In June of 2013, utility giant Southern California Edison announced it was retiring its San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station after nearly 50 years of service. The atomic power plant, located on the border of San Diego and Orange counties, had experienced a series of technical problems that had led to the release of a small amount of radiation. San Onofre’s problems sparked fears among residents in nearby communities, like San Clemente, San Juan Capistrano and Oceanside, who questioned whether the plant could ever be operated safely.
Edison is now turning its attention to a $4.4 billion, 20-year-long effort to decommission San Onofre. The plant will be demolished, the rubble cleared, and the property handed over to the Department of Defense. But the closure of San Onofre and its appointment with the wrecking ball hasn’t ended debate over the facility.
Because the federal government has failed to establish a central location to permanently store the country’s thousands of tons of commercial nuclear waste, San Onofre’s highly radioactive nuclear fuel will remain on-site. stored in a kind of atomic tomb that’s now under construction.
Edison says its nuclear storage facility will be safe and secure, but critics disagree.