Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
KPBS Midday Edition Segments

New Report Out On Ideas For What To Do With Nuclear Waste

 March 18, 2021 at 12:24 PM PDT

Speaker 1: 00:00 Some of San Diego's biggest ongoing stories have taken a bit of a back seat during the last pandemic year, but now the controversy stored nuclear waste at San Onofre is back in the headlines. Southern California, Edison is out with a report on what might need to be done to move 3.6 million pounds of waste from the shuttered nuclear power plant. Along with the report comes the formation of a new coalition called action for spent fuel solutions. Now whose members include Edison and SDG and E as well as elected officials from orange and San Diego counties. Joining me is Rob Nikolsky. He is energy reporter for the San Diego union Tribune. And Rob welcome. Speaker 2: 00:44 Good to hear from you again, Marie, Speaker 1: 00:47 This report is the result of a lawsuit that challenged Edison's right to store nuclear waste at San Onofre. What did the settlement require Edison? Speaker 2: 00:58 One of the things that the out of court settlement did was it required Edison to come back with a report that would look at ways, realistic ways to try to move the 3.6 million pounds of spent fuel, or also known as nuclear waste from Santo freight to some other location, whatever location that might be. And they required them quiet Edison to put together this report. And after basically about three or four years here is the report that came out the other day Speaker 1: 01:33 And Edison and SDG and E argued that the waste is perfectly safe to be left onsite at the old center, no free grounds. Speaker 2: 01:41 Yes they have, but Edison and all the utilities all across the country that store nuclear waste in fairness to them, they were never required or expected to keep this waste for long periods of time. And that's why all this goes back to the federal government, the federal government was supposed to take possession of all the nuclear waste and this issue. And this is I think, an important thing for people to understand this issue is not unique to Santa, no freight, every single nuclear reactor site across the country, whether it be in California or Vermont or Illinois, in order for that nuclear waste to go to someplace, it has to have a place to go to. So, because we don't have a solution for we as a country, don't have a solution to our, or a place to put the spent nuclear fuel. That's why we're in this position. And that's why I said it. No freeze in position as long with nuclear power plants all across the country. Speaker 1: 02:47 No, this is a very detailed and extensive report. Can you give us the takeaways? Speaker 2: 02:54 The big takeaway is that the federal government needs to take ownership of this and come up with and lead the way towards finding a solution. And the second thing is, unfortunately, is that a, solution's not going to come right away. We're talking about decades. Speaker 1: 03:12 What kind of responsibility does this report put on the utilities for finding an alternative site? Speaker 2: 03:19 Well, it puts some responsibility on the utilities in the sense that they have to keep the nuclear fuel safe, but really until the federal government gets, gets its act together and, um, comes up with, uh, with at least the germination of an of ideas to try to find this. It's really hard to say because under the nuclear waste policy act, the, the spent fuel, the waste belongs to the utility, but ultimately that title belongs to the possession of that. Nuclear fuel is responsibility, the federal government. So when that glorious day comes, for example, when you can move that nuclear fuel, the spent fuel the waste away from songs. The moment it goes off the site at songs on that property, it belongs to the federal government part of what the momentum is behind this report. And, and, uh, there's been lots of other talk about this as well, is that if the utilities along with elected officials, along with community members can put some pressure on the federal government to make a decision on this sooner, rather than later than maybe some headway can be made. Speaker 1: 04:38 Now you've been following the sand. I know for a story for years, Rob w w in one, in your opinion is the significance of this new report Speaker 2: 04:46 In many ways, the report, even though it's incredibly detailed. And, and I think it's a very good source for people to read because it's three volumes long it's hundreds of pages long, but it gives people a really good overview of what's going on about, about this situation button. On the other hand, though, it doesn't really say anything that people like me who've been following this very closely. It's not really, it doesn't really break any new ground because we've all known for a long time that the federal government has not acted on this and needs to act. But I think maybe if there's a strong takeaway from this is that maybe this helps move the ball forward in getting some momentum going towards making this, making a decision. Because it's the one thing that I would say that there, there, there are lots of different voices out here sometimes going across purposes. But I think just about everyone wants, including the utility. They want them to spent nuclear fuel off the Santa, no freight beach. Speaker 1: 05:51 I've been speaking with Rob Nicole Leschi, he's energy reporter for the San Diego union Tribune. And Rob, thank you very much. Speaker 2: 05:59 Thank you, Maureen.

Ways To Subscribe
Southern California Edison is out with a report on what might need to be done to move 3.6 million pounds of waste from the shuttered San Onofre nuclear power plant.
KPBS Midday Edition Segments