San Onofre Waste Challengers Prep For Settlement Talks

Friday, April 14, 2017
By Alison St John, Claire Trageser, Michael Lipkin
Credit: Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Above: The San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station in northern San Diego County is shown in this undated photo.

Parties in the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station waste lawsuit were to meet in court Friday, kicking off a trial to determine whether plans to store more than 3 million pounds of nuclear waste close to the ocean violated state environmental laws.

Instead, the challengers met downtown to rally support after both sides agreed last week to enter settlement talks and postpone the hearing until July 14.

RELATED: KPBS Special Coverage: Trouble At San Onofre

Activist group Citizens Oversight had sued the California Coastal Commission, contesting the agencies decision to allow majority plant owner Southern California Edison to store the waste nearby.

Citizens Oversight says it will be holding events to gather public comments before the settlement talks begin in about two weeks.

"In 177 days they will be burying deadly toxic nuclear waste that's poisonous to humans for 250,000 years in containers that are only guaranteed to last 25 years,” said Charles Langley, executive director of Public Watchdogs. “This will be the largest publicly owned nuclear waste dump in the United States, it will be located 108 feet from the beach."

Last week, Southern California Edison announced it was in settlement talks over the nuclear storage.

“We believe the parties in the case and many community leaders share a common goal to transfer San Onofre’s used nuclear fuel off-site as soon as reasonably possible,” said Tom Palmisano, the company's vice president and chief nuclear officer, in a statement. “We are hopeful that settlement discussions will permit the parties to reach a mutually agreeable solution.”

About two dozen protesters gathered outside the Hall of Justice in downtown San Diego Friday to challenge the decision. Some wore hazmat suits and masks and carried surfboards, others dressed as mermaids.

Citizens Oversight national coordinator Ray Lutz joined KPBS Midday Edition on Friday to discuss the case and his group's settlement strategy.