October 23, 2020

Rep. Mike Levin Introduces Bill to Require NRC Inspectors at Nuclear Power Plants During Spent Fuel Transfers

San Juan Capistrano, CA – Today, U.S. Representative Mike Levin (D-CA) introduced the Increasing Nuclear Safety Protocols for Extended Canister Transfers (INSPECT) Act. The bill requires the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to keep a resident inspector at decommissioning nuclear power plants until all spent fuel is transferred from its spent fuel pools to canisters. While the NRC refused to implement a resident inspector at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) during its spent fuel transfer process, Levin’s legislation builds on the lessons learned by that failure and would ensure that other decommissioning plants have the added safety benefit of a resident inspector. The bill mirrors recommendations made by the SONGS Task Force, convened by Rep. Levin in January 2019. Representatives Katie Porter (D-CA) and Harley Rouda (D-CA) cosponsored the bill.

“My top priority is keeping my constituents safe, which is why I repeatedly called for a resident NRC inspector at San Onofre during its spent fuel transfer process,” said Rep. Levin. “While the NRC refused to take that necessary measure at San Onofre despite multiple safety incidents, we can learn from that failure and improve safety at other decommissioning plants across the country. The INSPECT Act will ensure that NRC inspectors are in place during the spent fuel transfer process and safety issues will be seen by the oversight authority tasked with preventing them, unlike the incident at San Onofre in 2018. Ultimately, the best thing we can do is move the spent fuel from our region quickly and safely, and that will continue to be one of my top priorities in Congress.”

Rep. Levin repeatedly called on the NRC to implement a resident inspector at SONGS during its spent fuel transfer process to help ensure the process was as safe as possible. Early last year, Rep. Levin called on NRC Chairwoman Kristine Svinicki to implement a full-time inspector at SONGS following the announcement of two violations resulting from the 2018 incident. Rep. Levin continued to press Svinicki to implement a resident inspector throughout the transfer process at SONGS, and secured an amendment to a House-passed appropriations bill earlier this year that would prevent the NRC from removing inspectors from nuclear power plants while spent nuclear fuel is being transferred. While the transfer process at SONGS concluded without a resident NRC inspector, the safety incidents during that process highlight the importance of passing the INSPECT Act to require resident inspectors in similar situations.