Skip to main content

LATEST UPDATES: Tracking COVID-19 | Racial Justice | Election 2020

Scott Peters Calls for Federal Action on San Onofre Nuclear Fuel Storage

Photo of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station taken on April 5, 2019.

Photo by KPBS Staff

Above: Photo of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station taken on April 5, 2019.

Rep. Scott Peters, D-San Diego, is calling on the federal government to determine and commit to an interim and long-term plan for nuclear waste storage.

Peters challenged the rest of the federal government on Friday to find a storage solution during a meeting of the House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee's Environment and Climate Change Subcommittee.

The subcommittee, on which Peters sits, held a hearing on three bills that would establish a process to send spent nuclear fuel rods from decommissioned plants to designated storage areas around the country. To do so, Peters said the government should invoke the Constitution's supremacy clause, which requires states to follow federal law if they have conflicting statutes.

"There's not a lot of enthusiasm among the states to accept any defined or undefined amount of nuclear waste. There just isn't," Peters said. "To me ... the magic of federalism is the supremacy clause and the ability of the federal government to ... (say) in this geology, per this engineering, (and) through this licensing process that this risk is lower."

RELATED: Congressman Levin Proposes Bill To Tackle San Onofre Nuclear Storage

Two of the bills the subcommittee considered — the Spent Fuel Prioritization Act and the Storage and Transportation of Residual and Excess Nuclear Fuel Act — would directly affect San Diego County by relocating spent nuclear fuel from the defunct San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station to designated storage sites like Yucca Mountain in the Nevada desert.

The plant shut down in 2012, but nearly 3.6 million pounds of spent fuel assemblies remain in a temporary storage facility about 100 feet from the Pacific Ocean. The plant sits approximately 60 miles or less from both San Diego and Los Angeles and the storage facility continues to be susceptible to a major earthquake or significant sea-level rise.

The bills remain in limbo due to pushback from legislators who represent the districts in which spent fuel rods would be stored.

However, Peters' office hopes the bills could get a vote out of the committee by the end of the year.


San Diego News Matters podcast branding

KPBS' daily news podcast covering local politics, education, health, environment, the border and more. New episodes are ready weekday mornings so you can listen on your morning commute.

  • Need help keeping up with the news that matters most? Get the day's top news — ranging from local to international — straight to your inbox each weekday morning.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Curious San Diego banner

Want more KPBS news?
Find us on Twitter and Facebook, or sign up for our newsletters.

To view PDF documents, Download Acrobat Reader.