Wednesday, February 19, 2014

San Onofre decommissioning from KPBS

This morning, I wrote about Fukushima radiation being monitored in U.S. kelp beds.  Tonight, I’m presenting the news from the past few months about a much less dangerous closed nuclear power plant, San Onofre.  I first mentioned the plant’s closing in Energy news from California, when I quoted a LiveScience story about the plant being permanently shut down last June after a leak was discovered last January.  Since then, I’ve been following the story through KPBS’s coverage that I’ve been quoting for Overnight News Digest on Daily Kos.

I begin with San Clemente Doesn’t Want San Onofre’s Nuclear Waste Sticking Around by David Wagner on Wednesday, December 18, 2013.
Without a national repository for nuclear waste, plants scattered throughout the country will have to keep waste on site for decades, possibly even centuries. Elected officials in San Clemente are expressing concern about how long waste will be stored in their own backyard.

With San Onofre Nuclear Generating System just a few miles down the coast, nuclear waste sits close to home. The San Clemente City Council voted Tuesday to take a stronger stance on waste storage at the plant, which was permanently shut down earlier this year.
As I point out to my students, the worst aspect of nuclear power isn’t the risk of meltdown, as in Fukushima.  Very few plants melt down.  All of them, however, produce radioactive waste, which is dangerous for thousands of years.  Dealing with that is the big issue.

The next article on the topic came this month: UCSD Professor To Lead Community Panel On Decommissioning San Onofre by Erik Anderson on Thursday, February 6, 2014.
SAN DIEGO — A UC San Diego professor will help keep the public informed about the decommissioning of the San Onofre Nuclear Power Plant. David Victor was picked for the job by Southern California Edison, the plant's majority owner.

Victor is an international relations professor and the director of the UCSD Laboratory on International Law and Regulation.

He is seen widely as an authority on energy markets.
Interesting choice.  Looks like he’s highly qualified both in understanding energy and regulatory issues and communicating them to the public.  I wish him luck; he’ll need it.

Finally, I concluded last June’s entry by hoping that San Onofre would be replaced by something cleaner.  It seems that is in the works, as mentioned in Carlsbad's Vote On New Peaker Plant Hinges On Removal Of Smokestack by Alison St John on Tuesday, January 14, 2014.
Carlsbad has fought for years to get a massive power plant off its coastline. The Encina power station will be put into mothballs in 2018 because its sea-water cooling system no longer meets state environmental regulations.

But under previous proposals, there was no guarantee the 400-foot smokestack would be removed. And until now SDG&E had not signed any contract to use power from a replacement plant, so any energy produced might have gone out of the region.

Now, because the San Onofre nuclear power plant has shut down, the energy landscape in San Diego has changed. SDG&E is interested in contracting with the owner of the Carlsbad power plant, NRG, for electricity to use at times of peak consumer demand. The new plant would be gas powered like the old one, but it would be air cooled, rather than using ocean water, to meet new state mandates.
It’s not as clean as I would like, as it’s still a fossil-fuel-powered plant, but of all the fossil fuel choices, it’s the cleanest.


  1. At some point a national repository will be constructed. If there is time after our first Fukushima and before collapse brings the window of opportunity down that is.

    1. The first American Fukushima will be the end of NIMBY.

    2. A national repository has already been constructed--Yucca Mountain. We just aren't using it because of transportation issues and political considerations.

      Actually, I suspect it will make NIMBY worse.