Dry cask storage at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station
Dry canister storage of radioactive spent fuel at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station. Courtesy Southern California Edison

Democratic Rep. Mike Levin and his Republic colleague Rep. Darrell Issa joined forces Wednesday to reintroduce legislation to prioritize the removal of radioactive nuclear fuel from the San Onofre nuclear plant.

The Spent Fuel Prioritization Act would prioritize the removal of nuclear fuel from decommissioned plants in areas with large populations, significant seismic hazards, and where continued storage presents a national security concern.

The decommissioned San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station meets all three criteria because 9 million people live within 50 miles, there are nearby earthquake faults and Camp Pendleton borders the facility.

Democratic Reps. Scott Peters from San Diego and and Katie Porter of Irvine, as as Republicans Michelle Steel of Rolling Hills and Young Kim of La Habra are co-sponsors.

“Since I was first sworn into Congress, one of my top priorities has been protecting my constituents and our environment from the risks associated with the spent nuclear fuel at San Onofre,” said Levin, whose 49th District includes the plant. “It is imperative that we move the waste from our community as quickly and safely as possible.”

Nearly 3.6 million pounds of spent nuclear fuel are stored in large canisters at the plant, which stopped producing electricity in 2012.

“Federal action on spent fuel storage at the now-closed San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station is long overdue, and disposal of power plant waste continues to be needlessly delayed by a process that lacks a commitment to a workable solution,” said Issa, who once represented the area. “That’s why our bipartisan legislation should serve as a model in Congress and demonstrate that consensus is possible.”

The bill does not favor a permanent repository or consolidated interim storage, and does not authorize the transfer of spent fuel to any non-consenting state or locality.

Chris Jennewein

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