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

By Jim Shilander

The majority owner and operator of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station is considering tripling the size of its onsite spent nuclear fuel storage capabilities as the plant’s decommissioning process moves forward.

The announcement came a week after a wildfire, sparked by a big-rig blaze, shutdown Interstate 5 near the nuclear plant. The fire, some nuclear activists say, is further evidence that Southern California Edison must remove nuclear waste from the plant as soon as possible.

At a community engagement panel meeting hosted by Edison Thursday, May 22, Thomas Palmasino, the utility’s chief nuclear officer, said the company could expand its system for storing dry casks, which is considered the safest form of spent-fuel storage.

Currently, one-third of spent fuel from the plant’s three reactors is housed in dry-cask storage. The remainder, more than 2,600 fuel assemblies, is being stored in the plant’s cooling pools.

The plant’s decommissioning was announced in June 2013, a year and a half after a radioactive leak and excessive wear were discovered in its two active nuclear reactors, Units 2 and 3. The third reactor, Unit 1, was decommissioned in November 1992.

Edison is expected to provide the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the federal body that oversees the nation’s commercial nuclear power sites, with decommissioning cost estimates and reports on fuel management and post-shutdown activities later this year.

The panel will hold a workshop in July and meet as a full committee in August, said panel chairman David Victor. The dates and locations have not been announced.

The panel is not a decision maker, but rather acts an advisory committee, made up of local leaders and interested parties, that fosters discussion on the community’s nuclear concerns.

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