Attorney Michael Aguirre calls the upcoming court hearing on the disposition of the nuclear waste at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station the “most consequential legal issue in San Diego history.”
The central question of the hearing, the former San Diego City Attorney said, is: “Should the court allow burial of 3.6 million pounds of nuclear waste, expected to last thousands of years, on a San Diego beach?”
Both sides of the argument have filed numerous documents in preparation for the April 14 hearing before San Diego Superior Court Judge Judith Hayes.
Aguirre is asking the court to order the California Coastal Commission to revoke the permit they issued Southern California Edison (SCE), one of the nuclear plant’s owners, to bury the waste on the property of the now-shuttered plant.
In the latest court filings on the case, Aguirre argues the Commission’s original hearing was unfair and its approval has created a dangerous situation in regards to the location of where the waste will be buried and how it will be buried.
Both the Commission and SCE have said they are employing sound planning and the best science to ensure the radioactive waste is safely buried.
To learn more about the storage plans, click here.
In October of 2015, the Coastal Commission approved a twenty year permit for the storage of 3.6 million pounds of radioactive waste above San Onofre State Beach. The Commission says the “concrete monolith” the materials will be buried in provides the best possible solution.
Aguirre and others are critical of the plan.
Specifically, Aguirre questions SCE’s plan to remove the remaining nuclear waste out of the cooling pools and place it in 100 stainless steel dry casks in a cement pad, just north of the two domes on the closed nuclear power plants property.
Critics have said there will be no monitoring of temperature and humidity that could influence corrosion and degradation of the canisters. Most experts agree though that the radioactive materials have to be moved out the pools where the material is far more susceptible to outside forces like earthquakes, tsunamis and or a terrorist attack.
According to SCE, if all goes as planned, the radioactive fuel will be coming out of the pools in January 2018. This was originally scheduled to take place next month but has been pushed back.
SCE, which owns the plant along with San Diego Gas and Electric (SDG&E), has said the waste will be safely stored in what’s called the Holtec HI-STORM UMAX system, otherwise known as an Independent Spent Fuel Storage Installation. The power company assumes the Department of Energy will take custody of all the spent nuclear fuel in 2049.
Aguirre told NBC 7 “Just like the steam generators, they are charging ahead without considering the consequences.” He is referring to the steam generators that failed and eventually led to the closure of the plant.