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What Will San Onofre's New Emergency Plan Look Like?

June 10, 2015 1:08 p.m.

What Will San Onofre's New Emergency Plan Look Like?

GUESTS:

David Victor, chairman, San Onofre Community Engagement Panel

Tom Palmisano, chief nuclear officer and vice president of decommissioning, Southern California Edison

Gary Hedrick, founder, San Clemente Green

Related Story: What Will San Onofre's New Emergency Plan Look Like?

Transcript:

This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

THIS IS "KPBS MIDDAY EDITION". THE NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION HAS APPROVED A NEW SAFETY PLAN FOR THE NUCLEAR PLANT THAT SHUT DOWN IN 2012. WE WILL FIND OUT WHAT'S DIFFERENT AND WHETHER TAKING FEWER PRECAUTIONS IS JUSTIFIED WITH ALL THAT NUCLEAR WASTE STILL STORED ON-SITE. WE WILL LEARN ABOUT A NEW PLANTING METHOD THAT COULD SAVE SAN DIEGO'S AVOCADO FIELDS FROM THE STATE'S DEVASTATING DROUGHT, AND WE WILL TELL YOU ABOUT THE LARGEST EXHIBITION IN THE NATION OF MAYA CULTURE COMING TO SAN DIEGO. I'M TOM FUDGE FILLING IN FOR MAUREEN CAVANAUGH. "KPBS MIDDAY EDITION" IS NEXT. FIRST , THIS NEWS.
SAFETY PRECAUTIONS ARE REDUCED AT SAN ONOFRE. IS THAT A GOOD IDEA? A NEW PLANTING METHOD COULD SAVE AVOCADO GROVES IN SAN DIEGO AND IN EXHIBIT BRINGS SAN DIEGO OF PANORAMA OF MAYA. THIS IS "KPBS MIDDAY EDITION". I'M TOM FUDGE IN FOR MAUREEN CAVANAUGH. THANKS FOR SPENDING YOUR NOON HOUR WITH US HERE AT KPBS. HERE ARE SOME OF THE STORIES WE ARE FOLLOWING IN THE KPBS NEWSROOM. SAN DIEGO MAYOR KEVIN FAULKNER ASSIGNED A MORE THAN $1 BILLION OPERATING BUDGET FOR THE FISCAL YEAR THAT BEGINS JULY 1, BUDGET INCREASES MONEY FOR STREET AND SIDEWALK REPAIRS, TREE TRIMMING AND EXTENDED HOURS FOR LIBRARY AND REC CENTERS. CALIFORNIA SECRETARY OF STATE, ALEX PADILLO, ANNOUNCED A LANDMARK LEGISLATION NAMED IN MODERNIZING CALIFORNIA ELECTIONS AND INCREASING VOTER TURNOUT. HE SAYS THE REFORMS ARE BASED ON THE COLORADO ELECTION MODEL OBSERVED DURING HIS VISIT TO THE STATE. NEXT YEAR, THE SCHOOL YEAR IS GOING TO BEGIN A LITTLE SOONER FOR STUDENTS IN THE SAN DIEGO UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT. CLASSES WILL BEGIN IN AUGUST. THE MOVE WAS MADE TO MATCH UP WITH OTHER SCHOOL DISTRICTS IN THE COUNTY.
OUR TOP STORY ON "MIDDAY EDITION", THE NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION HAS APPROVED A NEW SAFETY PLAN FOR THE SAN ONOFRE POWER PLANT ON THE NORTH EDGE OF SAN DIEGO COUNTY. THE PLANT HAS NOT BEEN PRODUCING ENERGY SINCE 2012. REGULATORS AND THE PLANT OPERATOR, SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA EDISON, CONCLUDED THIS MEANT ONGOING SAFETY PLANS SIMPLY DON'T NEED TO BE ASPECTS. GONE, FOR INSTANCE, IS THE NEED TO PLAN EMERGENCY EVACUATIONS FOR A 10 MILES ON SURROUNDING THE PLANT IN CASE OF A NUCLEAR ACCIDENT. ONE POINT OF CONCERN, THERE IS STILL A LOT OF RADIOACTIVE NUCLEAR WASTE BEING STORED AT THE SITE. WE ARE GOING TO BE TALKING ABOUT THIS DURING THE FIRST PART OF OUR SHOW. JOIN ME IN STUDIO IS DAVID VICTOR, UC SAN DIEGO'S GRADUATE SCHOOL OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, HE'S A FACULTY MEMBER THERE, AND HE'S CHAIRMAN OF THE SAN ONOFRE COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT PANEL. DAVID, GOOD TO SEE YOU.
NICE TO SEE YOU.
JOINING ME BY PHONE IS TOM PALMISANO, VICE PRESIDENT OF DECOMMISSIONING AND THE CHIEF NUCLEAR OFFICER WITH SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA EDISON. AND, TOM, THANK YOU.
THANK YOU, TOM, PLEASURE TO JOIN YOU.
TOM, TELL US, WHY IS SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA EDISON CHANGING THE EMERGENCY PLAN?
THANK YOU, TOM. AS YOU NOTED, THE PLANT HAS NOT OPERATED SINCE JANUARY 2012. AND WE DO FUELED BOTH REACTORS IN THE 2013 TIMEFRAME FOLLOWING THE DECISION TO PERMANENTLY CLOSE THE PLANT. TODAY'S CONFESSION, THE REACTORS ARE DO FUELED AND PERMANENTLY OUT OF SERVICE AND ALL OF THE SPENT FUEL IS STORED IN EITHER OF THE TWO SPENT FUEL POOLS OR DRY CAST A STORAGE SYSTEM. WE'VE ALSO ELIMINATED MOST OTHER HAZARDS FROM THE SITE SUCH AS CHEMICALS, WHEELS, AND GASES USED DURING PLANT OPERATION. THE FACILITY TODAY IS VERY DIFFERENT THAN WHAT IT WAS DURING THE OPERATIONAL PHASE. AND THE OPERATING FACE EMERGENCY PLAN, WHICH HAS RECENTLY BEEN APPROVED TO BE CHANGED, WAS DIMENSIONALLY AN ACCIDENT THAT HAD OCCURRED IN REACTORS WHEN OPERATING ON POWER. SINCE THE REACTORS ARE PERMANENTLY DEFUELED, MOST ACCIDENTS THAT COULD OCCUR ARE NO LONGER POSSIBLE, AND REALLY, AT THIS POINT, AFTER SHUTDOWN, THERE ARE NO CREDIBLE SCENARIOS THAT COULD RELEASE RADIOACTIVITY TO AFFECT THE PUBLIC OFF-SITE. THAT IS THE UNDERLYING BASIS FOR THE CHANGE IN THE PLAN THAT WE PROPOSED AND THAT THE NRC REVIEWED AND APPROVED AFTER 15 MONTHS.
IT SOUNDS LIKE WHAT YOU SAID IS THERE IS NO CHANCE, IN YOUR MIND, THAT RADIOACTIVITY COULD AFFECT PEOPLE OFF-SITE.
RIGHT. THE EVENTS THAT COULD OCCUR COULD HAVE A CONSEQUENCE ON-SITE AND THAT IS WHAT THE REVISED PLAN IS BASED UPON. THERE'S ADEQUATE TIME TO TAKE ANY OTHER ACTIONS TO MITIGATE ANY POTENTIAL EFFECT OFF-SITE. THAT IS THE UNDERLYING BASIS THE NRC SETS AS THE CRITERIA FOR US TO PROPOSE A CHANGE TO THE PLAN. THEY TOOK 15 MONTHS TO REVIEW AND APPROVE THAT TO ENSURE THEY CONCURRED WITH THAT.
AND WHAT KIND OF STUFF ARE YOU GOING TO KEEP AT THE PLANT IN ORDER TO PROVIDE SECURITY AND MONITORING OF THE NUCLEAR WASTE?
FIRST OF ALL, SECURITY IS NOT AFFECTED AT ALL. WE ARE UNDER THE SAME SECURITY REQUIREMENTS TODAY AS WE ARE AS AN OPERATING PLANT SO THERE IS NO REDUCTION IN SECURITY BECAUSE OF THIS CHANGE. I THINK IT IS IMPORTANT FOR THE LISTENERS TO UNDERSTAND THAT. THE REAL CHANGES THE COLLATERAL DUTIES FOR THE PLAN TO STOP. TO GIVE YOU SOME PERSPECTIVE, WHEN WE WERE OPERATING THE PLANT, BEFORE WE CLOSE THE PLANT JUNE 2013, WE HAD 1500 PEOPLE ON STAFF. TODAY WE HAVE 375 PEOPLE ON STAFF. AS PART OF THAT STAFF REQUIREMENT TODAY, WE HAVE BEEN IT'S DEFINITELY OPERATING PLAN EMERGENCY PLAN. WE ALL HAVE COLLATERAL DUTIES. FOR EXAMPLE I HAVE MY NORMAL DAY JOB BUT I WAS ALSO A MEMBER OF THE OPERATING PLAN, EMERGENCY PLAN, TO COME IN AND RESPOND. THIS ALLOWS US TO REDUCE THE NUMBER OF PEOPLE TRAINED FOR THE EMERGENCY PLAN TO ABOUT A THIRD OF WHAT IT WAS WHEN WE WERE OPERATING.
OBVIOUSLY, COST IS A FACTOR THERE.
WELL, ONE OF OUR DECOMMISSIONING PRINCIPLES, WE HAVE THREE, SAFETY, STEWARDSHIP AND ENGAGEMENT. PART OF THE STEWARDSHIP PRINCIPLE IS MANAGEMENT OF THE DECOMMISSIONED CROSS FUND FOR THE BENEFIT OF RATEPAYERS BECAUSE IT IS THEIR MONEY. WHAT WE ARE OBLIGATED TO DO IS SPEND MONEY WISELY AND APPROPRIATELY SUBJECT TO PUC JURISDICTION AND BALANCING STAFF COST WITH WHAT IS REALISTICALLY NEEDED IS AN IMPORTANT PART OF THAT.
DAVID, LET ME TURN TO YOU. LOOKING AT THE OLD SAFETY PLAN WHEN THE PLANT WAS OPERATING, WHAT WERE THEY TRYING TO PREVENT AND HOW HAS THAT CHANGED?
THIS IS A TOTALLY EXPECTED EVENT. ONCE THE PLANT SHUTS DOWN, THE RISK REDUCES RADICALLY, AS TOM PALMISANO EXPLAINED. IT MAKES LOGICAL SENSE HE WOULD ALSO REDUCE THE EMERGENCY PLANNING. WHEN THE PLANT WAS OPERATIONAL, THEY ARE BOTH TRYING TO AVOID ACCIDENTS AND INCIDENTS IN THE PLANT AND ALSO NEED TO BE READY FOR THE WORST CASE SCENARIO FOR SOMETHING GOES WRONG AT THE PLANT AND AFFECTS THE COMMUNITIES AROUND THE PLANT. NOW, AS TOM SAID, IT'S HARD TO SEE ANY POSSIBLE SCENARIO THAT AFFECTS THE COMMUNITIES AROUND THE PLANT AND IT MAKES SENSE TO SHRINK THE FOOTPRINT OF THE EMERGENCY PLAN. EVENTUALLY BY 2019, SIRENS WILL NOT BE TESTED ANYMORE AND IT WILL BE REMOVED FOR NONOPERATIONAL. ALL OF THESE THINGS ARE WHAT YOU WOULD EXPECT NORMALLY SEE IN A PLANT. WE IN THE ENGAGEMENT COMMUNITY PANEL HAS BEEN BRIEFED ABOUT THIS A COUPLE OF TIMES IN THIS CAN COMPLETELY AS EXPECTED.
DAVID, THIS CHANGE IS GOING TO HAVE AN EFFECT ON THE LOCAL COMMUNITY, ECONOMICALLY. DO YOU WANT TO TALK ABOUT THAT A LITTLE BIT?
THERE ARE TWO INTERESTING THINGS GOING ON. ONE IS THE BIG REDUCTION OF RISK FROM THE PLANT BEING NO LONGER OPERATIONAL. IF YOU ARE WORRIED ABOUT RISK THAT IS TREMENDOUS NEWS. THE OTHER THING HAPPENING IS THE IMPACT OF THE PLANT ON THE COMMUNITY IS ALSO SHRINKING. WE WILL SEE IN A FEW YEARS, NOT IMMEDIATELY, BUT THE REDUCTION, AND IF IT'S FROM THE FLOW OF THE PLANT, DIRECTLY FROM FIRST RESPONDERS IN THE SURROUNDING COMMUNITIES. THAT WILL BE SOMETHING PEOPLE WILL NOTICE. WE'VE ALREADY SEEN AS TOM PALMISANO MENTIONED A SIGNIFICANT REDUCTION IN DRUMS. EVENTUALLY THAT WILL TURN AROUND BECAUSE IT WILL BE AS EXPENSIVE TO REMOVE THE PLANT THAT WAS TO BUILD A PLANT IN THE FIRST PLACE. SOME COMMUNITIES LIKE AN OCEAN SIDE HAVE BEEN HARD HIT BY THE PLANT CLOSURE. THERE HAS BEEN ATTENTION TO MAKING SURE THOSE JOBS COME TO THE LOCAL COMMUNITY INCLUDING ORGANIZED LABOR, AS POSSIBLE.
LET ME GET BACK TO YOU, TOM PALMISANO, AND TALK ABOUT THE NUCLEAR WASTE THAT IS STILL STORED AT THE SAN ONOFRE PLANT. HOW MUCH IS THERE AND WHERE IS IT BEING STORED?
WELL, THE NUCLEAR WASTE, AND PRINCIPALLY WE'RE TALKING ABOUT USED NUCLEAR FUEL. THAT IS A HIGH-LEVEL NUCLEAR WASTE AND THAT IS THE KEY ISSUE FOR ALL OF US, YOU KNOW, COMMUNITY STAKEHOLDERS AS WELL AS SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA EDISON AND OLDER CO-OWNERS. SO, WE HAVE APPROXIMATELY 1/3 OF THE SPENT FUEL OR USED NUCLEAR FUEL IN DRY CAST STORAGE ON-SITE. WE ALREADY HAVE 50 CANISTERS LOADED WITH USEFUL NUCLEAR FUEL AND HAVE BEEN LOADING THEM SINCE 2003. WE HAVE THE OTHER TWO THIRDS OF THE SPENT FUEL IN THE TWO SPENT FUEL POOLS. THAT'S THE CURRENT SITUATION. ALL OF THAT WASTE WILL BE STORED ON-SITE FOR LONG PERIOD OF TIME UNTIL THE DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY BILLS AND OFF-SITE REPOSITORY, EITHER FOR INTERIM STORAGE OR PERMANENT DISPOSAL. AND THAT HAS BEEN A FEDERAL GOVERNMENT RESPONSIBILITY SINCE 1982.
THE WAY IT WORKS IS THE FUEL IS FIRST PUT IN THE POLLS AND THEN IS MOVED TO THE DRY CASKS.
CORRECT. LIKE I SAID, ONE THIRD OF OUR USED FUEL IS ALREADY IN DRY CASKS AND TWO THIRDS IS IN THE SPENT FUEL POOLS.
I UNDERSTAND YOU'RE GOING TO START TO USE CASKS THAT ARE DIFFERENT IN THE FUTURE THAN THE ONES YOU USED IN THE PAST. HOW ARE THEY DIFFERENT AND WHY IS THAT?
WELL, FIRST OF ALL, FUNDAMENTALLY, IT'S A VERY SIMILAR CONCEPTS. THE CONCEPT IN USE IN THIS COUNTRY CURRENTLY IS A STAINLESS STEEL CANISTER PUT IN A CONCRETE OVERPACK OR CONCRETE STRUCTURE. THE CURRENT SYSTEM WE ALREADY HAVE LOADED OUR STAINLESS STEEL CANISTERS STORED IN HORIZONTAL STORAGE IN CONCRETE STRUCTURES. THE NEW SYSTEM WE SELECTED IS A STAINLESS STEEL CANISTERS STORED IN THE VERTICAL CONCRETE STRUCTURE. AND THE NEW SYSTEM ALSO, THE STRUCTURE IS BASICALLY BUILT BELOW GRADE. WHICH HAS SOME POTENTIAL ADVANTAGES. SO, IT IS FUNDAMENTALLY A VERY SIMILAR SYSTEM, THE ORIENTATION IS DIFFERENT IN THE ACTUAL CONCRETE STRUCTURE INTO THE SYSTEM IS SET BELOW GRADE AS OPPOSED TO ABOVE GRADE.
WAS THIS CHANGE MADE BECAUSE THERE WERE CONCERNS ABOUT THE OLD WAY OF STORING STUFF?
NO. THE CURRENT SYSTEM WHICH IS IN USE, THE OLD WAY AS HE REFERRED TO IT, IS A PERFECTLY ACCEPTABLE SYSTEM LICENSED BY THE NRC FOR STORAGE AND TRANSPORT. IT'S ONE OF THREE SYSTEMS AVAILABLE IN THE U.S. TODAY. WHAT WE DECIDED TO DO WHEN WE ENTER DECOMMISSIONING, AND THE NEED WAS FOR MANY MORE CANISTERS AND WE NEEDED OPERATIONALLY, AGAIN, FROM A STEWARDSHIP PRINCIPLE AND SPENDING TRUST FUND MONEY WISELY, WE FELT WE SHOULD GO OUT FOR BID AND COMPARE ALL THREE SYSTEMS AVAILABLE. AS A RESULT OF THAT PROCESS, WE SELECTED A NEW SYSTEM. AGAIN, THE NEW SYSTEM AND THE CURRENT SYSTEM ARE BOTH LICENSED. THEY ARE BOTH STATES, AND THEY WILL BOTH FUNCTION TO DO THE JOB. THERE WERE JUST SOME ADVANTAGES TO THE NEW SYSTEM AS WELL AS SOME OF THE COMMERCIAL ADVANTAGES.
YOU ARE LISTENING TO "MIDDAY EDITION". WE ARE TALKING ABOUT THE DECOMMISSIONING OF THE SAN ONOFRE POWERPLANT. MY GUESS IS OUR TOM PALMISANO WHO JOINS ME BY PHONE, HE'S VICE PRESIDENT OF DECOMMISSIONING AND CHIEF NUCLEAR OFFICER AT SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA EDISON. IN THE STUDIO, I'M JOINED BY DAVID VICTOR WHO IS CHAIRMAN OF THE SAN ONOFRE COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT PANEL. NOW I AM ALSO JOINED, BY PHONE, BY GARY HEDRICK, FOUNDER OF SAN CLEMENTE GREEN, CITIZENS ADVOCACY GROUP. GARY, THANKS FOR BEING ON.
MAJORA WELCOME, THANKS FOR HAVING ME.
I'M GOING TO PUT TO USE SIMILAR QUESTIONS TO WHEN I PUT TWO DAVID AND TOM. WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THIS CHANGE IN SAFETY PRECAUTIONS AT SAN ONOFRE?
WELL FIRST OFF, I WOULD SAY IT'S A LITTLE PREMATURE TO BE MAKING THESE STEPS. WE STILL HAVE, LIKE TOM MENTIONED, TWO THIRDS OF THE WASTE STILL REMAINING IN THAT SPENT FUEL POOLS. AND WE KNOW THAT THERE IS A LONG AND OVERDUE EXPECTED EARTHQUAKE AND THOSE POOLS ARE VULNERABLE TO EARTHQUAKES. SO, IT SEEMS LIKE WE WOULD NOT WANT TO TAKE THIS STEP UNTIL AT LEAST THE POOLS WERE EMPTY. BUT YOU KNOW, REALLY TO ADDRESS MY POINT OF VIEW, I SHOULD PROBABLY GIVE YOU A LITTLE BIT MORE BACKGROUND ON OURSELVES. REALLY, WE HAVE NO INTENTION TO CHALLENGE THE NUCLEAR INDUSTRY BUT THAT IS WHAT HAPPENED IN 2009 WHEN I WAS SECRETLY CONTACTED BY A NUCLEAR POWER OPERATOR, AND HE WAS CONCERNED ABOUT SAFETY ISSUES AT POWER PLANTS. HE CONTACTED ME BECAUSE HE WAS AFRAID OF RETRIBUTION FOR MANAGEMENT FOR GOING PUBLIC SO I PROTECTED HIS IDENTITY. THEN WHEN WE DISCOVER THAT OUR NUCLEAR POWER PLANT HAD THE WORST SAFETY RECORD IN THE WHOLE COUNTRY DUE TO A PIECE OF MANAGEMENT PRACTICES, OUR STORY BECAME BETTER KNOWN AND MORE WHISTLEBLOWERS CAME TO US WITH CONCERNS AND MORE NUCLEAR EXPERTS AND ACTIVISTS RALLIED TO OUR CAUSE. SO, WE GREW FROM ABOUT 500 PEOPLE TO 5000 CONCERNED CITIZENS AND --
WHILE I SHOULD MENTION, YOU LIVE 7 MILES NORTH OF THE SAN ONOFRE PLANT. RIGHT?
CORRECT.
OKAY. BUT I WANT TO GET BACK TO THE SUBJECT OF THE CHANGE IN SAFETY REQUIREMENTS. I THINK WE HEARD TOM PALMISANO SAY THAT WITH SAN ONOFRE NOT OPERATING, THERE IS REALLY NO CHANCE OF DANGER OFF-SITE. DUE TO THE RADIOACTIVITY IN THAT STORED WASTE. WHAT IS YOUR RESPONSE TO THAT?
WELL, MY RESPONSE IS THAT IN THE PAST, THE ASSUMPTIONS THAT HAVE BEEN PROMOTED IN PUBLIC TURNED OUT TO NOT BE TRUE. SO, LIKE IN JANUARY 2012, OUR WORST SUSPICIONS WERE CONFIRMED WHEN THE NEWLY REPLACED STEAM GENERATOR BEGAN LEAKING RADIATION INTO THE ENVIRONMENT. SO YOU KNOW, AT THE TIME, WE WERE TOLD EVERYTHING WOULD BE FINE AND THEN IT KEPT GETTING WORSE AND WORSE. FINALLY GAVE UP THE FIGHT TWO YEARS AGO ANNOUNCING THAT THE PUBLIC SHOULD NOT BE CONCERNED ABOUT THE THREAT. SO NOW OBVIOUSLY THE SHUTDOWN WAS VERY IMPORTANT TO US, IT'S A RELIEF TO EVERYONE THAT WAS CONCERNED. BUT THEN WE REALIZED THAT THERE IS 10 TIMES MORE RADIOACTIVE MATERIAL STORED ON-SITE THAN WHAT WAS IN THE REACTOR CORE. AND THE REACTOR CORE IS WHAT WE ARE MOST CONCERNED ABOUT.
IS YOUR CONCERN THAT SOME OF THAT NUCLEAR WASTE IN THE DRY CASKS QUICKLY? THEN MAYBE THE CONTAINERS COULD BREAK AND THE PUBLIC COULD BE AT RISK?
LIGHT. ALL OF THE STORAGE CASKS BEING USED, IN THE WORLD ACTUALLY, ARE FOR TEMPORARY USE. BECAUSE THIS SITUATION WAS KIND OF UNEXPECTED. WE WOULD BE ASKED TO STORE THE NUCLEAR WASTE ON-SITE INDEFINITELY.
WHILE OF COURSE THAT'S EVENTUALLY GOING TO HAVE TO BE A POLITICAL DECISION ABOUT WHERE WE ARE GOING TO PUT NUCLEAR WASTE FROM AROUND THE COUNTRY. DAVID, LET ME GO BACK TO YOU. I HAVE HEARD FROM SOME FOLKS THAT THERE ARE CONCERNS ABOUT STORING NEW YEAR WASTE IN CASKS LONG-TERM. WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO SAY TO THAT?
WELL, I THINK THERE'S A RANGE OF VIEWS ABOUT THE WAY THE PUBLIC AND HAS BEEN MANAGED IN THE PAST. BUT WE NEED TO FOCUS RIGHT NOW ON THIS SITUATION AND MAKING IT AS SAFE AS POSSIBLE GOING FORWARD. THE STORAGE INDIVIDUAL REMOVAL OF THE HIGH ACTIVE RADIO WASTE IS THE KEY ISSUE. FIRST OF ALL, IT'S CRUCIAL TO GET IT OUT OF THE POOLS AND INTO THE CASKS. THE POOLS ARE PART OF A DESIGN AT THE REACTOR COMPLEX THAT IS DESIGNED TO WITHSTAND MASSIVE EARTHQUAKES AND SEEMS TO BE ROBUST UNDER ANY CONCEIVABLE SCENARIO. BUT THE DRY CASKS ARE DOUBLE THAT STRENGTH. WE WANT TO GET THE FUEL OUT OF THE POOLS AND INTO THE CASKS, THE PROCESS OF MAKING THAT HAPPEN IS VERY IMPORTANT. THEN WE PAY ATTENTION TO HOW TO GET IT OUT OF HERE. ORIGINALLY IT WAS SUPPOSED TO GO TO YUCCA MOUNTAIN. THAT OPTION IS NOT AVAILABLE FOR POLITICAL REASONS. SO THIS REACTOR AND EVERY OTHER ONE IN THE COUNTRY IS STUCK WITH WASTE ACCUMULATING ON THE SIDE. SOMETHING TOM PALMISANO MENTIONED IN PASSING IS CRUCIALLY IMPORTANT FOR US TO WATCH, THE CONSOLIDATED MOVING STORAGE, MOVING OFF-SITE LIKE THIS ONE WHICH ARE DECOMMISSIONED TO SOME OTHER LOCATION. MAYBE FOR DECADES, MAYBE FOREVER, MAYBE FOR SHORT PERIOD OF TIME BEFORE IT GOES TO YUCCA MOUNTAIN OR SOME OTHER REPOSITORY. THAT ALLOWS US TO GET THE WASTE OUT OF THE COMMUNITY ONCE AND FOR ALL.
AND, TOM PALMISANO, GARY HEDRICK SEEMS TO THINK YOU SHOULD HAVE STUCK WITH THE OLD PLAN FOR A WHILE LONGER. WHAT IS YOUR RESPONSE TO THAT?
I APPRECIATE GARY'S CONCERNS AND WHAT IS IMPORTANT IS OUR PRINCIPLE OF TRANSPARENCY, THERE ARE DIFFERENT FUELS -- VIEWS AND OPINIONS AND QUITE FRANKLY THEY ARE ALL IMPORTANT AND WELCOME. IT IS IMPORTANT TO ACKNOWLEDGE THAT GARY'S VIEWPOINT IS VALID IN THAT SENSE. WE HAVE LOOKED AT THIS VERY HARD, WE HAVE LOOKED AT THE ROBUST DESIGN OF THE SPENT FUEL POOLS AND ACCIDENTS THAT COULD OCCUR. WE ARE VERY CONFIDENT IN OUR CONFUSION , AND THE NRC IS CONFIDENT IN THEIR CONCLUSION. I RESPECT GARY'S VIEW BUT I THINK WHEN I BALANCE SAFETY AND THE OTHER DEMANDS OF DECOMMISSIONING AND THE NEED TO EMPTY THE SPENT FUEL POOLS SOONER RATHER THAN LATER, I THINK WE'RE DOING THE RIGHT THING. BUT AGAIN, I WOULD THINK GARY FOR HIS COMMENT AND HE IS VOCAL IN OUR COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT PANEL WHICH HELPS THE PROCESS IN PLANNING, QUITE FRANKLY.
SADLY WE ARE SHORT OF TIME. BUT TOM, I DID WANT TO ASK YOU ONE LAST QUESTION THAT DOES NOT RELATE TO EMERGENCY PLANS. HOW IS THE DECOMMISSIONING GOING? AT WHAT POINT ARE YOU IN THE PROCESS?
WELL, WE ARE JUST OVER TWO YEARS INTO A 20 YEAR PLAN. AND THE FIRST 3 TO 4 YEARS ARE PREPARATORY PHASES. WE ARE DOING A LOT OF PLANNING, WE HAVE FOUND THE DECOMMISSIONING COST ESTIMATE WITH THE PUBLIC UTILITY COMMISSION. WE FILED THAT AND OTHER DOCUMENTS WITH THE NRC, SO WE'RE STILL IN PLANNING AND PREPARATION PHASES. AND BY PREPARATION, THESE ARE THINGS LIKE REMOVING LUBRICATING OIL ON-SITE AND OTHER THINGS WE DON'T NEED. WE WILL STILL BE PREPARING FOR THE NEXT 2 1/2 YEARS. WE ARE STARTING INTO THE ENVIRONMENTAL PERMITTING PROCESSES IN CALIFORNIA WHICH IS IMPORTANT. AND I WOULD ESTIMATE IN A COUPLE OF YEARS WE WILL START THE MAJOR DISMANTLEMENT ITSELF. RIGHT NOW WE ARE ON TRACK, ON BUDGET, AND THINGS ARE GOING GENERALLY WELL.
THANKS VERY MUCH TO ALL THE FOLKS WHO JOINED ME, TOM PALMISANO JOINED ME BY PHONE, HE'S VICE PRESIDENT OF DECOMMISSIONING AND CHIEF NUCLEAR OFFICER FOR SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA EDISON. WHICH WAS THE OPERATOR OF THE SAN ONOFRE NUCLEAR PLANT. GARY HEDRICK IS FOUNDER OF SAN CLEMENTE GREEN AND HE LIVES 7 MILES FROM THE NUCLEAR PLANT. AND DAVID VICTOR JOINED ME IN STUDIO, HE IS UC SAN DIEGO'S GRADUATE SCHOOL OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, A FACULTY MEMBER, AND CHAIRMAN OF THE SAN ONOFRE COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT PANEL. THANK YOU TO ALL OF YOU FOR JOINING US.
THANK YOU.