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Parties agree to settlement talks on San Onofre waste storage plan

Parties involved in a court case challenging the planned method of on-site nuclear waste storage at the retired San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station in San Diego County have agreed to settlement discussions and has sought the postponement of the scheduled April 14 hearing on the case.

Attorneys Michael Aguirre and Maria Severson, on behalf of nonprofit watchdog Citizens Oversight Inc.; Edison International subsidiary Southern California Edison Co., which owns the majority of the nuclear facility; and the state attorney general representing the California Coastal Commission filed a stipulation April 7 with the San Diego Superior Court seeking the postponement of an upcoming hearing to allow time for settlement talks.

"We believe the parties in the case and many community leaders share a common goal to transfer San Onofre's used nuclear fuel off-site as soon as reasonably possible," said SoCalEd Vice President and Chief Nuclear Officer Tom Palmisano. "We are hopeful that settlement discussions will permit the parties to reach a mutually agreeable solution."

In November 2015, Citizens Oversight Inc. filed a lawsuit with the Superior Court of California for the County of San Diego to overturn a decision by the California Coastal Commission, which approved plans by SoCalEd to store 3.6 million pounds of nuclear waste in dry casks near the ocean and next to a major freeway in a tsunami inundation area and a known earthquake zone. The nuclear facility has been retired since January 2012.

Currently, one-third of the facility's used fuel is stored in a dry cask, while the remaining two-thirds are stored in steel-lined concrete pools. SoCalEd proposes to transport the fuel from the concrete pools into dry storage by 2019 until an off-site storage facility becomes available.