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Southern California Edison announced Friday it would shut down the troubled San Onofre nuclear power plant.
The move comes 17 months after the San Onofre plant was closed because of problems in steam generator systems. The plant powered about 1.4 million households in Southern California before the outage.
Until now, Edison had vowed to restart the plant. But the company released a statement Friday saying it would stop the process to fire up the plant.
Southern California Edison built San Onofre's two nuclear reactors in about nine years, but tearing them down will be a technically complex, multibillion-dollar job completed over decades.
It is likely that Edison first will mothball the plant, which under federal rules could keep its imposing imprint on the Orange-San Diego County coastline for another half-century.
When the plant does come down, it will be a massive job.
An estimated 3 million pounds of spent fuel at San Onofre is so radioactive that no repository exists that can handle it, meaning it will have to remain in concrete casks on the coast for decades, if not indefinitely.
Tons of highly radioactive fuel now stored in pools will have to cool before the rods can be moved to concrete pads outdoors. Giant pipes that extend more than a mile into the ocean will have to come out. Pieces of the reactors will have to be cut with special saws and torches that reach 20 feet into the vessels' cooling water.
"It is a difficult job but not impossible," said Kevin Crowley, director of the nuclear and radiation studies board at the National Research Council. "The difficulty is separating the contaminated parts."
LOS ANGELES (June 7, 2013) – Southern California Edison today announced plans to close the 40-year-old San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) which has been offline since January 2012 because of safety issues.
Following is a statement from NRDC Legal Director for Western Energy and Climate Projects, Kristin Eberhard:
“SoCal Edison realizes we have better energy options than nuclear and it's futile to pump money into an outdated technology.