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Samuel Lawrence Foundation loses court case to keep spent fuel pools as safety backup at San Onofre nuclear station

Judge tosses out lawsuit that sought to stop San Onofre nuclear plant dismantlement,  Ruling says Coastal Commission properly granted permit, San Diego Tribune,  BY ROB NIKOLEWSKI , . 20, 2021 

Deconstruction work at the now-shuttered San Onofe Nuclear Generating Station — known as SONGS for short — will continue after a judge in Los Angeles County turned back a lawsuit filed by an advocacy group that looked to put a halt to it.

Deconstruction work at the now-shuttered San Onofe Nuclear Generating Station — known as SONGS for short — will continue after a judge in Los Angeles County turned back a lawsuit filed by an advocacy group that looked to put a halt to it.

In a 19-page decisionLos Angeles County Superior Court Judge Mitchell Beckloff ruled last week the California Coastal Commission acted properly when it granted a permit in 2019 to Southern California Edison — the operators of the plant — to proceed with dismantlement efforts.

The Samuel Lawrence Foundation filed the suit, arguing the commission violated its own regulations and provisions by issuing the permit………….

Samuel Lawrence Foundation president Bart Ziegler said in an email that his group “will continue to push for strict monitoring, protocols and handling facilities at Edison’s nuclear waste dump.”

The heart of the lawsuit centered on two spent fuel pools that are scheduled to be torn down.

At commercial nuclear power plants, when the highly radioactive fuel rods used to generate electricity lose their effectiveness, operators place the assemblies in a metal rack that is lowered about 40 feet into a “wet storage” pool, typically for about five years, to cool.

Edison has since taken the assemblies out of the pools, placed them into stainless steel canisters and moved them into two “dry storage” facilities on the north end of the plant. One facility holds 50 canisters and another, more recently constructed site, holds 73 canisters.

Edison says now that the spent fuel has been transferred to dry storage, the pools are unnecessary and should be dismantled.

The Samuel Lawrence Foundation argued Edison should keep the pools in case the canisters ever get damaged or degrade over time………..

Despite issuing the permit and related measures, the commission has complained about being put in a tough position.

Edison says now that the spent fuel has been transferred to dry storage, the pools are unnecessary and should be dismantled.

Schwartz said until the federal government comes up with a long-term storage site, “we are forced to live with the increased risks of storing (waste) on our coast. Commissioners and staff have communicated to the (Nuclear Regulatory Commission) the urgency of moving these spent fuel facilities out of the coastal hazard zone, and we will continue to press the NRC on this issue.”

There are 3.55 million pounds of used-up fuel in the canisters at SONGS, which is located between the Pacific and Interstate 5.

But keeping the waste on-site is not unique to San Onofre. About 80,000 metric tons of spent fuel has stacked up at 121 commercial nuclear sites in 35 states………..

Under a “special condition” agreed to in 2015, the commission is allowed by 2035 to revisit whether the storage site should be moved to another location in case of rising sea levels, earthquake risks, potential canister damage or other scenarios……

SONGS’ dismantlement began in March 2020 and is expected to take about eight years to complete. Roughly 2 billion pounds of equipment, components, concrete and steel will be removed from the plant.

The two distinctive containment domes, each nearly 200 feet high, are scheduled to come down around 2027.

About 450,000 tons of material labeled low-level nuclear waste will be shipped — mostly by rail — to a disposal facility in Clive, Utah. Another 35 tons of low-level waste will get shipped by truck to a facility in the West Texas town of Andrews.

According to Edison’s plans, all that will remain at SONGS will be two dry storage facilities, a security building with personnel to look over the waste, a seawall, a walkway connecting two beaches north and south of the plant, and a switchyard with power lines. The rest of the property will revert to the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton. https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/business/energy-green/story/2021-09-20/judge-tosses-out-lawsuit-that-sought-to-stop-san-onofre-nuclear-plant-dismantlement

September 21, 2021 - Posted by | decommission reactor, Legal, wastes

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