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By Shawn Raymundo
The federal government’s regulatory arm on nuclear energy will lead a town hall forum in San Juan Capistrano this month to go over the recent resumption of storing spent nuclear fuel at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS).
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission intends to use the public meeting at the San Juan Capistrano Community Center to provide the local community with details on its “ongoing inspection activities” as well as answer questions from the audience.
“We scheduled a meeting for later this month to provide people with an opportunity to meet directly with NRC staff and get an update on our inspection activities since fuel loading operations resumed (at SONGS),” said Victor Dricks, senior public affairs officer for the NRC.
Dricks noted that the NRC has regularly participated in public meetings and events such as the SONGS Community Engagement Panel, in which officials have responded to questions and addressed comments related to the Commission’s oversight activities.
The forum comes more than a year after an incident involving a canister carrying spent nuclear fuel had occurred at SONGS. During the incident on Aug. 3, 2018, the canister was being placed into a vertical receptacle but wasn’t aligned properly, causing it to get stuck on a guiding ring.
Southern California Edison, the owner of the decommissioned power plant, and its contractor Holtec International, which built the canisters for spent fuel at SONGS, halted downloading operations, prompting a nearly yearlong effort to make corrective actions.
Edison has said that in the months following the incident, it had reviewed its transfer operations and adjusted its program to include updated procedures, implement “better training” and add “more intrusive oversight.”
The NRC penalized SCE with a fine of $116,000 this past March. Two months later, the Commission gave Edison the greenlight to start transferring spent fuel into dry storage again, determining that operations could be safely resumed.
Edison made the announcement last month that it had officially resumed its continuing efforts to place the plant’s nuclear waste into a dry storage facility.
NRC officials will hold the town hall meeting at SJC Community Center, located at 25925 Camino Del Avion, on Aug. 20 from 7-8:30 p.m.
Shawn Raymundo is the city editor for The Capistrano Dispatch. He graduated from Arizona State University with a bachelor’s degree in Global Studies. Before joining Picket Fence Media, he worked as the government accountability reporter for the Pacific Daily News in the U.S. territory of Guam. Follow him on Twitter @ShawnzyTsunami and follow The Dispatch @CapoDispatch.