San Onofre License Amendment Intervention

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Each nuclear power plant is licensed by the NRC, through the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board. Southern California Edison, the operator of this plant, began the process of "upgrading" the technical specifications of this plant, which are 14 volumes of information. For the most part, they attempted to move the specs without any change from the old version of the technical specs to the new version. One big exception is hundreds of Surveillance Frequencies, which are being relocated to licensee controlled documents, and replaced with "as determined by the Surveillance Frequency Control Program." That means they will no longer be visible for public review, are no longer required to be approved by the NRC, and therefore, do not need a license amendment to change them. COPS submitted a Petition to Intervene and Request a Hearing on October 17, 2012, stating that this reduces oversight and may lead to insufficient surveillances. The licensee can change the surveillance frequencies at will, and then is expected to turn themselves in if they violate their own limits, which should never happen because they set the limits themselves.

This would be like telling freeway drivers to set their own speed limits and to ask for a citation if they violate their own imposed limits. Guess what, it will never happen, but obviously relieves the NRC of a great deal of regulatory work.

A pre-hearing proceeding was conducted by the ASLB on December 5, 2012 regarding this request, and they will rule on whether our contentions are valid, and we have met other filing requirements in late January, 2013.

Federal Register Notice of License Amendment Request
  • Published: August 16, 2012
  • 30-day Comment Period Ended: Sept. 15, 2012 (notice said Sept. 17, 2012 due to weekend)
  • 60-day Filing Deadline Ended: Oct 15, 2012

From Federal Register Notice:
Within 60 days after the date of publication of this notice, any person(s) whose interest may be affected by this action may file a request for a hearing and a petition to intervene with respect to issuance of the amendment to the subject facility operating license.

See M 1295 for a thorough review of the technical specifications documents which was used as a starting point for the Petition to Intervene and Request for a Hearing. It also includes links to relevant documents.

Latest News

  • 05 Dec 2012 - (10a PST) Pre-hearing proceeding on San Onofre License Amendment Intervention. Atomic Safety and Licensing Board Panel’s Rockville Hearing Room, located on the third floor of Two White Flint North, 11555 Rockville Pike, Rockville, Maryland. For the benefit of the public, the proceeding will be webcast at Ray Lutz will be participating by video conference at a location in San Diego with unfortunately no room for the public. Meeting length less than three hours. We are working to set up a public viewing location, likely at the World Resources Simulation Center, where we will have a press conference at 9am prior to the meeting and Ray Lutz will rejoin the public for a debriefing after the proceedings.
  • 05 Dec 2013 - NRC Commission ruled that since plant is now close, appeal of ASLB ruling was now moot. Ruling of ASLB vacated, appeal dropped. See document list for NRC ruling.

Order of Dec 5

The order setting a proceeding to determine if the petition to intervene and request for a hearing meets legal requirements mentions earlier decisions, as follows:

For example, the participants should be prepared to address the significance of 10 C.F.R. § 50.36 and of the Commission’s decision in Dominion Nuclear Connecticut, Inc. (Millstone Nuclear Power Station, Units 2 and 3), CLI-01-24, 54 NRC 349 (2001). Among other things, that decision states:

In short, in seeking to maintain low-level effluent monitoring procedures in the Millstone technical specifications, the Petitioners may not simply complain generally of lost hearing opportunities causing future safety risks. An admissible contention must explain, with specificity, particular safety or legal reasons requiring rejection of the contested license amendments. As the Board majority emphasized, “there is no general right to a hearing for a hearing’s sake.” The Petitioners do not have a “right” to intervene in possible future changes to effluent monitoring details if no safety or legal reason compels their retention in the Millstone license.

The Petitioners have not provided the necessary minimal factual or legal basis to suggest that either (a) the effluent monitoring procedures at issue are of such safety significance that technical specifications must continue to include them, or (b) that this Licensee in particular—because, for example, of particular license conditions or deficiencies in its effluent monitoring program—should be required to retain the effluent procedures in its license. We address these points in detail below.
Millstone Nuclear Power Station, CLI-10-24, 54 NRC at 359–60 (citation omitted).

It turns out that there has been a long-running trend and agenda at the NRC to reduce the number of official hearings, by eliminating detail from the license documents and moving that information to licensee-controlled documents, as well as the implementation of NRC rule 50.59, which allows changes to the plant without a license amendment and therefore a hearing on the matter.

(c) Technical specifications will include items in the following categories:

(1) Safety limits, limiting safety system settings, and limiting control settings. (i)(A) Safety limits for nuclear reactors are limits upon important process variables that are found to be necessary to reasonably protect the integrity of certain of the physical barriers that guard against the uncontrolled release of radioactivity. If any safety limit is exceeded, the reactor must be shut down. The licensee shall notify the Commission, review the matter, and record the results of the review, including the cause of the condition and the basis for corrective action taken to preclude recurrence. Operation must not be resumed until authorized by the Commission. The licensee shall retain the record of the results of each review until the Commission terminates the license for the reactor, except for nuclear power reactors licensed under § 50.21(b) or § 50.22 of this part. For these reactors, the licensee shall notify the Commission as required by § 50.72 and submit a Licensee Event Report to the Commission as required by § 50.73. Licensees in these cases shall retain the records of the review for a period of three years following issuance of a Licensee Event Report.


Office of Commission Appellate Adjudication (OCAA)

Appeal Process

10 CFR 2.311 (relevant portion)
  • (a) An order of the presiding officer, or if a presiding officer has not been designated, of the Chief Administrative Judge, or if he or she is unavailable, of another administrative judge, or of an administrative law judge with jurisdiction under § 2.318(a), may be appealed to the Commission with respect to:
    • (1) A request for hearing;
    • (2) A petition to intervene; or
    • (3) A request for access to sensitive unclassified non-safeguards information (SUNSI), including, but not limited to, proprietary, confidential commercial, and security-related information, and Safeguards Information (SGI). An appeal to the Commission may also be taken from an order of an officer designated to rule on information access issues.
  • (b) These appeals must be made as specified by the provisions of this section, within 25 days after the service of the order. The appeal must be initiated by the filing of a notice of appeal and accompanying supporting brief. Any party who opposes the appeal may file a brief in opposition to the appeal within 25 days after service of the appeal. The supporting brief and any answer must conform to the requirements of § 2.341(c)(2). No other appeals from rulings on requests for hearing are allowed.
  • (c) An order denying a petition to intervene, and/or request for hearing, or a request for access to the information described in paragraph (a) of this section, is appealable by the requestor/petitioner on the question as to whether the request and/or petition should have been granted.

10 CFR 2.341
  • (b)
    • (1) Within 25 days after service of a full or partial initial decision by a presiding officer, and within 25 days after service of any other decision or action by a presiding officer with respect to which a petition for review is authorized by this part, a party may file a petition for review with the Commission on the grounds specified in paragraph (b)(4) of this section. Unless otherwise authorized by law, a party to an NRC proceeding must file a petition for Commission review before seeking judicial review of an agency action.
    • (2) A petition for review under this paragraph may not be longer than twenty-five (25) pages, and must contain the following:
      • (i) A concise summary of the decision or action of which review is sought;
      • (ii) A statement (including record citation) where the matters of fact or law raised in the petition for review were previously raised before the presiding officer and, if they were not, why they could not have been raised;
      • (iii) A concise statement why in the petitioner's view the decision or action is erroneous; and
      • (iv) A concise statement why Commission review should be exercised.
  • (c)(2) If a petition for review is granted, the Commission may issue an order specifying the issues to be reviewed and designating the parties to the review proceeding. The Commission may, in its discretion, decide the matter on the basis of the petition for review or it may specify whether any briefs may be filed.


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Project Name San Onofre License Amendment Intervention
Project Description Processing of Petition to Intervene and Request for Hearing regarding License Amendment Request for San Onofre
Project Founder Ray Lutz
Project Curator Ray Lutz
Project Type Issue Oversight
Project Parents Shut San Onofre
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Project Status Closed
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Topic revision: r18 - 06 Jan 2018, RaymondLutz
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