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By Jim Shilander
At a Nuclear Regulatory Committee meeting Monday in Carlsbad designed to elicit public input on Southern California Edison’s formal report on its work to decommission San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station following its June 2013 closure, activists said the utility and the regulator need to do more to secure spent nuclear fuel. That would include moving it offsite sooner than was planned, as well as taking more time with the proposed timeline for taking down the plan, they said.
Edison’s post shutdown decommissioning activities report was sent to the NRC last month. It includes a proposed timeline to complete major dismantling of the plant’s structures within 20 years, and moving spent fuel from Units 2 and 3 to cooling pools by 2019. The waste is then planned to be stored onsite at an expanded independent fuel storage installation until 2049. Current NRC plans call for at least an interim national storage repository for waste by that time and a potential permanent storage facility in place.
Activists said the plan reflected a “minimalist approach” to waste.
Gene Stone, who serves as a representative for local environmental groups on Edison’s Community Engagement Panel, said he no longer believed the utility was trying for a state-of the-art process, but rather a “standard” one.
Donna Gilmore of sanonofresafety.org said the current proposals for spent fuel storage did not have “defense” in depth to prevent leaks and corrosion of canisters. She has advocated for a German system with thicker steel. Edison has stated they preferred systems that were licensed to work in the U.S. The German manufacturer was not.