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San Clemente City Council voted 3-0 to approve a letter expressing the city’s support of Senate Bill 465. (See story below for details). Councilmember Laura Ferguson was absent from the Wednesday, Sept. 18 meeting.

San Clemente City Council also voted 3-0 to approve suspension of the city’s Opportunistic Sand Replenishment Program in order to consolidate the city’s focus and resources on the proposed U.S. Army Corps of Engineers sand replenishment program.

The Council also unanimously approved a letter urging the city’s Congressional representatives to support federal funding to the Corps of Engineers for its sand replenishment program for San Clemente.


By Cari Hachmann

Due to a lack of quorum, San Clemente City Council’s meeting was rescheduled from its regular meeting time on Tuesday, Sept. 17, to the following day on Wednesday, Sept. 18. City staff announced the change and revised agenda on its website.

New business on the agenda included a report from Tom Bonigut, public works director and city engineer, concerning a possible letter of support for Senate Bill 465, sponsored by Senator Pat Bates with regard to San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS).

Staff’s recommendation was to approve the letter expressing the city’s support of Senate Bill 465, which would extend the term under which San Clemente would receive funding from Southern California Edison for emergency planning and preparedness related to the decommissioned nuclear power plant.

In late 2015, the counties of Orange and San Diego along with the cities of San Clemente, Dana Point and San Juan Capistrano entered into a “Memorandum of Understanding” (MOU) with Southern California Edison regarding SONGS.

The MOU provided a formal mechanism to define and fund cooperative actions, operational commitments for emergency planning, training, equipment and exercises, communications capabilities, and public-education efforts related to SONGS emergency planning and preparedness.

The MOU established an annual maximum budget of $193,000 for San Clemente, although the annual amounts received are based on reimbursement of actual costs up to this maximum, according to the city’s agenda report.

The MOU includes a funding schedule under which funds would begin to be reduced, and funding past Fiscal Year 2022 would be per a new successor MOU.

However, according to the city’s agenda report, while MOU discussions and negotiations have continued for about two years, “it is staff’s position that SCE is not earnestly working toward a successor MOU, recognizing that by taking no action the current MOU would simply expire and end all funding support to the local agencies.”

To help ensure that local agencies continue to receive emergency preparedness funding, Senator Pat Bates introduced Senate Bill 465, which would provide a legislative route by which SCE would be required to fund local agency efforts.

Also on the agenda was a report from Bonigut concerning possible suspension of the city’s Opportunistic Sand Replenishment Program and a letter of support for U.S. Army Corps of Engineers funding.

Staff’s recommendation was to suspend the Opportunistic Sand Replenishment Program, which started in 2000, and focus on the proposed U.S. Army Corps of Engineers sand replenishment program project, but continue to monitor for potential opportunities on annual basis, according to the city’s agenda report.

Bonigut said the Opportunistic Sand Replenishment Program is basically a series of permits the city keeps active in case a sand source becomes available. However, he said the permitting process is getting more and more complicated and costly to renew permits, so his recommendation is that it is not worth the city’s time and effort to continue it.

Instead, Bonigut said the city should consolidate its efforts to save limited money for the “big sand project,” which has already been authorized by Congress and is in the design phase by the Corps of Engineers. If implemented, the project would dump about a quarter-million cubic yards of sand on the beach from Linda Lane to T-Street.

However, the city has some work to do before that happens. The project has already been in the works for some 19 years, and the Corps still needs about $500,000 to finish the design phase, before more money is needed for construction of the project.

“It’s important to keep the design phase going,” said Bonigut. “Even though the project is already underway, we have to fight to make sure the Corps gets its money in the (federal) budget.”

City staff is also recommending council approve a letter urging the city’s congressional representatives to support federal funding to the Corps of Engineers for the San Clemente sand replenishment project.

The city has also hired a consultant group to continue lobbying on behalf of San Clemente to help secure funding allocations in its upcoming federal budget process, according to the agenda report.

The city has implemented two opportunistic sand replenishment projects. The first was in 2005, when about 5,000 cubic yards of sand from the upper Santa Ana River were placed at North Beach. The second project took place in late 2016 and placed 12,000 cubic yards of sand (from the lower Santa Ana River) at North Beach.

Although there was no cost for the actual sand, the city had to pay the costs for trucking and placing the sand, and for conducting all pre- and post-construction notification and environmental monitoring required by permits. Both projects were funded through the city’s General Fund and approved by city council.

By the time of this print edition, San Clemente City Council will have already voted on the above agenda items. The San Clemente Times will continue to provide updates online at

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comments (1)

  • The most important step in emergency planning is prevention. This step is being ignored The new Holtec thin-wall canister system is so bad, the walls of every San Onofre thin stainless steel canister are unavoidably gouged as the canisters are downloaded into carbon steel lined storage holes. The NRC admits this also causes galvanic corrosion as carbon particles are embedded into the steel walls. Canisters are also susceptible to cracking from the moist salt marine environment. San Onofre has a history of this type of corrosion cracking. Instead of requiring these pressure vessels meet ASME N3 Nuclear Pressure Vessel certification requirements, the NRC ignores these requirements. The NRC, Edison and Holtec admit canisters cannot be inspected for cracks or repaired. They use the term “inspection” loosely, misleading our elected officials and the public.

    It’s impossible to meet ASME inspection and repair requirements with this inferior design.

    Instead of safe nuclear storage, Holtec created a perpetual canister gouging system. Even if the canisters could be inspected and repaired, as soon as they load the canisters into or out of the storage holes the canister walls are gouged again! A similar problem occurs with all Holtec thin-wall above ground dry storage systems. The NRC ignores these issues.

    The solution is to use thick-wall casks (10″ to 19.75″ thick) which have been approved by the NRC in the past for storage and transport, and are the proven standard in most of the world. They can meet ASME safety standards for in service nuclear pressure vessels. Thick-wall casks survived the Fukushima tsunami and 9.0 earthquake. Thin canisters with even partial cracks have no seismic earthquake ratings.

    Edison refused to allow bidders of thick-wall casks. Edison’s goal is to expedite the fuel out of the pools in order to save millions of dollars every year in overhead costs. They bragged about this in a trade article.

    The over $4 billion ratepayer funded Decommission Trust should be used to replace all canisters and store all San Onofre fuel waste into thick wall casks that meet monitored maintainable retrievable fuel storage and transport requirements. Current federal law, the Nuclear Waste Policy Act, requires this. Instead, a large number of Democrat and Republican federal legislators voted for the H.R.3053 Shimkus/Issa bill last year. That bill would have eliminated these safety requirements if it had passed the Senate. That bill would have also allowed Edison to turn over this mess to the federal government, with no funding for the dry storage systems. A similar bill is in play this year. Demand our local, state and federal legislators actively oppose any bills that allow this.

    Until we have a President who only appoints safety conscious NRC Commissioners and a Senate that will only confirm safety conscious Commissioners, this problem won’t be solved at the federal level. Right now, we only have one NRC Commissioner who puts safety before industry profits.

    At this point our only solution is for Governor Newsom to require the California Public Utilities Commission freeze the Decommissioning Fund until these issues are resolved.

    Instead, the California Coastal Commission staff is recommending a Coastal permit that allows destruction of the spent fuel pools, even though they know a pool or dry fuel handling facility (hot cell) is needed to replace defective canisters.

    Defective and leaking canisters cannot be transported. The Coastal Commission staff admits transport is a requirement of the San Onofre dry storage Coastal permit, yet the Coastal Commission refuses to enforce it.

    These and other state agencies are ignoring all these problems, even though the financial and coastal issues fall within state authority. The state has no authority to regulate nuclear radiation safety issues, due to federal law preemption.

    What is the NRC and Edison current solution? Hide radiation releases from the public. There are 51 San Onofre aging above ground NUHOMS thin-wall canisters up to 16 years old. The NRC and Edison refuse to tell us the radiation levels from the outlet air vents where these canisters are stored. This is where radiation levels are highest from cracking, leaking canisters. Edison admits each canister contains roughly the amount radiation released from the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

    At an NRC Nuclear Waste Conference this week, Orano, who makes the NUHOMS canisters, told the utilities they should hide from the public any problems they find with these nuclear waste dry storage systems. They offered a method to hide the data from the public and collect it on a private system where the public would have no access. Instead, this information should be made public at the NRC.

    This is a now problem. We cannot kick these Chernobyl disaster cans down the road any longer. Proposals to transport these cracking Chernobyl cans somewhere else will no more solve our nuclear waste problem than rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic would have stopped it from sinking.

    Go to for more information.

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