North Wind to prepare San Onofre used fuel transfer strategy

14 June 2019

Consultancy company North Wind Inc is to develop a strategic plan that will assess the feasibility of relocating used nuclear fuel at the San Onofre nuclear plant to a "commercially reasonable, off-site facility" under a contract awarded by Southern California Edison.

San Onofre (Image: SCE)

The contract has an expected timeframe of 20 months, during which North Wind will work with SCE and its Experts Team which will support development of the strategic plan, SCE said. The Experts Team is chaired by Tom Isaacs, who is a former Department of Energy Office of Policy director, and includes former Nuclear Regulatory Commission chairman Allison Macfarlane. North Wind will also engage with a broad range of stakeholders to learn their preferences and attitudes about used nuclear fuel and its eventual disposition, the company said. North Wind has assembled a team of experts possessing many decades of experience with used nuclear fuel, and former US Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz will "lend his considerable expertise to developing the strategic plan," it added.

Units 2 and 3 at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station - also known as SONGS - were permanently retired in June 2013 due to regulatory delay and uncertainty after problems were found in replacement steam generators. The plant is now being decommissioned.

"SCE looks forward to the development of a strategic plan that brings us closer to long-term solutions for moving spent nuclear fuel off-site," Kevin Walker, SCE senior vice president for Customer and Operational Services said.

SCE said it launched the effort after a 2017 settlement agreement related to the permitting of the on-site expanded used fuel storage installation. "SCE is optimistic that the strategic plan will set forth practical steps that SCE can and will take to support efforts to relocate San Onofre used fuel to an off-site, licensed facility," it said.

The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission in May approved the restart of work to transfer used fuel from wet to dry storage at the plant after a 10-month hiatus following an August 2018 incident during the lowering of a used fuel canister into a storage vault.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News