Two groups look for paths to move nuclear waste off the beach at San Onofre
- Nov 26, 2019 3:16 pm GMT
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For decades, the debate over nuclear power plants has been fierce. And for just as long, progress on what to do with the used-up fuel at those facilities has been feeble.
Two groups, though, are trying to find some solutions specific to San Onofre, despite decades of stalemate.
"You shouldn't be in this business if you're not an optimist," said
The panel that includes
The panel has met about 15 times to explore alternative sites and transportation options for the spent fuel.
In addition, Edison officials four months ago hired a consulting group to "develop a strategic plan" to relocate the spent fuel to a "commercially reasonable" facility.
The utility signed a 20-month contract with North Wind, a firm based in
"We're not naïve about the challenges associated with finding a solution," said
As per the out-of-court settlement, the two groups are funded by
Originally, under the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982, the federal government was supposed to find at least one site to permanently store used fuel accumulated at nuclear power plants across the country. A few years later, the
Yucca was but in 2007
Since then, about 80,000 metric tons of used commercial fuel has piled up at 121 sites in 35 states, including SONGS.
There has been talk about other options, such as "consolidated interim storage" at a remote private facility in
The North Wind team sees a potential opportunity.
By looking specifically at SONGS instead of facilities across the whole country, "it increases the chances of being able to find a solution," Niedzielski-Eichner said. "Particularly now that there are some private opportunities (in
But earlier this year,
Another possible path is possibly reopening
Last week, Rep.
Such facilities "will be safer than housing nuclear waste near the ocean in
Earlier this year, Rep.
"If there's a poster child for a site that should have priority for the country meeting its responsibility, (SONGS) would be it," Isaacs said.
But first, of course, a site or sites must be found. The North Wind team said it will come up with about eight or nine alternatives, assess their respective merits and design a plan for Edison to follow.
Isaac said the team of experts will essentially peer-review the North Wind recommendations. The panel will also come up with a "conceptual transportation plan" for potentially moving the waste away from San Onofre.
"You've got possible initiatives in
Some 50 canisters filled with nuclear fuel assemblies sit at what is called a "dry storage" facility at SONGS. Another 40 have been transferred from "wet storage" pools to a newly constructed dry storage site, with another 33 scheduled to be moved by the middle of next year.
The transfer operations were suspended for nearly one year after a 50-ton canister was accidentally suspended on the inner-ring near the top of a 20-foot storage cavity for about 45 minutes in
The canister was eventually lowered safely but the incident prompted a special investigation by the
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