By Eric Heinz, Dana Point Times

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) on Monday, March 25, decided that San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) operators committed two significant violations in relation to an incident that occurred while storing a spent nuclear fuel canister in August.

NRC officials said they propose a fine of $116,000 for the incident itself in which a canister was caught on a guiding ring and that overseers were in the incorrect location at the time of the downloading process. The NRC categorized this as a level-two violation, the second highest of four possible categorizations. Another violation was the inadequate timing to formally alert the NRC, which was deemed a level-three violation, but no civil penalty was levied.

Southern California Edison, the majority owner of SONGS, has not loaded any spent nuclear fuel into the dry facilities since Aug. 3, when the violation took place. Since the incident, NRC officials said during the Monday webinar that Edison has been compliant and has demonstrated that it can efficiently store the fuel, but the commission will continue to analyze reports from the energy provider.

Several factors relating to the NRC’s decision included criticism of the oversight of the downloading of the spent nuclear fuel canisters into the vertical receptacles, as well as training deficiencies. The commission also said the canisters are safe and that any contact they sustain would be minimal.

Edison said it is still working with the NRC while additional reviews are addressed, such as “design documentation related to incidental contact as canisters are downloaded,” the release stated.

NRC officials said they planned to attend the Community Engagement Panel meeting on March 28 in Laguna Hills.

The full webinar slides, recording of the meeting and complementing documents can be viewed at

On March 21, the California State Lands Commission approved the full decommissioning process for SONGS, which is expected to be completed in 2028. The California Coastal Commission still has to make its own approvals of the project.

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