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Edison’s Plans To Resume Nuclear Waste Transfer May Face Legal Challenge

This undated bird's eye view of the San Onofre Nuclear Power plant shows the ...

Credit: Southern California Edison

Above: This undated bird's eye view of the San Onofre Nuclear Power plant shows the spent fuel storage site.

Southern California Edison may face more legal challenges before resuming the transfer of highly radioactive spent fuel rods from cooling ponds to silos near the beach at San Onofre.

San Diego attorney Mike Aguirre said Edison has not lived up to the terms of a settlement agreement he reached with them last year. Aguirre had challenged the California Coastal Commission’s permit allowing Edison to bury the waste 100 feet from the ocean. He reached a settlement with Edison and the California Coastal Commission, in which Aguirre said Edison agreed to make every “commercially reasonable effort” to find an alternative place to store the nuclear waste.

Instead, Aguirre said, half-inch thick stainless steel canisters holding the waste may have been damaged during transfer, making future relocation more difficult or impossible. He cited a Nuclear Regulatory Commission report released last month that summarizes management problems at the plant, including lack of training, of equipment, of safety procedures and oversight, that resulted in a near-miss accident at San Onofre.

“We can no longer trust the management of Southern California Edison to load these canisters into the silos and we cannot trust them to manage the waste, and unfortunately that means we are going to have to go back to court,” Aquirre said. “We are going to ask the court to assist us in stopping any further loading based, upon a breach of our settlement agreement.”

Edison Public Information Officer John Dobken said operations to move the spent fuel rods from cooling ponds to buried silos will not resume until the NRC has inspected revamped procedures. He said the company hopes to continue loading the canisters packed with spent fuel into bunkers in mid to late January.

NRC spokesman Victor Dricks said there is no timeline for when the decision will be made for Edison to resume operations. He wrote, it "will depend on the outcome of inspections not yet conducted or scheduled."

Southern California Edison may face more legal challenges before resuming the transfer of highly radioactive spent fuel rods from cooling ponds to silos near the beach at San Onofre.

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