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NRC Petitioned To Require Stronger Canisters To Store Nuclear Waste Indefinitely

Google Earth graphic showing new location of nuclear waste storage site at th...

Credit: Google Earth

Above: Google Earth graphic showing new location of nuclear waste storage site at the San Onofre Nuclear Power Plant (bottom left corner).

A public watchdog group wants the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to require stronger canisters for storing spent nuclear fuel on site indefinitely. The petition comes as Southern California Edison moves spent fuel from the now decommissioned San Onofre nuclear power plant into storage next to the ocean.

In 2014, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission concluded nuclear fuel can safely be stored on site for 60 years, 100 years or indefinitely. The decision came after Congress failed to agree on a long-term national storage site for nuclear waste.

Ray Lutz of the group Citizens Oversight has petitioned the NRC to get public comment on his proposal to require dual walled canisters for stored spent fuel.

“The NRC is saying you can store it on site indefinitely, which is basically forever - and then the canisters are only good for 40 years - and that doesn’t make any sense,” Lutz said. “We’re trying to get them to the point of saying they need to last a thousand years.”

Photo credit: Southern California Edison

Spent fuel being moved to dry storage at San Onofre. Jan 2018

Edison is currently transferring hundreds of used radioactive spent fuel rods from cooling pools to a "dry cask" storage system on site. The rods are in stainless steel canisters, placed inside concrete overpacks, partially buried about 100 feet from the ocean. The NRC has approved the storage system, which is designed to withstand floods and earthquakes.

However, there is no guarantee the waste will be moved to long-term storage within the next 40, 60 or 100 years.

The NRC has not yet opened the proposal for public comment.

A public watchdog group wants the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to require stronger canisters for storing spent nuclear fuel on site indefinitely.

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