Rep. Mike Levin (D-Calif.) said Tuesday he plans to introduce legislation that would expedite removal of spent reactor fuel from the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS).
“Today, I was pleased to announce new legislation to ensure that the spent nuclear fuel here in Southern California receives top priority from the federal government for disposal,” Levin tweeted after touring the retired nuclear power plant with Rep. Harley Rouda (D-Calif.).
During a press conference at the San Diego County site, Levin said he would introduce the bill upon returning to Washington, D.C., following Congress’ two-week spring recess.
The legislation would prioritize removal of spent fuel from nuclear power plants that are undergoing decommissioning and are in high-population regions with significant seismic activity, according to KPBS News.
All of those factors apply to SONGS, which majority owner Southern California Edison permanently retired in 2013.
Contractor Holtec International has been relocating radioactive spent fuel from the two reactors from wet storage into an expanded dry storage pad alongside the Pacific Ocean. However, the process has been suspended since an August 2018 mishap left a spent-fuel canister at risk of being dropped 18 feet into a storage slot. Southern California Edison and Holtec are awaiting authorization from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to resume the spent-fuel transfer.
The Department of Energy is legally responsible for building a repository for the nation’s commercial spent nuclear fuel. It has not yet received an NRC license for its chosen location at Yucca Mountain, Nev. Two corporate teams are also seeking NRC licenses for interim storage facilities in Texas and New Mexico.
Rouda said the House Oversight and Reform environment subcommittee would this summer conduct a field hearing on nuclear waste. “All Southern Californians live in the shadow of San Onofre, and continuing to store spent fuel on site is unworkable, and unsafe. It’s time for a federal safe storage plan,” he tweeted Tuesday.