Feature Article

The Road to Utah

Six large trucks were used to push and pull the SONGS-1 reactor pressure vessel 400 miles through Nevada and into Utah with a maximum speed of 10 miles per hour over a 10-day period. Photo: EnergySolutions

July 14 marked a milestone in the decommissioning of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS), as the Unit 1 reactor pressure vessel (RPV) completed a seven-week journey from Southern California to EnergySolutions’ Clive disposal facility in Utah. The approximately 670-ton RPV package, containing the pressure vessel from the previously decommissioned SONGS-1, pieces of radioactive metal, and grout for radiation shielding, left San Onofre on May 24, traveling by rail to a location outside Las Vegas, where it was transferred to a platform trailer to be transported the remaining 400 miles to Clive, about 75 miles west of Salt Lake City.

“This project was a very complex undertaking that required approvals and/or coordination with over two dozen federal, state, and local agencies and government entities,” said Todd Eiler, director of the EnergySolutions Projects Group, which handled the transport. “The coordinated effort with the rail lines and departments of transportation in California, Nevada, and Utah resulted in another safe and successful large component shipment managed by the EnergySolutions Projects Group.”

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House bill would create spent fuel R&D program at the DOE

San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, Units 1, 2 and 3. Photo: SoCal Edison

A bill introduced on September 21 by Rep. Mark Levine (D., Calif.) would direct the Department of Energy to conduct an advanced fuel cycle research, development, demonstration, and commercial application program. According to Levine, whose district includes the closed San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS), the Spent Nuclear Fuel Solutions Research and Development Act (H.R. 8258) is intended to foster innovation in the storage and disposal of spent nuclear fuel.

The program, which would be authorized at over $500 million over five years, would have the DOE investigate a variety of options for managing the storage, use, and disposal of spent fuel, including dry cask storage, consolidated interim storage, deep geological storage and disposal, and vitrification.