FEMA To Evaluate San Onofre Safety Procedures At Public Hearing
The San Onofre nuclear power plant 50 miles north of San Diego was shut down for good this year, but tons of spent nuclear fuel will be stored onsite for decades to come. FEMA has evaluated emergency procedures at the power plant every two years. Friday morning, the agency invites the public to hear this year’s evaluation.
But Richard Grundstrom, FEMA's Technological Hazards branch chief, said the check-ups might stop after the operator, Southern California Edison, has completed a risk analysis of the spent fuel on site.
Grundstrom said FEMA does not evaluate emergency procedures at other nuclear plants that have closed down.
“The likelihood of it involving a risk beyond the site boundary is pretty small, “ he said, “and so we don’t do any evaluations of exercises or plans or procedures at those locations any more. “
California’s Public Utilities Commission, which regulates Southern California Edison, is holding hearings on the decommissioning process in Sacramento this month. Edison is proposing to move spent nuclear fuel into dry cask storage onsite, but the fuel rods will remain in cooling ponds for a minimum of five years, and maybe longer.
Meanwhile, an update of the seismic threats to the site, required by the CPUC, has yet to be conducted. It was put on hold because of concerns about the impact the fault-detection equipment would have on marine life.
Operators of the Fukushima power plant in Japan currently are working to remove spent fuel rods, which pose an extreme danger, after the plant's containment pools were damaged in an earthquake-triggered tsunami in March 2011.
Friday’s hearing is at 11 a.m. in the Oceanside public library.