New Mexico group makes its pitch to store San Onofre’s nuclear waste
|| Union-Tribune San Diego
“In the search for finding a place to move the 3.55 million pounds of nuclear waste from the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS), one question always comes up: Sure, it would be great to send all that spent fuel as far away from the beach as possible, but who would ever be willing to accept it?
On Thursday night, those attending the quarterly meeting of the SONGS Community Engagement Panel heard directly from representatives from a private entity looking to do just that.
One person’s waste is another person’s most valuable possession,” said John Heaton, who is leading a group called the Eddy-Lea Energy Alliance that wants to build a massive nuclear storage facility in the desert of southeast New Mexico.
“We think it’s an important project for us in terms of jobs and capital investment in our part of the state,” said Heaton during a break in Thursday night’s meeting in Laguna Hills.
The facility has yet to be built but its ambitions are big. The New Mexico group has partnered with Holtec International, an energy company with extensive experience in the nuclear storage industry, to build a facility that would hold roughly 120,000 metric tons of spent nuclear fuel.
To put that figure in perspective, the now-suspended Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository in Nevada was legislatively directed to accept 70,000 metric tons. And the total waste from nuclear plants across the country is estimated at 78,590 metric tons.
Last month, Holtec filed an application with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to get the facility licensed, part of a series of bureaucratic hurdles that need to be cleared for the site to become a reality.
Pierre Oneid, senior vice president and chief nuclear officer at Holtec, said after Thursday’s meeting the entire process could move at a much faster rate than typical government-approved projects.
“We would commence construction immediately” once the project gets the OK, Oneid said. “We could be ready, if all the stars are aligned, by 2022.”
However, even if such a facility were built, it does not mean that waste at SONGS would be at the front of the line.
Spent fuel has been piling up for decades at nuclear plants across the country. The U.S. Department of Energy will determine the order of waste shipments but it is unclear how the agency will implement its policy when the time comes.
Another potential site for what’s called “consolidated interim storage” facilities, which are designed to house at least part of the waste accumulated at nuclear plants across the country, is in West Texas, not far from the proposed New Mexico facility.
Located outside of Andrews, Texas, the facility would be run by a company called Waste Control Specialists and could store about 5,000 metric tons of waste but with a footprint of 14,000 acres the site could be expanded. Like the New Mexico site, the company has filed a license application with the federal government.
Officials at Waste Control Specialists were invited to take part in Thursday’s meeting but David Victor, the Community Engagement Panel chairman, said the company is involved in a complex mergers and acquisitions process and postponed an appearance.
In attendance was Karen Hadden, the executive director of the SEED Coalition, an environmental group in Austin, Texas, who spoke out against both sites.
“Most people (in Texas and New Mexico) either don’t know what’s going on or the people on the street would tell you, no they don’t want it,” said Hadden, who flew in to attend the meeting. “When people do learn what’s happening they are alarmed and they want to take action to stop it.”
Another nuclear storage site in New Mexico — unaffiliated with the proposed Eddy-Lea facility — recently reopened after a radiation leak in 2014. The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) was shut down for almost three years after a waste drum of plutonium-contaminated debris ruptured.
WIPP does not take waste from nuclear power plants. Rather, it is the nation’s only repository for the disposal of transuranic waste from the nation’s network of nuclear weapons labs and development facilities.
“Things go wrong,” said Gary Headrick, co-founder of the advocacy group San Clemente Green, during the public comment period. “Things went wrong at WIPP … We gotta get this right.”
Thursday night’s meeting comes as discussion is heating up over nuclear waste. .
Edison officials are talking to representatives of Citizens Oversight, an East County-based civic group whose attorney, Michael Aguirre, has proposed moving SONGS waste to the Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station in Arizona, located about 50 miles from Phoenix. .
In Washington D.C., Rep. John Shimkus, R-Illinois, has a draft bill in the U.S. House of Representatives that aims to clear the way to return funding to Yucca Mountain and Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Vista, has introduced legislation to pave the way for consolidated interim storage sites.
The Trump administration, in a budget blueprint released in March, called for the Department of Energy to receive $120 million to start looking at possible solutions, specifically interim storage site and possibly resurrecting Yucca.”
….Continue reading more @ U-T San Diego
Some Video from the Public Comment Section Tonight in Laguna Hills about burying the Nuclear Waste on the Beach in San Onofre
|| Youtube | San Onofre CEP
“My generation has to clean up what your generation leaves…”
Questions on evacuation procedure in the event of an accident at San Onofre:
Questions on earthquake safety:
Questions on storage cannisters and earthquakes:
…More video @ Youtube
San Onofre Community Engagement Panel to Discuss Off-Site Used Fuel Storage
“The San Onofre Community Engagement Panel (CEP) will discuss off-site storage of used nuclear fuel during its quarterly meeting May 11 in Laguna Hills. The CEP advises the owners of the retired San Onofre nuclear plant on decommissioning.
The meeting will include updates on proposed interim storage sites in Texas and New Mexico designed to accept used nuclear fuel from sites such as San Onofre. In addition, two U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission officials from the agency’s Washington, D.C. and Region IV offices will review federal oversight of decommissioning at San Onofre.
Tom Palmisano, vice president and chief nuclear officer for Southern California Edison, the decommissioning agent on behalf of the San Onofre owners, will provide an update on preparations to decommission the plant.
The regular quarterly meeting will be from 5:30-8:30 p.m. at the Laguna Hills Community Center, 25555 Alicia Parkway, Laguna Hills. Staffed information booths will be open from 4:30-5:30 p.m. There will be a public comment period and the meeting will be live-streamed via songscommunity.com.
SCE announced in June 2013 that it would retire San Onofre Units 2 and 3, and had begun the process to decommission the facility. SCE has established core principles of safety, stewardship and engagement to guide decommissioning.”
…Continue @ https://www.songscommunity.com/