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

By Jim Shilander

The chances of a radiological release due to an accident at San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station have been profoundly reduced as a result of the plant’s shutdown and subsequent decommissioning process, a Southern California Edison officer said Thursday.

However, the utility is still required to keep up emergency planning even with the reduced danger.

The lack of major heat or pressure sources, as might be possible at an operating plant, reduced the possibility of accidents involving spent nuclear fuel, which largely sits in spent fuel pools at the site of the plant, said Thomas Palmisano, Edison’s chief nuclear officer.

Edison has emergency plans in place, he said, to counteract serious threats, including a loss of water, which cools the spent-fuel canisters, or the zirconium that holds the nuclear fuel from catching fire. The utility would have more than 17 hours to prevent such a fire and currently has more than 1.5 million gallons of water stored in case of water loss, Palmisano confirmed.

Activists said more needed to be done to prevent incidents from occurring.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s staff will conduct a public meeting on Monday, Oct. 27 in Carlsbad, to discuss Edison’s decommissioning plan and receive public comments. The meeting will be held at the Omni La Costa, 2100 Costa Del Mar Road, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

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