Nuclear Regulatory Commission rejects request for full-time safety inspector at SONGS

Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) bureaucrats have spurned a request by a sitting United States Congressman to put a full-time safety inspector onsite during the transfer of spent nuclear fuel at the accident-prone San Onofre Nuclear Waste Dump.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has rejected a written request from Congressman Mike Levin to deploy a full-time NRC inspector at the San Onofre Nuclear Waste Dump, which is owned and operated by Southern California Edison (Edison).  This rejection of a simple request from an elected member of congress by the un-elected bureaucrats at the NRC is typical, despite a “near-miss” safety event at the facility on August 3.

The nuclear waste storage facility, which is located at the site of the failed San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS), has  access to a Decommissioning Trust Fund  of more than $4 billion collected from utility ratepayers, which means that the cost of an independent safety inspector could be easily covered..

Why the NRC has refused

The NRC’s prime directive is to keep Americans safe from radioactive nuclear material, but more often than not, the NRC’s mission appears to be keeping utilities safe at the ratepayers expense.  At their root, the NRC and its appointed bureaucrats view themselves as an agency that is above the law and accountable to no authority, not even the U.S. Congress, which created the agency under the Energy Reorganization Act of 1974.   The initial purpose of the NRC was to replace the defunct Atomic Energy Commission‘s failing oversight of civilian nuclear reactors with competent regulation.

“Competent regulation” is exactly what is needed when that oversight includes the eternally deadly spent nuclear fuel.  Unfortunately, the NRC seems to have lost its way.

“Oversight” vs. “Overlooking

In its most recent outrage, the NRC is ignoring a request by Mike Levin,  a sitting member of congress, to deploy a full-time NRC safety inspector at the site of the failed San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS).

The SONGS nuclear power plant failed because the operators chose to put profits ahead of public safety.   The short story is that Southern California Edison, the majority owner of the failed nuke plant, intentionally removed equipment that was essential to the safety of its generators in order to increase the production of electricity. Edison boosted electric production by unlawfully changing the design of its replacement steam generators without undergoing a legally required “design review” by the NRC.

Edison was notified  that the new design could fail by one of its staff, but it ignored the written warning,   As a result of Edison’s greed, the replacement parts failed after 11 months, leaking an unknown amount of radiation into the surrounding communities at 5:30PM on January 31, 2012 (get the official NRC Event Report here).


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