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By Jake Howard

Calling all surfers! If you think littering cigarette butts is a sin and saving Trestles was a war well waged, it’s time to step up your game.

There are currently 3.6 million pounds of nuclear waste languishing in temporary storage not far from where the turf meets the surf at San O. An estimated 8 million people live within a 50-mile radius of the shuttered power plant. Add a couple of earthquake fault lines, the very real threat of a tsunami, one of the biggest military bases in the country, the most trafficked interstate on the West Coast, along with a litany of other variables and it doesn’t take a nuclear physicist to see how dangerous the current situation is.

“I believe almost any place would be better (to store nuclear waste),” said Rep. Darrell Issa after a tour of the SONGS plant in February. Keep in mind the Republican congressman has questioned scientists on global warming timelines, making his statement about the location of the SONGS waste all the more alarming.

Obviously, one doesn’t just send nuclear waste off to the dump. How and where to dispose of it remains a huge roadblock in the decommissioning of the plant, which is forecast to start sometime in 2018. There are currently a couple of ideas being floated.

Meanwhile, Issa’s introduced a bill in Congress that would grant permission to the Department of Energy to issue contracts to private companies to store nuclear waste at facilities arcross the country. It’s more of a “band aid” solution, and even Issa doesn’t think keeping the waste at San Onofre forever is the way to go, but when you hear rumors that “they’re going to bury it all on the beach,” this is the plan to which those rumors refer.

This is where all you surfer activists come in. On April 14, a hearing is scheduled regarding the possibility of rescinding the permit the California Coastal Commission previously issued to store the waste at San Onofre. In 2015, the Commission issued a 20-year permit that would allow the waste to be stored just 100 feet from shore.

Citing “compelling public interest,” Superior Court Judge Judith F. Hayes will hear arguments at San Diego’s Central Courthouse at 2 p.m. on April 14. If you care about the future of your community, it might be wise to call in sick at work or skip your afternoon surf session and attend.




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comments (8)

  • @ Staff writer Jake Howard

    “…the very real threat of a tsunami…”

    Mr. Howard, did you not read in your own newspaper the statements by Dr. Neal Driscoll? Dr. Neal Driscoll, a professor of geosciences at the University of California-San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography said this: “Certain features of San Clemente’s coastline—and the area just west of it—are not suitable for tsunamis. The bathymetry (the measurement of depth of water) gives the San Onofre location a ‘unique’ buffer.”

    So why do YOU claim there is a very real threat of a tsunami? Do YOU know something Dr. Driscoll doesn’t, something that should be passed along to those living right on the beach just north of North Beach? If it isn’t safe to live there because of the threat of tsunamis, then why does San Clemente allow homes to remain there? The answer is obvious, there is no threat of tsunamis.

    Why also do you and others focus on the weight of the spent fuel, do you not realize Uranium is heavier than lead and that a more appropriate measure of the amount of fuel would be the size of its foot print…about two football fields? Recall that this fuel is what powered almost 10% of the grid in California for some 45 years. Can you imagine how much coal, or fuel oil, or how many solar panels and the attendant batteries necessary that would have been required to provide this amount of power for 45 years? Per MegaWatt-Hour of generation, nuclear power has the least impact on the environment and the tiny size of the spent fuel canister pads at San Onofre is just one marked illustration of this fact.

    The location of this spent fuel here at SONGs is NOT alarming as fuel has been here for almost 50 years. If you wish to champion the best solution, petition the government to authorize reprocessing like other countries do and as America once did before Jimmy Carter stopped this common sense approach. Thus, instead of viewing the spent fuel as waste and a problem to be solved, it would again become fuel and an asset to be sold.

    Regarding the hearing and the CA Coastal Commission Permit, you do realize that if the permit is withdrawn, the spent fuel remains at San Onofre anyway and all those new canisters that have been installed will most likely remain as well, this includes the original ones installed beginning in 2003 that have fuel in them already.

    So how is the future of our community effected by this hearing?

  • maybe the ceo of edison corp doesn’t mind if we put it in his back yard and garage and what’s left over maybe david will store ? i mean if its so safe ?

    • Spent fuel IS that safe. I’d be willing to store it in my backyard if the company was willing to pay me for it.
      Please elaborate in detail if you think it is not safe and if it is not, why we haven’t seen any problems yet.

      Consider commercial nuclear power, in its entire history, only about 50 people have died from it…all at Chernobyl. Now let’s take hydro power; just one dam failure, the Banquiao Dam in 1975, resulted in between 171,000 and 230,000 deaths, 6 million buildings destroyed, and left 11 million homeless.
      That is just one dam failure, there have been dozens of them just since the introduction of commercial nuclear power. Is building and operating dams safe?

      The mining and burning of coal, do you think that was victimless? Have you seen the pollution from the manufacture of solar panels, so great a Chinese city rioted over the pollution of their river? How about the environmental devastation from wind turbine blade manufacturing?

      Is the extraction of oil and natural gas fatality or casualty free?

      The Piper Alpha Oil rig disaster alone killed three times as many people as have died in the entire history of nuclear power. Perhaps you recall the Deepwater Horizon explosion that killed 11 people and polluted the beaches of the southern United States?

      Every form of energy production has its costs in human lives and environmental impact, but nuclear power, per MWHr of electricity produced, has the least impact of any of them. To be against nuclear power is to be either ignorant, or against the environment. This is why so many former anti-nukes have embraced this wonderful technology, a technology with the ability to transform the world for the better.

      Finally, you haven’t addressed my questions as to how you feel about the consistent lies, exaggerations, and misrepresentations by the greater, and local anti-nuclear groups. Perhaps you’ll do so next…perhaps not.

  • The Nuclear Regulatory Commission admits moist salt air can cause these canisters to crack. They also admit they do not have the ability to inspect for cracks once the thin-wall canisters are loaded with highly radioactive spent fuel. We will only know they’ve cracked through the wall of the container AFTER they leak radioactive gases into the environment. And Edison has no approved plan to deal with leaking canisters once they destroy the pools. The Koeberg nuclear plant had a similar container (a tank) leak in only 17 years. The NRC said this tank is comparable to spent fuel canisters. Most of the thin wall canisters have been in use less than 15 years. According to the NRC, it takes about 16 years for cracks to grow through the wall of the canister after a crack has started. In most of the rest of the world they use thick wall casks 10″ to 19.75″ thick). Most U.S. canisters are only 1/2″ thick.

    Even partially cracked canisters are rated for seismic safety.

    • @ Donna

      You disingenuously cite the NRC when you think they support one of your claims and simultaneously accuse them of being in the pocket of the nuclear industry when they rule against you, as they most frequently do. This same NRC that has approved for storage and shipment the canisters SCE has chosen, had refused to license the casks you want SCE to use.

      Do your followers know the casks you’re pushing SCE to use are not licensed for either shipment or storage in the US? Do they know your casks are too heavy such that they cannot be used even if SCE thought they were appropriate, a problem you simply ignore?

      Have you informed them that the entire US nuclear fleet has rejected the cast iron casks you favor and are using the stainless steel canisters SCE has chosen? Have you told them that countries use these casks with mechanical seals because they reprocess fuel and a bolted head is necessary for easy retrieval of fuel as opposed to the double welds on the stainless steel canisters, more appropriate for storage, or do you mislead your followers too?

      As you are well aware, all of this talk about canisters is moot because SCE has already built the ISFSI pad with the Holtec stainless steel canisters. Your efforts have only resulted in wasting more rate payer $$s.

    • @ Donna

      Continuing on, are your followers aware that independent investigator and chairman of the CEP, David Victor, devoted several pages to describing why the cast iron casks you favor were rejected and have they read his report on this score?

      Are they aware that Victor, after reviewing all the literature on this subject, had this to say:

      “Based on an extensive review and re-review of all the evidence I don’t see any support for these rapid corrosion, cracking and through wall penetration scenarios. Moreover, I note that EPRI has recently released a report that examines exactly this scenario. That report looks at the scenario that would unfold after conditions for cracking had been established and after a crack had initiated. How long would it take for a crack, then, to travel through the walls if the crack were not detected and stopped? EPRI’s answer is about 80 years.”

      This is in agreement with the clip you posted elsewhere where in answer to your question, the representative stated that AFTER the initiation of a crack (it takes years for crack initiation), it would take 86 years as a “most conservative” estimate, to go through wall. Begin at 29:15 for the relevant portion of this discussion.

      Furthermore, David Victor says:

      “Results from an actual cask that has been allowed to leak slowly for 2 years show, as well, that intrusion of water and the formation of hydrogen gas can’t reach explosive levels (section 4.4.3, page 4-25). I learned two things from this work. First, there is simply zero basis for the highly emotive statements that I have seen in the press and various other locations for the view that long-term storage of the fuel on site at SONGS has put “another Fukushima” or “another Chernobyl” in our backyard. We do the public a disservice with such emotive language since it creates images that are not in any way rooted in the technical assessment of the real risks.”

      It is YOU and your followers who use the kind of “emotive language” that independent investigator, David Victor, decries.

      As to inspection, they have developed the technology and are currently perfecting it. You pretend this is not so and while you sit in the meetings discussing the advancements in this area, you then dishonestly claim Edison is not addressing this issue. You and your followers have never apologized for the lies and false statements you have made in regard to San Onofre. You continue, as Headrick did above, to mischaracterize statements by Dr. Singh and Mark Lombard and engage in fanciful exaggerations as to the results of any, hither to unseen, theoretical cracks suggesting an event greater than Fukushima will result…from one canister! Have you been spreading this manure so long that you’ve begun to believe your own propaganda? Alas, haven’t you and Headrick done enough harm to the community?

  • Every one of the enemies of the USA (and we have many) must be thinking: What a perfect way to bring Death To America! The destructive might of 3 million pounds of highly radioactive waste, just sitting there on the beach like a sitting duck and all it would take is one cruise missile, one artillery shell, one well-placed high explosive, and you could have the Mother of all dirty bombs that would condemn untold millions of Americans to an agonizing early death by radiation poisoning, while rendering most of the Western U.S. if not the whole Northern Hemisphere uninhabitable for millennia. A destructive Armageddon that would dwarf Chernobyl and Fukushima combined.
    Please, never ever underestimate the astounding, stunning stupidity of the politicians and bureaucrats who want to expose us all to this very existential threat.

    • @ Don Bill

      Your imagination is as colorful as Roger “truck bomb” Johnson’s. If attack and destruction are as easy as you suggest, why hasn’t it been done, since we have, as you say, so many enemies? Doesn’t every terrorist carry around a cruise missile or artillery shell? And Bill, where is the location of this “well-placed high explosive” and do you think the security force will simply watch it all occur? Have you even bothered to look at the many feet of concrete and steel the fuel is encased in or are you relying on some James Bond film for your inspiration?
      I will never underestimate the gullibility of the activist zealot in exposing his or her vacuity on the subject of their agnst.

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