August 03, 2022

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

Bill Introduced on Four Year Anniversary of Canister Incident at SONGS

Oceanside, CA – Today, on the anniversary of the 2018 near-miss canister incident at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS), U.S. Representative Mike Levin (D-CA) announced he reintroduced 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. Rep. Katie Porter (D-CA) is an original cosponsor.

“Safety should always be the top priority when it comes to handling spent nuclear fuel, which is why we need full-time NRC inspectors at decommissioning nuclear power plants,” said Rep. Levin. “Unfortunately, we have seen how safety, transparency, and accountability can be compromised without NRC authorities inspecting sites like San Onofre. With the INSPECT Act, we can learn from those mistakes and ensure that NRC inspectors are in place during the spent fuel transfer process to monitor safety issues and help prevent them. As we work to implement full-time, resident NRC inspectors, I will continue to focus on making progress to move the nuclear waste away from our region as quickly and safely as possible.”

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. In 2019, Rep. Levin called on then-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 an appropriations bill 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.