Nuclear Regulatory Commission to hold public meeting Monday, Oct. 27 in Carlsbad to discuss SONGS decommissioning 

Southern California Edison, the majority owner and operator of San Onofre Nuclear Generation Station, says decommissioning process has reduced plant’s potential danger. File photo
Southern California Edison, the majority owner and operator of San Onofre Nuclear Generation Station, says decommissioning process has reduced plant’s potential danger. File photo

By Jim Shilander 

The chances of a radiological release due to an accident at San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station have been profoundly reduced as a result of the plant’s shutdown and subsequent decommissioning process, an officer from the plant’s owner Southern California Edison, said Thursday, Oct. 9 at a meeting in San Juan Capistrano.

However, the utility is still required to keep up emergency planning with the lessened danger.

The lack of major heat or pressure sources, as might be possible at an operating plant, reduced the possibility of accidents involving spent, or used, nuclear fuel, said Thomas Palmisano, Edison’s chief nuclear officer. Such fuel from the plant’s nuclear reactors is currently being stored in large cooling pools on site. That fuel will eventually be moved to dry-cask storage containers, which is believed to be safer from natural disasters.

According to Palmisano, Edison has emergency plans in place to counteract serious threats, including a loss of water, which cools the spent-fuel canisters, or the zirconium that holds the nuclear fuel from catching fire.

If a fire were to happen, the utility would have more than 17 hours to prevent it, and currently has more than 1.5 million gallons of water stored in case of water loss, Palmisano confirmed.

But local activists still say more needs to be done to prevent incidents from occurring.

Staff from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the federal body that oversees nuclear operations, will conduct a public meeting on Monday, Oct. 27 in Carlsbad to discuss Edison’s decommissioning plan. The utility announced in June 2013 that it would permanently shutter the plant. The decommissioning process will likely take decades with nuclear waster being housed at the plant’s site, south of San Clemente, indefinitely.

The meeting will be held at Omni La Costa, 2100 Costa Del Mar Road, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

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