San Onofre nuclear operator seeks waste solution

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SAN DIEGO – The operator of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating
Station in northern San Diego County announced Monday that it has applied to the
California Coastal Commission for permission to expand its storage facility for
used nuclear fuel.
Southern California Edison said its current facility, which was approved
in 2001, will soon reach its capacity.
The plant hasn’t operated since January 2012 because of a small, non-
injury leak caused by poorly designed steam generators. The utility decided in
June 2013 to retire the two reactors instead of pursuing a costly restart plan.
SCE anticipates a need for up to 80 more steel-and-concrete-encased
canisters, a technology known as dry storage. About two-thirds of San Onofre’s
used fuel is currently stored on site in steel-lined, concrete storage pools
known as wet storage.
“Local community leaders and a wide range of stakeholders in California
have told us they want San Onofre’s used nuclear fuel moved to dry storage as
expeditiously as possible,” said Chris Thompson, SCE’s vice president of
decommissioning. “We want to be responsive to that preference while continuing
to safely manage this fuel until the federal government does its job and opens
a used nuclear fuel repository.”
If the Coastal Commission amends the utility’s Coastal Development
Permit to create more dry storage, transfers of the current 51 canisters would
be completed in four years.
Edison officials said a concrete monolith that will house the dry
storage canisters, and exceed state earthquake requirements, will be built
below ground. The facility is also designed to protect against fire and
tsunamis, according to SCE.