In the US Senate three bills dealing with nuclear power plants' "end of life " issues have been reintroduced. New England Senators Ed Markey and Bernie Sanders were joined by Barbara Boxer of California to move measures from last year that, if passed, would accomplish significant plant closing safety and decommissioning funding changes.
Each of the Senators has active nuke plant closing issues in his/her home state – Entergy’s two New England nukes, Pilgrim and Vermont Yankee, and Southern California Edison’s San Onofre plant.
The Safe and Secure Decommissioning Act of 2015 would bar the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission "from issuing exemptions from its emergency response or security requirements for spent fuel stored at nuclear reactors that have permanently shut down until all of the spent nuclear fuel stored at the site has been moved into dry casks, which are a more secure and safe option for storage," the sponsors said.
The Nuclear Plant Decommissioning Act of 2015 aims to "ensure that states and local communities have a meaningful role in the crafting and preparation of decommissioning plans for retired nuclear plants located in those areas," and "require NRC to publicly and transparently approve or reject every proposed decommissioning plan" for such plants.
The Dry Cask Storage Act of 2015 would require all power reactor operators to develop "an NRC-approved plan that would require the safe removal of spent fuel from the spent fuel pools and place that spent fuel into dry cask storage within seven years of the time the plan is submitted to the NRC. The legislation also provides funding to help reactor licensees implement the plans and expands the emergency planning zone for non-compliant reactor operators to 50 miles." [added emphasis]
Spent fuel pools, dry cask storage and derelict plant safety issues along with decommissioning funding are hot button problems for all three plants. Sen. Markey is worried about the potential for an accident at Pilgrim’s “overstuffed spent fuel pool”. Sen. Boxer’s state has an ongoing legal battle over a secret closing cost agreement for the damaged San Onofre plant that tags utility rate payers with 70 percent of the $4.7 billion shutdown costs. All these worries and more are probably shared by Senator Sanders regarding the "beloved" old Vermont Yankee.
There is no word on how fast or slow the US Senate will act on the now “reintroduced” bills. No surprise there. But Republican Senators might want to remember that their grandkids will continue to breathe the same air as the rest of us in every nuked state in the nation.