Public Watchdogs’ report blasts NRC for reckless “regulatory failure” at San Onofre

 Southern California Edison’s disaster response plan for San Onofre shifts responsibility for a nuclear emergency from FEMA to local fire and police departments

Get the full report here.
Watch video here.
Get radio interview here
June 16 Reader story here

SAN DIEGO, May 17, 2017, 7:30AM  – Today, Public Watchdogs unleashed a chronological 30-page report and 450-page analysis of regulatory failure and the deeply flawed safety planning and emergency response plans at the now-defunct San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) owned by Southern California Edison (SCE).

Under the current plan SCE will transfer hot plutonium fuel assemblies from its overcrowded spent fuel pools to 75 thin-walled stainless steel canisters. The fuel inside the canisters is deadly for at least 250,000 years. The fuel will be buried 108 feet from the water behind a crumbling 15-foot retaining wall, three feet above the water table and 108 feet from the beach.

The ISFSI or “Independent Spent Fuel Storage Installation” is located at San Onofre State Beach Park. It is vulnerable to terrorist attacks, tsunamis, and earthquakes. Once completed, it will become the largest privately operated high-level nuclear waste dump in the USA.

The report exposes Southern California Edison and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for lax enforcement of common-sense safety precautions against terrorist threats, earthquakes, and tsunamis at the failed nuclear reactors; and for unlawfully waiving common-sense safety and security measures designed to protect the public.

Key Findings:

A disaster at SONGS could be 40 time worse than Chernobyl
A risk analysis by nuclear physicist Paul Frey shows that a conservatively estimated worst case scenario would unleash more than 40 times the radiation released at Chernobyl with the potential of irradiated much of the Western United States.

Unlawful exemptions: The report argues that the exemptions granted to Southern California Edison are so recklessly interpreted by regulators that they violate the public safety and national security intentions of the 1954 Atomic Energy Act.

FEMA will not respond: The budget for FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, has been eliminated. In the event radiation travels offsite, the responsibility for planning evacuations and emergency response is in the hands of small local governments.

California Office of Emergency Services will not respond: The budget for OES, the California Office of Emergency Services has been terminated relevant to SONGS

Emergency response on the backs of local fire and police:  In the event of a worst case scenario, where radiation travels outside the perimeter of the facility,  the only offsite emergency responders will be local police and fire departments.

SONGS security level downgraded to  “Medical Research Facility”
The SONGS nuclear waste dump will contain 3.6 million pounds of deadly plutonium-laced fuel assemblies with a radiation payload that is the equivalent of 700 nuclear warheads, yet in a regulatory sleight-of-hand, the NRC has reclassified it for security purposes as a non-power nuclear reactor, requiring the same security measures as a “Medical Research Facility.”

Only three people will monitor  the dump: Staffing requirements for the planned beachfront nuclear waste dump are minimal: Only three staff members will be responsible for security and safety at any given time in the event of a terrorist attack or earthquake.

No requirement to estimate lethality of a radiation release: Under the new NRC rules Edison is no longer obligated to estimate public danger or mortality rates posed by radiation leaks that affect local communities.

Prompt public notification no longer necessary: In the event of a worst-case scenario, SCE is no longer obligated to notify the public with 15 minutes as required by law.

Requirement to respond to terrorists waived: In the event of a terrorist attack there is no longer an obligation for SCE employees to respond to, or plan for, a hostile attack.

The report may be viewed at:

CONTACT:  To arrange interviews, contact Charles Langley at (858) 752-4600

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