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Diablo Canyon nuclear plant to invest in dry cask storage system

Posted at 11:00 PM, May 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-27 02:30:04-04

Diablo Canyon, California’s largest and last nuclear power plant, will discontinue its power operations beginning in 2024.

The Diablo Canyon Decommissioning Engagement Panel held a public meeting on Wednesday to discuss how the spent nuclear fuel could be managed and provide updates on where PG&E is in the decommissioning process.

“When the plant shuts down, PG&E is going to move all of the spent fuel out to this pad that’s there,” said decommissioning engagement panel member Linda Seely.

The first issue was the safety of spent fuel, which is fuel that is hot, radioactive and no longer useful after five years. Diablo Canyon currently stores spent fuel in a pool on the plant site to cool the fuel and protect workers, but PG&E has requested a new $350 million dry cask storage system to store the fuel after decommissioning.

“We will be looking [to do] the real time monitoring and that’s how I would capture the capability of monitoring both old or current system if and when we implement a new system,” said PG&E Decommissioning Environmental and licensing manager Philippe Soenen.

For now, they don’t know how long the dry cask storage system will be stored on site, but their hope is that the radiological remediation project will accelerate the cooling time of spent nuclear fuel.

“All of the NRC dry storage facilities offer superior protection and long term storage capability than any of the cooling pool systems,” said California Energy Commission Senior Nuclear Policy Advisor Justin Cochran.

At this point, PG&E has to go through multiple steps to move forward. The process takes years, so PG&E will submit all application requirements by June to plan for shutting down the power plant’s unit one in 2024 and unit two in 2025.

“It is our expectation that PG&E will continue to incorporate feedback from the local community and stakeholders into their decommissioning plan,” said Cochran.

PG&E spokesperson Carina Corral says the company is still in the early stages of planning and no official decisions have been made yet about the decommissioning process.

The next public meeting will be held on August 25, focusing on the potential re-purposing of the Diablo facilities and lands after decommissioning.