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Criminal Investigation Sought Into Nuclear Waste Handling At San Onofre

Storage bunkers containing spent nuclear fuel at the San Onofre Nuclear Gener...

Credit: Southern California Edison

Above: Storage bunkers containing spent nuclear fuel at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, February 2018.

San Diego attorney Mike Aguirre wants the FBI to determine whether Southern California Edison’s handling of nuclear waste at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station goes beyond violations and merits a criminal investigation.

Edison is under investigation by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

The NRC issued a scathing report citing Edison’s failure to correct deficiencies in training and procedures that almost resulted in a serious accident at San Onofre. Plant management allegedly failed to adequately oversee the transfer of canisters into storage bunkers on site. In early August a canister narrowly avoided falling 18 feet.

Each canister is loaded with more than 50 tons of radioactive nuclear waste.

Attorney Mike Aguirre said under federal law the violations could rise to the level of criminal behavior if seen as being willful.

“When you have situation when you have a pattern of violations over a four- or five-month period, when you don’t have the training, you don’t have the supervision and you don’t have the reporting, that raises the specter that the actions are willful,” Aguirre said. ”People are becoming more and more concerned that the regulators are not regulating. What we need is a fair and impartial investigation of the facts and that’s what we’re hoping will come from the FBI.”

Edison is currently working with the NRC to set a date for a public hearing where Edison will respond to the NRC’S findings. Edison’s media relation manager, John Dobken, said in an email that the company will not restart loading the remaining 44 canisters until the NRC is satisfied that the violations have been corrected.

“Canister-loading operations at San Onofre, currently on hold, will resume only after SCE is satisfied that our team has successfully demonstrated fuel transfer can proceed utilizing the new procedures, training and technology, and the NRC has an opportunity to inspect practice runs and has reviewed re-start plans,” Dobken wrote.

The company hopes to resume operations later this month. However no date has yet been published for the conference.

A San Diego attorney wants the FBI to determine whether Southern California Edison’s handling of nuclear waste at the San Onofre Nuclear power plant went beyond violations and merits a criminal investigation. Edison is already under investigation by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

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