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

By Jim Shilander

Two competitors bidding on whose product will hold spent, or used, nuclear fuel at the shuttered San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station participated in an unusual event Tuesday, Oct. 14 where members of the public inquired about their storage systems’ safety.

Officials from Areva and Holtec International came together at the San Juan Capistrano Community Center to pitch their proposals to the public—right in the midst of their bidding process.

The event, hosted by Southern California Edison, the nuclear plant’s majority owner and operator, highlighted community concerns and allowed the public to peek at plans the nuclear-storage competitors have for the facility’s nuclear waste, which will likely remain onsite indefinitely.

Representatives from Areva, the utility’s current vendor, and Holtec described their plans as having “defense in depth,” meaning the number of protective layers between used fuel and the outside world.

Currently, much of the plant’s spent fuel is housed in cooling pools, which local environmental activists have labeled as unsafe and asked for a swift move to the more permanent dry-cask storage.

With Edison’s June 2013 decision to shut down and decommission the power plant, some 2,600 spent-fuel canisters from the two remaining nuclear reactors came off-line at once.

Now, rather than canisters being encapsulated in dry-cask containers bit-by-bit, the process needs to be done in short order.

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