The Metropolitan Water District will undertake a $300,000 study of the feasibility of building a nuclear reactor, possibly next door to Los Angeles International Airport, that would convert seawater to drinking water and generate electricity.
But the plant would not open until the year 2020 at the earliest, and probably will not be built at all because of "safety and political" considerations, water district spokesman Jay Malinowski said Thursday.
"It might sound absurd," Malinowski said, "but this study is to determine whether we should study these things in depth."
Thirty coastal sites between Oxnard and the Mexican border will be considered in the study, including property west of the airport and just north of the Hyperion Waste Treatment Plant. Among the other sites, which are considered less likely, are Terminal Island in San Pedro, Point Vicente in Rancho Palos Verdes and the Ballona Wetlands in Playa del Rey.
Conversion of salt water to fresh water--known as "desalination"--has been discussed by the Water District for more than 30 years.