Slowly but surely, the iconic San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station is coming down.
Southern California Edison began dismantling the power plant in 2020. The old plant has not generated power since 2013. Taking it down will take hundreds of workers almost a decade.
“How do you deal with all the demolition materials? Where do you put them? How much material can you store?” said James Peattie, SCE’s Decommissioning Oversite General Manager, when asked what they had to consider.
“Everything that you see on the site is going to be torn down and removed,” said Amanda Wood, the plant’s waste manager. “It’s a little bit difficult given that we’re in the State of California. You have to take into consideration a lot of the regulations that we may not have in other cities or other states.”
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Woods said SCE is building its own rail yard on the power plant site to make it easier to remove more than a billion pounds of concrete, steel, and other materials that made up the power plant complex.
“Logistically, I can say it’s a pretty difficult task,” said Peattie.
That included the radioactive spent fuel canisters. Peattie said the old nuclear fuel is welded inside a stainless-steel canister. That canister is welded inside another stainless-steel structure, and both are encased inside ten feet of concrete.
However, Peattie said the Federal Government has yet to develop a site for radioactive material like San Onofre’s spent fuel canisters.
“That hasn’t come to fruition,” he said. “So, That’s disappointing.”
Peattie added nearby residents shouldn’t worry. The radioactive material is secure and safe where it’s stored on-site, according to Peattie. He said SCE and the workers have taken many steps to make sure it’s safe.
“We’re members of the community, just like they are,” he concluded.
Southern California Edison said it expects the entire site to be dismantled by 2030 and restored to a natural setting by 2040.