Community Leaders Get Invites to SONGS Small Group Discussions — Updated

Victor Dricks
Senior Public Affairs Officer
Region IV

inviteThis week, the NRC is sending letters to dozens of state and local government officials in California, as well as environmental groups and business leaders, inviting them to participate in small group discussions with NRC officials. The discussions will focus on the processes and activities we’re using to evaluate a possible restart decision on the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station Unit 2.

The NRC is offering these small group meetings as opportunities for productive discussions on how the NRC fulfills its regulatory mandate for protecting public safety and the environment. Those invited to participate are recognized as community leaders, who could then share the information with their constituency and the public at large.

These small group discussions will focus on process issues concerning the NRC’s review, rather than specific areas of the staff’s technical analysis. They do not replace the larger public meeting the staff will conduct. That meeting will occur after Southern California Edison has submitted, and the NRC staff has completed our inspection and technical evaluation of, SCE’s response to the NRC’s Confirmatory Action Letter (CAL).

This new effort will consist of multiple small group gatherings in California with state elected officials, local elected officials, environmental non-governmental organizations, and economic development, energy, and local union/building and trade representatives.

The discussion will include 15-20 participants with three to four NRC representatives and a facilitator. The NRC’s objective is to maintain the small group size to promote frank, two-way discussions and dialogue.

The discussions will be closed to public observation. The information discussed as part of this effort will be placed on the NRC SONGS special webpage prior to the discussions. No decisions about restart will be announced at these gatherings.

Note: Here are the titles and organizations of the folks invited to participate:

Local elected officials

The mayors of: Los Angeles, Mission Viejo, Santa Ana, Vista, Encinitas, Irvine, Laguna Beach, Solana Beach, Huntington Beach, Laguna Niguel, Aliso Viejo, Laguna Woods, Del Mar, San Clemente, San Juan Capistrano, Dana Point, San Diego, Redondo Beach, Laguna Hills, Industry, West Hollywood, Escondido, La Habra, Covina, and Hesperia.

San Diego Unified School District, Board President

State Level

California Energy Commission, California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), and California Assembly

Environmental Non-Governmental Organizations

Residents Organized for a Safe Environment (ROSE), Peace Resource Center of San Diego, Citizens’ Oversight, Sierra Club, San Clemente Green, San Onofre Safety, Democratic Party of San Diego, Alliance for Nuclear Responsibility, Friends of the Earth, Committee to Bridge the Gap, DAB Safety Team, Earth Ocean Society, and Women’s Energy Matters

Economic Development, Energy and Local Unions

Business Manager UWUA, Local 246, SD Building & Construction Trades Council, IBEW Local 47, Orange County Taxpayers Association, Huntington Beach Chamber of Commerce, Cypress College, Chapman University, Los Kitos Farm, Muni-Fed Energy, Southeast Community Development Corporation, California Small Business Association, Orange County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Santa Ana Chamber of Commerce, and Adams Real

Plus — four other individuals with unknown organizational ties

Author: Moderator

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

28 thoughts on “Community Leaders Get Invites to SONGS Small Group Discussions — Updated”

  1. Too bad these meeting got cancelled, there is still much work that needs to be done to finish the investigations that must go forward even though San Onofre is going to be decommissioned!

    N☢ San Onofre Gate

  2. I am sorry San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station is being closed. Unit two ran 18 months at 100% power with no “in plane, tube to tube” wear. Tube examinations and repairs were done to ensure the next run cycle would be safe. U2 would be safe to run at 70% for five months. It has been 18 months since U2 produced power. The NRC decided to allow a full license amendment process take place. The NRC had agreed to a Confirmatory Action process which should have allowed the plant to start up this summer. The decision to allow a full license amendment process take place was the turning point for Edison’s management. They could not continue to let the plant be shut down for another year and pursue an unknown License Amendment result.

  3. Congratulations, NRC. Your politically-motivated decisions–which were not based on SAFETY, which is your sole mission–have resulted in the closure of two reactors.

  4. The NRC invited individuals who have interacted with us through meetings, e-mail, and letters, and who are expected to be leaders within the community, with representative viewpoints of the community or organizations they represent. Not inviting the Mayor of Oceanside was an oversight; he has since been invited.

    Victor Dricks

  5. Our original list was incomplete. We added the rest of the invitee list on Tuesday morning. So you didn’t miss it. It was our mistake.


  6. I need to amend my comment above, because you have invited some business organizations. I am happy you did that…you are definitely ahead of the Jaczko visit to Vermont! My apologies for not noticing those invitations when I wrote the first note.

    However, you chose some organizations, but not others, and there seems to be no particular rhyme or reason to it. For example, why have you invited the mayor of Hesperia (about 70 miles from the plant) but not the mayor of Oceanside (the next town south)? Why have you invited the San Diego Unified School District but not Capistrano School District? I believe the latter district is much closer to the plant.

    And I think you might think about one more thing, since you are a federal agency: can you invite the local Democratic party to have a place at the table, and not invite the local Republicans? (Or, for that matter, the local libertarians, socialists, etc.) These are political parties, not NGOs. I don’t think you can play favorites among them. You seem to have re-defined the Democrats as an environmental group, but I don’t think that re-definition is actually within your power.

    Once again, I am glad you invited business organizations, and I know you can’t invite all of them. However, you should make more of an effort to invite the local organizations, and you really cannot play favorites among political parties.

    Meredith Angwin, blogger at Yes Vermont Yankee. Former Project Manager at the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI). Member of the EPRI speciality group for research on Steam Generators.

  7. By “environmental groups” you mean “anti-nuclear organizations” and by business leaders you mean who, exactly? Where are the pro-nuclear environmental groups? Where is the American Nuclear Society? Where is the Nuclear Energy Institute? Where is the health physics professional society? Where is the local chamber of commerce? Rotary club? Elks? The engineering departments at local universities and colleges? Retired veterans of the nuclear navy?

    Democracy means EVERYONE, not just those who scream the loudest. NRC needs to quit bending over backwards for opponents to the exclusion of any citizen or group that might be pro-nuclear energy. It’s so overtly political it’s breathtaking.

  8. I have read your list, and I am not particularly impressed. You do include elected officials, which is more than Jaczko did when he came to Vermont. However, there are no business organizations, no invitation to someone from the local American Nuclear Society chapter, etc.

    When Jaczko came to Vermont, at least one business organization (VTEP) and myself (a blogger with a sizable local following, in the process at that time of starting a not-for-profit) asked to be seated at the table. We were refused. Two nuclear opponents stopped by to tell me that if that had happened to them, they would have been offended at being excluded. They were kind and sympathetic to my situation.

    In my opinion, inviting only opponent organizations will not convince the opponents that they were “heard.” Many opponents seem to think that “hear us” actually means “obey us.” Opponents statements are heard and considered: that is simply not enough! (For example, there’s a response below about how the NRC is “co-opting” anti-nuclear groups with this invitation.)

    In other words, these meetings won’t please the plant opponents.

    However, this sort of one-sided invitation can definitely displease business groups and nuclear supporters, who don’t even get heard in the most modest sense.

    I urge you to reach out to community groups, pro-nuclear people and business associations. You need to have many voices at these meetings. And you need to hear them all.

  9. FYI:
    Lessons From Fukushima For San Onofre
    Two public figures who led the response in Japan and the United States to the Fukushima reactor crisis will appear together Tuesday for the first time to outline the lessons of Fukushima for Southern California, which now awaits the decision on whether or not the leaky San Onofre reactors near San Diego will be restarted.

    Former Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan will discuss his concerns about the inherent dangers posed by nuclear reactors. He will be joined by former U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chair Gregory Jaczko, who has emerged as a leading critic of safety at U.S. nuclear power plants.

    The event will be available live both to reporters in San Diego and via phone feed and Webcast to members of the news media elsewhere in the U.S.

    News event speakers will be:
    The Honorable Naoto Kan, former Prime Minister of Japan from June 2010 to August 2011;
    Gregory Jaczko, former chair of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission from May 2009 to July 2012;
    Peter A. Bradford, adjunct professor at the Vermont Law School, a former member of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), and a former utility commission chair in New York and Maine;
    Arnold “Arnie” Gundersen, chief engineer of the energy consulting company Fairewinds Associates, and a former nuclear power industry executive; and
    Dave Roberts, County Board of Supervisors, San Diego.

    FOR PEOPLE OUTSIDE OF SO CAL : A live Webcast from this news event will be available to reporters outside of San Diego, CA., starting at 8:30 a.m. PDT/11:30 a.m. EDT on June 4, 2013, at

    FOR PEOPLE IN SO CAL: Members of the media in the San Diego area are invited to attend the seminar starting at 8:30 a.m. PDT on June 4, 2013, at the Chambers of the San Diego County Board of Supervisors, 3rd Floor, 1600 Pacific Highway, San Diego. (MAP)

    MEDIA CONTACT: Alex Frank at (703) 276-3264 or

  10. Rod
    You can be sure that SCE and even SDG&E have been getting all their friends to appear, just like they have been doing at previous meetings!
    Re: “unsubstantiated statements in an irresponsible manner” many feel SCE is the one doing that since they failed to fully inform the NRC about all the changes they were making to the RSG, which we now know were discussed in 2004/2005 yet SCE decided, since they were in charge of teh joint SCE/MHI AVB Team not to do them because they would have then triggered the full CFR 50.59 review which includes public hearings, both of which would have delayed the RSG project and cost SCE big money! In hind sight it would have saved everyone at least a billion dollars if not much more and kept the nuclear Industry from getting a black eye from San Onofre!

  11. The nuclear industry had no input into who was invited to these discussions, nor will they be participating. The purpose of these meetings is so NRC officials can meet with a diverse group of interests to more specifically define its role in the possible re-start decision.

    Victor Dricks

  12. These small group meetings were designed to address the many processes and procedures the NRC has overseen relative to any re-start decision at SONGS. These meetings are not intended to be a substitute for a possible public hearing, and are being offered as a supplement to explain the NRC processes involved in a possible restart decision for SONGS Unit 2.

    Victor Dricks

  13. The objective of these small group meetings is to explain NRC processes involved in the evaluation of a possible re-start decision for the SONGS Unit 2. As we’ve noted, the NRC will post the visual aid used during the meetings on our website prior to the first meeting. No other visual aids will be used by the NRC during these meetings; however, any visual aids brought by meeting participants will not be posted to the NRC website.

    Victor Dricks

  14. Selective attendance is the same as self anointed censorship by the NRC. These meetings are Shams–not open, not transparent, not communicated, and not public. Shame on you NRC/Victor Dirks.

  15. The individuals selected for these meetings represent a broad range of interests and perspectives in order to add a diversity of viewpoints and input. Check back soon and you’ll see the list posted.

    Victor Dricks

  16. In order to promote trust, credibility, transparency and good government practices, secrecy and exclusion should not be relied upon. Videotaping and webcasting are essential.

    Myla Reson

  17. Will there be any “community leaders” invited to these closed, small group meetings that have indicated that they support the beneficial use of nuclear energy?

    Unfortunately, I do not reside anywhere near San Onofre, but I can provide names of people from the American Nuclear Society who do and who have worked for many years to help their community to understand the importance of nuclear energy to our current and future energy supplies.

    Unfortunately, recent public communications from the NRC have indicated that they believe that there are only two primary groups interested in nuclear topics – antinuclear non-governmental organizations and “the nuclear industry”.

    This assumption does not reflect reality.

    I do not believe that avoiding videotape promotes frank and open discussion; I believe it opens the door for people to make unsubstantiated statements in an irresponsible manner.

    Rod Adams
    Publisher, Atomic Insights

  18. This sounds like a thinly disguised divide-and-conquer strategy by the NRC. This kind of tactic is often used by governmental agencies that want to break up a strong opposition movement by the citizenry. Such invitation-only closed-door meetings are tools of manipulation which do not ultimately benefit the public. Governmental agencies usually host these meetings when they know they are in trouble.

    The NRC will attempt to use the meetings to try to defuse public discontent regarding the way the NRC has been mishandling regulatory oversight of SONGS and the NRC’s resistance to meaningful public participation regarding safety issues at SONGS. Note that the NRC is hoping to use the “selected” meeting attendees as mouthpieces for the NRC’s spin. Note also that the NRC wants to limit discussion to process issues only and avoid substantive technical issues.

    Afterward the NRC will attempt to paint these closed-door meetings as an agency effort to be open and responsive to public concerns. In reality, the NRC is trying to keep a lid on the simmering public distrust of its actions and inactions regarding SONGS such as the NRC’s refusal to make inspection reports fully public.

    Invitees should not feel complimented. Nor should they conclude that an invitation means their views will be given any special consideration. The NRC is mainly looking to co-opt participants into quieting their public expression of concerns and possibly even say good things publicly about the NRC–all because they feel so special about being invited to a closed-door meeting with three or four NRC representatives.

    Bottom line: These planned invitation-only closed-door meetings are mainly designed to blow smoke. If they do not occur in a recorded public forum or in a signed written document, the NRC’s assurances are written on the wind.

  19. Mr. Victor Dricks
    By ONLY using NRC visual aids you are gaming the system, why not post all visual aids used in the discussions, what is the NRC afraid of?

    I can’t wait until the NRC begins to explain why they have not required Edison to examine Unit 2 tube fatigue using the best techniques, not just the bobbin-coil which as Dr, Hopenfeld explains* is not up to the task or how the 9,727 tubes will react to a MSLB!

    Prediction: Any restart discussions without outside experts will be perceived as a PR event.


  20. Mr. Victor Dricks
    If the NRC does not invite the DAB Safety Team, after all the technical papers we have submitted about the many issues about San Onofre safety, then I must argue that those that are making the decisions as to whom to invite, are either not up to the task and/or have an agenda that should not be part of the public process!

  21. Victor, as a well known tennis player used to scream at umpires, “You can’t be serious!” To what farcical lengths with the NRC go next to avoid its adjudicatory public hearing obligations under the Atomic Energy Act? Do you understand how ridiculous this looks — trotting out a proposal for “small group discussions” with “community leaders” of the NRC’s own choosing while the Staff and Edison continue to resist the efforts of FOE and others to exercise the public’s right under the Atomic Energy Act to an adjudicatory public hearing opportunity on the San Onofre restart issue, and the Commissioners dither, because a licensing board has already told them a licensing hearing is warranted. FOE petitioned for a license amendment hearing a year ago. This issue could have been well on the road to resolution by now if the Commission could just bring itself to keep faith with the licensing process as laid out in the AEA. Why on earth is the Commission going to such great lengths to avoid the license amendment process and the public’s opportunity to adjudicate safety contentions in a public hearing process? Do you realize how ugly the Commission’s stance appears to the general public? Do you really think concerned citizens so dimwitted that they will mistake the PR exercise you have outlined in your blog for the exercise of their statutory right under the Atomic Energy Act to a contested and appealable adjudicatory hearing opportunity on the full gamut of licensing issues involved in SCE’s flawed steam generator replacements, including SCE’s misguided original effort to evade a license amendment hearing that gave birth to this mess in the first place. The Commission must face the reality that there is no credible alternative for resolving this matter other than a full blown license amendment proceeding. All the many and varied attempts by Staff and SCE to duck this reality are only making matters worse, and make the Commission appear faint-hearted and ever willing to contort its rules on behalf of industry.

  22. s this how the nuclear industry works, just keep requesting until the public and all concerned gives up in frustration. Are they paying these people to attend and hand picking them to get those who have something to gain if the plants are restarted. The NRC should be using their forces to review other sites that were built as (a like for a like build), must be more jerry ringed builds to save money. Are they going to explain how they let these plants get built under their nose, do they not get a request to build (a like for a like) to make sure it is, before agreeing it is, not on the word of the builders, like how was this possible?

  23. The individuals invited to participate are expected to be leaders within the community, with representative viewpoints of the community or organizations they represent. If they chose such a role, these leaders could then be conduits of information to the larger public in the area.

    Victor Dricks

  24. In order to promote frank and open discussion, the meetings will not be videotaped, but the visual aids the NRC will be using will be posted on the SONGS webpage. One of the reasons community leaders were selected for these meetings was so they may recount the meeting to their constituencies and members.

    Victor Dricks

  25. My personal thoughts:
    What qualifications do this group of people have to understand what the promoters of nuclear power are explaining to them. If they sway them, is the finger going to point to the group if it blows up in their face instead of the promoters. How long till the public gives up in frustration with never ending request to start these bastardized plants. Will it take brute force for them to quite requesting the start up that has been denied after a thorough investigation.

  26. boy, do I second that! We want to know what we’ve said as well as what you present. Oherwia call this illegal meeting off!

  27. I can see why “closed to public being present” however, I assume that all meetings will be videotaped and posted on the web? Please verify?

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: