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San Onofre 2050: Tide’s in, nukes out via San Diego Reader

Nuclear waste in the sand now will create a toxic ocean later

By Dan Bauder

Are northern San Diego County and southern Orange County headed for another Fukushima Daiichi–like nuclear disaster? Possibly, but not necessarily in our lifetimes. The economic severity of such a disaster could destroy the California economy, flatten the United States economy, and severely harm the world economy while killing and maiming many people, says Carlsbad scientist Tom English.

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Now he is giving lectures about the greed and stupidity behind the decision to bury nuclear waste 108 feet from the ocean at the shuttered San Onofre nuclear plant.

Major owner Southern California Edison has quietly completed construction of its beach-front nuclear waste dump despite promises to look elsewhere.

Why is Japan’s Fukushima disaster of 2011 a possible model for what could happen in Southern California? Japan’s Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission concluded that people should not blame the tsunami for the disaster. Fukushima “cannot be regarded as a natural disaster,” said the panel’s chairman. “It was a profoundly man-made disaster…governments, regulatory authorities and Tokyo Electric Power lacked a sense of responsibility to protect people’s lives.”

Edison’s scheme to pawn the cost of the decommissioning onto ratepayers and to bury 3.6 million pounds of nuclear waste next to the ocean displays the same greed and incompetence as Tokyo Electric and its regulators. As Californians have learned, Edison’s corporate duplicity knows no bounds. The California Public Utilities Commission is a classic case of “regulatory capture,” or regulators run by the utilities. The federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission also bows to utilities, and the California Coastal Commission thinks spent nuclear fuel should be stored where it originated (in our case, at San Onofre) because the federal government hasn’t developed any options for either temporary or permanent storage of this extremely deadly waste, says English.

On nuclear issues, the coastal commission believes that its mandate to include environmental, health, and safety issues has been preempted by federal law, says English. Therefore, the commission has made a point of deliberately excluding these crucial considerations from their licensing hearings, even though they are well aware of their critical importance. That is a fatal weakness in the commission’s nuclear permitting process.

[…]

Edison’s scheme to pawn the cost of the decommissioning onto ratepayers and to bury 3.6 million pounds of nuclear waste next to the ocean displays the same greed and incompetence as Tokyo Electric and its regulators. As Californians have learned, Edison’s corporate duplicity knows no bounds. The California Public Utilities Commission is a classic case of “regulatory capture,” or regulators run by the utilities. The federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission also bows to utilities, and the California Coastal Commission thinks spent nuclear fuel should be stored where it originated (in our case, at San Onofre) because the federal government hasn’t developed any options for either temporary or permanent storage of this extremely deadly waste, says English.

On nuclear issues, the coastal commission believes that its mandate to include environmental, health, and safety issues has been preempted by federal law, says English. Therefore, the commission has made a point of deliberately excluding these crucial considerations from their licensing hearings, even though they are well aware of their critical importance. That is a fatal weakness in the commission’s nuclear permitting process.

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