SAN ONOFRE - The U.S. Department of Energy announced $26 million in funding today to aid in the search for locations to temporarily store nuclear waste moved from sites such as the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station.
U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm, who visited the to-be demolished power plant on Friday, announced 13 groups from across the country would receive funding and be tasked with helping identify feasible sites to store the spent nuclear fuel.
A ``consent-based siting'' approach will be taken in the search, which energy officials say includes communities willing to host nuclear storage facilities in the process.
``It is vital that, as DOE works to be good stewards of the nation's spent nuclear fuel, we do right by communities in the siting process and includes them in the decision-making at the outset,'' said Granholm in a statement. ``This funding will help DOE learn from and involve communities across the country in the consent-based siting process, answer questions and concerns, and develop an understanding so that we are good neighbors even before moving in.''
The project awardees, which will receive around $2 million each, will engage with potential site communities and gather public feedback. The groups were selected from 12 states and the District of Columbia, but are not expected to confine their search efforts for viable communities to their home states.
``While there is much more work to do, this is real progress towards removing San Onofre's spent fuel,'' said Rep. Mike Levin, D-San Juan Capistrano, who joined Granholm at SONGS for Friday's announcement.
The San Onofre plant, sometimes referred to as SONGS, stopped producing electricity in 2012 and is in the process of being dismantled.
Nearly 3.6 million pounds of spent nuclear fuel remains stored at the plant and concerns persist over the plant's proximity to the ocean and the potential for the site to be affected by rising sea levels, tsunami inundation and seismic hazards.
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