How Safe Is It To Surf Near San Onofre? - Stab Mag
Photo by OMAR SANCHEZ, Voice of OC

How Safe Is It To Surf Near San Onofre?

How many exposures until I get super powers?

elsewhere // Jan 28, 2021
Words by Jack Mutschler
Reading Time: < 1 minutes

Sweet San Onofre. One of the few places you can surf with a decommissioned radioactive power plant protruding from the coastline. It makes you wonder, is it safe to grab the log and cruise through the ominous paradise? Or for the performance-minded among us, wiggle our taters at the nearby Upper and Lower Trestles?

San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) has been dumping diluted toxic materials into the ocean since the 60s. Not until 2019 did they start notifying the public of the chemical releases. Despite claims of the radiation levels being low, locals still have some concerns.

According to Voice Of Orange County:

That concern appeared after community forum last year, where a radiation expert from London warned locals and nuclear watchdogs of what he called a less-discussed hazard in the air: a radioactive isotope known as tritium, which SONGS emits.

Dr. Ian Fairlie, the radiation biologist in London who once headed the Secretariat of the UK Government’s CERRIE committee on internal radiation risks, during the November, 2020 forum pointed to SONGS’ latest 2019 radioactive releases report:

“By my estimation, from the figures that I’ve seen and in 2019, there were 25 curies of tritium emitted to air from this process,” he said. “That’s a huge amount of radioactivity.”

While SONGS denies that the radiation levels are harmful, they have not tested the cumulative effects of radiation over time. Each exposure could add to the previous. Both sides disagree on the potential dangers of the radioactive material.

I’m not a scientist or a doctor, but I wouldn’t recommend surfing San Onofre every day. It’s not a very good wave.


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