San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station. Photo by Andrea Swayne
San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station. Photo by Andrea Swayne

By Jim Shilander

A number of anti-nuclear advocates asked council members Tuesday to consider a resolution calling for the swiftest possible removal of nuclear waste from the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station.

Members of the Coalition to Decommission San Onofre, an umbrella group that includes a number of organizations opposed to the plant, asked the council to send a letter to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, as well as elected officials, to extend the public comment period on the NRC’s Draft Waste Confidence Generic Environmental Impact Statement Report. The comment period is set to end Friday, December 20. Activists also urged the creation of a site specific plan dealing with the environmental impacts of storing spent nuclear waste at the San Onofre plant.

Gary Headrick, president of San Clemente Green, said while the status of the plant divided many in the city when it was producing power, he felt there was “more in common” now with concerns over the status of the waste at the site. Resident Donna Gilmore, who operates the San Onofre Safety website, said she believed the presence of high burn-up fuel at the plant represent “a real scandal” in terms of the greater time needed to store the fuel.

Another resident, Roger Johnson, urged the council to pay attention to the results of an upcoming cancer study examining whether there was an increased risk in areas around nuclear plants, which includes a study around SONGS.

The council unanimously agreed to agendize the proposed letter at its next meeting, December 17. Mayor Tim Brown said he felt there was at least board support on the board to urge for the safe removal of waste stored at the site.

Resident Richard Boyer, who has worked in the nuclear industry, told the council concerns about radiation from the plant’s stored fuel were overblown.

“All your hearing is a hysterical distortion,” Boyer said.

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comments (3)

  • Rich is right. There are rules and regulations that will keep San Onofre’s spent fuel on site for many years. The good news is the canisters are robust and the dose rates near the canisters are negligible.

  • High burnup fuel isn’t safe to store in dry casks over 20 years and there is no container approved to safely transport high burnup fuel. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission will not approved transport canisters and will not approve dry cask storage over 20 years because high burnup fuel causes the protective cladding to become brittle and subject to shattering, which could release radiation into the environment. See the government and scientific supported facts at http://sanonofresafety.org/nuclear-waste/

    In addition San Onofre’s high burnup used fuel must cool in the spent fuel pools for a MINIMUM of 15 to 20 years. Even after it cools, it’s over twice as radioactive as the lower burnup fuel San Onofre used to use. The high burnup fuel made more profits for Edison, but makes us less safe for centuries to come.

    • High burn fuel is very similar to the old fuel. It was in the core longer and had a higher enrichment so it could last 18 to 24 months in the core. It was not more dangerous. It was more economical. SONGS did not have to refuel as often. The High burn fuel is supposed to be able to be placed in canisters in 7 years. I understand the canisters are approved for storage yet not approved for transportation. The NRC and the US congress has not approved a storage area. Harry Reid defunded the Yucca Mountain depository. I understand SONGS can store High burn fuel in canisters for 60 to 80 years. Talk to your congress person to approve a waste site if you do not like long term storage at SONGS, I measured background radiation at the Spent fuel cask boundary, i t was less than 10 microrem per hour at the fence. We get on thousand micorem per day from terrestrial, cosmic and medical radiation. 98,000 people die in medical errors per year.
      Storing Spent fuel at SONGS is not dangerous to the public.

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