Three months ago, civic and environmental activists won a huge victory in shutting down the San Onofre nuclear plant near San Clemente, California. It may seem that all is now quiet in San Onofre land, but that is not the case. Yes, we are safer since the plant has been retired – but we are not safe.
The Coalition to Decommission San Onofre (CDSO) has been startled by the enormous challenge of managing radioactive nuclear waste at the plant. The issues include: unusually potent forms of fuel, dense storage of spent fuel far beyond design limits, large uncertainties about where the waste will ultimately be stored and for how long, and last but not least, the economics of decommissioning. These issues were below the radar during the shutdown debate, but they now loom large.
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