In June, civic and environmental activists won a big victory when the troubled San Onofre nuclear plant ceased operations permanently. The current dispute over defective technology between Edison and Mitsubishi confirms how necessary this outcome was.
Environmental and citizen groups had only a short time to celebrate averting the risk posed by continued operation of the plant. Almost immediately it became clear that this site, wedged between Interstate 5 and the Pacific shoreline, poses a huge challenge of radioactive nuclear waste stored at the plant.
The issues are multiple. Much of the waste is a highly radioactive form of spent fuel known as “high burn-up,” stored in densities far higher than original design specifications. Large uncertainties persist about where the waste will ultimately be stored and for how long. Billions of dollars of expense will be required to resolve these uncertainties. The issues involved in “decommissioning” San Onofre were secondary during the shutdown debate but now they loom large.
On Saturday, October 19, in San Clemente, the Community Symposium on Decommissioning San Onofre featured nationally regarded authorities addressing these concerns:
Dr. Arjun Makhijani, expert on Hardened On Site Storage of nuclear waste and long-term high-level waste management issues and President of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research
Dr. Marvin Resnikoff, expert on nuclear waste management issues and Senior Associate at Radioactive Waste Management Associates
Dr. Donald Mosier, expert on the health effects of radiation, Department of Immunology at The Scripps Research Institute and City Council member from Del Mar, California