NRC sets first public meeting on decommissioning San Onofre nuclear plant

Sun sets on San Onofre nuclear plant

Ed Joyce/KPCC

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission said Thursday it is holding a public meeting Sept. 26 in Carlsbad to talk about the decommissioning process for the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station. (Photo: The sun sets behind the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station in northern San Diego County).

San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station

Mae Ryan/KPCC

California Edison announced on Friday, June 7, 2013 that it will permanently close the San Onofre nuclear plant.

David McNew/Getty Images

A couple stands near the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station at San Onofre State Beach on March 15, 2012 south of San Clemente, California. Plant operator Southern California Edison has applied to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to restart one of the two reactor units, at 70 percent of power for a limited time. The nuclear plant has been shut down a leak in generator tubes sent a small amount of radioactive steam into the atmosphere on January 31, 2012. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)


The Nuclear Regulatory Commission announced Thursday it will hold a public meeting September 26 in Carlsbad to talk about the decommissioning process for the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station in northern San Diego County.

It will be the agency's first public meeting on closing the plant operated by Southern California Edison.

The meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. at the Omni LaCosta Hotel, 2100 Costa del Mar Road. Doors will open at 5 p.m. to accommodate security screening.

An NRC press release says technical staff will give a presentation describing the process and regulations covering the decommissioning with a Q&A session to follow.

"We think this meeting is very important for the community," said Gene Stone with San Clemente-based Residents Organized for a Safe Environment. It's one of several groups in Orange and San Diego counties that pushed for the plant's closure.

Stone says a coalition of environmental groups "will create a committee focusing on safety of nuclear waste storage, the timeliness of the process and the costs associated with decommissioning."

The nuclear plant, which is located on the coast near the border of San Diego and Orange counties, has been shut down since January 2012 after radioactive steam escaped from damaged tubes inside one of the reactors. In June of this year,  Southern California Edison announced it would seek the permanent closure of the plant.

Edison International Chairman Ted Craver told reporters in June that closing the plant would take decades and result in spent nuclear fuel being stored "for a very long time" at the plant.

According to Craver, the company has a $2.7 billion decommissioning fund that can be used to close San Onofre. But the money to make up for the loss of the San Onofre plant will come from ratepayers, insurance claims, shareholders and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, which made the equipment that led to the problems at San Onofre.

The California Public Utilities Commission has set an October 1 hearing to determine just how much ratepayers will pay. 

Earlier this month, Southern California Edison opened the San Onofre Digital Document Library. The utility said the library provides the public with documents related to the design of the steam generators that were cited as a reason for the plant's problems.

Along with Edison, San Diego Gas & Electric owns 20 percent of the plant and the City of Riverside owns nearly 2 percent.

The plant is located about two miles south of San Clemente. 

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