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By Eric Heinz

At least 39 canisters that were to be filled with the spent nuclear fuel rods at San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) will be returned to Holtec after personnel discovered some of the ventilation systems that keeps the fuel cool were damaged.

Southern California Edison (SCE), the majority owner of SONGS, provided more information at the March 22 Community Engagement Panel (CEP) meeting in Laguna Hills.

Tom Palmisano, the vice president of decommissioning and chief nuclear engineer at SCE, said newer designs of the canisters have small pins at the bottom to help circulate air. Some of the canisters had pins that were damaged or broken off completely.

The portions of the canisters are necessary to keep the spent nuclear fuel cool, as it’s still radioactive and extremely hot, even after sitting in cooling tanks within the remaining units of SONGS.

Palmisano said Holtec will correct these issues and replace them.

Toward the end of the informational portion of the meeting, members of the CEP said they wanted to have another meeting to discuss defense in-depth, which the Nuclear Regulatory Commission defines as the method of ensuring nuclear power facilities prevent any kind of accident.

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