Coastal Commission Approves Spent Fuel Inspection and Maintenance Program

ROSEMEAD, Calif., July 16, 2020 — The California Coastal Commission today approved an inspection and maintenance program (IMP) for spent nuclear fuel storage at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station. The meeting was held virtually due to physical distancing requirements. The program applies to the Holtec UMAX dry fuel storage facility at San Onofre, which was licensed for operation in 2015. The commission voted unanimously to approve the program, following the staff recommendation.

Southern California Edison developed the program in response to a special condition of the 2015 Independent Spent Fuel Storage Installation (ISFSI) Coastal Development Permit issued by the commission. Before today’s vote, an independent engineering firm hired by the commission reviewed the program. The firm concluded the program is sufficient to “detect degradation and effectively observe the ISFSI system through 2035,” according to the staff report.

“Through this process of fulfilling our commitment to the commission and to the local community, SCE has developed a comprehensive, industry-leading program that ensures dry fuel storage canisters remain in a physical condition to support transportation once an off-site facility is available,” said Doug Bauder, SCE vice president and chief nuclear officer. “We look forward to continuing to collaborate with the commission on maintaining the spent fuel canisters at SONGS in a safe condition.”

Under the program, beginning in 2024, two spent fuel storage canisters will be inspected every five years, and the San Onofre test canister will be inspected every 2 1/2 years. The test canister, a first for the industry, is an electrically heated, full-scale canister simulator (containing no spent fuel) used to model potential effects of storage over time. Inspection results will be reported to the commission.

In the program, SCE selected a metallic overlay repair process in the unlikely event a canister should require a repair. This method combines the robotic visual assessment capability previously used to inspect canisters at San Onofre with metallic overlay technology, which is a high‐energy, solid-state coating and powder application. SCE successfully demonstrated this process at San Onofre in December.

The program describes inspection and maintenance activities for the Holtec dry fuel storage system through 2035. After this initial 20-year period of operation for an ISFSI, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission requires licensees to conduct canister inspections as part of an Aging Management Program (AMP). The AMP would be submitted as part of the ISFSI license renewal process, likely in 2034.

SCE submitted the program to the commission in March for review. It was originally due in 2022 but the date was pulled forward last October as part of the 2019 Coastal Development Permit for decommissioning the SONGS site.

San Onofre’s operations to move fuel from wet storage in pools to dry storage are expected to be complete next month.

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 Media Contact: John Dobken, (626) 302-2255

About Southern California Edison

An Edison International (NYSE: EIX) company, Southern California Edison is one of the nation’s largest electric utilities, serving a population of approximately 15 million via 5 million customer accounts in a 50,000-square-mile service area within Central, Coastal and Southern California.