Nuke Challenges Continue: SONGS Update

The SONGS Task Force appointed by Rep. Mike Levin (D-49th) met on September 8th and received an update on federal actions undertaken in response to the Task Force Report issued last year. Rep. Levin reported on the following 8 action items:

1. Forming the bipartisan Spent Nuclear Fuel Caucus – underway

2. Prioritizing the Removal of Spent Nuclear Fuel from High-Risk Areas – legislation introduced

3. Breaking the Gridlock on Consent-Based Siting – challenging; west Texas site now opposed by Gov. Abbott

4. Creating the Nuclear Waste Administration (replacing the Department of Energy role) – under discussion

5. Fighting for 100-year Canister Life (instead of current 20-year span) – under discussion with Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Chair

6. Requiring NRC Resident Inspectors at Decommissioning Plants – under discussion with NRC; challenge is reduced NRC staff

7. Funding Spent Nuclear Fuel Innovation – plan is to insert funding into must-pass budget item

8. Following Best Military and International Practices – under discussion with fellow congress members and NRC

The lawsuit filed by the Samuel Lawrence Foundation against the California Coastal Commission for approving the demolition of the cooling pools at the San Onofre Nuclear “Waste Dump” was dismissed by the presiding judge on September 17th. Judge Mitchell L. Beckloff ruled that the “Petitioner (the foundation) did not meet its burden of demonstrating error.” The core issue in the lawsuit was that the canisters holding nuclear waste cannot be repaired in place and that retention of the cooling pools was essential should one (or more) of the canisters develop a leak. The result of this ruling is that there is no backup plan for repairing leaking canisters, many of which are well into their 20-year expected lifespan (see 5 above).