Federal and state environmental oversight both play important roles during the decommissioning of San Onofre nuclear plant. These regulatory processes are in place to protect the environment and the community's interests by involving the public and informing decision makers about the potential environmental effects of proposed activities.
NEPA is a statute that establishes a process by which federal agencies must study the environmental effects of their actions. The key federal actions occurring at San Onofre nuclear plant are the license termination with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and the issuance of a new real estate instrument by the land owner, the U.S. Department of the Navy (DoN). The NRC has prepared a generic Environmental Impact Statement (GEIS) for the decommissioning of all NRC-licensed nuclear facilities to satisfy NEPA requirements. Southern California Edison, the licensee for the San Onofre nuclear plant, is required by the NRC to review the proposed decommissioning activities and assess whether the potential environmental impacts of the activities are bounded by the GEIS. Additionally, the licensee is required to evaluate site-specific environmental conditions (e.g., threatened and endangered species, environmental justice). SCE completed this assessment as part of the Post Shut-down Decommissioning Activities Report, which was filed with the NRC Sept. 23, 2014. The DoN also will conduct its own NEPA review to evaluate potential impacts associated with its approval of a real estate agreement that will extend the existing term to cover the decommissioning period and establish end-state requirements for the land, such as the subsurface removal alternatives and final site restoration.
The timing of the NEPA review process has not yet been determined. More information will be shared as it becomes available.
The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) is the state equivalent of the federal NEPA. For San Onofre nuclear plant, the California State Lands Commission (CSLC) will perform the CEQA review, which is triggered by the need to establish the final disposition for the offshore conduits under a CSLC lease. The CSLC performed a similar environmental review under CEQA in 2005 for the SONGS Unit 1 offshore conduit dispositioning. The CSLC review will consider the potential environmental impacts of the decommissioning project including both onshore and offshore activities. The CEQA document prepared by the CSLC will be used by other state agencies issuing approvals for the project. The CEQA process will commence in 2016 and will include multiple opportunities for public engagement and comment.
The California Coastal Act of 1976 is designed to protect the state's coastal region, recognizing that it is "of vital and enduring interest to all the people and exists as a delicately balanced ecosystem."