Downloading and handling of deadly  spent nuclear fuel will continue at  SONGS during COVID-19 outbreak

NRC allows nuclear facilities to self-regulate

Today at a  Nuclear Regulatory  Commission (NRC teleconference on the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on nuclear safety, Donna Gilmore of San Onofre Safety  ( ) asked the NRC if it required testing of nuclear workers for the COVID-19 virus at the failed San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS).

The NRC spokesperson replied that the NRC does not require virus testing of employees at operating nuclear plants.

“Are you saying there is no regulatory oversight?” asked Gilmore.

“Relative to COVID-19, we do not have regulations requiring testing” replied spokesperson Scott Burnel.


According to a statement on SouthernCalifornia Edison’s “SONGS Community” web site at fuel transfers will continue. (for a screen capture of the notice, click here)

“Fuel transfer operations, as well as decommissioning work, are continuing  but with new protocols in response to COVID-19.”  …  “Employees who can telecommute are being encouraged to do so, and to utilize tools such as social distancing while at the site.”

According to Charles Langley, the  executive director of Public Watchdogs, “The NRC’s hands-off approach seems foolhardy.  The nuclear waste inside each of the thin-walled canisters at San Onofre is deadly for at least 250,000 years. The idea that contract workers sickened by fever could be handling 100,000 pound canisters of the world’s deadliest substance with cranes and other heavy equipment is terrifying.”

According to Public Watchdogs’ board member, Nina Babiarz, “Because no electricity is being generated at SONGS, it seems that halting work is a no brainer.”  Why wouldn’t Edison adhere  to public policy like everyone else?”

The San Onofre Nuclear Waste Dump is located 108 feet from the sparkling sugar sand beaches and rolling surf of San Onofre State Beach Park.  While the waste inside canisters is eternally deadly, the canisters themselves are guaranteed by Holtec International, the manufacturer, to last ten to twenty five years (get the warranty).

“What could possibly go wrong?” says Babiarz.


Charles Langley, Executive Director

Public Watchdogs (858) 384-2139 Mobile (858-752-4600

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