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Wednesday
Jun122013

NEIS: "SoCal Edison Pulls the Plug on Two Nuke Reactors -- Could Have Serious Implications for Illinois"

PRESS RELEASE

For immediate release                                                   Contact:  Dave Kraft, 773-342-7650neis@neis.org

June 7, 2013                                                                            630-506-2864 cell

SoCal Edison Pulls the Plug on Two Nuke Reactors – Could Have Serious Implications for Illinois

CHICAGO—The old crumbling nukes continue their non-radioactive decay, it seems, as Southern California Edison (SCE) today announced its decision to permanently close the damaged San Onofre twin nuclear reactors (SONGs).

The two reactors had been idled for over a year after serious steam tube generator leaks forced a shutdown of the facility.  SCE had wanted to restart the reactors at 70% power, hoping it could operate while finishing repairs.  The NRC denied approval of this plan.

“It seems to be a clear case of utility "overreach," in the sense that SCE gambled on NRC allowing them to continue flying with cracked wings --  like NRC IS doing at Palisades, in Michigan -- and lost,” says David Kraft, director of the Illinois nuclear watchdog organization Nuclear Energy Information Service (NEIS). “I guess this problem was just too egregious for even the NRC's usually accommodating tastes.”

Earlier this week two former NRC Commissioners and the former Prime Minister of Japan participated in a press event in San Diego, where they publicly stated what a hazard SONGs (and other reactors) have become.  This certainly didn't help SONGs’ PR case.

This closure could, unfortunately have serious negative consequences for Illinois moving forward.

Congress is currently drafting legislation that could call for the “temporary” warehousing of the high-level radioactive waste (HLRW) in the form of spent reactor fuel from closed reactors like SONGs, Kewaunee (WI), Crystal River (FL) and Zion (IL) – all closed nuclear reactors.

“If Sen. Wyden's Energy Committee drafts their legislation to include language calling for "centralized interim storage" (CIS) facilities being built, the reactors that get closed are the first priority to move waste; and, Illinois is a prime candidate to host such a facility,” Kraft points out. 

A 2012 study by Oak Ridge National Laboratory1 states:

“…the consolidated ISFSI [spent fuel storage] site in Illinois is the single optimized site for an ISFSI solution when only [spent nuclear fuel] at orphaned reactors is considered relative to siting a consolidated ISFSI.”

“The CIS sites would allegedly be "temporary," but we've been covering the HLRW issue for 31 years now.  The Federal Government's notion of ‘temporary’ is laughable. Illinois could become the nation’s de facto permanent HLRW dump for decades,” Kraft says.

NEIS has been trying for weeks to get face to face meetings with Senators Durbin, Kirk and Governor Quinn to discuss this impending catastrophe, but without success. An Illinois CIS facility could get well over 6,200 additional tons of HLRW, above and beyond the 8,600 tons it already stores at Illinois reactors run by Exelon, according to the Oak Ridge report.

“Since 2002 NEIS and hundreds of other environmental and safe energy organizations have suggested a method called “hardened onsite storage” (HOSS) as a means of storing HLRW relatively safely at reactor sites until the federal government constructs a permanent disposal facility.  We have been ignored.  It’s time that Illinois’ politicians start paying attention, before the trucks start rolling in,” Kraft warns.

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1 The Oak Ridge NL report, titled "Application of Spatial Data Modeling Systems, Geographical Information Systems (GIS), and Transportation Routing Optimization Methods for Evaluating Integrated Deployment of Interim Spent Fuel Storage Installations and Advanced Nuclear Plants" (http://info.ornl.gov/sites/publications/files/Pub37008.pdf)