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

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If nothing is done, Southern California Edison, will complete the burial of 73 giant canisters of deadly  radioactive waste 108 feet 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. As of this date, 29 of the 73 canisters have been buried.

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 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 will be safe for more than 100 years. But thanks to legal work by San Onofre -Safety.org, 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 forever. The cheapest storage option for Southern California Edison is to keep the waste on the beach.

5.   The beach is the worst possible location. 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 earthquake 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  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.   There have been TWO “Near-Hit” unsecured load events. In plain English this means we almost lost Southern California when two separate canisters of nuclear waste weighing upwards of 100,000 pounds were nearly dropped 18 feet. These “near-hits” as the Nuclear Regulatory Commission calls them, were not even reported to the public until a courageous San Onofre Safety Officer broke the silence in a public meeting and revealed the truth.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.

8.   FEMA is not budgeted to respond to an emergency. FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, has been ordered by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to stand down at San Onofre when a “radiological incident occurs.” Thanks to new NRC regulations, all emergency response will be handled by local Orange County and San Diego Emergency Services.

9.   The so-called “Settlement to move the waste” does not move the waste.  The so-called lawsuit to “move the nuclear waste” was a humiliating failure. All it did was pay a small law firm more than $6 million to back away from case. According to the firm “It wasn’t a good deal, it was just the best we could get.” Details are at: https://goo.gl/5P1b9c

10.  Public Watchdogs is suing to move the nuclear waste.  Our Federal lawsuit is the first of many legal actions to come.  You can support our legal battles by donating to our litigation and outreach war chest. With more than 189 attorneys on Southern California Edison’s staff, the opposition is fierce. Learn more at these Web sites:


This document was produced  by Public Watchdogs and updated on 10-17-18.  Public Watchdogs is  a California 501(c)3 not-for-profit.

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