Edison Convenes Panel To Focus On Government's Role in Storing Spent Nuclear Fuel

Monday, January 26, 2015
By Alison St John

Southern California Edison, the majority owner of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, convenes its Community Engagement Panel on Tuesday night and will hear details of the company’s plans to decommission the failed plant.

The focus of this week’s meeting is to push for national solutions to the question of what to do with spent nuclear fuel.

Edison plans to store thousands of tons of spent nuclear fuel on site indefinitely because Congress has failed to agree on a permanent storage site for the nuclear waste.

One of the speakers at this week’s panel, Per Peterson, is a nuclear engineer from UC Berkeley who was a member of President Barack Obama’s Blue Ribbon Commission for America’s Nuclear Future.

“Edison has a contract with the federal government and the U.S. government, at this point, has the full financial responsibility to pay for the interim storage of the spent fuel and for its ultimate disposal," Peterson said.

Peterson said the federal government has collected billions of dollars of ratepayer money already for long-term storage of the nation’s nuclear waste, but has failed to agree on a site.

“It turns out the money that has been collected from ratepayers for the disposal of spent fuel, which, with interest is about $30 billion, spent for other purposes by Congress," he said.

Peterson said Congress has little financial incentive to find a solution.

“That money has to compete in the budgeting process against all other types of discretionary spending,” Peterson said. “But the money that the federal government is now paying out for the lawsuits comes from a fund that is not subject to the same rules.”

Peterson said the federal government is spending billions of taxpayer dollars to fight lawsuits filed by companies like Edison. This money does not affect congressional budgeting.

He said Congress should act on Sen. Dianne Feinstein‘s proposed legislation to create a new capital fund that would pay for permanent nuclear waste storage.

The meeting will be at the San Juan Capistrano Community Center at 6 p.m.