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Nuclear Plants Closing Early Leave Decades of Toxic Waste Stranded

  • U.S. government has no permanent repository for spent fuel
  • 76,000 metric tons of waste stored at commercial sites
The San Onofre Nuclear plant south of San Clemente, California.

The San Onofre Nuclear plant south of San Clemente, California.

Photographer: David McNew/Getty Images
Updated on

Midway between San Diego and Los Angeles, the San Onofre Nuclear Plant waits to be dismantled. After more than 40 years of protests, lawsuits and safety scares, its two concrete-encased reactors, jutting from the pristine California coastline, are powered down and its massive steam turbines, once deafening, are quiet.

For the activists who fought to close the plant, the victory is bittersweet.