Media Contact: John Dobken, (626) 302-2255
ROSEMEAD, Calif., July 15, 2019 — Southern California Edison, after rigorous regulatory, internal and third-party readiness and operational reviews, will restart spent nuclear fuel transfer operations at the San Onofre nuclear plant. SCE halted the transfer of fuel from wet to dry storage following an incident last Aug. 3 when a canister became wedged during the downloading process. The canister was eventually placed safely into storage.
During the past 11 months, SCE and its contractor, Holtec, have systematically reviewed and strengthened procedures, oversight and training that directly supports a robust fuel transfer program. As part of the reviews, new technologies have been introduced to enhance the transfer process, such as cameras and load monitoring gauges. Improvements were also made to the site’s corrective action program to better assist in identifying potential issues early and to support continuous learning.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission inspected SCE’s corrective actions, as well as enhancements made to the overall program. The commission independently reviewed the data provided on the incidental contact the canisters make during downloading and found the canisters maintain their safety function even with wear marks and minor scratches. As a result, the commission determined that SCE can safely resume downloading spent fuel canisters. The supplemental inspection report released July 10 affirms that SCE has addressed previously identified issues regarding fuel transfer operations to the commission’s satisfaction.
“We’ve done a lot of work to ensure that going forward we will be successful in safely loading and storing each and every spent fuel canister,” said Doug Bauder, SCE vice president and chief nuclear officer. “We’re confident the improvements we’ve made are effective and sustainable. Our job now is to demonstrate that to our stakeholders.”
The restart of fuel transfer operations will begin with a canister that was previously loaded with spent fuel assemblies and has been safely stored in a fuel handling building since August. There are 44 canisters remaining to be placed into the dry storage facility.
Moving spent nuclear fuel to dry storage is an important step in the decommissioning of San Onofre. After receiving a coastal development permit from the California Coastal Commission, SCE will begin dismantling the plant and removing the major structures from the site.
SCE will continue to provide timely updates on the progress made during fuel transfer operations to the community and to stakeholders.
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.