SCE Holds Productive Meeting with Rep. Mike Levin, Members of Task Force

ROSEMEAD, Calif., June 1, 2019 — Southern California Edison this week welcomed Congressman Mike Levin (CA-49), staff members from the offices of Rep. Harley Rouda and Rep. Scott Peters, and members of Rep. Levin’s recently formed task force to the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS). The task force is looking at spent nuclear fuel storage at SONGS and the potential for moving it off-site to a federally licensed repository.

The meeting was a follow-up to last month’s congressional visit to SONGS by Rep. Levin and Rep. Rouda that featured a tour of the plant and the dry fuel storage facility, and launched the initial discussions about spent fuel canisters at SONGS.

The talks this week focused on the reduced risks involved with spent nuclear fuel storage versus an operating nuclear reactor, SCE’s spent fuel storage strategy and the specifications SCE sought in a dry storage system.

SCE selected Holtec’s system in December 2014 after a rigorous option analysis and with input from the San Onofre Community Engagement Panel. Ultimately, SCE focused on several key design criteria, including canisters that were licensed in the U.S. for both storage and transportation, as well as designs that met SCE’s stringent safety requirements, including enhanced canister thickness. Additional SCE requirements included use of 316L stainless steel, which is better for a marine environment, and laser peening the canister welds, which reduces the opportunity for chloride-induced stress corrosion cracking.

At the suggestion of Rep. Levin, SCE agreed to refresh its original comparative analysis of long-term, on-site spent nuclear fuel storage options. In this update, SCE will look at meaningful technological changes that have occurred during the past five years, as well as add information SCE has developed through industry-leading efforts on canister inspections. That data was shared with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and is expected to be discussed by the NRC at its June 3 public webinar. Relevant information collected during this analysis will also inform how SCE is developing, and will implement, a maintenance and inspection program for spent fuel canisters in the near future.

“SCE welcomes the engagement by Reps. Levin, Rouda and Peters, to help ensure safety remains the top priority for spent nuclear fuel storage at SONGS,” said Doug Bauder, SCE vice president and chief nuclear officer. “This week’s meeting reinforced the need for continuous improvement in all we do, and we are committed to that in spent fuel storage and in decommissioning SONGS.”

SCE representatives were joined at the meeting by outside experts in the field of spent nuclear fuel. Tom Isaacs, a former director with the Department of Energy and current chair of SCE’s Experts Team, and John Kessler, PhD., an independent consultant with more than 25 years’ experience at the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), provided their perspectives on safely storing spent nuclear fuel.

The NRC announced May 21 its support for the re-start of fuel transfer operations at San Onofre nuclear plant, an important milestone in the ultimate journey to permanent offsite storage of the spent nuclear fuel.

Since the canister downloading event on Aug. 3, 2018, SCE and its contractor have performed a comprehensive review of spent nuclear fuel transfer operations and created a more robust program through better procedures, better training, and more intrusive oversight. This, in part, includes the addition of cameras and load monitoring equipment which will provide valuable information during download operations. SCE has demonstrated these improvements are effective and sustainable through numerous dry runs, regulatory inspections and independent reviews.

The ultimate decision on when fuel transfer operations will resume will be made following a careful review of operational readiness by SCE and the contractor. SCE will continue to provide timely updates to the community and stakeholders throughout this process.

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

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