San Onofre Talking Points

Why storing nuclear waste 108 feet from San Onofre State Beach is a bad idea

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If nothing is done, radioactive waste, deadly to humans for millions of years, will be stored 108 feet away from the beach at San Onofre State Park on land leased from Camp Pendleton. Use these talking points when you are communicating the situation at San Onofre.

1    Nuclear waste is lethal to humans and animals for more than 10,000 generations.  According to the highly respected journal Scientific American, the nuclear waste at San Onofre State Beach will be toxic for 250,000 years. That is equal to 12,500 generations.

2   “Temporary Storage” means 300 years. Southern California Edison, the owner of the nuclear waste at San Onofre claims their storage of the waste on the beach is a “temporary” measure. What they don’t tell you is that the federal definition of “temporary” storage the under the “temporary” renewable permits is up to 300 years.

3   The “dry canisters” are only guaranteed to last 10 to 25 years. Southern California Edison has been telling our elected officials that the casks are safe for more than 100 years. But thanks to legal work by San Onofre, Edison was forced to release sensitive documents showing that the so-called Holtec UMAX “system” of dry storage is only guaranteed to last 10 years, and that the steel canisters are only guaranteed for 25-years. What’s more, if the concrete “system” that holds the canisters fails within ten years, the 25-year warranty is voided.

4   Once the waste is buried it could remain on the beach for hundreds of years. The cheapest storage option for Southern California Edison is to keep the waste on the beach.

5   The beach is one of the worst possible locations for safety. Storing nuclear waste at San Onofre State Beach is like smoking near an open container of gasoline.  The current location is near the Newport-Inglewood fault line, which like the San Andreas, goes all the way to the earth’s mantle.  And like Fukushima, it is in the middle of a tsunami zone. What’s more, the current location is located in an area that is ripe for a terrorist attack.

 6   8.5 million people live within the 50-mile plume zone surrounding San Onofre. In the event of a major nuclear disaster, everyone within this zone could be endangered. Yet we know this plume zone is an arbitrary number established by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

 7   Once the waste is buried it might as well be public property. When companies pollute they must be held responsible for cleaning up their waste.  Edison has abandoned this fundamental responsibility to the public.  After Edison buries its nuclear waste on the beach, it may claim that it no longer has any legal responsibility to move it.  In the event of Edison’s bankruptcy, or a major nuclear disaster, the waste could legally be classified as “bona vacantia;” an ownerless property for whom no one is responsible. This is what TEPCO, the owners of Fukushima claimed.  That means local California governments will have to deal with finding a solution for Edison’s waste problems.  Our only way to prevent this is to stop the beachfront burial.

8   Threatens one of the USA’s most critical transportation corridors. San Onofre is located next to the second busiest rail corridor in the USA.  The passenger rails carry 7.5 million people annually. In addition, Interstate 5 is a freeway that carries an average of 20,000 vehicles an hour. Closure of this corridor due to radiation will block a critical supply and evacuation route for Southern Californians, tourists, and truckers.

 9   FEMA is not budgeted to respond to an emergency. FEMA the Federal Emergency Management Agency, has been removed by NRC as an emergency responder in the event of a nuclear disaster. All emergency response will be handled by local governments.

10  The so-called “Settlement to move the waste” does not serve the public’s interest.
That lawsuit was initially intended to stop the burial of nuclear waste. But that’s not what happened. The attorneys got $800,000.00 and declared a hollow victory. Details are at:

Join the resistance!

On November 14th Public Watchdogs sued the U.S Government in Federal Court to prevent the burial of nuclear waste on one of our most cherished beaches. You can support the resistance by donating, signing the petition, exploring the Web org, and holding your own awareness-building events, and by sharing information on social media

This document was produced
by Public Watchdogs and updated
on 11-24-17.  Public Watchdogs is
a California 501(c)3 not-for-profit.

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