SONGS owners list decommissioning principles

5 February 2014

The owners of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, who announced in June 2013 plans to shut down units 2&3, have published a document outlining the principles that they say will guide the decommissioning of the two-unit, 2260 MWe capacity Combustion Engineering PWR.

The current owners of SONGS are Southern California Edison - with a majority 78.21% ownership - San Diego Gas and Electric, and the City of Riverside. The City of Anaheim is a previous owner of the power plant. Both current and previous owners have responsibility for decommissioning.

"We are determined to complete the safe decommissioning of San Onofre as expeditiously and cost-efficiently as possible," the document said.

The 'immediate goal' is to move the reactors' spent fuel, currently in pools on site, into dry cask storage. It will remain there "until the government creates the long-term storage option that it has committed to implement," according to the document.

"We will continue to urge the government and other stakeholders to find a solution to provide the timely removal of spent nuclear fuel from the San Onofre site," it said.

Out of a desire to make the SONGS decommissioning process 'inclusive, foward-thinking and responsible,' its owners are setting up a community engagement panel to hear the views of local politicians, the military (the US Navy owns the SONGS site), environmentalists, business interests, organised labour, customers, and academia.

"The document said that 'substantial dollars' had accumulated in decommissioning trusts, and that the owners recognised their 'legal responsibility' to spend them wisely"

The document said that 'substantial dollars' had accumulated in decommissioning trusts, and that the owners recognised their 'legal responsibility' to spend them wisely and return anything left back to power customers. It did not specify exactly how much there was.

Since June 2013, the site workforce has been cut by more than a third to 520. Spent fuel was removed from the reactors in June and July 2013. In December, SCE announced that the unit 2 reactor vessel head removed in 2012 would be shipped to the Clive, Utah low-level waste disposal facility.

SONGS 2&3 were shut down after delays caused by uncertainty in a regulatory review of restart plans, following problems with replacement steam generators installed in 2009 and 2010. The units were shut down in early 2012.

The utility continues to wrangle with the vendor, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, about the RSG faults and liability and damages payments.

SONGS unit 1, a 450 MWe capacity PWR, was shut down in 1992, and was fully decommissioned in 2007.


Photo: San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station at sunset (Source: SCE)


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