Ad Campaign pokes fun at “Nuke-Hugging” Surfers
Urges Public to attend April 14 event at San Diego Superior Court, 1:00 PM
DATELINE – SAN CLEMENTE CALIFORNIA, April 10, 2017
Today the non-profit consumer advocacy group Public Watchdogs announced that it has launched a light-hearted social media and print advertising campaign that uses humor to educate surfers about the dangers of the radioactive waste storage facility that is under-construction at the the now-defunct San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS).
The “alarmingly funny” photos, which went viral on Facebook, portray Southern California surfers and their boards in HazMat suits that resemble the suits worn by the irradiated workers at the failed Fukushima power plant in Japan. The intent of the ads is to raise awareness and promote public attendance to an April 14 Court that would revoke a permit allowing Southern California Edison to bury the waste 36 yards from the beach at San Onofre.
According to Charles Langley, the Executive Director of Public Watchdogs, the ridiculous social media images of surfers in HazMat gear and a supporting full page advertisement in the San Clemente Times have born fruit: “One day after the paid advertisement ran, Southern California Edison announced in a press release that it would consider alternative locations for its beach-front nuclear waste dump,” says Langley. “We like to think that public pressure from our campaign helped contribute to Edison’s decision.”
Within hours of being posted on Facebook, versions of the ads had received between 10,000 and 20,000 views. The purpose of the campaign is to build public awareness of the ridiculous situation at San Onofre, where members of the Coastal Commission violated its own mission statement by voting unanimously to grant Edison a permit to bury the deadly waste. ” “The Coastal Commission’s vote on October 6, 2015 was a betrayal of a sacred trust. The public relies on the Commission appointed to honor for the people they serve ,” says Public Watchdogs Board Member Nina Babiarz, “They voted to provide Edison permission to store nuclear waste that’s deadly for 250,000 years in containers that are only guaranteed to last between ten and 20-years.”
Ads gently spoof silence of the Surfrider Foundation
Aside from lampooning the Coastal Commission’s ludicorous decision to approve construction of the world’s largest beach-front nuclear waste dump, the print ads take aim at the powerful Surfrider Foundation for its decades-long silence and recent endorsement of Edison’ plans to bury the waste 108 feet from the same beach the agency is chartered to protect.
Surfrider spending tops $62 million
Original research by Public Watchdogs’ shows that the Surfrider Foundation has budgeted an estimated $62 million dollars in the last 10 years to fight water pollution and cigarette litter on public beaches. Yet oddly, the agency has remained completely silent regarding the deadly nuclear waste in its own back yard. The situation is ironic since the new dump will be located fewer than four miles from Surfrider’s Headquarters at 942 Calle Negocio in San Clemente.
Surfrider’s Outrageous endorsement
Public Watchdogs received numerous complaints from San Clemente surfers and residents after the Surfrider Foundation finally issued a tepid endorsement of Edison’s beachfront burial plans 12-days ago on March 29, 2017. The carefully worded endorsement shocked and angered many San Clemente surfers and water protectors, many of whom felt betrayed by an organization they have trusted for years.
To create the ad, Public Watchdogs tapped the creative genius of San Clemente surfer and copywriter Darin McClure, the owner of Ready-to-Go Information Technologies, a San Clemente-based advertising and social media firm. “They’re Nuke-Huggers” says McClure, a long-time resident of San Clemente and former Surfrider member, who at one time volunteered and supported the non-profit agency’s efforts to maintain clean beaches and oceans.
Questions about conflicts of interest
Public Watchdogs published the Surfrider Foundation tax forms after getting numerous complaints from surfers and San Clemente residents about the organization’s unwillingness to actively engage its management on issues of nuclear safety.
“We have received numerous complaints from Surfrider members who have been appalled by the agency’s silence and its refusal to discuss Edison’s plans to build what will ultimately be the world’s largest privately-owned beach-front nuclear waste dump,” says Langley. “These members and former members have expressed concern that Surfriders has received millions of dollars from Edison in exchange for its silence.”
Public Watchdogs was unable to verify the allegations that the Surfrider Foundation has received millions of dollars from Southern California Edison, noting that large donations and grants are non-public under Schedule B of the Surfrider Foundation’s tax filings.
Calls to attend a Court Hearing in San Diego, April 14
The full page ads (view online ) urge the public to attend an April 14 media event to draw attention to issues of nuclear safety on April 14 at 1:00PM at the San Diego Hall of Justice at 1:00 PM. The event was originally scheduled to precede a 2:00 PM court hearing which was cancelled one day after the advertisements were published.
“The court hearing may have been cancelled,” says Charles Langley, “but we still intend to make waves on the 14th.” On Friday the 7th of April, Southern California Edison announced that it would engage in negotiations to move the deadly waste away from the beach, and that parties in the lawsuit had cancelled the hearing.
However, the negotiations will by necessity take place secretly, behind closed doors. “Public Watchdogs has full confidence in the law firm of Aguirre & Severson, which is representing the plaintiffs, but we are concerned that negotiations could fall through or go sour. It is vital that the public remain aware and involved, and the public has a right to know what’s going on behind closed doors.” says Langley.
“We need to make waves, Say Langley. “It is publicity and public awareness that got Southern California Edison to the negotiationg table, and it is publicity and public attention that will keep them there.”
Where the photos came from
Public Watchdogs purchased the rights to use the HazMat Surf photos from Seattle surfer and photographer, Michel Dyrland, who shot photos and videos of surfers clad in orange-yellow HazMat suits on location in Southern California after learning that the beaches were too polluted for surfing.