How a nuclear stalemate left radioactive waste stranded on a California beach. When I got to the San Onofre State Beach about 60 miles north of San Diego, the red sun of fire season was sandwiched on the horizon between a layer of fog and the sea. Surfers floated in a line off the shore. It looked like any other California beach — except for the row of signs that warned “Nuclear Power Plant Exclusion Area,” and the twin reactor domes rising above the bluffs. I was there to see the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, a shuttered nuclear power plant right next to the Pacific Ocean. It once supplied electricity to Southern California, but was permanently shut down in 2013. It’s now scheduled to be dismantled, but even when that happens, more than 1,700 tons of spent nuclear fuel will remain — interred in enormous concrete casks behind a seawall. There’s nowhere else to put it. It’s a question that nuclear power plants around the country are reckoning with as low natural gas prices, costly repairs, and political pressure have driven a half dozen reactors to retire early since 2013, according to the Department of Energy. More are slated to shut down in the next ten years — including Diablo Canyon, California’s last nuclear power plant, Rob Nikolewski reports for The San Diego Union-Tribune. That leaves communities that are no longer benefiting from nuclear power saddled with its waste — cooling off in gigantic pools of water made out of reinforced concrete or steel and concrete containers called dry storage.
The Verge 28th Aug 2018 read more »