Judge to hear lawsuit against burying nuclear waste at San Onofre beach

SAN ONOFRE (KUSI) — A lawsuit to stop the operators of the San Onofre nuclear plant from storing nuclear waste on the coast is moving forward. A San Diego superior court judge in San Diego has decided to hear the case against the State Coastal Commission in March.

Prepare for round one: a group of consumer advocates is taking on state regulators and a major public utility to keep nuclear waste from being buried along the southern California coast.

The California coastline lures sun seekers and ocean lovers. Soon, the coast could be world renown for another reason — as being one of the most beautiful spots on earth… for a nuclear waste dump.

Mike Aguirre represents the citizens group that is contesting the permit issued by the California Coastal Commission last October — a permit that would allow the plant operator, Southern California Edison, to move the millions of pounds of spent fuel now cooling in pools, into dry storage casks.

“It’s inherently inconsistent with the Coastal Act to dump 3-million, 8-hundred-thousand pounds of nuclear waste on the shoreline, 100 feet from the water,” Aguirre said. Those containers would be buried at the San Onofre beach.

The San Onofre plant shut down in 2012 after a radiation leak apparently caused by faulty tubes inside newly installed steam generators.

Aguirre says what followed was a chain reaction as southern California Edison tried to cover the costs of the shutdown, passing the tab to the ratepayers. And now, as the power company tries to get rid of the spent fuel, Aguirre says there is little basis for believing the company will act in the public interest.

But if not at San Onofre, then where?

The Palo Verde nuclear station in the Arizona desert might be one option. Since the election of Donald Trump, there’s also been talk of reviving plans to open a dump site at Yucca Mountina in Nevada.

Southern California Edison has said that storing the fuel at the beach is the safest, most cost efficient solution for the short term. The utility company says the long-term solution —  what will happen after 2049 — will be up to the federal government. So far, the cost of shutting down the plant has cost ratepayers more than 3 billion dollars.

Categories: Local San Diego News