Senator Alex PadillaSACRAMENTO, Calif. /California Newswire/ — Calif. Senator Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima) today at a hearing of the Senate Energy, Utilities, and Communications Committee regarding the decommissioning of San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) called for formal community involvement “to determine the future plans for the site” and expressed concern to utilities and regulators regarding additional costs to ratepayers for retiring the plant. This was the second in a series of hearings on the permanent closure of SONGS held by Senator Padilla, who chairs the committee.

Attendees included representatives from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Southern California Edison and the California Public Utilities Commission.

“Today’s public hearing took a hard look at how the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, California Public Utilities Commission and Southern California Edison plan to address decommissioning of San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station. We need to ensure that there is an open and transparent process and that ratepayers are not stuck with additional costs to decommission the plant,” said Senator Alex Padilla.

“Residents of Southern California should have input regarding the future use of the plant site,” said Senator Alex Padilla. “Federal and state energy regulators and utility companies need to be held publicly accountable to ensure that the decommissioning of San Onfore is done transparently, and as safely and as efficiently as possible,” added Padilla.

“This is not the first nuclear power plant to be decommissioned in California,” said Senator Alex Padilla. “Decommissioning a nuclear power plant is not as simple as flipping the off switch and walking away. It is a meticulous process that includes removal of contaminated equipment, dismantling the reactors, and securing nuclear waste,” said Senator Padilla.

“Residents of Southern California have a right to know how the decommissioning process is going to be done and that it is done safely,” added Padilla.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) licenses nuclear power plants and oversees nuclear safety and decontamination during the decommissioning process, including long-term storage of nuclear waste on-site. According to Southern California Edison, the cost to decommission San Onofre Units 2 and 3 is estimated to be $4.1 billion, and $3.6 billion has been collected to date from ratepayers of the three utility owners. The California Public Utilities Commission provides oversight for the decommissioning funds held in trust accounts.

With the closure of San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, California needs to replace more than 2,000 megawatts of energy that serves San Diego County and south Orange County and meet the state’s greenhouse gas reduction goals including commitments to renewable energy.

The San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) which consisted of three nuclear reactors began operating in 1968. In 1992, the Unit 1 reactor was decommissioned while Unit 2 and Unit 3 reactors continued to provide greenhouse-gas-free power to 1.4 million homes in Southern California. During a planned refueling outage in January 2012, inspections of the Unit 2 reactor found unexpected deterioration of steam generator tubes. Soon after, steam generator tubes in the Unit 3 reactor failed, venting a small amount of radioactive steam. Since these discoveries, both reactors have been offline. On June 7th, Southern California Edison announced the closure of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS).

For background on today’s hearing please click on link:

Senator Alex Padilla, 40, graduated from MIT with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. He currently serves on the Board of MIT and is President of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials. He is Chair of the Senate Energy, Utilities and Communications Committee and represents the more than 1,100,000 residents of the 20th State Senate District in Los Angeles.