San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station
The San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station. Photo by Don Ramey Logan Jr. via Wikimedia Commons

Rep. Mike Levin said he will introduce a bill aimed at reducing the time it will take to remove spent fuel at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station.

At a tour of the power plant with Rep. Harley Rouda of Newport Beach, the two congressmen were told by Southern California Edison officials that the spent fuel at the now-shuttered plant might not be removed until 2050.

“I think with a lot of heavy lifting and including our priority bill, along with development of an interim storage facility,” the job could be done by 2035, said Levin after the tour on Tuesday.

“If we could get an interim storage site selected and permitted and built by 2028, and in parallel set up transportation, which would require multiple states to move the canisters, that by 2035 we wouldn’t be starting the work we might have it completed,” added Levin, who represents the 49th District in north coastal San Diego and south Orange counties.

Levin’s bill would establish three factors for prioritizing removal of spent fuel from nuclear power plants. Plants that are decommissioned or in the process of being shut down would receive priority, and federal authorities would also consider the population around the plant and whether there is an environmental risk such as earthquakes.

“When you think about San Onofre there is a population of 8.3 million within 50 miles and there are two active earthquake faults,” Levin said. “It is the only site in the country with that degree of risk from both population density and earthquakes.”

The push to move the spent fuel comes after an incident in August in which a 45-ton canister filled with spent nuclear fuel became lodged in a storage cavity as it was being moved from a wet storage pool to a dry cask storage facility on site.

All future transfers of spent fuel were suspended while the Nuclear Regulatory Commission reviewed the incident.

— City News Service

Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.