U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, chairwoman of the Committee on Environment and Public Works, will convene a hearing Wednesday morning in Washington D.C., to look at the challenges of decommissioning nuclear reactors nationwide.
One of the five panelists called to testify is Del Mar City Councilman Don Mosier. Mosier, a biologist at the Scripps Research Institute, said he has concerns about continuing to store 4,000 tons of radioactive waste at San Onofre. The plant, 50 miles north of San Diego, was shut down in 2013 after a small radioactive leak was discovered in the steam generators in 2012.
“When the reactors were closed, we hoped that some of the safety concerns about San Onofre would be diminished,” Mosier said, “but I actually think they’re increased because of the lack of planning for storing all this radioactivity.“
Mosier said he has questions about the spent fuel pools and dry cask storage at San Onofre that were not designed for the kind of “high burn-up” fuel that will be stored there. High burn-up fuel (HBF ) is hotter and more radioactive than previously used fuel rods.
Mosier said the Nuclear Regulatory Commission that oversaw San Onofre when it was in operation, does not have the same level of regulatory authority over the decommissioning process.
“I feel in the absence of federal oversight, one of the things I am going to argue for is more state and local control of the decommissioning process,” Mosier said.
A Citizens’ Engagement Committee set up by Edison, the company that operates San Onofre, is not the independent oversight Mosier hopes to see.
Other panel members at Wednesday’s Senate hearing include Michael Weber, NRC deputy director for waste compliance programs, and Geoffrey Fettus of the Natural Resources Defense Council.