Edison's dry storage facility construction at the San Onofre nuclear plant.
Over a nine-month period, the commission conducted a series of inspections to ensure that the facility that will house dry cask storage canisters of used nuclear fuel is built according to the license requirements. The report concludes that the facility complies with all the requirements but notes one exception related to a procedure omission. As a result, SCE received what is referred to as a "Level IV violation," which is the lowest-level violation that may be assessed.
The issue that led to the violation, detailed in a May 22 letter from the commission to Tom Palmisano, vice president and chief nuclear officer for SCE, relates to the testing of grout that was used to level the cylindrical structures that will contain the fuel storage canisters.
Holtec, the dry cask storage system vendor, noted that the laboratory failed to conduct the required density test and took immediate corrective action. The violation was promptly identified through a rigorous review process put in place to ensure the facility is built according to the commission's requirements. SCE reported the violation to the commission and increased its oversight to prevent a recurrence. SCE reviewed Holtec's corrective actions, which included: revised procedures, updated training and a review of similar previous test reports to confirm compliance.
The grout in question is about two inches thick and was placed last September under the large cylinders to ensure they are level and kept in place before additional concrete is poured. The grout was tested for strength but not for density, as required under the NRC license. The density test was subsequently performed by Holtec and its laboratory, and both SCE and the commission agreed that the density meets the design requirements. The grout provides support for the cylinders until the surrounding concrete is poured; it does not provide a radiation shielding function.
The commission, in characterizing the procedural deficiency, noted the "safety significance of the issue was determined to be low, and because the violation was not willful or repetitive … this violation was treated as a Non-Cited Violation."
"SCE remains committed to safety and a robust oversight process during decommissioning, and recognizes there is high public interest in the continued safe storage of used nuclear fuel at San Onofre," Palmisano said.
The dry cask storage facility under construction will house up to 75 sealed canisters of used nuclear fuel. About one-third of San Onofre's used nuclear fuel is already in dry cask storage, and SCE plans to place the remaining two-thirds in dry storage by mid-2019.

Full statement and report from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission that sent a violation to Edison: