SoCal Edison to negotiate off-site storage for San Onofre nuclear waste

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SAN DIEGO — The owners of the defunct San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station announced Friday they are open to moving radioactive waste from the site, a reversal from earlier plans to bury the waste along the coast.

Attorneys for Southern California Edison, the plant’s majority owner, filed court papers requesting a delay in a hearing set for next week so they can conduct settlement talks with an environmental group suing over the waste- disposal plans.

“We believe the parties in the case and many community leaders share a common goal to transfer San Onofre’s used nuclear fuel off-site as soon as reasonably possible,” said Tom Palmisano, SCE vice president and chief nuclear officer. “We are hopeful that settlement discussions will permit the parties to reach a mutually agreeable solution.”

Citizens Oversight, an environmental group, sued Edison and the state’s Coastal Commission in November 2015 over the plan to store nuclear waste at the shoreline. A hearing in the case had been set for next Friday.

Michael Aguirre, an attorney for Citizens Oversight, said, “People of good will must come together and work to find a solution that is in the best interests of the people of the state of California.”

According to Edison, one-third of San Onofre’s used fuel is in dry cask storage and the remaining two-thirds is stored in steel-lined concrete pools. Edison is proposing to move the fuel from the pools into dry storage by 2019, where it would remain until an off-site storage facility becomes available.

The San Onofre Nuclear Generating State has not operated since January 2012, when a small, non-injury leak occurred. SCE later decided to retire the two reactors rather than follow a costly start-up procedure.