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Google Earth Images Heighten Concerns Over San Onofre Nuclear Waste Storage Plan

March 14, 2017 1:13 p.m.

Google Earth Images Heighten Concerns Over San Onofre Nuclear Waste Plan

GUEST:

Jeff McDonald, watchdog reporter, San Diego Union-Tribune

Related Story: Google Earth Images Heighten Concerns Over San Onofre Nuclear Waste Storage Plan

Transcript:

This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

The old saying goes a picture is worth 1000 words and that's been proved once again by the concern generated by a picture of the planned nuclear waste site at San Onofre. Southern California Edison eventually plans to store the radioactive waste and dry cask storage on the site of the close nuclear power plant. A new Google Earth image shows the location of the cask storage site at less than 100 feet from the coastline. Joining me in San Diego union Tribune order Jeff McDonald. Welcome.
Thank you for having me.
Can you help describe this Google earth picture in a little more detail? What does it show the storage will look like just above the beach area at San Onofre ?
It is a series of squares about 75 or 80 of them and they are basically silos that will hold these investors once they are filled with the spent fuel that is now stored in the cooling parts.
People that are already concerned about the plan to go nuclear waste on this site have ceased to the image. What do they say it is about the picture that is a troubling.
You can see the waves at the bottom of the frame and it shows visually just how close it is to the water line. It is less than 100 feet and that is not news but these updated Google earth photos give it kind of new life because it shows just how close it is and of course it is a tsunami zone and an earthquake zone and a lot of people live within 50 miles of the site and the environmentalist community is concerned that these will not hold and it complete radiation.
Considering some of the time frames that people are talking about in terms of this nuclear storage our people also concerned about sea level rise?
Yes that is a big concern. The utility and the engineer said that the technology is sound has been approved by the state coastal commission and people should not worry. That has not assuaged the concerns of the environmental community that continue to oppose this and support a lawsuit that is persisting for them allowing the permit to store the fuel on site
I wanted to ask you about that. Where are we in that legal battle.
There is a hearing later this month that will determine if the case can move forward. The Attorney General's office is supporting the coastal commission in this and it is something of a longshot case but they are doing -- using whatever remedies they can legally to fight this thing because they just don't trust it to last even dozens of years let alone hundreds or longer until the fuel could eventually be relocated is the idea.
And yet Southern California of it is -- Edison has said time and time again that they have faith in this dry cast storage.
The utility's position is that this technology is proven effective and is licensed by the federal regulators was when it was proposed for decades and they said they have done everything and it has proven safe with the regulations in San Onofre.
A viable -- as I understand it will benefit -- Edison and activists are in agreement that they would like to see the fuel stored someone else.
No I would not say -- there has been some specifically from Congressman Darrell Issa get a committee looking at were to store this fuel more long-term but to say it is moving along I think would be overly optimistic at this point.
Picture that we started talking about -- this Google Earth image may be startling but it does not really give us any new information. All of this has been disclosed in a series of meetings held by Edison.
Edison to their credit has continually promoted these meetings and invited anybody who wants to come have an extensive amount of information available on their website. The critics will say that the committee itself has and stacked with utility supporters and is funded by the utility so it is maybe not entirely objective or independent.
Why do you think the images having an impact? Do you think it is because of the waves?
It is a terrific illustration and her visual image of how close the fuel will be to the shoreline and the seawall is eroding -- I think it is one more thing that the opponent are latching onto and pointing to as evidence that this is an unsafe situation and frankly they are calling on their elected officials to mobilize against this.
-Speaking with Jeff McDonald. Thank you very much.
You bet talk to you later.