NRC sued in U.S. District Court for failing to respond to FOIA requests

Complaint documents “reckless and feckless” regulation by the NRC

Whistleblower at SONGS (get video)

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A new District Court complaint portrays  an agency that is either dangerously incompetent or a brazen liar that is working at the behest of the utilities is is supposed to regulate.

On Thursday, January 20, San Diego attorney Michael J. Aguirre sued the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission in federal court over the agency’s failure to respond to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.  The FOIA requests were  filed by Mr. Aguirre regarding the NRC’s documentation of an August 3, 2018, nuclear “near-miss” at the failed San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS).  SONGS is owned by Southern California Edison.  Aguirre had requested copies of the NRC’s emails and other documents involving the August 3 accident.

The site, which is located 108 feet from the Pacific Ocean, is currently the USA’s largest privately owned beachfront nuclear waste dump.

Edison’s lies were exposed publicly in an August 9, 2018  Community Engagement Panel Meeting when its representative and Chief Nuclear Officer, Tom Palmisano stated falsely  that work at Edison’s beachfront nuclear waste dump had stopped to “give the crews a rest” (get video proof here).  Prior to filing his lawsuit on January 20, Mr. Aguirre  routinely accused Edison of lying (see video of Mr. Aguirre at Edison’s Community Engagement Panel meeting below).

March 28, 2019, Mike Aguirre Southern California Edison Community Engagement Panel meeting.

 

The August 3, 2018 “Near Miss”

The now-infamous “near-miss” occurred on August 3, 2018,  when a 104,000 pound thin-wall cask filled with deadly irradiated nuclear fuel got caught on a flange while being lowered into a steel-lined concrete vault at the SONGS’ ISFSI (independent spent fuel storage installation).  The canister became stuck on on a ¼” flange, known as a “guide ring” for nearly  an hour.  Critics worry that if the steel flange had broken, the 50-ton canister would have plunged 18 feet, damaging the spent nuclear fuel inside.

According to a Memorandum by the NRC’s Troy W. Pruett:

“It was estimated that the canister could have experienced
an approximately 17-18 foot drop into the storage vault if
the canister had slipped off the metal flange or if the metal
flange failed. This load drop accident is not a condition
analyzed in the dry fuel storage system’s Final Safety Analysis
Report (FSAR).”

The public was kept in the dark with the NRC’s cooperation

The NRC allowed Edison to avoid filing the legally required public event notice for more than a month in violation of Federal law.  What’s more, according to this sworn affidavit, there have been other safety incidents at SONGS that the NRC has failed to report publicly.

The NRC’s complacency about enforcing its own regulations has spawned a maelstrom of public outrage because each of the massive canisters at SONGS contain plutonium, and other toxic metals which remain lethally radioactive for more than 250,000 years.    Adding to fuel to the public fire, Southern California Edison, the owner of the nuclear waste, failed to promptly report the near-miss disaster in violation of Federal law CFR §72.75(d)(1) until September 14, 2018 –  more than 40 days after the event occurred (Get the actual NRC Event Report).

Edison was eventually fined one hundred and sixteen thousand dollars for its impudence, but the fine is a slap on the writ compared to Edsion’s $4.5 billion budget for SONGS decommissioning.

Did the NRC collude with Edison to keep the public in the dark?

The NRC has generated hundreds of millions of pages involving nuclear safety at American power plants, yet it is claiming that only 13-pages exist involving the infamous August 3, 2018 near-miss.

The suggestion that there are less than 20 pages of emails, memos, or hand-written notes about the August 3 event seems ludicrous when you consider the fact that the incident has made national news, humiliated the NRC and Edison, and soiled the reputations of both organizations.  The evidence presented by Aguirre & Severson makes a strong case for collusion and institutional corruption at the NRC.

If it wasn’t for the actions of a brave and principled whistleblower, the world would have never known about the near-miss nuclear disaster that occurred at the site of the failed San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) on August 3, 2018.  This incident underscored the reckless and unlawful activities of Southern California Edison (Edison), and the feckless regulatory culture of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).

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(pdf format)

 Gouging on the sides of the silo during download
(Click here for larger images in pdf format)
Gouging and metal shards from canisters on shield ring
(Click here for larger images in pdf format)
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