Comments of Nina Babiarz’ testimony to the California Coastal Commission on the possibility of Diablo Canyon nuke waste storage at SONGS

The Coastal Commission’s strangely-worded “Restrictions” on nuclear waste could have created a legal loophole that would have allowed San Onofre to accept nuclear waste from other nuclear power plants!

Nina Babiarz at the site of the world’s largest beachfront nuclear waste dump


My name is Nina Babiarz, a founding Board Member with Public Watchdogs and a member of Congressman Levin’s San Onofre Task Force for approximately 3 years.  Because my time is limited, I’d like to take you immediately to the Coastal Commission’s Staff Report related to Southern California Edison’s application; Page 6, middle of the page under header of “Restrictions.”

“Accordingly, any future substantive physical or
structural improvements to the permitted
structure,  including but not limited to an increase
in storage capacity of spent nuclear fuel, or the
storage of spent nuclear fuel from nuclear power
plants other than San Onofre Nuclear Generating
Station Units 2 and 3 shall require an amendment
to coastal development permit E-00-014 from the
Commission.  Subject to the other provisions of
this condition, this prohibition is not intended to
require a permit for the storage of materials
authorized by NRC regulation, or the SONGS Units
2 and 3 NRC licenses."

Public Watchdogs has a simple request …

… That this Commission clarify today your intent for any reason there would ever be for the need of a future amendment as it’s stated.  If the amendment is intended ONLY to restrict, then it should say so in an unequivocal and unquestionable manner.  However, IF the Commission’s intent is to pave a regulatory path for even one more ounce of nuclear waste to hit the beaches of San Onofre, then you should remove it and remove it today prior to your vote.

If I’d been allocated more time to speak, I could give you countless past examples that I’ve witnessed over the past decade where the CA Coastal Commission tucked away language in the form of Special Conditions, Amendments, Exemptions and Exclusions in order to hide from the public’s eye the Coastal Commission’s unanticipated consequences by allowing this permit.

In closing, it’s exactly this type of conflicting language that inspires Public Watchdogs to scrutinize everything you write, …

Editor’s Note: At this point, Nina Babiarz was abruptly cut off by the Commission’s Chair because she had exceeded the two-minute time limit that is allotted by the Commission.  The following is what Nina would have added to her testimony:  

“…  that [scrutiny] includes everything the Commission staff recommends, and everything the Commission votes on that will affect public safety and the safety of generations yet unborn.

Prior to this meeting, the Coastal Commission’s Legislative Director responded to a question related to this “Restriction” issue on page 6 of the Staff Report and the response was this:

“The intent is to make it explicit that SDG&E
cannot expand or alter the physical structure
or accept any spent fuel from another facility
unless they get an amendment to this permit.”

That response from the Commission’s Legislative Director was deeply troubling to us and it is why Public Watchdogs is here today:  It directly conflicts with the so-called “restriction” that appears to allow SONGS to begin accepting more nuclear waste from other facilities.  This makes us question the intent of the Commission staff.

I remind you that in previous meetings, the Coastal Commission has indemnified each and every Commissioner from being held personally liable from any negative consequences that happen as a result of their previous SONGS votes.  In fact, the Licensees, SDG&E and Southern California Edison have agreed to pay for all legal costs that the Commission might incur in the event of a lawsuit.

Therefore, Public Watchdogs has concluded that the California Coastal Commission has no skin in the regulatory game.  They literally have nothing to lose.

We all can agree that we’ve got quite a precarious situation at San Onofre … Let’s not make it worse!

  • Public Watchdogs contends that the Public not only has THE RIGHT TO KNOW, but it also has the reason and right to be concerned when it comes to the consequences of bad regulatory decisions.Meanwhile, the Public is saddled with an overwhelming risk of more nuclear waste at SONGS with a potential for the loss of their homes, their health, and their money.That’s where we are now, and have been, since SONGS was abruptly shutdown due to a radiation leak. Since that radiation leak, the public has been forced to …



Editor’s Note:  Public Watchdogs prevailed.  The California Coastal Commission Chair directed the Commission staff to remove the convoluted and potentially misleading language that left the door open to the possibility of storing more nuclear waste from other power plants on the beach at San Onofre State Beach Park.

Get the San Diego Union Tribune Story here.

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