Southern California Edison pushes to get SONGS’s spent fuel moved off-site

March 16, 2021, 3:00PMRadwaste Solutions

Southern California Edison has released a three-volume set of plans supporting the off-site relocation of the spent nuclear fuel currently stored at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station. According to SCE, the release of the Action Plan, the Strategic Plan, and the Conceptual Transportation Plan constitutes a significant milestone in a process that began with the 2017 settlement regarding the coastal development permit issued for San Onofre’s expanded spent fuel storage installation.

At the same time, in an effort to urge the federal government to find a permanent solution to the nation’s inventory of commercial spent fuel, SCE and the counties of Orange and San Diego announced on March 15 the formation of a stakeholder coalition, Action for Spent Fuel Solutions Now.

“SCE and our partners and stakeholders have a genuine opportunity to bring people together with a shared interest to prepare and advocate for the relocation of the spent fuel away from the coast,” said Kevin Payne, SCE’s president and chief executive officer. “It is clear that to make tangible progress on this issue, the federal government must act. Rather than wait for this to happen, we are going to be a catalyst for change.”

Information about the coalition, including how to join, is available on its website.

The plans: The Action Plan identifies the steps that SCE and San Onofre’s co-owners/participants (San Diego Gas & Electric, the city of Anaheim, and the city of Riverside) are committed to take to advance off-site relocation of the spent fuel and to ensure that the site and its spent fuel are prepared for off-site transportation when an opportunity arises. This includes continuing to safely and securely store the spent fuel at San Onofre for as long as it remains on-site. It also calls for supporting the reestablishment of the federal nuclear waste management program and advocating for legislative changes to advance spent fuel storage and/or disposal solutions.

The Strategic Plan identifies and analyzes a range of alternatives for spent fuel removal while addressing the challenges and needed actions for those alternatives to be realized. It provides assessments of the relative merits, challenges, costs, and timelines of the alternatives to help SCE and stakeholders focus their efforts. It also recognizes the importance of more near-term solutions, such as consolidated interim storage, as a companion to a consent-based federal permanent disposal program.

The Conceptual Transportation Plan focuses on specific steps and strategic considerations in planning for and executing the shipment of spent fuel from San Onofre to an off-site location. It details various aspects of a spent fuel shipping program and identifies necessary preparations for eventual shipment, such as determining the required space and equipment to load canisters for rail transport. There are 123 canisters of spent nuclear fuel at San Onofre.

SCE retained North Wind Inc. in June 2019 to develop the plans. North Wind representatives will discuss the plans at the San Onofre Community Engagement Panel’s March 18 meeting, which will be held virtually via Microsoft Teams. Information on how to join the meeting is available online.

The coalition: According to SCE, the Action for Spent Fuel Solutions Now coalition provides an opportunity for stakeholders, including local governments, business and labor leaders, Native American leaders, environmental groups, and community members, to join forces and make off-site spent fuel storage and/or disposal a priority. SCE said that it recognizes that it cannot solve this issue alone. Cofounders include the counties of Orange and San Diego, the city of Riverside, San Diego Gas & Electric, and SCE.

The coalition members will work to advocate for federal legislation, funding, administration policies, and programs that can advance both permanent disposal and off-site interim storage.

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