Meeting the Challenges of the Next SONGS Meeting — Updated

Planning the next public meeting in Southern California for the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station has presented a challenge for the NRC.

Our last public meeting at the San Juan Capistrano Community Center on June 18 drew more than 500 people, not all of whom could be accommodated in this venue. At that meeting, members of the NRC’s Augmented Inspection Team presented the preliminary findings of a comprehensive inspection conducted after several steam generator tubes failed pressure testing in February.

Technically, that was what the NRC calls a Category 1 meeting, held with Southern California Edison Co. After the business portion of the meeting was completed, NRC staff and Edison officials responded to members of the public who were given an opportunity to ask questions about the inspection and related steam generator issues.

Interest in the agency’s response to the steam generator problems at San Onofre is extremely high. Immediately following the June 18 meeting, planning began for another meeting that would allow members of the public to meet directly with NRC staff to voice their concerns on a broader range of topics.

Another meeting was planned for August 8, with a similar venue as the June 18 meeting. As the final contracts were being signed, a large response from many members of the public asked for a much larger venue, capable of seating more than 1,000 attendees, with live web streaming for remote viewing and participation. In order to accommodate this we cancelled the August 8 meeting and began a search for a larger facility.

Anticipating a larger turnout, we also considered what kind of format would work best for such a large group. Instead of holding a Category 3 Town Hall meeting, where NRC staff would meet directly with the public, Region IV Administrator Elmo Collins proposed a meeting format designed to create an opportunity to hear from a wide range of perspectives. The meeting will include a facilitated roundtable discussion on topics of significant public interest.

We’ve chosen two experienced facilitators to ensure that the meeting is both informative and responsive to the public’s interests. The format we chose will provide community members with an opportunity to get answers to many of their questions and air their concerns. This format was selected in consultation with San Clemente Green and the San Clemente-based Residents Organized for a Safe Environment,

For the past three months, Region IV staff has been trying to find a venue large enough to accommodate such a potentially large group. After much effort we have been able to find a facility that meets all of our needs: The St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort in Dana Point, Calif. The two-part meeting on October 9 will run from 6 to 9:30 p.m. The first part of the meeting will be a roundtable discussion with observation by members of the public, followed by a question and answer session between the NRC staff and the public. The hotel does charge a nominal parking fee, so attendees are encouraged to car pool.

Details about the meeting and how to see it via webstreaming will soon be available on our Public Meeting page.

Victor Dricks
Region IV Senior Public Affairs
Update: Since announcing our Oct. 9 meeting in San Clemente for the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station we have received many inquiries about our choice of venue and the $10 parking fee people will have to pay to attend. We wanted to provide some additional details about our planning process.In order to be responsive to the feedback we received from stakeholders, we identified seven different hotels within a 25 miles radius of San Clemente that had capacity to host a meeting for up to 1,000 people. Each of the seven also is capable of supporting webcasting, which we plan to arrange through a contractor. Although the Capo Beach Calvary Church in Dana Point is large enough to support 1,000 people and has free parking, we felt this might not be an appropriate venue for a meeting hosted by a federal government agency. We were pursuing venues capable of supporting up to 1,000 attendees due to numerous requests from the public to accommodate a larger crowd.

Only two of the seven hotels we looked at were interested in hosting the NRC meeting, the St. Regis, and a hotel in Newport Beach. The hotel in Newport Beach was nearly 25 miles away and we felt that distance would be inconvenient for attendees. Based on proximity to San Onofre, webcasting abilities, audience capacity and interest in holding an NRC meeting, we chose the St. Regis. The hotel normally charges $24 for parking and federal law precludes the NRC from paying for parking. We were able to negotiate a reduced rate of $10 for meeting attendees. Note: The hotel now says it will charge $5 for “self parking.”

We understand the parking fee may dissuade some people from attending and apologize for this inconvenience. The selection of this venue was the only way to satisfy this meeting’s specific requirements. The venue we chose represents our intention to provide the maximum number of people an opportunity to hear from and interact with NRC and Edison officials, as well as elected officials and stakeholders. This venue will accommodate those who are able to directly participate, and provide those who cannot with an opportunity to view the event remotely.

Author: Moderator

Public Affairs Officer for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission

22 thoughts on “Meeting the Challenges of the Next SONGS Meeting — Updated”

  1. I work in a plant and perform 50.59 evaluations. I’m more than familiar with how nuclear safety works and have no problems with my family being near one. Reactor accidents are slow and with proper planning and procedures can be managed and mitigated.

  2. Immediately close the plant completely so the ratepayers cost will be minimal rather a continuing charge for a plant that is not producing.

  3. Greate post articl, and Comment.. the best is
    “We are lucky that the new Chairwomen of the NRC is a highly respected Geologist because the NRC needs to start giving much more importance to potential Earth Quakes than they have in the past, illustrated by the fact that US reactors are not build to anywhere near the degree of Earth Movement standards as the one in Japan and we all know how Fukushima faired when struck by a BIG Earth Quake…”…

    peace man

  4. 1. The root cause evaluation is not completed, and will be reviewed as part of the NRC Confirmatory Action Letter inspection. The root cause evaluation contains proprietary information, and as such will not be publicly available in its entirety, although portions may be made publicly available as appropriate in support of the NRC inspection report.
    2. The Confirmatory Action Letter response from the licensee will be publicly available when it is received by the NRC.
    3. A member of Chairman Macfarlane’s staff and other senior NRC officials will be attending the meeting. We anticipate that staff members from some Congressional offices may attend the meeting. The NRC will conduct a thorough inspection and evaluation of the safety of the San Onofre facility prior to any decision on restart being made.
    4. We do not know at this time if MHI representatives plan to attend.
    5. The NRC has invited representatives from the California PUC, the Energy Commission, and the Coastal Commission. The community organizations ROSE, San Clemente Green, Committee to Bridge the Gap, Peace Resources Center, the Citizens Oversight Committee, and the Ocean Institute of Dana Point, among others, have also been invited and asked to select four of their organizations to be at the table.

    Victor Dricks

  5. Also to Joy Cash: To add an additional note, 50.59 only validates whether or not the station needs to ask for permission to make a change to the plant. Plants are licensed based on a safety analysis, and as such any changes which deviate from the existing safety analysis may need to be reviewed by the NRC to ensure that the plant does continues to meet its safety requirements. The 50.59 is the method which is used to determine if the NRC needs to review a change and approve of it prior to implementation. San Onofre used the 50.59 process (as all plants do), and the process determined that they did not need to have NRC permission for the change to the facility. Regardless of how you like or dislike the “more than a minimal increase in an accident”, the facility followed the correct process. If you do not like that language, that’s the NRC’s requirement. You can’t blame the facility for making the change without NRC permission and try to make it look like they “snuck it in”, because they used the process the NRC requires to see if they even need permission (and they didnt).

  6. >”If you & your children live nearby, “does not have more than a minimal increase in an accident.”
    is simply not good enough”

    I work in a plant and perform 50.59 evaluations. I’m more than familiar with how nuclear safety works and have no problems with my family being near one. Reactor accidents are slow and with proper planning and procedures can be managed and mitigated. I am more than confident with my designs I put into the plants I work at and our staff to ensure that accidents like those at Fukushima Daiichi do not occur, and if they do, do not result in external consequences.

  7. How safe do we want our nuclear plants to be?
    If you & your children live nearby, “does not have more than a minimal increase in an accident.”
    is simply not good enough. Millions live nearby, with no adequate evacuation plans in place.
    Given the history of nuclear “accidents”worldwide, caused by human error, it is time we all took a sober reassessment of our entire nuclear vision.
    We mistakenly thought 50 years ago that we would have come up with a truly safe containment of our nuclear waste, we haven’t.
    The nuclear energy industry has been milking taxpayers for decades, billions of dollars later,
    we are now being asked to continue to fund this passe source of the dirtiest energy ever created.
    Makes no sense to anyone, but the nuclear energy industry benefiting from this government sustained “cash cow.”
    We now have much cleaner energy sources available to be developed: off-shore wind farms & roof top solar.

  8. Decommissioning of San Onfre & removal of its spent fuel to a non-earthquake zone, is the only logical response, given apparent risks to 8.4 million residents within traditional safety zones.

  9. “BTW Many in Japan and elsewhere believe that the Quake not the Tsunami was the true cause of the Fukushima triple meltdown”

    What people believe doesn’t change the facts. I highly suggest you read INPO IER 11-05 and its supplement which was released a few weeks ago. The earthquake on its own may have caused a small break LOCA in unit 1, but regardless that is all within the capability of the plant’s ECCS systems. A loss of electrical power and ultimate heat sink with inadequate procedures and preparations for that type of scenario are what ultimately lead to the Fukushima accident.

  10. “JUST $54 million a month”

    So when the plant is online you say it is the next Fukushima, but when it is offline you complain that it is costing 54 million a month? What will make you happy?

  11. “California cannot afford a Trillion Dollar Eco-Disaster like Fukushima!”

    You keep saying this, but there is nothing at the moment regarding the steam generators that would even remotely allow for a Fukushima type accident to occur.

  12. I think you should review 10CFR50.59.

    Under 50.59, you are allowed to make changes to your facility without prior NRC permission provided you are not making a change to the operating license, and the change does not have more than a minimal increase in an accident.

    Additionally, the increase in MWe output is an efficiency increase. The reactor’s power output was not increasing, so there was no requirement to have a license amendment. The NRC only licenses reactors for a specific reactor thermal output, not on their electrical output.

  13. The SORE (San Onofre Reactor Emergency) started on Jan 31, 2012 and therefore has been going on for about 8.5 months…

    Therefore at $65 Million per month, SoCal ratepayers have been charged (8 months X $65 Million Dollars per month) 552.5 Million Dollars which has gone to SCE and SDG&E for no electricity generated!

    Said another way SoCal ratepayers have paid about HALF A BILLION DOLLARS in what I believe will be the biggest Energy Boondoggle in US History!

    If a bank in CA was robbed and they stole a couple of million dollars, it would be on both the Local and National news, yet MSM in Southern California is almost silent about SORE (San Onofre Reactor Emergency) half a billion dollar Utility “heist”.

    Ask yourself why, then ask all your elected Leaders why they are silent!

    Each day we wait for a refund is costing all of US about 2 million Dollar more.

  14. Excellent article (with comments) in San Diego’s
    Proposed Changes To San Onofre’s Decommissioning Fund
    Southern California Edison and SDG&E have collected money for the fund from ratepayers over the life of the plant, to pay decommissioning costs when it ultimately shuts down.

    Electricity ratepayers have already paid more than $3 billion into the fund for San Onofre. It’s estimated that decommissioning Units 2 and 3 will cost $3.7 billion.

    PREDICTION: SORE (San Onofre Reactor Emergency) will prove to be the most expensive nuclear Debacle in the World not counting the Trillion Dollar Eco-Disaster triple meltdown in Fukushima Japan; so the question now is who will pay for it, SoCal rate payers or the shareholders of SCE and SDG&E who have had record profits every year for the past few years!

    Unless the NRC refuses to allow SCE to restart SanO, the NRC will become an accomplice to the biggest nuclear rip off the World has ever known thanks in part to the CA CPUC not doing their job by asking for a full investigation and CA Gov. Brown for “Looking the other way” while the CPUC fails the public’s trust…

    I hope both CA Senators Feinstein and Boxer will become vocal before it is too late!

  15. Here are some advanced questions for the Public and all Reporters to ask NRC prior to the Public Meeting scheduled for San Onofre on Oct. 9

    1. Has the MHI Root Cause Evaluation been completed and available for Public Viewing on the NRC Website?

    2. When will the SCE Restart Plan and supporting documents be available for Public Viewing on the NRC Website?

    3. Will the NRC Chairwoman, other Commissioners and/or Senator Barbara Boxer be available at the Public Meeting to assure public of a thorough, unbiased and complete investigation by NRC?

    4. Besides SCE, will MHI Representatives be available to answer questions by the Public Groups?

    5. Which interest groups will be consulted to have representation on the Table? How many Representatives? Who will decide?

    Friends of the Earth

    Fairewinds Energy Education

    San Clemente Green

    The Committee to Bridge the Gap

    General Public

  16. We are lucky that the new Chairwomen of the NRC is a highly respected Geologist because the NRC needs to start giving much more importance to potential Earth Quakes than they have in the past, illustrated by the fact that US reactors are not build to anywhere near the degree of Earth Movement standards as the one in Japan and we all know how Fukushima faired when struck by a BIG Earth Quake…

    BTW Many in Japan and elsewhere believe that the Quake not the Tsunami was the true cause of the Fukushima triple meltdown; which if true would be yet another reason to NEVER allow SORE (San Onofre Reactor Emergency) to ever be restarted!

  17. JUST $54 million a month — that’s how much Southern California Edison is $TILL recouping from customers for the two new generators at the San Onofre Nuclear Power Plant which, in 2011, that were found to be leaking radioactive steam and were shut down; yet we are still PAYING $54 MILLION EVERY MONTH….

    And now, it will cost millions more to repair the generators and restart the plant. That cost could also be passed on to customers if Southern California Edison has its way. Altogether, the failed generators and repairs will cost customers over a billion dollars. These generators are the worst in the nation, so we’ll be spending good money after bad. See chart:

    Over 44,000 people have already signed a petition to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to shut down San Onofre for good. Now we need to take the fight straight to Governor Jerry Brown, who is sensitive to how the costs of this plant will be passed on to consumers and can pressure the California Public Utilities Commission to shut down the plant so that customers aren’t funding more failed overhauls. He may be our best shot to have this plant shut down so the time to reach out to him is now.

    Tell Governor Jerry Brown: Save taxpayers from this billion-dollar boondoggle — shut down San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station permanently.

  18. I think someone should ask the Head of SDG&E why she sold a Million Dollars worth of SDG&E stock just before the news of tube’s leaking caused SORE (San Onofre Reactor Emergency)!

    They all knew, and have tried, from the beginning, to down play this debacle so that all the CA rate payers instead of their own shareholders (who have had years of record profits) will have to foot the bill…

    Why has SoCal’s MSM failed to investigate what really happened and expose not only those that kept quiet but also the CPUC which is clearly protecting SCE?

    Why has Governor Brown not gotten PUBLIC about this Debacle, or is he also connected because of campaign contributions?

    California cannot afford a Trillion Dollar Eco-Disaster like Fukushima!

    Channel 10 would be smart to ask all our State and Local Leaders “on the record” where they stand on this issue and what amounts of donations they have received from not only the Utilities but the nuclear industry and their supporters!

    Is anyone willing to shout, “Conflict of Interest and demand that the MSM find out the truth, or are also part of the Nuclear Problem in CALIFORNIA?”

  19. SCE tried to “soup up” their 2 reactors to make more money, the new parts are not the same as the old units and those changes should have been disclosed to the NRC who were told instead that it was a”like for like” exchange! Then SCE bragged in a trade magazine that they got away with pulling one over on the NRC; but they are not laughing now, as rate payers are demanding not only a refund of the $65 million a month they are paying for N☢ Energy but the $600+ Million that the rebuild has cost to date.

    Expect to see many lawsuits since the amounts of money are HUGE…

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