City leads charge to move San Onofre spent fuel off-site

City leads charge to move San Onofre spent fuel off-site
Oceanside Councilman Jerry Kern said he will urge North County cities to support H.R. 3643. The bill allows nuclear waste to be moved to interim off-site storage facilities. Photo by Promise Yee

OCEANSIDE — City Council unanimously adopted a resolution to support House of Representatives Bill (H.R.) 3643 on Jan. 6, which allows San Onofre nuclear waste be temporarily stored off-site.

The bill, cosponsored by local Congressman Darrell Issa, California 49th District, permits waste from stranded fuel sites to be stored at interim consolidation facilities until permanent disposal sites are developed.

Councilman Jerry Kern, who is on Southern California Edison’s San Onofre Citizens Engagement Panel, introduced the resolution at the Oceanside City Council meeting last Wednesday.

Kern said there is an urgency to move spent fuel off the San Onofre site, which is geographically unstable and within a highly populated area.

“I think everybody understands we have to do something with this nuclear fuel,” Kern said.

Kern said if the opportunity is missed, the nuclear waste at San Onofre may stay put for 100 years.

“The problem is if we do not solve this now, if we do not get something done, we’re going to lose the opportunity of a generation,” Kern said.

Much of San Onofre’s nuclear waste is currently in cooling pools. If the bill passes waste could be moved off-site within a few years, when it is cool enough for transport.

A proposed interim storage site northeast of El Paso, Texas, has been identified as a potential home for San Onofre’s spent fuel.

“(It’s a) very desolate area, not a very large population, geologically stable,” Kern said. “We can’t say that for San Onofre.”

Opponents of the bill say plans for permanent storage are already in place. It’s simply a matter of the administration moving forward with implementation.

“The Nuclear Waste Policy Act names Yucca Mountain as the sole geologic repository for the nation’s high-level nuclear waste,” Jordan Haverly, press secretary for Congressman John Shimkus, Illinois 15th District, and chairman of the Environment and Economy Subcommittee, said.

“The law has not changed,” Haverly added. “Yucca Mountain continues to receive overwhelming bipartisan support in Congress. Attempts to eliminate funding for the project have been easily and consistently defeated in the House appropriations process.”

Kern said H.R. 3643 provides breathing room to get nuclear waste off-site until a final solution is implemented.

Kern added he plans to speak to Encinitas, Carlsbad and Vista city councils in upcoming weeks to urge them to pledge their support for the bill.

“The goal is to create awareness about the bill,” Kern said.

H.R. 3643 allows nuclear waste to be moved from San Onofre, Diablo Canyon Power Plant and Rancho Seco Nuclear plant in California, as well as other sites nationwide.


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