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Edison: San Onofre Nuclear Clean-Up Will Cost $4.4 Billion

Power lines make their way over a freeway towards the San Onofre nuclear powe...

Credit: Associated Press

Above: Power lines make their way over a freeway towards the San Onofre nuclear power plant, June 7, 2013.

Decommissioning of the idled San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station in northern San Diego County will cost an estimated $4.4 billion, according to a plan submitted Tuesday by majority owner Southern California Edison.

The plan, summed up in three documents submitted to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, envisions major decommissioning work to begin in early 2016. The documents include a decommissioning plan, a cost estimate and how to manage spent fuel.

The plan was vetted in a series of public meetings. Another chance for the public to comment on the plan is scheduled for Monday at 4 p.m. at the San Juan Capistrano Community Center in that southern Orange County city.

"These important regulatory submittals will guide us as we decommission San Onofre in a safe and timely manner while continuing to serve as good environmental and financial stewards on behalf of our customers and the public," Tom Palmisano, SCE vice president and chief nuclear officer, said.

The facility on the northern San Diego County coastline has been inoperative since January 2012, when a small, non-injury leak was discovered in one of the two reactors. The other reactor was shut down for maintenance at the time.

Last year, Edison shelved plans to restart the reactors in favor of retiring the plant.

The project cost includes physical dismantlement of San Onofre Units 2 and 3 within 20 years, managing and storing the used nuclear fuel until it is accepted by the U.S. Department of Energy, and restoring the site for future use, subject to an easement agreement with the U.S. Navy, which owns the land.

The decommissioning trust funds established by San Onofre's owners currently total about $4.1 billion, according to Edison. Based on the updated cost estimate, anticipated cost escalation and future trust fund earnings, SCE said it believes the San Onofre decommissioning is fully funded and no further customer contributions will be required at this time.

Any unused funds will be returned to customers at the end of decommissioning.

San Diego Gas & Electric owns 20 percent of the plant and received one-fifth of its power when it was operating.

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