A San Diego citizens group has filed a lawsuit challenging the California Coastal Commission’s decision to allow the burial of atomic waste from the failed San Onofre nuclear generating plant.
Besides the Coastal Commission, the lawsuit names the nuclear plant's operator, Southern California Edison, and so-called John Doe defendants to be added to the litigation at a later time.
Attorneys for the group, the Citizens Action Coalition, are expected to seek a temporary restraining order and then a preliminary injunction to stop the project until the case goes to trial.
"Could you choose any worse place than this?” the coalition’s organizer Ray Lutz asked rhetorically at a downtown news conference Tuesday afternoon.
“The answer is no," he said. "This is probably the worst place on earth you could choose to put a nuclear waste dump … and the fact that they say this is their best option is incomprehensible. Incomprehensible!"
Lutz said the decision follows a regrettable chain of events starting with SoCal Edison’s installation of faulty steam generators that caused the nuclear plant to be taken offline and shut down in 2013.
That’s resulted in a multibillion dollar loss that state utility regulators have mostly heaped on ratepayers.
Federal prosecutors have been investigating the debacle and how it came about in dealings between SoCal Edison and the state’s Public Utilities Commission
Yet to be resolved is the hazardous issue of spent nuclear fuel rods that coastal commissioners have cleared for burial "on-site."
"It's below the water table; it's at a risk of tsunamis,” said attorney Maria Severson, who’s representing Citizens Action. “It's right behind a seawall within 100 feet of the shore. And they admit there's no technology to determine whether there would even be leaks. It's completely irresponsible. And it is like going to Vegas with our lives."
The lawsuit says SoCal Edison failed to consider remote alternative sites, such as in Arizona and San Bernardino County, and that the Coastal Commission "unjustifiably" relied on the utility's claims.
"They should have made accommodations in their plans for how to store the waste that their business produced, like every other business has,” said Mike Aguirre, Severson’s law partner. “But they didn't. And now they're asking the people of San Diego to carry that burden. And we're saying no."
A spokeswoman for SoCal Edison told NBC 7 that the company has no comment on the lawsuit.
So far, there’s been no response to the lawsuit from the Coastal Commission's media contact.