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PG&E looking to expand nuclear waste storage capacity at Diablo Canyon

Posted at 11:36 PM, Apr 20, 2022

PG&E is looking to expand storage capacity for nuclear waste as part of the decommissioning plans for Diablo Canyon.

Nuclear waste will continue to be stored at Diablo Canyon long after the plant goes offline. Now, we're getting a first look at designs for a new storage facility.

"What we know is that we needed additional capacity in order to fulfill the decommissioning process," said Dena Bellman, a member of the Decommissioning Panel.

A plan to expand that capacity is now in the works.

PG&E has selected a contractor to build additional storage for spent nuclear fuel.

"PG&E selected Orano USA as our vendor that can help us fulfill our obligation to safely and prudently remove our spent fuel as safely as practicably possible," said PG&E Spokesperson Suzanne Hosn.

Spent fuel rods enclosed in stainless steel will be loaded into a new concrete structure under the proposal.

Diablo Canyon already has 58 casks for nuclear waste. They are vertical and not enclosed in concrete.

"At our current understanding, it will be here as long as we can see into the future," said Bellman.

Nuclear waste will continue to be stored on the Central Coast for the foreseeable future.

"Until such time as there is a licensed repository somewhere else, we are prepared to maintain the spent fuel," said Hosn.

PG&E says the decommissioning of Diablo Canyon is on track for 2025.

Recently, the Biden Administration announced $6 billion in aid to keep struggling nuclear plants online, but that won't affect plans at Diablo.

"First and foremost, Diablo Canyon is not closing because of financial reasons like other plants in the United States are. We are closing because of California energy policies," said Maureen Zawalick, a decommissioning panel member.

The Decommissioning Panel wants to make sure that these new casks can withstand everything from earthquakes to jet crashes to terror attacks.

The panel's recommendation is to inspect the storage canisters every five years.