San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station. File photo
San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station. File photo

By Jim Shilander

At a Nuclear Regulatory Commission committee meeting Monday in Carlsbad, designed to elicit public input on Southern California Edison’s formal report on its work to decommission San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station following its June 2013 closure, activists said the utility and the regulator need to do more to secure spent nuclear fuel.

That would include moving it offsite sooner than was planned, as well as taking more time with the proposed timeline for taking down the plan, they said.

Edison’s post-shutdown decommissioning activities report was sent to the NRC last month. It includes a proposed timeline to complete major dismantling of the plant’s structures within 20 years and moving spent fuel from Units 2 and 3 to cooling pools by 2019.

The waste is then planned to be stored onsite at an expanded independent fuel storage installation until 2049. Current NRC plans call for at least an interim national storage repository for waste by that time and a potential permanent storage facility in place.

Activists said the plan reflected a “minimalist approach” to waste.

Gene Stone, who serves as a representative for local environmental groups on Edison’s Community Engagement Panel, said he no longer believed the utility was trying for a state-of the-art process, but rather a “standard” one.

Donna Gilmore of sanonofresafety.org said the current proposals for spent fuel storage did not have “defense” in depth to prevent leaks and corrosion of canisters. She has advocated for a German system with thicker steel. Edison has stated they preferred systems that were licensed to work in the United States. The German manufacturer was not.

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comments (1)

  • Activists decry almost anything SONGs does. It is disingenuous for Gene Stone, who falsely claimed at the first CEP that casks at TMI were leaking, to say “he no longer believed the utility was trying for a state-of the-art process” when he has always opposed San Onofre.
    In addition to the false impression these activists have tried to paint suggesting SCE was choosing inferior casks (the AREVA & Holtec casks are both certified by the NRC) the German casks, which are not licensed in the US, exceed the capacity of the lifting equipment used in the Spent Fuel Pool Building necessitating a VERY expensive Crane change out. Activists wish to push SCE to blow through the decommissioning funds so that the ratepayers are then forced to pick up the tab. Activists will then, as they continue to do even now, claim nuclear is too expensive and must therefore be shut down.
    The German cast iron casks were originally the cheaper option of dry cask storage since cast iron is far cheaper than stainless steel. Separating the transfer and storage casks into two separate entities has allowed substantial cost reductions without compromising safety in stainless steel casks. Most US nuclear plants opted for the stainless steel as there was also the fear that if dropped, the cast iron cask might shatter. SONGs chose a 5/8″ thick cask using 316 steel as opposed to the cheaper, though still safe and NRC approved, 1/2″ thick, 304 steel putting a lie to the anti-nuke claim that SCE puts profits over safety.
    Reader, beware of the lies and false statements that regularly emanate from the anti-nuclear camp. Anti-nukes have an agenda and they will sacrifice the ratepayer in a heart beat on the alter of anti-nuclear expediency.

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