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Spent nuclear fuel the topic of two-day Diablo Canyon workshop

Greta Mart/KCBX
Dirk Becher [at left podium] of the cask vendor GNS explained his company's product to the panel.

A group of people spent the day Friday in San Luis Obispo thinking and talking about some serious issues involved with the planned decommissioning of the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant.

“One of the things we have to think about is unless this spent nuclear fuel—which is some of the most deadly stuff humans have ever invented—stays [at Diablo Canyon] forever, it's going to have to be transported some time,” said Alex Karlin. “And I'd rather it be done sooner than later.”

Karlin is one of 11 members of the Diablo Canyon Decommissioning Engagement Panel. Made up of local volunteers, the panel is hosting a two-day public workshop on spent fuel storage. How to store nuclear waste at Diablo Canyon, and what will eventually happen to that waste long after the facility closes, currently scheduled for 2024 and 2025.

On Friday, staff from Diablo Canyon-owner Pacific Gas & Electric presented an overview of how they plan to handle the spent fuel. Manufacturers of the containers used for long-term storage, called casks, were on hand to outline their products. Also presenting were representatives from the California Energy Commission and Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The entire two-day workshop was recorded and available for download via SLO-SPAN.

On Saturday’s agenda are presentations by experts on the shuttered San Onofre nuclear power plant and past members of the San Luis Obispo Waste Management Committee. Central Coast Congressman Salud Carbajal is also slated to speak at the public workshop.

“I'm going to provide a brief overview of some of the issues developing around the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, their role as it relates to Diablo Canyon, [and] some of the legislation that is being considered to relocate the spent fuel,” Carbajal said.

Saturday’s workshop runs from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Madonna Plaza.

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