Contract for San Onofre decommissioning

21 December 2016

SONGS Decommissioning Solutions - a joint venture between Aecom and EnergySolutions - has been selected as the decommissioning general contractor by Southern California Edison (SCE) for the San Onofre nuclear power plant. Units 2 and 3 at the plant were shut down in June 2013.

SONGS aerial - 460 (SCE)
The San Onofre plant (Image: SCE)

Following a ten-month competitive bid process, SCE president Ron Nichols yesterday announced the selection of the Aecom/EnergySolutions team as the prime contractor to "safety and efficiently" dismantle the plant.

Under the contract, SONGS Decommissioning Solutions will be responsible for dismantlement and decontamination work, restoration of the site and reduction of the residual radioactivity to levels that allow for future site use. SCE, majority owner of the plant, described this as "one of the country's largest commercial nuclear power plant decommissioning projects".

The major dismantlement work at San Onofre is not expected to begin before 2018 and will take about ten years to complete, SCE said.

Nichols noted, "SCE will maintain strict oversight of the contractor and will continue to engage with the community and all stakeholders during decommissioning."

The cost of decommissioning the plant is estimated at $4.4 billion, which will be financed through existing trust funds, SCE said. The total cost includes the dismantlement work to be carried out by SONGS Decommissioning Solutions, restoration activities and continued on-site used fuel storage until the federal government provides a required final disposal repository.

Aecom chairman and CEO Michael Burke said, "We are proud to be selected for one of the largest and most technically complex projects in the country, leveraging capabilities across all of our segments to ensure the safe decommissioning of the San Onofre plant."

Ken Robuck, EnergySolutions' president of disposal and nuclear decommissioning, noted that the company is currently decommissioning the Zion plant in Illinois and the La Crosse plant in Wisconsin. "We are uniquely qualified for decommissioning projects with state-of-the-art facilities to process and dispose of waste that will be generated throughout the course of this project," he said.

Replacement steam generators installed at San Onofre units 2 and 3 in 2009-2010 were intended to enable them to continue operating until 2022. However, these were found to be suffering from excessive wear after less than one year in service. Both pressurized water reactors were taken offline in early 2012. After eight months of regulatory reviews failed to reach a conclusion on whether or when either unit might be allowed to restart, SCE parent company Edison International announced its decision to close the two 30-year-old pressurized water reactors in June 2013. Unit 1 at the site was shut down in November 1992.

San Onofre is owned 78% by SCE, 20% by SDG&E and 2% by the city of Riverside.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News