BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    Ó



          SENATE COMMITTEE ON ENERGY, UTILITIES AND COMMUNICATIONS
                              Senator Ben Hueso, Chair
                                2015 - 2016  Regular 

          Bill No:          AJR 29            Hearing Date:    6/21/2016
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          |Author:    |Chávez                                               |
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          |Version:   |5/27/2016    As Amended                              |
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          |Urgency:   |                       |Fiscal:      |No              |
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          |Consultant:|Aaron Brieno, Jay Dickenson                          |
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          SUBJECT: Interim Consolidated Storage Act of 2015:  San Onofre  
          Nuclear Generating Station

            DIGEST:    This resolution urges Congress to pass the Interim  
          Consolidated Storage Act of 2015 (House Resolution (H.R. 3643),  
          and 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 (SONGS) to a licensed and  
          regulated interim consolidated storage facility.  

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


          1)The NWPA establishes a comprehensive federal program for the  
            safe, permanent disposal of radioactive wastes.





          2)The NWPA requires the federal government to take possession of  
            and permanently dispose of spent nuclear fuel generated at  
            civilian nuclear reactors.













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          3)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. 





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





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





          6)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  
            §§25524.1 - 25524.3)

          2)States, pursuant to the California Nuclear Facility  
            Decommissioning Act of 1985, that the citizens of California  
            should be protected from exposure to radiation from nuclear  
            facilities.  (Public Utilities Code §8321, et seq.)

          3)Requires the California Energy Commission (CEC) to assess  
            existing scientific studies to determine the vulnerability of  









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            very large generation facilities (1,700 megawatts or greater)  
            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, to assess the potential state  
            and local costs and impacts associated with accumulating waste  
            at California's nuclear powerplants.  (Public Resources Code  
            §25303)

          This resolution urges the passage of the Interim Consolidated  
          Storage Act of 2015 and urges the US DOE to implement the prompt  
          and safe relocation of spent nuclear fuel from SONGS to a  
          licensed and regulated interim consolidated storage facility.

          Background

          The United States Congress is currently considering a bill -  
          H.R. 4745 - that would amend the NWPA of 1982 to authorize the  
          Secretary of Energy to enter into contracts for the storage of  
          certain high-level radioactive waste and spent nuclear fuel and  
          take title to certain high-level radioactive waste and spent  
          nuclear fuel.  As used in the House bill, the term "interim  
          consolidated storage facility" means a facility that possesses a  
          specific license issued by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission  
          (NRC) that authorizes storage of high-level radioactive waste or  
          spent nuclear fuel received from the Secretary or from two or  
          more persons that generate or hold title to high-level  
          radioactive waste or spent nuclear fuel generated at a civilian  
          nuclear power reactor.<1>

          Federal Nuclear Waste Policy.  Under the provisions of the NWPA  
          of 1982, the federal government has 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.  


          In 1987, Congress designated Yucca Mountain, a complex of  

          ---------------------------


          <1> A bill to create an Interim Consolidated Storage Act 2016,  
          114th Cong., 2016 H.R. 4745, (accessed April 13, 2016);  
          available from govtrack.com.






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          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 the 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. 


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

          Nuclear power in California.  There are four nuclear power  
          plants in California: the Diablo Canyon Power Plant, the  
          Humboldt Bay Nuclear Power Plant, the Rancho Seco Nuclear Power  
          Plant, and SONGS, the latter 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 Safe Storage (SAFSTOR) until anticipated full  
               decommissioning in future years. SAFSTOR is one of the  
               options for nuclear decommissioning of a shut-down plant  
               governed under the United States Nuclear Regulatory  
               Commission.

           

             2)   The Rancho Seco Nuclear Power Plant, located about 25  
               miles southeast 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 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  









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               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 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. 

          Natural disaster.  According to the 2007 State Working Group on  
          Earthquake Probabilities, California faces a 99.7 percent chance  
          of a magnitude 6.7 or 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. 


          According to the powerplant's owner, SONGS is designed to  
          withstand a magnitude 7.0 earthquake.  SONGS is located five  
          miles away from the Rose Canyon fault, which has the potential  
          to reach a magnitude 6.9 to 7.2 earthquake.


          H.R. 4745 allows nuclear waste from SONGS to be temporarily  
          stored off site.  If the bill passes, it would (1) allow the  
          Secretary of Energy to enter into contracts and settle  
          agreements with NRC - licensed nuclear reactor operators in  
          order to move used fuel and high level nuclear waste into an  
          interim consolidated storage facility; (2) provide a priority  
          for removal of used fuel and high-level nuclear waste for  
          storage at sites where there is no longer an operating nuclear  
          reactor (like SONGS); and (3) maintain the principal balance in  
          the federal Nuclear Waste Fund designated for Yucca Mountain,  
          and authorize the interest paid on the fund to be used for  
          titles fees and the safe transportation of the used fuel or  
          high-level nuclear waste from the decommissioned reactor to the  









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          interim consolidated storage facility. 

          Prior/Related Legislation
          
          SJR 23 (Bates, 2016) urges Congress to pass the Interim  
          Consolidated Storage Act of 2016 (House of Representatives  
          (H.R.) 4745) and the US DOE to implement the prompt and safe  
          relocation of spent nuclear fuel from SONGS to a licensed and  
          regulated interim consolidated storage facility.  The resolution  
          is waiting to be consideration on the Assembly Floor.
          
          H.R. 3643 (Michael Conaway, 11th Congressional District, 2015)  
          amends the NWPA of 1982 to authorize the DOE to enter into new  
          contracts (or modify existing contracts) with the licensee of an  
          interim consolidated storage facility in order to take title to  
          and store in it either high-level radioactive waste or spent  
          nuclear fuel of domestic origin.  The bill is waiting to be  
          considered in the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on  
          Environment and the Economy. 

          H.R. 4745 (Mick Mulvaney, 5th Congressional District) amends the  
          NWPA of 1982 to authorize the Secretary of Energy to enter into  
          contracts for the storage of certain high-level radioactive  
          waste and spent nuclear fuel and take title to certain  
          high-level radioactive waste and spent nuclear fuel.  The bill  
          is waiting to be considered in the House Committee on Energy and  
          Commerce.

          FISCAL EFFECT:                 Appropriation:       Fiscal Com.:  
                            No           Local:           


            SUPPORT:  

          None received

          OPPOSITION:

          None received

          ARGUMENTS IN SUPPORT:    The author asserts:

               The California Legislature needs to urge the Federal  
               government to find adequate and safe interim storage for  
               the spent nuclear fuel from SONGS so that residents living  









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               in the surrounding communities are safe from a potentially  
               dangerous situation if a natural disaster should occur.  
               Specifically, it is important to find interim storage to  
               remove spent nuclear fuel as soon as possible because of  
               the vulnerable location of the SONGS plant.  The waste from  
               the SONGS sits near an active fault line, adjacent to the  
               heavily-trafficked Interstate 5 and the Pacific Ocean.
          


          

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