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

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

Peters issued the challenge 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 around the country.

To do so, Peters said the government should invoke the Constitution’s supremacy clause. The clause 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.”

Two bills the subcommittee considered, the Spent Fuel Prioritization Act and the Storage and Transportation of Residual and Excess Nuclear Fuel Act, would affect San Diego County. That’s because they would relocate spent nuclear fuel from the defunct San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station to designated storage sites. Those sites include the Yucca Mountain in the Nevada desert.

Peters said he supports all three bills.

The plant shut down in 2012. Nearly 4 million pounds of spent fuel cells remain buried there. The temporary storage facility lies about 100 feet from the Pacific Ocean.

The plant sits approximately 60 miles from both San Diego and Los Angeles. 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 fuel rods would be stored.

However, Peters’ office hopes the bills could be voted on in committee by the end of the year.

– City News Service

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