SCE Releases Strategic Plan for Relocation of San Onofre’s Spent Nuclear Fuel; New Coalition Launched to Catalyze Solutions
ROSEMEAD, Calif., March 15, 2021 — Southern California Edison distributed a three-volume set of plans supporting the offsite relocation of the spent nuclear fuel currently stored at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station. The strategies are outlined in the Action Plan, Strategic Plan and Conceptual Transportation Plan.
To further build momentum toward commercially reasonable offsite storage or disposal solutions, and to urge the federal government to meet its legal obligations, SCE and the counties of Orange and San Diego announced the formation of a stakeholder coalition, Action for Spent Fuel Solutions Now.
“SCE and our partners and stakeholders have a genuine opportunity to bring people together with a shared interest to prepare and advocate for the relocation of the spent fuel away from the coast,” said Kevin Payne, SCE’s president and CEO. “It is clear that to make tangible progress on this issue, the federal government must act. Rather than wait for this to happen, we are going to be a catalyst for change.”
The release of the plans constitutes a significant milestone in a process that began with the 2017 settlement regarding the coastal development permit issued for San Onofre’s expanded spent fuel storage system. There are 123 canisters of spent nuclear fuel at San Onofre and no federal repository available to relocate them to at this time. The Department of Energy was to begin transporting spent fuel from nuclear sites across the country to a repository in 1998.
“These plans provide the opportunity to analyze three broad areas related to spent nuclear fuel removal. First, identifying the pathways, options and feasibility, both near term and long term, to relocate the fuel. Second, the transportation considerations to safely get from point A to point B. And third, the steps SCE must take to be prepared when the opportunity arises,” said Doug Bauder, SCE vice president and chief nuclear officer.
As SCE pursues these strategies, a key concern is protecting customers from incurring additional costs for spent fuel transportation and eventual storage or disposal. California electricity users once served by the nuclear plant have already paid nearly $1 billion into the federal Nuclear Waste Fund, which now totals more than $43 billion.
SCE retained North Wind, Inc. to develop the plans in June 2019. The North Wind consultants worked with SCE and its Experts Team, nationally recognized leaders in nuclear waste policy, spent nuclear fuel transportation and nuclear engineering and science, to support development of the plans.
The Action Plan identifies the steps SCE and San Onofre’s co-owners/participants (San Diego Gas & Electric, the city of Anaheim and the city of Riverside) are committed to take to advance offsite relocation of the spent fuel and to ensure the site and its spent fuel are prepared for off-site transportation when an opportunity arises. This includes safely and securely storing the spent fuel at San Onofre for as long as it remains. It also calls for supporting the reestablishment of the federal nuclear waste management program and advocating for legislative changes to advance spent fuel storage and/or disposal solutions.
The Strategic Plan identifies and analyzes a range of alternatives for spent fuel removal while making clear the challenges and needed actions for those alternatives to be realized. It provides assessments of the relative merits, challenges, costs and timelines of the alternatives to help SCE and stakeholders focus their efforts.
It recognizes the importance of more near-term solutions, such as consolidated interim storage, as a companion to a consent-based federal permanent disposal program.
The Conceptual Transportation Plan focuses on specific steps and strategic considerations in planning for and executing the shipment of spent fuel from San Onofre to an offsite location. This plan details various aspects of a spent fuel shipping program and identifies necessary preparations for eventual shipment, such as determining the necessary space and equipment to load canisters for rail transport.
Action for Spent Fuel Solutions Now
A new coalition, Action for Spent Fuel Solutions Now, provides an opportunity for stakeholders, including local governments, business and labor leaders, Native American leaders, environmental groups, and community members, to join forces and make offsite spent fuel storage and/or disposal a priority. SCE recognizes that it cannot solve this issue alone. Co-founders include the counties of Orange and San Diego, the city of Riverside, San Diego Gas & Electric and SCE.
“It is imperative that we come together as a coalition to strongly advocate for making offsite spent fuel storage a true and actionable priority,” said Orange County Supervisor Lisa Bartlett. “It’s time to act,” added San Diego County Supervisor Jim Desmond. “There has to be a mechanism for action, and we believe this coalition will help move us forward.”
The coalition members will work to advocate for federal legislation, funding, administration policies and programs that can advance both permanent disposal and offsite interim storage.
More information about the coalition, including how to join, is available on its website.
North Wind representatives will discuss the plans at Thursday’s Community Engagement Panel meeting, which will be held virtually via Microsoft Teams, beginning at 5:30 p.m. Information on how to join the meeting is available here.
About Southern California Edison
An Edison International (NYSE: EIX) company, Southern California Edison is one of the nation’s largest electric utilities, serving a population of approximately 15 million via 5 million customer accounts in a 50,000-square-mile service area within Central, Coastal and Southern California.