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US NRC proposes fine, cites violations for San Onofre cask incident

Washington — The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission Monday proposed a $116,000 fine and determined two violations occurred in connection with an August 3 incident at California Edison's San Onofre plant.

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During the incident, a spent fuel canister being moved into a vertical storage system got hung up on an inner ring and was without drop protection.

In a four-page letter, the agency said it determined that two NRC requirement violations occurred -- one involving the failure to ensure that important-to-safety equipment was available to provide redundant drop protection features for a loaded spent fuel canister during downloading operations, and the other for failing to make a timely notification to the agency in connection with the incident.

NRC is proposing the fine in connection with the equipment violation, saying that "could have resulted in a significant safety consequence."

The agency had scheduled a public meeting/webinar Monday afternoon to discuss enforcement decisions and recent inspection activities at San Onofre, which shut permanently in 2013.

The letter referred to a special inspection conducted at San Onofre September 10-14. That followed an NRC special inspection report, released in November, that said Southern California Edison and Holtec International had several "missed opportunities" to avoid the August 3 incident.

The report said from January 30 to August 3, spent fuel canisters at the plant often made contact with components inside the storage vault of Holtec's underground Hi-Storm Umax system while being lowered into the system's silo-like storage structure. But, it added, the misalignments and contact events were never entered into the plant's corrective action program.

Holtec International manufactured the canisters and is under contract with Southern California Edison to load them with fuel and move them at San Onofre. Each canister is filled with 37 spent fuel assemblies.

--Michael McAuliffe,

--Edited by Valarie Jackson,

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