Westinghouse Electric Company, successor to the company that brought the first nuclear reactor online at San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station in 1968, announced on Monday, January 5, that it will now seek the contract for the decommissioning of the two remaining reactors.
Following more than a year in a state-of-emergency shutdown after defective steam generators caused a small leak of radioactive materials in early 2012, plant operator Southern California Edison announced plans to permanently shutter the plant in June 2013.
While Westinghouse supplied San Onofre's first reactor that ran from 1968 to 1992 as well as many others around the country, a different company built the Unit 2 and 3 reactors that were generating power at the time of the accident.
According to a Pittsburgh Business Times report, Westinghouse plans to partner with construction giant Bechtel in what looks to be a lucrative new market: the demolition of former nuclear sites.
San Onofre is an example in what federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission spokesman Dave McIntyre has called a mini-spate of nuclear plant retirements, with four plants announcing closures in 2013. The most recent, Vermont Yankee (in Vernon,Vermont), ceased operation on December 29. Inside Climate News says as many as 14 plants could be headed for retirement in the coming years.
Edison expects to issue a request for proposals to decommission the plant in the coming months, with a contract to be awarded by the end of the year. While there's no time table for the dismantling of the reactors, the job will likely be complete long before any of the nuclear waste that's been accumulating along the coast for the past 46 years is ready to be hauled off.
(editorial error corrected 1/7, 12:30 p.m.)