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Attorney General Xavier Becerra Sides With Edison And Coastal Commission To Store Nuclear Waste At San Onofre

Surfers pass in front of the San Onofre nuclear power plant, June 7, 2013.

Credit: Associated Press

Above: Surfers pass in front of the San Onofre nuclear power plant, June 7, 2013.

Becerra said in court papers that the commission's permit to allow the deadly waste to be stored at the shuttered nuclear plant is consistent with California Coastal Act.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra has come under fire for backing a decision to store deadly waste at the shuttered San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station next to the Pacific Ocean.

Becerra filed a brief this month asking a San Diego Superior Court judge not to set aside a California Coastal Commission permit allowing 3.6 million pounds of nuclear waste to be stored at San Onofre behind a seawall.

“The permit includes multiple conditions to ensure the project will be consistent with all applicable policies of the Coastal Act,” wrote Becerra in court papers. “The Commission also fully complied with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) by considering a reasonable range of alternatives to the project and imposing feasible mitigation measures to mitigate any significant impacts the project may have on the environment.”

Photo by Christopher Maue

Proposed project view of the canisters that would contain the spent nuclear fuel.

Becerra is siding with Southern California Edison’s plan to place the waste in steel canisters encased in concrete. The company said the solution is temporary until another site can be found.

But an activist group called Citizens Oversight worries the plan is permanent and has sued to block the permit. Nuclear waste is considered deadly to humans for tens of thousands of years. Edison has said the steel canisters should be safe until 2049 and longer.

San Diego Consumer attorney Michael Aguirre is representing Citizens Oversight in its lawsuit. He accused Attorney General Becerra of breaching his duty by supporting the state permit.

Photo by Katie Schoolov

The seawall between the spent nuclear fuel storage site and San Onofre State Beach, Oct. 8, 2015.

“How can anyone go along with putting 3.6 million pounds of nuclear waste on the edge of the ocean and our attorney general who is supposed to be protecting us is just part of the political system that goes with the least resistance and the attitude is, ‘We’ll put it down there. It’s just San Diego, they don’t know any better,’” Aguirre said.

Becerra’s office referred questions about the attorney general’s position to the California Coastal Commission. In his brief filed with the court, Becerra wrote that the commission’s job is limited to the coastal act and environmental rules.

“The California Coastal Act of 1976 authorizes the Commission to consider many aspects of the project unrelated to nuclear safety or radiological issues,” Becerra wrote.

Edison spokeswoman Maureen Brown said the company is satisfied with Becerra's position.

Photo by Katie Schoolov

Existing dry cask storage of spent nuclear fuel at San Onofre, Oct. 8, 2015.

“We agree with the state attorney general’s conclusions that there is a substantial record that supports the California Coastal Commission’s approval of the permit," she said.

The trial over the Citizens Oversight lawsuit is expected to start later this month.

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