From the Desk of Nina Babiarz, Public Watchdogs Board Member
July 20, 2016
In early 2015 I engaged Public Watchdogs’ Executive Director, Charles Langley to assist me in the development of a transportation program specific to revenue generated and to be spent from the California Cap & Trade Program. His research and findings on this elusive government regulated clean air credit ‘Wall Street’ type brokerage was impeccable.
As our communication expanded into other related topics, Charles made me aware of a number of activities transpiring at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating System (SONGS). He gave me copies of the press releases and media coverage regarding the levels of radiation released in 2012 still questionably referred to as ‘small’ since Southern California Edison (SCE) has yet to reveal the actual radiation release data.
Langley outlined the legal battles which lead to surprising revelations like; the private and secret meeting of the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) with SCE the funds Southern California Edison in Poland which prematurely brokered a decommission settlement deal prior to a public settlement hearing ever being conducted. My ears perked up!
He proceeded to outline a CPUC hearing where former Chair Michael Peevy protested just a little too much, lost his cool and cursed at a local attorney who likely had struck a verbal blow just a little too close to the bone. So then when I saw on the news that Peevey had decided to take an ‘early retirement’ – most likely to spend more time with his family, which I came to learn included State Senator Carol Liu – I started paying closer attention to what the heck was going on!
The next thing I knew I was attending a San Diego County Board of Supervisors meeting where SCE (aka Edison) was asking the County to take some money for ‘Emergency Planning and Response’. I witnessed in real time as former City Attorney Mike Aguirre alerted our County Supervisors that they should proceed with caution as they might just be leaving money on the table. (See minute 52 of the meeting).
Then as a Transportation professional for over 25 years, I started thinking about what would be the repercussions of possible further radiation leaks at SONGS especially since it sits smack in the middle of the 2nd busiest rail corridor in the country and runs parallel to an interstate highway!
I began to reflect on my own experience with a nuclear incident. In 1979 I was an engineering news reporter for McGraw Hill & personally witnessed the PA Three Mile Island (TMI) nuclear meltdown accident as it unfolded in real time. With that devastating nuclear incident in my lifetime I knew it could and can happen again. If it does, what impact will it have on the people and goods moving on the rails and Interstate-5?
Many people, just like me, are unaware that the;
- Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) granted Edison on June 5, 2015 all Emergency Planning Exemptions & public notifications except on their SONGS property
- California Coastal Commission on October 6, 2015 granted Edison a permit to bury 3.6 million pounds of radioactive nuclear fuel at San Onofre State Beach Park.
- Casks to contain this radioactive fuel have already been delivered, they are currently under inspection
- Once filled, each cask contains 89 times the entire Chernobyl release
- These very casks are scheduled to be filled and buried at San Onofre State Beach Park in the Spring of 2017
The culmination of this knowledge was my turning point. My efforts are now focused on how our community can collaborate and demand a halt to these unconscionable acts while we still have time to do so.
I’m pleased to have been offered and accepted a position on the Public Watchdogs Board of Directors. As such I am committed to dig deeper into potential threats, costs and government agency conflicts of interests that might jeopardize the safety system oversight and/or operability of our transportation infrastructure as related to any and all SONGS activities.
Please consider joining us in expanding our community education and outreach program … because the public has a right to know.
Nina J. Babiarz
Public Watchdogs Board Member