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Once confirmed by NRC, operating license terminates for SONGS

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

By Jim Shilander

Southern California Edison on Wednesday announced the final fuel has been removed from the Unit 2 reactor at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, allowing the utility to begin the process of formally retiring its license to operate the plant.

Edison formally informed the Nuclear Regulatory Commission of the final removal Tuesday, according to a release from the utility. Once the NRC certifies the removal, its license will shift from operating to “possession,” which will not allow fuel to be placed back into the reactor. The fuel from Unit 3 was removed in June. In comparison, the company took seven years to remove fuel from Unit 1 after it was shut down in 1992.

Edison announced it would retire the plant on June 7, due to uncertainty about whether the plant would be able to be restarted.

After the fuel is removed, it is placed into spent fuel pools for a period of years. While the government requires a minimum of three years in the pools, the industry standard is 10. After spending time in the pools, the fuel rods will be moved into dry cask storage on site.

Peter Dietrich, Edison’s Chief Nuclear Officer said in a statement that the company is, “Committed to remaining focused on public health and safety as we transition through decommissioning.”

Gary Headrick of San Clemente Green, a group lobbied for the decommissioning of the plant, said the organization is currently planning a community forum on the issue of decommissioning and will begin to lobby state and federal officials about safety at the facility.

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