Power outage hit San Onofre nuclear plant on Wednesday || OC Register
Backup systems worked to continue cooling spent fuel, officials said
Electricity is essential to circulate water around the hot waste in San Onofre’s spent fuel pools
“Backup generators rumbled to life at San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station on Wednesday, Jan. 29, when an issue with transmission lines feeding the plant caused a 44-minute power outage, operator Southern California Edison said.
Electricity is essential to circulate water around the hot waste in San Onofre’s spent fuel pools — one of the reasons officials are eager to move all waste into dry storage as soon as possible. Dry storage requires no electricity. All waste is slated to be in dry storage later this year.
Power, perhaps provided by plant part-owner San Diego Gas & Electric, cut out at 5:05 p.m. and was restored by 6 p.m., said Edison spokesman John Dobken. Workers followed procedures and were continuing to restore plant systems into the night.
Diesel generators and other equipment responded as designed “and at no time was there any public impact,” said Edison in a statement.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission office was notified. The cause of the outage is still being investigated.”
Protesters hit the San Clemente streets to voice opposition for nuclear waste burial on the beach at San Onofre
|| Orange County Register
“Monique and Todd Furuike can’t remember the last time they joined a protest. It definitely was the first time for their children, Blake, 13 and Presley, 11.
But when they heard about a group gathering in San Clemente on Saturday to oppose plans to bury 3.6 million pounds of nuclear waste at San Onofre State Beach, Monique and Todd knew they wanted to rally as a family.
“I think it’s important to see what we’re doing as adults, about what we feel passionate about. My kids are beach kids … we have our annual San Onofre beach day,” said Monique Furuike, who drove from Huntington Beach for the protest. “It’s important to see what’s going on around them. There’s so many different causes. This is our family cause.”
More than 100 people showed up at the San Clemente Community Center, some clutching signs with statements such as “kids should grow, not glow” and “it’s better to be active, proactive, reactive than radioactive!” before protesters marched up Avenida Del Mar and El Camino Real.
The latest protest follows similar efforts in recent weeks at Laguna Beach, then Huntington Beach, where opponents to the nuclear waste burial are trying to make a last-ditch effort before spent fuel is buried in the ground in a cliff near the ocean on Camp Pendleton land between Orange County and San Diego at the shuddered San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station .
There’s no concrete date on when the fuel is going to be placed in the canisters, but it could be as soon as mid-January, said Lori Donchak, a San Clemente council member who has followed the issue for a decade.
“If something were to go wrong with the storage, water knows no boundaries,” Donchak said. “It will go straight into the ocean and affect all of California. There’s no reason to believe this part of the country is exempt from natural disaster.”
A spokesperson for Southern California Edison, San Onofre’s operator, did not respond in time for this story’s deadline on Saturday.
Plans to transport the spent fuel to Yucca Mountain in Nevada were taken off the table years ago, and officials haven’t figured out what to do with the nuclear waste other than storing it temporarily on site, in multi-billion-dollar canisters, just a short distance from shore.
In 2015, shortly after the California Coastal Commission gave Southern California Edison the green light to build on-sight storage, the nonprofit group Citizens Oversight filed suit to stop it.
The suit claimed the commission, which must review and approve or disallow seaside projects, failed to adequately evaluate other storage spots or the Holtec system that will entomb the waste. The suit also argues that Southern California Edison presented the spot just a few hundred feet from the beach as the only option.
The Coastal Commission said it followed state law and Edison argued that the new dry storage system is an expansion of an already-existing “safe, secure facility to temporarily store the spent nuclear fuel.”
The highly radioactive fuel will be much safer in the steel-and-concrete bunker than in the pools where it currently cools, Edison said. All waste is slated to be in dry storage by 2019.
Edison has little choice, it has argued. The federal government has exclusive jurisdiction over the transport, monitoring and storage of spent nuclear fuel and has the legal obligation to permanently dispose of it – not just from San Onofre, but from every commercial reactor in the nation.
Edison produced electricity at the site for 40 years, creating millions of pounds of radioactive waste. The reactors were shut down in 2012 after steam generators malfunctioned.
In August, Citizens Oversight, SCE and the Coastal Commission struck a deal to take specific steps toward eventually removing nuclear waste from the region. But details about how that might happen remain vague.
Under terms of the settlement, Edison agreed to spend up to $4 million to hire a team of experts in fields such as nuclear engineering, siting, licensing, transportation, and radiation detection to develop plans to relocate San Onofre’s 3.6 million pounds of spent fuel.
One site the team is supposed to consider is the Palos Verde nuclear plant in Arizona, a site where Edison has a financial stake. The team also is supposed to explore temporary storage sites in New Mexico and Texas.
Already, some spent fuel has been sitting in storage bins – cooling for years – at San Onofre. Some experts argue the proposed dry storage, the steel-and-concrete bunkers, offer greater protection against earthquakes, fire, tsunamis and terrorist threats. And getting it into canisters for dry storage by 2019 is the first step toward transferring it off-site when a facility becomes available, proponents argue.
But concerned citizens in Orange County argue the canisters are below standards used around the world and not nearly as thick as they should be.
Placing the fuel just 100 yards from the water is risky, especially in an area that is due for a major earthquake, said Todd Furuike.
“I think it’s important the public knows of all these risks,” he said as he marched with the group. “That’s how we’ll put pressure on the federal government to respond.”
Torgen Johnson, of Solana Beach, spoke to the group gathered on a grassy lawn before they took to streets to protest.
“The waste is going to outlast recorded history by a huge amount,” he said. “We got our lights on for a few moments, now we have to babysit this fuel for eternity.”
He pointed to his four kids, Layse, 10, Enzo, 8, Coco, 6 and Del Mar, 3.
“We have to keep them safe, and their great, great, great, great grandchildren safe from this stuff,” he said. “It’s thinking about protecting your families and people who aren’t even on the planet yet.”
He was optimistic the crowd’s voice would be heard.
“It’s going to take people like you to speak up,” he said. “We have a big problem, but we have a big crowd and a lot of spirit here. I hope that all of you stay engaged in this fight.”
New Mexico group makes its pitch to store San Onofre’s nuclear waste
|| Union-Tribune San Diego
“In the search for finding a place to move the 3.55 million pounds of nuclear waste from the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS), one question always comes up: Sure, it would be great to send all that spent fuel as far away from the beach as possible, but who would ever be willing to accept it?
On Thursday night, those attending the quarterly meeting of the SONGS Community Engagement Panel heard directly from representatives from a private entity looking to do just that.
One person’s waste is another person’s most valuable possession,” said John Heaton, who is leading a group called the Eddy-Lea Energy Alliance that wants to build a massive nuclear storage facility in the desert of southeast New Mexico.
“We think it’s an important project for us in terms of jobs and capital investment in our part of the state,” said Heaton during a break in Thursday night’s meeting in Laguna Hills.
The facility has yet to be built but its ambitions are big. The New Mexico group has partnered with Holtec International, an energy company with extensive experience in the nuclear storage industry, to build a facility that would hold roughly 120,000 metric tons of spent nuclear fuel.
To put that figure in perspective, the now-suspended Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository in Nevada was legislatively directed to accept 70,000 metric tons. And the total waste from nuclear plants across the country is estimated at 78,590 metric tons.
Pierre Oneid, senior vice president and chief nuclear officer at Holtec, said after Thursday’s meeting the entire process could move at a much faster rate than typical government-approved projects.
“We would commence construction immediately” once the project gets the OK, Oneid said. “We could be ready, if all the stars are aligned, by 2022.”
However, even if such a facility were built, it does not mean that waste at SONGS would be at the front of the line.
Spent fuel has been piling up for decades at nuclear plants across the country. The U.S. Department of Energy will determine the order of waste shipments but it is unclear how the agency will implement its policy when the time comes.
Another potential site for what’s called “consolidated interim storage” facilities, which are designed to house at least part of the waste accumulated at nuclear plants across the country, is in West Texas, not far from the proposed New Mexico facility.
Located outside of Andrews, Texas, the facility would be run by a company called Waste Control Specialists and could store about 5,000 metric tons of waste but with a footprint of 14,000 acres the site could be expanded. Like the New Mexico site, the company has filed a license application with the federal government.
Officials at Waste Control Specialists were invited to take part in Thursday’s meeting but David Victor, the Community Engagement Panel chairman, said the company is involved in a complex mergers and acquisitions process and postponed an appearance.
“Most people (in Texas and New Mexico) either don’t know what’s going on or the people on the street would tell you, no they don’t want it,” said Hadden, who flew in to attend the meeting. “When people do learn what’s happening they are alarmed and they want to take action to stop it.”
Another nuclear storage site in New Mexico — unaffiliated with the proposed Eddy-Lea facility — recently reopened after a radiation leak in 2014. The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) was shut down for almost three years after a waste drum of plutonium-contaminated debris ruptured.
“Things go wrong,” said Gary Headrick, co-founder of the advocacy group San Clemente Green, during the public comment period. “Things went wrong at WIPP … We gotta get this right.”
Thursday night’s meeting comes as discussion is heating up over nuclear waste. .
Edison officials are talking to representatives of Citizens Oversight, an East County-based civic group whose attorney, Michael Aguirre, has proposed moving SONGS waste to the Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station in Arizona, located about 50 miles from Phoenix. .
In Washington D.C., Rep. John Shimkus, R-Illinois, has a draft bill in the U.S. House of Representatives that aims to clear the way to return funding to Yucca Mountain and Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Vista, has introduced legislation to pave the way for consolidated interim storage sites.
The Trump administration, in a budget blueprint released in March, called for the Department of Energy to receive $120 million to start looking at possible solutions, specifically interim storage site and possibly resurrecting Yucca.”
San Onofre Community Engagement Panel to Discuss Off-Site Used Fuel Storage
“The San Onofre Community Engagement Panel (CEP) will discuss off-site storage of used nuclear fuel during its quarterly meeting May 11 in Laguna Hills. The CEP advises the owners of the retired San Onofre nuclear plant on decommissioning.
The meeting will include updates on proposed interim storage sites in Texas and New Mexico designed to accept used nuclear fuel from sites such as San Onofre. In addition, two U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission officials from the agency’s Washington, D.C. and Region IV offices will review federal oversight of decommissioning at San Onofre.
Tom Palmisano, vice president and chief nuclear officer for Southern California Edison, the decommissioning agent on behalf of the San Onofre owners, will provide an update on preparations to decommission the plant.
The regular quarterly meeting will be from 5:30-8:30 p.m. at the Laguna Hills Community Center, 25555 Alicia Parkway, Laguna Hills. Staffed information booths will be open from 4:30-5:30 p.m. There will be a public comment period and the meeting will be live-streamed via songscommunity.com.
SCE announced in June 2013 that it would retire San Onofre Units 2 and 3, and had begun the process to decommission the facility. SCE has established core principles of safety, stewardship and engagement to guide decommissioning.”
AG Harris defends Jerry Brown Refusal to release Emails on the Backdoor Edison Deal Ratepayers Stuck with a 3.4 Billion Tab
“But while the criminal division of the state Attorney General’s Office is pursuing the criminal probe, the civil division of the office is supporting Gov. Jerry Brown in his fight against disclosing emails between his office, the PUC and utilities during the period decisions were being made about how to pay for the costs of closing San Onofre.
Recent coverage of the case in the San Diego media has featured sharp criticism of Harris’ dual role in dealing with the scandal.
“In this case, for the [attorney general] to investigate the communications with the [California Public Utilities Commission] while representing a potential witness who is a potential subject of the investigation is a conflict,” former San Diego County District Attorney Paul Pfingst told KPBS.
“One of the problems with the conflict is it invites the attorney general to narrow the investigation to avoid the conflict,” former San Diego City Attorney Mark Aguirre told the San Diego public broadcasting affiliate.
“If the investigation into the Public Utilities Commission involves the nuclear power plant, and that is something that’s the subject of the governor’s emails they are trying to keep secret, then I think there is a conflict,” Georgetown University law professor Paul F. Rothstein told the Union-Tribune. “The Attorney General’s Office should probably turn over one or the other of these cases to an independent counsel.”
“Government works best when it shines light on problems, not seeks to keep the public in the dark,” University of San Diego law professor Shaun Martin told the newspaper, criticizing Harris for helping efforts to keep public records from being released to the media.”