Holtec's Dr. Kris Singh Clarifies Prior Comments to CEP

In a letter to Community Engagement Panel chairman Dr. David Victor, Holtec's CEO and chief technology officer, Dr. Kris Singh, clarified comments he made to the CEP at a meeting in October 2014. The comments regarding repair methods for a spent nuclear fuel canister, and whether such a repair could be safely undertaken, have been misconstrued by some members of the public to say a canister can't be repaired.

For instance, a recent Times of San Diego op-ed took his 2014 comments out of context. The author wrote, "Holtec International CEO Kris Singh acknowledged that even a microscopic through-wall crack would release millions of curies of radiation. He does not endorse attempting to repair a damaged canister." 

In a letter to Chairman Victor, Dr. Singh writes, "At the time of the CEP meeting, I stated that I did not believe it was practical to repair a canister in the unlikely event it has suffered localized degradation to the point of a crack. I further explained that I thought it would be difficult to isolate the indication and to perform a localized repair because the radiation field emanating from the canister would impede locating an isolated location on the surface of the canister. My specific comments regarding the number of curies inside of the canister referred to the radiation emanating through an intact canister shell, not leaking from the canister." (emphasis added).

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In terms of attempting to repair a canister, technology can change fast in six years. Dr. Singh acknowledged in his letter his preferred method of canister repair is placing it in a Part-71 (transportation) cask that provides the cooling and necessary confinement boundary. But he also wrote, "...over the past several years, there has been considerable progress in the development of remote robotic inspection and repair techniques in the industry. I understand that, recently, SCE has reported the successful testing of a remotely applied metallic overlay to mitigate a potential flaw in a canister. It is my understanding that SCE prefers this robotic approach as the remedial path for healing a degraded canister. In short, multiple competent solutions are available for a plant owner to deal with a SCC-afflicted (stress corrosion cracking) canister which, as I have said repeatedly and publicly in the past, is not a credible event at SONGS during the Independent Spent Fuel Storage Installation’s licensed life."

After receiving the letter, Dr. Victor sent it to CEP members with a note. "The essence of Dr. Singh’s letter, which he asked me to share with the full CEP, is to remind us that his remarks, in proper context, were never intended to claim that canisters can’t be repaired. Rather, his point was that Holtec had a different method that it thought worked better. I chaired the meeting where those remarks were made, and Dr. Singh’s correction of the record is accurate in my view."

(Posted Sept. 22, 2020)