Stab Magazine | Where's The Rally To Stop The Nuclear Waste Storage At San Onofre?

Where’s The Rally To Stop The Nuclear Waste Storage At San Onofre?

April 14th, in San Diego, a hearing on whether or not to bury it at the beach will be held. 

news // Apr 6, 2017
Words by stab
Reading Time: 3 minutes

It’s weird what humans get riled up about. Some years ago, one couldn’t walk down the street in San Clemente without seeing a “Save Trestles” sticker plastered somewhere. The whole city rallied. San Diego rallied. The Surfrider Foundation rallied. Eddie Vedder and Kelly Slater rallied. Surfers everywhere rallied and changed the world for the better.

On April 14, a hearing is scheduled in San Diego Superior Court regarding the possibility of rescinding the permit the California Coastal Commission previously issued to store nuclear waste at the shuttered San Onofre Generating Station in San Clemente. Given the importance of this hearing one would think it would be sprouting up all over social media, but oddly it has garnered minimal press. The conundrum is this, why did so many surfers and environmentalists get their panties in a bind about the toll road, but when it comes to the 3.6 million pounds of nuclear waste languishing in “temporary” storage the response has been, dare I say, apathetic.

In 2015, the Coastal 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 now hear arguments at San Diego’s Central Courthouse.

An estimated eight million people live within a 50-mile radius of the defunct 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 the current situation as dangerous.

Seriously, almost anywhere would be better.

“I believe almost anyplace would be better,” said Rep. Darrell Issa after a tour of the nuke plant in February. Keep in mind, the Republican senator is a steadfast climate change denier and has sided with Donald Trump on every single thing he’s proposed, making his statement about the location of the waste at San O all the more alarming.

The plant was closed in 2013 due to a host of issues. A $4.4 billion decommissioning project is currently in its early stages and is forecast to start sometime in 2018. One of the first things to be decided is where to ditch the high-level nuclear waste. Obviously, one doesn’t just send it off to the dump.

There are currently two ideas floating. One is to move the waste to Yucca Mountain in Nevada, which would be a more permanent solution but faces a list of legal hurdles. Meanwhile, Issa has introduced a bill that would grant permission to Waste Control Specialists—the company that won the bid to handle the disposal of the nuclear waste—to build an interim storage facility for high-level nuclear waste. It’s more of a “band-aid” solution, but when you hear the talk that “they’re going to bury it all on the beach,” this is the plan they’re referring to. 

“The Surfrider Foundation is opposed to permanent or long-term storage of radioactive waste at the San Onofre site due to its proximity to the coastline, geological instability and location within a densely-populated area,” reads a statement issued by the organisation. “We are actively engaged in advocating to remove the waste as quickly as possible.”

Surfers battled valiantly to stop the toll road. This situation is potentially a million times worse. Judge Hayes will hear arguments at San Diego’s Central Courthouse at 2:00 pm on April 14. That courtroom needs to be packed. If it’s not and Trestles goes the way of Fukushima, don’t say you weren’t warned.



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