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NRC Meets On Decommissioning San Onofre Nuclear Plant

Photo by Nicholas McVicker

San Onofre from the State Park, April 2013

Audio

The federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission will hold a public meeting Monday night in Carlsbad to review the plan to decommission the San Onofre nuclear power plant.

San Onofre Meeting

Here are the details on the meeting:

Where: Omni La Costa, 2100 Costa Del Mar Road, Carlsbad

When: 6 to 9 p.m. Monday

Purpose: Public comment on Southern California Edison's plan to decommission the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station.

If you can't attend Monday's meeting, you can still submit comments. Here's how to do that:

Online: Go to the federal government’s rulemaking website, regulations.gov, and use Docket ID NRC-2014-0223.

By mail: Send to Cindy Bladey, Office of Administration, Mail Stop: 3WFN-06-A44M, U.S. Nuclear

Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC 20555-0001.

Deadline: Comments will be accepted through Dec. 22 and will be posted on regulations.gov.

If you’re wondering what’s going to happen to the remains of the San Onofre nuclear power plant, there's an opportunity to find out Monday night when the Nuclear Regulatory Commission meets in Carlsbad.

The public meeting is part of the NRC’s oversight of the plan to decommission San Onofre. The purpose is to discuss and answer questions on Southern California Edison’s plan and the NRC's oversight role.

A community engagement panel has been meeting for several months to review the plan, but that group is convened by the utility itself. This is a chance for the public to appeal to the regulator if there are concerns.

Rochelle Becker of the Alliance for Nuclear Responsibility is concerned about how the NRC will oversee casks storing spent nuclear fuel on the plant's site.

An NRC inspector general report recently confirmed claims made by consumer advocates before San Onofre was shut down that regulators should have required a license amendment before allowing Edison to install new steam generators. It was a fault in the design of those generators that led to the premature shut down of the plant last year.

“So now we go forward with another process in which San Onofre is a sort of guinea pig, with high burn-up fuel, with being on the coast of California, with salt water issues," Becker said. "Will these casks hold up over time?”

Stainless steel casks will store for decades the spent nuclear fuel rods on the bluffs, less than 60 miles north of downtown San Diego.

Because a permanent repository for spent nuclear fuel in Nevada failed to get congressional support, the NRC has adopted a new policy, called a “waste confidence decision.” It concludes that nuclear waste can be stored safely for 160 years or indefinitely on site.

The NRC is still researching what kind of casks will do the job.

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