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San Onofre: From Nuclear Power Plant To State Park?

Surfers walk along a beach nearby the San Onofre nuclear power plant, July 19...

Credit: Associated Press

Above: Surfers walk along a beach nearby the San Onofre nuclear power plant, July 19, 2012.

The Alliance for Nuclear Responsibility is calling on California state agencies to require Southern California Edison to clean up the San Onofre nuclear power plant site so it can become part of San Onofre State Park.

The comments are a response to the State Lands Commission’s Draft Environmental Impact Report on Edison’s decommissioning plan for San Onofre.

The California Coastal Commission is expected to use the EIR when considering Edison’s application for a decommissioning permit later this year.

John Geesman of the Alliance for Nuclear Responsibility said the EIR should consider the recreational opportunities at the site. San Onofre State Park is one of the top five most visited parks in California.

“In our judgement, every single decision state government makes on this site ought to be made with the end objective that it will eventually be absorbed into the San Onofre State Park,” Geesman said. “You need to clean up the radiation to a level that’s acceptable for that kind of recreational use.”

Annually 2.5 million people visit the San Onfore State Park, which includes campgrounds near the beach and the world-famous surf break, Trestles.

Geesman said decisions about the nuclear waste storage site currently being loaded next to the beach are a federal responsibility, but the state has jurisdiction over which other structures are left on the site, including below ground and underwater offshore.

He said Southern California Edison has already collected about $125 million from ratepayers to pay for the removal of underwater conduits off-shore. The State Lands Commission may find that leaving the conduits and pipes in place is less disruptive to the marine environment than removing them. However, sea-level rise and the possible removal of the seawall may result in the structures being exposed at a later date. Geesman said state agencies should require that Edison saves the money collected as part of the cost of decommissioning, in case the structures need to be removed at a later date.

Who Owns The Land?

The land where both San Onofre and the state beach sit belongs to the U.S. Navy. In 1964, the Navy issued an easement to Southern California Edison to build the nuclear power plant next to the ocean. The site occupies about 85 acres, including land east of the freeway.

In 1971 the Navy entered into a long-term lease of 3,000 acres with California’s Department of Parks and Recreation. But that lease is due to end 2021 and the Navy may or may not renew it.

The Alliance for Nuclear Responsibility is calling on California state agencies to require Southern California Edison to clean up the San Onofre nuclear power plant site so it can become part of San Onofre State Park.

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