Since the inception of nuclear power/energy our relationship with it has been complicated and the decisions of one generation have created dilemmas for future generations to solve. One of the dilemmas that our generation and particularly those of us who live in Southern California must grapple with is what is to be done with the spent fuel, the leftover nuclear material, the waste at San Onofre Nuclear Generation Station?
At present, Edison (the company which owns San Onofre) is moving spent fuel rods from cooling ponds into dry storage containers, which though meeting federal & state standards has many worried about potential leaks, damage from earthquakes or tsunamis (http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/watchdog/sd-me-sanonofre-waste-20170202-story.html).
These concerns along with some basic facts: 1) 8.4 million people live within 50 miles of San Onofre (that includes most of Valley Center – as we are roughly 49 miles from San Onofre), 2) San Onofre houses 3.6 million pounds of nuclear waste, 3) due to being located on a bluff by the ocean, the storage canisters are exposed to the ocean’s saltwater and salt air 4) infrastructure such as the railroad, I-5 and other freeways are in the vicinity; highlight the gravity of the situation (source for this data is the same article as noted above).
The original plan, decided on by generations past, was that companies would build & run nuclear power plants, thus harnessing all the promises nuclear could provide, and the federal government would accept and dispose of the spent nuclear fuel as well as all nuclear waste. As with many well made plans, a major wrinkle developed over the years – namely that when a geologically suitable storage site was found, the residents of that neck of the woods rose up and boycotted having the nuclear fuel & waste in their community. Thus, to this very day the federal government has no permanent storage facility for the over 145 million pounds of nuclear waste that the U.S. has (http://www.ocregister.com/articles/nuclear-742102-waste-storage.html).
Now enter in H.R. 474 the “Interim Consolidated Storage Act” (https://www.congress.gov/115/bills/hr474/BILLS-115hr474ih.pdf). Rep. Darrell Issa puts forth that having the nuclear fuel & waste stay at San Onofre is too dangerous for the region and with the federal government being unable to create a permanent storage facility; the law of the land should allow private companies to store the nuclear fuel & waste until the federal government can create a storage solution.
At present there are three companies in the U.S. that have the permitting & know how to create such an interim storage facility and one of those companies, Waste Control Specialists, lies in Rep. Mike Conaway’s (TX) district. Rep. Conaway also happens to be the lead co-sponsor of Rep. Issa’s bill. Additional co-sponsors relevant to us are our very own Rep. Hunter as well as San Diego’s Rep. Scott Peters. Yet another interesting political connection is that the US Secretary of Energy Rick Perry has rather long and deep ties to Waste Control Specialists (http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2017/01/department-energy-rick-perry-nuclear-waste).
So that is the basic complexity of this issue…. Here are some articles that fall out into neutral, pro and con – I encourage you to read as many as you can to help you make your decision (the pros and cons are worth reading regardless of your decision as each brings up differing facets that I think are quite fascinating).
http://www.mrt.com/news/local/article/Public-Citizen-Andrews-nuke-waste-site-an-open-10921834.php (this is from the local paper where Waste Control Specialists is, which is the company that would build & mange the interim storage sites and where you will meet Tom “Smitty” Smith)