Over the weekend, the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station was permanently closed after being out of commission since January 2012. It was determined that the cost and risks associated with the repairs necessary to prevent the release of radioactive steam was far too great for Southern California Edison and the surrounding communities. This new development will leave California with two distinct areas to address, disposal of the nuclear waste and power generation replacement.
The San Onofre plant closing has left the state of California with one of the largest nuclear waste clean up jobs in the world. Radioactive waste continues to be unsafe long after generation as it takes between 10,000 and up to millions of years to completely break down. It wouldn’t be surprising if this major disposal process acts as an incentive for the state legislators to act even more prudently in favor of clean energy than the renewable portfolio standard already requires.
During the operation of the plant, it contributed to about 20% of the power produced for Southern California. This deficit of energy generation should be viewed as an opportunity for clean technologies to step in to provide a safe and renewable alternatives. The basic infrastructure for wind and solar energy has already been established so they would be the obvious choices to amp up the implementation needed to the necessary scale. Imagine wind and solar farms replacing the domes and waste of the nuclear plant.