The California Public Utilities Commission has a great opportunity in its oversight of Diablo Canyon’s closure. PG&E must store 2,000 tons of highly radioactive nuclear waste on a fault-ridden coastline. Currently, the waste in the dry cask storage is sealed in half-inch thick stainless steel canisters inside concrete overpacking affixed to huge concrete slabs, easily visible from the air and sea.
The CPUC can give PG&E its marching orders: Pack the waste in the type of robust containers used in Europe and Japan, and create a model for hardened on-site storage, better known as HOSS. In HOSS, dry casks are bermed and shielded from visual detection. They are distributed over a large area so they are not as vulnerable to terrorism.
At Fukushima, the only part of the nuclear plants not destroyed were the dry canisters made of 9-inch-thick steel. The CPUC can order PG&E to find a vendor to supply similar canisters, and order PG&E to build the country’s first HOSS site for waste storage. If PG&E complies with those orders, it can recoup costs from ratepayers. If not, it must bear the cost alone.
There is no solution to the highly radioactive spent fuel problem — nowhere for it to go — so it’s much more logical to plan for its relatively safe storage on site.
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Linda Seeley, Los Osos