Public Watchdogs call agreement reached for storage of nuclear waste a ‘sham’

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) — The settlement agreement reached Monday to temporarily store radioactive nuclear waste at San Onofre has been called a sham by Public Watchdogs.

This is a non-partisan advocacy group that protects California businesses and residents from government overreach. It says the agreement is a loss for consumers, not a victory.

Public Watchdogs says the agreement allows canisters of the nuclear waste to be buried at San Onofre starting in January.

The agreement voids a lawsuit by the Coastal Commission that would have prevented the nuclear waste to be buried at San Onofre permanently. Public Watchdogs calls this a gift to SoCal Edison.

Related Link: Majority owner of San Onofre Nuclear plant announces relocation of spent nuclear fuel to new site

"The gift is they’re going to be able to store that nuclear waste on the beach for 20 years as they originally planned with a renewable permit after the 20 years," said Charles Langley of Public Watchdogs.

This is a problem that right now has no solution. The agreement allows for short-term storage on the beach and the development of a plan that solves this nuclear waste problem long-term.

The Department of Energy and the Nuclear Energy Commission have studied this for years, but failed to come up with a solution and Langley is skeptical about this new plan.

"The likelihood of coming up with a plausible, workable plan is very low," Langley said.

This radioactive waste problem is growing as nuclear plants are shutting down, and until a long term solution is found, the waste has to be contained somewhere. The agreement is an effort to solve this problem nationally.

"What this plan does is that it requires SoCal Edison to use commercially reasonable efforts to find a relocation plan to remove the fuel," Langley said.

The law firm of Aguirre Severson negotiated this agreement a week before the issue was to go to court.

"The 1,800 tons of spent fuel right on the shoreline of the Pacific Ocean is not just a San Diego problem, it’s a national problem," Aguirre said.

Public Watchdogs agrees but says the agreement calls for storage containers that are inadequate.

"What we need is a very strong, robust containment system that’s movable, and there’s really a question whether or not the canister system Edison is using can be moved safely," Langley said.

Langley said Edison will be using stainless steel canisters with thin walls, susceptible to cracks, corrosion, and leaks. He suggests dry casks.

"That’s the type of containment system that’s been used in Germany and in France for many many years and it’s proven," Langley said.

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