Rep. Mike Levin Demands Answers on Operations at San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station During COVID-19 Pandemic

March 30, 2020
Press Release
Levin’s Letter Also Raises Concerns Over Recent Sewage Dump from San Onofre

San Juan Capistrano, CA – Today, U.S. Representative Mike Levin (D-CA) wrote to Edison International President and Chief Executive Officer Pedro J. Pizarro with questions regarding operations at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) during the COVID-19 pandemic. Rep. Levin also posed a series of questions regarding the recent release of 7,000 gallons of sewage from the SONGS site.

“As you know, my constituents have a significant interest in the safety and environmental impact of all operations at the SONGS site,” wrote Rep. Levin. “I am concerned that these factors could be negatively impacted by two recent events: the announced operating procedures for SONGS during the COVID-19 pandemic and the March 25, 2020, release of partially treated sewage.”

See below for Rep. Levin’s full letter to Edison International:

March 30, 2020

Pedro J. Pizarro

President and Chief Executive Officer

Edison International

P.O. Box 976

Rosemead, CA 91770

Dear Mr. Pizarro,

I write in response to recent events at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS), located in my Congressional district. As you know, my constituents have a significant interest in the safety and environmental impact of all operations at the SONGS site. I am concerned that these factors could be negatively impacted by two recent events: the announced operating procedures for SONGS during the COVID-19 pandemic and the March 25, 2020, release of partially treated sewage.

I appreciate that Southern California Edison (SCE) has evaluated SONGS operations to determine which activities are essential and I am pleased to see that SCE is taking steps to end activities that have already been deemed non-essential. While I agree that power generation operations in the state have been appropriately declared essential by Governor Gavin Newsom, I believe that fuel transfer activities should be evaluated separately from operations that keep hospitals running and customers’ lights on. With this in mind, I request that you answer the following questions:

  1. What is the full rationale for maintaining the current level of operations during the COVID-19 pandemic?
  2. Our communities’ first responder services are expected to be overtaxed due to the pandemic. Does SCE’s planning account for this reality and what extra steps is SCE taking to reduce the potential need for emergency services at SONGS?
  3. Doe SCE have a policy in place to ensure that workers coming from outside the community are healthy and not transmitting COVID-19?
  4. What is SCE's plan to ensure staff can wash their hands immediately after use of restrooms, how far are washing stations from on-site restrooms, and how are restrooms being disinfected? Please describe all on-site sanitation measures that are being implemented.

Additionally, I was concerned to learn of the March 25, 2020, release of 7,000 gallons of sewage from the SONGS site. This is not the first time we have seen this type of release. In September 2011, another 7,000-gallon sewage release led to the closure of San Onofre State Beach. Please answer these additional questions related to the March 25th event:

  1. What caused the sewage treatment plant to fail?
  2. Was any aspect of the failure related to human error? If so, please provide as much detail as possible.
  3. What is the impact of the sewage release on the surrounding environment and how did you reach these conclusions?
  4. What steps are you taking to ensure further sewage releases will not continue in the future?

Our community members deserve answers to these pressing questions. I look forward to your response by April 13, 2020.

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