San Onofre dismantlement starts next month

24 January 2020

Dismantlement of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station is to begin in February, Southern California Edison (SCE) has announced. This follows the receipt in October of the final permit required for the decommissioning and dismantlement of the plant which closed in 2013.

San Onofre (Image: SCE)

SCE is required by the California State Lands Commission to provide 30 days' notice to residents before the start of deconstruction. It duly mailed its Notice of Deconstruction to residents within a five-mile radius of the plant on 22 January. The notification provides key timeframes for initial dismantlement activity and resources to learn more about overall decommissioning of the site.

"We're going to be a good neighbour throughout the decommissioning process, and that means providing timely, usable information to the community and to the people who use the recreational resources next door to us," Doug Bauder, SCE vice president and chief nuclear officer for San Onofre, said. The company will provide quarterly updates "so folks are aware of the work that is happening on site", he added.

The dismantlement process will take eight years and involves the removal of buildings, containment domes and other above-grade structures associated with the two units in compliance with US Nuclear Regulatory Commission requirements, as well as the partial removal of the offshore conduits that brought and discharged ocean cooling water to the plant, and the removal of offshore buoys and anchors, SCE said. Initial work will focus on preparatory activities and site characterisation. This will take place within the plant's boundaries and is expected to have minimal impact on the surrounding recreational areas.

Units 2 and 3 at the plant - also known as SONGS - were permanently retired in June 2013 owing to regulatory delay and uncertainty after problems were found in replacement steam generators. The two-unit pressurised water reactor plant is located on the Pacific coast of California, in the northwestern corner of San Diego County. Unit 1 at the site was shut down in November 1992.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News