San Onofre Radwaste Battle Heats Up – Updated

A Problem Facing Over 100 Nuclear Power Plants

The grassroots campaign continues in California for responsible management of tons of radioactive waste now sitting on a crumbling bluff above the beach at the shut down San Onofre nuclear plant – in an earthquake and tsunami zone between two major population centers. As America’s fleet of aging nuclear reactors face inevitable shutdowns in the coming months and years, decommissioning and nuclear waste management are on pace to become big business for private corporations.  But with no plan for where to put the accumulated tons of radwaste, can for-profit companies and captive regulatory agencies be trusted to deal with it responsibly?  The battle over what to do with San Onofre’s waste could set a pattern for the nation.  Here’s some coverage of recent developments and the serious issues they raise.

From EON

Citizens Question Crazy Plan

3.6 million pounds of highly lethal, radioactive waste, stored in corrosion-prone thin metal canisters, on an eroding bluff,  by a crumpling sea wall, at a beach, only inches above the water table, 100 feet from the rising sea, in an earthquake and tsunami zone just like Fukushima – What could possibly go wrong?

Plenty, say informed local residents near the recently shutdown San Onofre nuclear power plant between Los Angeles and San Diego. They want it out of there. But to where, how soon and how?  How long must it be cooled until it’s able to be moved?   What kind of containers can it safely be held in until then? What kind of cask would truly be monitorable and retrievable?  How to move it with the least risk?  Where to move it as the least worst option, given the immense risk of transporting it?  Who will agree to take it?

Karen Hadden, Director of S.E.E.D. Coalition of Texas, traveled to California to explain that the residents of Texas and New Mexico do not want the radioactive waste sent to them to store.  Currently Texas and New Mexico are being targeted as Centralized Interim Storage sites for the entire nation’s reactor waste.

The plant operator, Southern California Edison, (SCE) has convened what it calls a Citizen Engagement Panel or CEP to publicly discuss the issues, but with no decision-making power, though they’ve recently called themselves an “advisory” panel.

Local citizens are only allowed 3 minutes at meetings to speak at the CEP, and have strong doubts about the Panel process and the competence and sincerity of many of.the Panel members. That’s why San Clemente Greens are advocating organizing an independent panel of experts to give counsel on what the best solutions for the deadly waste would be.

The group organized this press conference just before the May 11, 2017 CEP meeting.  CitizensOversight is one of the lead plaintiffs challenging the California Coastal Commission’s permit to  SCE that allows the lethal long lived waste to be buried on the beach.  The private law firm of Aguirre & Severson brought the case before the court.  See Citizen Oversight Director, Ray Lutz, speaking about this on Democracy Now! below.

Aguirre & Severson are currently in negotiations with Southern California Edison regarding the waste storage plan.  Aguirre and Severson are also in negotiations with Edison regarding the distribution of the massive costs for the closure of the badly mismanaged nuclear station.  Edison, though its errors caused the plant’s premature shutdown, wants the ratepayers to shoulder the majority of the associated costs.  Aguirre and Severson initiated that lawsuit representing  ratepayer’s interests as well.

Public Opposes ‘Crazy’ San Onofre Radwaste Plan

Highlights of public comments on Edison’s plan to store 3 tons of nuclear waste on the beach at San Onofre, from the May 11, 2017 Citizen Engagement Panel meeting in Laguna Hills, CA. 
Local residents agree its a crazy plan and want it moved. But a proposal by two corporations to ship it to Texas or New Mexico for private profit is equally crazy, says visiting Texas activist Karen Hadden.

It’s a problem that will be faced by over 100 other reactor communities across the country as aging US nukes are increasingly shut down.

Why No Tribal Voices on San Onofre Waste?
When SONGS Community Engagement Panel Secretary Dan Stetson asked about Native American involvement in the process of dealing with San Onofre’s 3 tons of nuclear waste, Edison’s Tom Palmisano assured the Panel that tribal governments had been consulted as part of normal procedure. Apparently he was misinformed.

Tribal spokeswoman Angela Mooney-D’Arcy, Acjachemen tribe member and Executive Director of the Sacred Places Institute. denied that regional tribal governments had been consulted, and she had documents to prove it.

Indian Country Today

Beachfront Nuclear Wasteland in Southern California?

Nuclear storage plan at San Onofre beach leaves out tribal voices

A controversial plan to temporarily store more than three million pounds of spent nuclear fuel 100 feet from one of Southern California’s most popular beaches, San Onofre, is meeting with fierce resistance from local communities, including tribal members. The problem for the Native population is that while the formal decision-making process systematically involved a wide variety of stakeholders including local and state governments, community groups, environmentalists, academics, military, and business, education, and labor leaders, tribal governments were excluded.  Read more / Science

Experts: US Still ‘Needlessly Vulnerable’ to Fukushima-Style Disaster

Nuclear industry pressured regulatory commission into low-balling consequences of meltdown, especially in case of reactor fire, new article says

“The NRC has been pressured by the nuclear industry, directly and through Congress, to low-ball the potential consequences of a fire because of concerns that increased costs could result in shutting down more nuclear power plants,” von Hippel said. “Unfortunately, if there is no public outcry about this dangerous situation, the NRC will continue to bend to the industry’s wishes.”  Read more

San Diego Tribune – May 23, 2017

San Onofre critics question private meetings on waste storage

Ray Lutz of interviewed on
Democracy Now – May 17, 2017
Activists Sue to Block Plans to Bury 3.6 Million Pounds of Nuclear Waste Near California Beach

CEP Video Archive
Here’s the link to the Southern California Edison/CEP’s entire video of May 11 San Onofre Community Engagement Panel meeting on the radioactive waste issue entitled “NRC Decommissioning Oversight & Consolidated Interim Storage (CIS) Development Projects”


PublicWatchDogs.orghas just published a new blockbuster document:

New Report blasts NRC for reckless “regulatory failure” at San Onofre

“The plutonium in the radioactive waste at SONGS is deadly to all life for at least 250,000 years, but alarmingly, the waste will be stored in thin – walled canisters that are warrantied for a mere 10 to 25 years.
More problematic is the fact that the waste is located in a tsunami zone, next to a major earthquake fault line, and in a location that is easily accessible to terrorists leaving more than 8.5 million people who live within the 50 -mile radiation plume zone identified by the NRC completely vulnerable.”  Read pdf here

KUSI TV News Coverage of the WatchDogs’ Report


GreenPeace International

Nuclear power and the collapse of society

by Rex Weyler



Industry Meltdown: Is the Era of Nuclear Power Coming to an End?

Dependable Information Sources on This Issue

For updates on radioactive waste management issues, please visit Donna Gilmore’s excellent website:

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