Today is the one year anniversary of the “near-miss” nuclear accident that shut down the transfer of deadly nuclear waste at the San Onofre Nuclear Waste Dump in San Diego County.
|Every whistleblower’s fear|
Dateline, San Diego August 9, 2019 — One year ago today a brave whistleblower disclosed that a secret “near-miss” nuclear waste accident had occurred at the shuttered San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS). The embarrassing disclosure forced the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to launch an eleven-month ‘special inspection that halted the burial of deadly nuclear waste at SONGS for more than 11 months.
The lie that stopped a nuclear waste dump
On August 9 of 2018, Southern California Edison’s (Edison’s) Chief Nuclear Officer Tom Palmisano, deceived the public and the members of Edison’s “Community Engagement Panel” when he informed the audience that the transfer of canisters of deadly nuclear waste had been halted for four days to give the crews a “rest.”
“We stop for crew rest, to do maintenance on our equipment
and we’re in one of those stops at this point, and we completed
(canister) Number 29 last week.” (See pg 15, Court Reporter’s Transcript)
The statement was an outrageous lie that prompted an 11-month long halt to the movement of all nuclear waste at the beachfront San Onofre Nuclear Waste Dump. A few minutes after Palmisano stated that work had ceased for “crew rest” a whistleblower exposed the lie:
Four days earlier, on August 3, a ‘near-miss’ catastrophic event had occurred: A 100,000 pound canister containing nuclear waste that is deadly to all human life for 250,000 years had nearly plunged 18 feet onto a steel floor in one of the 72 silos designed to hold the waste.
Edison’s criminal behavior
Edison’s lie was a violation of Title 10 CFR 72.75, which orders utilities to publicly report a nuclear waste “near-miss” within 24-hours. Now, exactly one year later, we know that the NRC was complicit in a cover-up of the August 3 ‘near-miss’ and of an additional near-miss event eleven days earlier on July 22.
A failed NRC review
The NRC’s draft “Inspection Report” noted that Edison had failed to implement a safety conscious work environment, where employees feel free to report safety lapses without fear of retribution by Edison. The report concluded:
‘Potential weaknesses included a perception of
retaliation, reluctance to report issues of concerns,
and timely resolution of issues through the condition
More than one “near-miss” at San Onofre
On Wednesday, October 10, 2018, Public Watchdogs board Member Babiarz was interviewing an NRC inspector, The inspector confirmed that the unreported August 3 event was not the first. The first unreported “near-miss’ is documented in a SWORN AFFIDAVIT , What’s more, the event remains unreported in violation of Federal Law. ‘Had the July 22nd event been reported,’ says Babiarz, “it is possible that the August 3rd “near-miss’ would have been avoided.
According to Public Watchdogs executive director, Charles Langley, “We can’t trust the NRC to do its job. If the whistleblower had not stepped up, the NRC would have continued to work with Edison in the ongoing cover up of illegal activity.”
“We may have narrowly averted a nuclear waste disaster thanks to a single whistleblower. Where would we be today had the whistleblower succumbed to a fear of retaliation?” asks Babiarz.
“Must-Watch” Video of Public Outrage at Edison’s Community Engagement Panel
“On August 9th, Tom Palmisano came up here and lied to every one of us …“
San Clemente resident Jeff Steinmetz explains how Edison’s Chief Nuclear Officer, Tom Palmisano,
lied to the public about a near-miss nuclear waste accident at the beachfront San Onofre Nuclear
Waste Dump. Then Mr. Steinmetz proves it, by playing a recording of Mr. Palmisano’s deceptive
public statements from the August 9, 2018 Community Engagement Panel meeting.
Public Watchdogs, a 501(c)3 nonprofit, is engaged in multiple legal efforts to halt the transfer of nuclear waste at San Onofre until a safer solution can be found.