Man Claiming to Have Explosives Drives into San Onofre Nuclear Plant 

A man claiming to have explosives on September 12 drove past the entrance gate at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station in Pendleton, California, and into a restricted parking area, where he was arrested.

The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department said in a news release that 27-year-old Erik Jon Norman, the driver and sole occupant of a white delivery van, told security personnel at the plant that the van contained “electronic equipment and possible explosives.”

It isn’t clear if he made the claim to gain access to the site.

The sheriff’s department later discovered that the van had been reported stolen earlier that day from Oceanside, California, about 20 miles to the south of the nuclear power plant.

The incident, which occurred at 4:23 p.m. Pacific time, prompted a rapid response from sheriff’s deputies from the North Coastal Station to assist plant security personnel. The sheriff’s bomb and arson unit also responded to the scene.

However, “the van was determined to contain standard shipping parcels, which did not pose a danger to the public or personnel at the scene,” the sheriff’s department said.

San Onofre Units 2 and 3 were shutdown in January 2012 when leaks were discovered in both units' recently replaced steam generators. After considerable evaluation, Southern California Edison announced on June 7, 2013, that the 2,150-MW facility would be retired. The plant is located in San Diego County, Calif. Unit 2 began commercial operation Aug. 8, 1983, while Unit 3 followed on April 1, 1984. Courtesy: Southern California Edison

San Onofre Units 2 and 3 were shutdown in January 2012 when leaks were discovered in both units’ recently replaced steam generators. After considerable evaluation, Southern California Edison announced on June 7, 2013, that the 2,150-MW facility would be retired. The plant is located in San Diego County, Calif. Unit 2 began commercial operation Aug. 8, 1983, while Unit 3 followed on April 1, 1984. Courtesy: Southern California Edison

Southern California Edison (SCE) permanently retired the twin reactors at San Onofre in June 2013 after issues were identified in steam generator tubes at both units following a $680 million steam generator replacement in 2010. Both reactors had been offline since early 2012.

The plant is in the process of being decommissioned. However, it still houses an estimated 3.55 million pounds of nuclear waste. A third of the used fuel is currently in dry cask storage, but the remainder is stored in steel-lined concrete pools, SCE said.

At the end of August, SCE committed, in an out-of-court settlement, to make “commercially reasonable” efforts to relocate the spent fuel to another facility. In that case, two plaintiffs—including a citizens group—challenged the California Coastal Commission issuance of a permit in 2015 that authorized the expansion of onsite storage of used nuclear fuel.

“In order to facilitate the safe decommissioning of the plant, SCE plans to move the fuel from the pools into dry storage by 2019, where it would remain until an off-site storage facility is available,” the company said.

 

—Sonal Patel is a POWER associate editor (@sonalcpatel, @POWERmagazine)