Legal challenge to San Onofre nuclear fuel storage expansion settled

Published on September 01, 2017 by Chris Galford

The two sides in a lawsuit over a permit given to the San Onofre nuclear plant for temporary storage of used nuclear fuel have settled their case.

The suit was between Southern California Edison, majority owner of San Onofre, and plaintiffs, Citizens Oversight, Inc. and Patricia Borchmann. The California Coastal Commission, which authorized a 2015 permit authorizing expansion of on-site storage of used nuclear fuel, served as defendant. San Diego Superior Court judge Judith Hayes oversaw an acknowledgement between the parties which noted a shared interest in relocating San Onofre’s used nuclear fuel off-site.

“A cooperative effort between the public, independent experts and Southern California Edison has begun and will continue until the nuclear waste is removed from San Diego,” Michael Aguirre, an attorney representing the plaintiffs, said.

At present, the San Onofre site has one-third of its used fuel in dry cask storage and the rest in steel-lined concrete pools. The 2015 permit had granted SCE the right to expand on-site storage, but the settlement now details steps SCE must take in support of efforts to shift storage off-site.

“SCE is proud to take a leadership role in what we expect will become an industry-wide effort over many years to work with the federal government and other key stakeholders to achieve off-site storage,” Ron Nichols, president of SCE, said. “We will be vigilant in our efforts to prompt the federal government to act, and until we can secure off-site storage, will continue our 30-year track record of safely storing used fuel at San Onofre.”

SCE plans to move the fuel from pools into dry storage until such time as an off-site storage facility becomes available. They hope to achieve this by 2019. Following the settlement, the plaintiffs have moved for dismissal of the lawsuit.