BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    Ó

                                                                     AJR 29

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          Date of Hearing:  March 29, 2016


                                  Luis Alejo, Chair

          AJR 29  
          (Chávez) - As Introduced January 28, 2016

          SUBJECT:  Interim Consolidated Storage Act of 2015:  San Onofre  
          Nuclear Generating Station

          SUMMARY:  Urges the passage of the Interim Consolidated Storage  
          Act of 2015 (House Resolution (H.R.) 3643), and urges the United  
          States Department of Energy (US DOE) to implement the prompt and  
          safe relocation of spent nuclear fuel from the San Onofre  
          Nuclear Generating Station to a licensed and regulated interim  
          consolidated storage facility.  Specifically, this resolution:    

             1)   Urges the passage of H.R. 3643 and supports the  
               development and passage of complementary legislation. 

             2)   Urges the US DOE to implement the prompt and safe  
               relocation of spent nuclear fuel from the San Onofre  
               Nuclear Generating Station to a licensed and regulated  
               interim consolidated storage facility. 

          EXISTING LAW: 


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          UNDER FEDERAL LAW: Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982 (NWPA) (42  
          U.S.C. § 10101, et seq.):

             1)   Supports the use of deep geologic repositories for the  
               safe storage and/or disposal of radioactive waste.  
               Establishes procedures to evaluate and select sites for  
               geologic repositories and for the interaction of state and  
               federal governments. 

             2)   Directs the US DOE to consider Yucca Mountain as the  
               primary site for the first geologic repository. 

             3)   Prohibits the US DOE from conducting site specific  
               activities at a second site unless authorized by Congress. 

             4)   Establishes a commission to study the need and  
               feasibility of a monitored retrievable storage facility. 
          UNDER STATE LAW:

             1)   Prohibits any nuclear fission thermal powerplant  
               requiring the reprocessing of fuel rods from being  
               permitted unless the federal government has identified and  
               approved, and there exists a technology for the  
               construction and operation of, nuclear fuel rod  
               reprocessing plants. (Public Resources Code (PRC) § 25524.1  
               - 25524.3)

             2)   States, pursuant to the California Nuclear Facility  
               Decommissioning Act of 1985, that the citizens of  


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               California should be protected from exposure to radiation  
               from nuclear facilities. (Public Utilities Code § 8321, et  

             3)   Requires the California Energy Commission (CEC) to  
               assess existing scientific studies to determine the  
               vulnerability of very large generation facilities (1700  
               megawatts) to major disruptions due to aging or major  
               earthquake and the resulting impacts on reliability, public  
               safety, and the economy. Requires the CEC, in the absence  
               of a long-term nuclear waste storage facility, assess the  
               potential state and local costs and impacts associated with  
               accumulating waste at California's nuclear powerplants.  
               (PRC § 25303)

          FISCAL EFFECT:  Unknown. 


          Need for the resolution: According to the author, "We need to  
          ensure Californians are safe from potential nuclear disasters,  
          so we need to urge Congress to handle the San Onofre nuclear  
          waste quickly and securely before a natural disaster occurs that  
          could jeopardize the safety of our families."

          Federal Nuclear Waste Policy: Under the provisions of the NWPA,  
          the federal government has the responsibility for managing spent  
          nuclear fuel produced by commercial reactors, and generators are  
          responsible for bearing the costs of permanent disposal. The  
          NWPA authorizes and requires the US DOE to locate and build a  
          permanent repository and an interim storage facility and to  
          develop a system to safely transport spent fuel from nuclear  
          power plants to the repository and interim storage facility.  


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          In 1987, Congress designated Yucca Mountain, a complex of  
          underground tunnels in Nevada, as a federal long-term geological  
          repository for nuclear waste. However, the Obama Administration  
          has decided not to use the site and has appointed a Blue Ribbon  
          Commission on America's Nuclear Future (Commission) to find a  
          solution for permanent storage. 

          The Commission recommended that efforts be made to develop a  
          permanent disposal site for spent nuclear fuel and high-level  
          radioactive waste. 

          Without a centralized repository for spent nuclear fuel, nuclear  
          rods are exponentially accumulating at reactor sites across the  
          country. In 2009, the United States had more than 60,000 tons of  
          nuclear waste at more than 100 temporary sites (primarily  
          nuclear power plants) around the country. 

          Plant owners thus continue to be responsible for the safe  
          storage of their spent fuel. 


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          Managing nuclear waste: Spent fuel can either be reprocessed to  
          recover usable uranium and plutonium, or it can be managed as a  
          waste for long-term ultimate disposal. Since fuel re-processing  
          is not commercially available in the United States and has not  
          been shown to be commercially viable in this country, spent fuel  
          is typically being held in temporary storage at reactor sites  
          until a permanent long-term waste disposal option becomes  

          Following removal from the reactor core, spent nuclear fuel,  
          which is extremely radioactive and remains radioactive for  
          hundreds of thousands of years, must be stored at the nuclear  
          power plant in a spent fuel pool for a minimum of five years.  
          Under federal regulations, every one to two years, approximately  
          one-third of the nuclear fuel in an operating reactor needs to  
          be unloaded and replaced with new fuel. Plant operators transfer  
          used fuel rods, which are still hot and radioactive, to a nearby  
          spent fuel pool where they are stored underwater. The water acts  
          as a natural barrier for radiation from the spent fuel as well  
          as keeps the fuel thermally cool while it decays and decreases  
          in radioactivity. 

          For nuclear power plants governed by the United States Nuclear  
          Regulatory Commission (NRC), SAFSTOR (SAFe STORage) is one of  
          the options for nuclear decommissioning of a shutdown plant.

          Under SAFSTOR, a nuclear facility is maintained and monitored in  
          a condition that allows the radioactivity to decay; afterwards,  
          it is dismantled. Under DECON (immediate dismantlement), soon  
          after the nuclear facility closes, equipment, structures, and  
          portions of the facility containing radioactive contaminants are  
          removed or decontaminated to a level that permits release of the  
          property and termination of the NRC license. 


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          Nuclear power in California: There are four nuclear power plants  
          in California, three of which have been closed or  
          decommissioned, including:

             1.   The Humboldt Bay Nuclear Power Plant, located near  
               Eureka, which was closed in 1976 due to seismic concerns.  
               In December 2008, PG&E finished moving the spent nuclear  
               fuel into dry cask storage on site. That plant was placed  
               in SAFSTOR until anticipated full decommissioning in future  


             2.   The Rancho Seco Nuclear Power Plant, located about 25  
               miles south of Sacramento, was in operation until 1989 when  
               it was closed by public referendum. In 1996, the NRC  
               approved a decommissioning plan for the plant. Remaining  
               onsite are 493 spent fuel assemblies. Since no suitable  
               disposal facility exists for any of the material, the  
               Sacramento Municipal Utility District spends $6 million per  
               year to safely manage it. 

             3.   The San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS),  
               located midway between Los Angeles and San Diego, went  
               offline in January 2012 and was ordered by the NRC to stay  
               offline while tubing wear issues were investigated.  
               Subsequently, plant owners announced in June 2013 that  
               remaining Units 2 and 3 would be permanently retired (Unit  
               1 was closed in 1992). The storage canisters used in SONGS  
               are designed for a lifetime of 40 years. As of 2011, SONGS  


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               had an estimated 1,430 tons of spent nuclear waste on-site.  

          The remaining operating nuclear power plant in California is  
          Diablo Canyon Power Plant in San Luis Obispo County. Licenses  
          for the two reactors expire in 2024 and 2025, respectively. The  
          storage canisters used at Diablo Canyon are designed for a  
          lifetime of 50 years. As of 2011, Diablo Canyon had  
          approximately 1,126 tons of spent fuel located at its facility. 

          Since 1976, California has banned the construction of new  
          nuclear plants until a federal long-term waste disposal  
          repository is operating. 

          AB 1632 report: AB 1632 (Blakeslee, Chapter 722, Statutes of  
          2006), required the CEC to use existing scientific studies to  
          assess the potential vulnerability of California baseload energy  
          generating plants, Diablo Canyon and SONGS, to a considerable  
          interruption due to a major seismic event or plant aging. In  
          November 2008, CEC issued the study, "An Assessment of  
          California's Nuclear Power Plants: AB 1632 Report," which  
          recommended advanced 3-D and other seismologic techniques to be  
          used for updated studies on all faulting in the vicinity of  
          Diablo Canyon and SONGS. 

          Natural disaster: According to the California Seismic Safety  
          Commission staff, there is a risk of a major earthquake in  
          California on the order of 2 to 3 percent per year. According to  
          the 2007 State Working Group on Earthquake Probabilities,  
          California faces a 99.7 percent chance of a magnitude 6.7 or  


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          larger earthquake during the next 30 years. The likelihood of an  
          even more powerful quake of magnitude 7.5 or greater in the next  
          30 years is 46 percent. Modeling of the San Andreas Fault has  
          demonstrated the potential of an earthquake reaching a magnitude  
          of 7.8 along that fault. 

          Diablo Canyon is designed to withstand a magnitude 7.5  
          earthquake. The Hosgri Fault is 50 miles west of the plant and  
          is believed to have a maximum magnitude of 7.1. The San Andreas  
          Fault is east of the plant and has had magnitude 7.8 quakes in  
          the past but is also farther away than the Hosgri fault. In  
          2008, however, the United State Geological Survey located a new  
          active fault, the "Shoreline" fault, within 1800 feet of the  
          Diablo Canyon.  

          SONGS is designed to withstand a magnitude 7.0 earthquake. SONGS  
          is located five miles away from the Rose Canyon fault, which is  
          part of the Newport-Inglewood fault system. According to San  
          Diego County emergency planning documents, the Rose Canyon Fault  
          has the potential to reach a magnitude 6.9 to 7.2 earthquake.

          In March 2011, a 9.0 magnitude earthquake off the Pacific coast  
          of Japan created a tsunami and ultimately lead to a nuclear  
          meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant as a  
          result of serious damage to the plant's cooling systems. It is  
          the largest nuclear disaster since the Chernobyl disaster of  
          1986 and the second disaster (after Chernobyl) to be given the  
          Level 7 event classification of the International Nuclear Event  
          Scale. The International Atomic Energy Agency had expressed  
          concern about the ability of Japan's nuclear plants to withstand  
          seismic activity. At a 2008 meeting of the G8's Nuclear Safety  
          and Security Group in Tokyo, an IAEA expert warned that a strong  
          earthquake with a magnitude above 7.0 could pose a "serious  


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          problem" for Japan's nuclear power stations. 

          Coincidentally or not, AJR 29 is being heard on the heels of the  
          5-year anniversary of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. 

          Interim Consolidated Storage Act of 2015: H.R. 3643, also known  
          as the "Interim Consolidated Storage Act of 2015", would amend  
          the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982 to authorize the secretary  
          of the DOE to enter into contracts for the storage of certain  
          high-level radioactive waste and spent nuclear fuel, take title  
          to the material, and use interest from the Nuclear Waste Fund to  
          move forward with interim storage sites. 

          H.R. 3643 allows nuclear waste from SONGS to be temporarily  
          stored off-site. Much of SONGS's nuclear waste is currently in  
          cooling pools. If the bill passes, waste could be moved off-site  
          within a few years, when it is cool enough for transport. A  
          proposed interim storage site northeast of El Paso, Texas, has  
          been identified as a potential home for SONGS's nuclear waste.

          H.R. 3643 allows nuclear waste to be moved from SONGS, as well  
          as from Diablo Canyon Power Plant and Rancho Seco Nuclear plant  
          in California, and other sites nationwide.

          It has bipartisan co-sponsorship, including California  
          Representatives Darrell Issa (R - San Diego), Jared Huffman (D -  
          Marin), Ami Bera (D - Rancho Cordova), Duncan Hunter, (R - San  
          Diego ), Scott Peters (D - San Diego), Ken Calvert (R - Inland  
          Empire), and Doris Matsui (D - Sacramento). 


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          Local support: On January 6, 2016, Oceanside City Council  
          unanimously adopted a resolution to support H.R. 3643.

          Point of clarification: AJR 29 would ask the Legislature to  
          support H.R. 3643 and "the development and passage of  
          complementary legislation." The author intends to suggest that  
          if Congress passes another, similar version to H.R. 3643, such  
          as an amended version, or the content of H.R. 3643 in another  
          bill number, that the California Legislation, in approving AJR  
          29, would be supportive of that similar legislation. However,  
          AJR 29 could be asking the California Legislature to support  
          unspecified legislation that may be related on the issue, but  
          substantively different from H.R. 3643. 

          To avoid confusion and prevent the California Legislature from  
          supporting unknown legislation, the committee may wish to make  
          the following amendment:

          On Page 2, starting on line 16, strike out "and supports the",  
          and on line 17, strike out "development and passage of  
          complementary legislation" as follows.



          None on file. 


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          None on file. 

          Analysis Prepared by:Paige Brokaw / E.S. & T.M. / (916) 319-3965