State Lands Commission To Hear Public Input On San Onofre Decommissioning

Monday, August 6, 2018
By Alison St John
Credit: Associated Press
Above: Surfers pass in front of the San Onofre nuclear power plant, June 7, 2013.

A public hearing Tuesday is a key milestone for the decommissioning of the now-closed San Onofre nuclear power plant, 50 miles north of San Diego.

Southern California Edison needs a permit from the California Coastal Commission to proceed with its decommissioning plans. The CCC will depend on the Environmental Impact Report under consideration at the State Lands Commission hearing.

At Edison’s Community Engagement Panel meeting in June, Chief Nuclear Officer Tom Palmisano encouraged the public to attend the hearing.

“We’ve been waiting for a while for the State Lands Commission to issue the Draft Environmental Impact report, so that’s an important milestone for us and it’s an important milestone for the public,” he said.

RELATED: Former NRC Chief Says San Onofre's Nuclear Waste May Never Be Moved

Tom English, a Carlsbad resident and retired electrical engineer who has worked with government and industry on nuclear waste disposal, said Tuesday’s hearing is an opportunity for the public to protest that a high-level nuclear waste site is being built next to the ocean at San Onofre. He wants California state officials to get more involved.

“Why is it that we are much more careful in monitoring gasoline tanks than we are nuclear waste?” he said. ”It doesn’t make any sense because the nuclear waste is a lot more dangerous than gasoline.”

“Let people know you’re angry and that we expect better management,” he said. “They get embarrassed into actually performing their functions. Then change is possible.”

The State Lands Commission said it has no jurisdiction over the nuclear waste storage facility already built on site, which is the federal government’s responsibility. The draft EIR contains information about the spent fuel storage, known as an ISFSI, but no analysis.

“Because the Proposed Project’s onshore activities are located on federal land and are under federal jurisdiction,” the executive summary states, "these activities are likely to occur whether or not CSLC approves the proposed project, per the NRC’s operating license for Units 2 and 3."

The State Lands Commission has jurisdiction over an area immediately offshore at San Onofre. Tuesday evening’s hearing will cover whether Edison can leave conduits and pipes buried on the ocean floor in place, and dismantle spent fuel pools.

Donna Gilmore of said the hearings are important.

“They want to be able to tear down the spent fuel pools,” she said. “We do not want those pools destroyed and this would give Edison the green light to do that. Right now, if there’s leaks or cracks in those canisters, Edison’s only plan is to use the spent fuel pools.”

The Coastal Commission will use the State Lands Commission’s EIR to decide whether to grant a permit for Edison to continue with plans to dismantle most of the above-ground structures at San Onofre, including the spent fuel pools.

Tuesday's hearing begins at 6 p.m. at Oceanside City Hall.

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