Putting aside the criticism from some advocacy groups about restarting transfers at all, the move brings up a larger question: Where will the waste at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, known as SONGS, eventually go?
Some of the options are fairly well known, such as reviving a controversial site in Nevada, while others are more obscure, such as a proposal to send the waste down deep boreholes.
But regardless of the pros and cons of each proposal, getting consensus and putting a plan into action can be elusive in a nuclear sector where the confluence of science, industry and politics all too often leads to stalemate.
“Finding solutions is hard,” said David Victor, the chairman of the SONGS Community Engagement Panel. “If it were an easy problem, we would have solved it by now.”
SONGS is located right above the beach at San Onofre and although the plant has not generated electricity since 2012, it is home to 3.55 million pounds of radioactive waste that dates from the time when the plant was active.
Many in the San Diego area worry about the waste (or, as nuclear proponents prefer to call it, spent fuel) resting so close to the ocean and busy Interstate 5 — and located in a populous region with a history of seismic activity.