Morning Briefing - March 13, 2018
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March 13, 2018

SONGS Waits on State Approval for Decommissioning

By ExchangeMonitor

The licensee of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) in California is still waiting for state approval to begin full decontamination and decommissioning of the plant following its permanent closure in 2013.

In a March 8 inspection report for SONGS, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission noted that decommissioning general contractor SONGS Decommissioning Solutions (SDS) was mobilizing personnel and planning decommissioning operations. “At the time of the inspection, the SDS was planning and scheduling limited activities, until such time as the licensee receives approval for decommissioning and dismantlement from the California State Coastal Commission,” according to the NRC report, which was posted Monday on the agency’s website.

In any event, decommissioning operations are not scheduled to begin until all used fuel from SONGS reactor Units 2 and 3 has been moved from wet storage to dry storage on-site. The latest update from SONGS primary owner and licensee Southern California Edison shows 111 fuel assemblies in three canisters had been transferred as of Feb. 20, leaving 1,557 assemblies yet to go. The fuel transfer began in January and is expected to be completed by the middle of 2019.

There was no immediate word Monday on when the Coastal Commission might authorize decontamination and decommissioning at SONGS.

The San Diego County plant never reopened after faulty steam generators forced it to halt power production in 2012. It is now in SAFSTOR mode, and Southern California Edison in December 2016 designated SONGS Decommissioning Solutions as its decommissioning general contractor.

The contractor, a partnership of AECOM and EnergySolutions, is being paid about $1 billion. Full decontamination and decommissioning is expected to last 10 years. Including spent fuel management and site restoration, the project is expected to cost $4.4 billion.

SONGS Decommissioning Solutions has already taken up 21 programs at SONGS, including maintenance and surveillance of the two reactors, the NRC said. The contractor is allowed to conduct certain limited operations while the reactors are in SAFSTOR mode, including hazard mitigation, ventilation maintenance, and radiation monitoring.

NRC staff conducted the on-site inspection from Feb. 5-8, and found no violations.