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Humboldt Bay Power Plant decommissioning; problem of nuclear waste buried not far from sea level, in a seismic area

PG&E completes decommissioning process, ends nuclear facility license

But more work remains: 37 tons of nuclear waste are in an eroding bluff near King Salmon,  
By ISABELLA VANDERHEIDEN | | Times-Standard October 30, 2021    Following a years-long effort to decommission the former nuclear power plant in Humboldt Bay, Pacific Gas and Electric Co. recently filed a request with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to terminate the power plant’s license marking a “major milestone” for the Humboldt County community……..


Decommissioning efforts for the Humboldt Bay Power Plant Unit 3, a 63-Megawatt electric boiling water reactor, began in June 2009, more than 30 years after the power plant had ceased operations. It operated from 1963 to 1976 and was permanently defueled in 1984.

At the time of the power plant’s construction, atomic energy was hailed as the solution to global energy needs……….

Why was the power plant short-lived? As it turns out, seismically active regions are not ideal locations for nuclear power……………

More to be done

Buried deep into Buhne Point, a highland bluff directly northeast of King Salmon, is an underground nuclear waste storage facility known as the Humboldt Bay Independent Spent Fuel Storage Installation, or ISFSI. While the ISFSI will effectively contain the 37-tons of nuclear waste for approximately 50 years, it is not a permanent solution.

“All of the high-level waste that was ever produced at the power plant including all the spent fuel rods the reactor cut up into pieces, all that stuff is buried on top of the hill at King Salmon,” Kalt said. “The ISFSI is really what the Baykeeper is concerned about at this point.”

Corral said the “five casks of spent nuclear fuel and one cask of Greater than Class C waste” will remain on site until an offsite repository is available, “as promised by the federal government.”

However, Kalt said the waste will never be removed “because nobody wants it.”

I really just don’t think it’s appropriate anyway. It would be so dangerous to move it and it would be unfair to put that on another community,” she said.”There is no such thing as ‘away’. If you’re going to have something that toxic in your community, you should understand that this is in perpetuity.”

The ISFSI will have to be relocated at some point as the bluff continues to erode and the sea level continues to rise.

“The projections indicate that the sea level will be four feet higher in 50 years than it is today,” Kalt said. “The ISFSI is on the top of an eroding bluff, it’s 44-feet above sea level, it’s buried to 30 feet below the surface, so the bottom is only 10 feet above sea level currently. …What are we going to do, you know? It’s pretty clear that there needs to be a plan to at least move it back from the bay, it’s going to be really expensive and controversial, but leaving it there is not a plan. It’s a nightmare.”

It won’t be easy, but Kalt said there needs to be a community process in deciding where to relocate the ISFSI……………….

November 1, 2021 - Posted by | decommission reactor, USA

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