Stakes Raised in Re-Licensing San Onofre Nuke Plant

Categories: Environment
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The folks who run the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS)--and by "folks" I mean "Southern California Edison," or simply "SCE"--can't be happy with what's happening at the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant up the coast near San Luis Obispo. Both plants were built in active earthquake zones and are drawing ever closer to their shut-down dates. Unlike SONGS, which hasn't asked the Nuclear Regulatory Agency (NRC) for a 20-year extension on its lease, which expires in 2022, Diablo Canyon has done so, and the feds' response so far isn't exactly heartening.

To wit, as the Orange County Register reports today, the NRC's Atomic Safety and Licensing Board has ordered Pacific Gas & Electric, which operates Diablo Canyon, to make monthly reports on the progress of seismic surveys that would determine if there are any undiscovered earthquake risks at the site. The Reg says the studies are expected to take another four years and cost $85 million. "The feds won't consider giving the plant and extra 20 years to operate until those studies are done," the article states. "One might think of this as a nuclear Twilight Zone."

In case you're feeling sorry for PG&E for having to spend all that cash on figuring out whether a big earthquake could cause a meltdown, you might be relieved to know that the company is simply going to pass those costs on to ratepayers. "If San Onofre decides to ask for an extension, it will surely cost much more; it expects to spend $64 million on seismic studies alone," the Reg adds.

Assuming the feds sign off on SCE's proposed study, the $64 million price tag will also be passed to ratepayers. It would also be a big waste of money assuming the company decides not to try to renew its operating lease and simply shutters the plant. SCE officials won't say how likely that is.

"SCE has proposed a stepped up seismic study of the region around our plant," spokesman Gil Alexander told the Reg. "The proposal is under regulatory review. We have not yet made a decision about pursuing license renewal."

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7 comments
Matt
Matt

Let's get rid of San Onfre and Diablo Canyon (2nd generation plants) and build new 4th generation plants in the same spot. Here is an article on Bill Gates investing his own money developing the new safe nuclear tech:

http://venturebeat.com/2011/05...

Torgen Johnson
Torgen Johnson

Germany and Japan are going to bury us technologically by moving ahead with renewables research and development.  They are abandoning their nuclear future and going green. We should look closely at why the 3rd and 4th largest economies, both highly technological societies are banking on new green technologies while we accept wallowing in our ever growing stockpiles of radioactive waste. Come on people lets dial up America's greatest strength, its ability to innovate and develop ideas.

Ace Hoffman
Ace Hoffman

It's not a nuclear "twilight zone" it's a nuclear nightmare zone... if Mother Nature is in a hurry, it'll be too bad the feds weren't...

Patti Davis
Patti Davis

When B Gates puts the Nuke Waste in his own back yard I will believe him

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