Southern California Edison will begin the $4.4-billion decommissioning of San Onofre nuclear generating station next year after receiving unanimous approval in mid-October from the California Coastal Commission, the final permit needed for work to begin. A joint venture of AECOM and EnergySolutions has the contract to take down the 2,200-MW, two-unit plant. Decommissioning will take close to a decade, and possibly longer depending on legal challenges, the power supply company said in a quarterly filing to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The firm also confirmed the 2020 start date in the filing. Public Watchdogs, a San Diego advocacy group, sued the plant’s owners, asking the court to stop the decommissioning and the transfer of spent nuclear fuel from cooling ponds to dry storage out of fear it is not being done safely. The transfer of fuel was suspended in August 2018 when a fuel canister was not loaded into a cavity enclosure container properly. The court refused to stop the work. The coastal commission added a special condition to the permit, requiring the utility to fund an independent third-party review of an inspection and maintenance plan for the condition of the canisters in dry storage. Southern California Edison owns 78.2% of the plant, San Diego Gas & Electric owns 20% and the city of Riverside, Calif., owns the remainder.

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