Oceanside sends letter opposing SONGS on-site nuclear waste storage

OCEANSIDE — City Council was in full agreement Sept. 6 to send a letter to state representatives urging that spent nuclear fuel at the closed Southern California Edison San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station be moved elsewhere as soon as possible.

The city letter notes the danger of a radiation leak is compounded by the current storage location, which is on the coast, over an earthquake fault and surrounded by cities. Oceanside is only 20 miles from the site.

A preferred location to store the nuclear waste, temporarily or permanently, is in an isolated area away from any major body of water. A containment facility in New Mexico that fits that description has expressed interest in storing the spent nuclear fuel.

Numerous speakers shared their support for the letter that will prompt state action to OK movement of the spent fuel to a temporary storage site.

Victor Roy, an Oceanside resident, applauded City Council for its push to “move fuel out of here so we can live in relative peace and harmony.”

Ray Lutz, founder of the Citizen Oversight group, also commended the city’s action.

“I believe this is a step in the right direction,” Lutz said. “We need to go through the process of looking for that place (for safe storage), it’s something the nuclear industry has not done.”

The Citizens Oversight group won a lawsuit in August that opposed Southern California Edison’s temporary storage of spent nuclear fuel at the San Onofre site.

Oceanside’s plea to move the nuclear waste furthers the cause.

The only objection to the city letter, which received a unanimous council vote, came from Councilwoman Esther Sanchez. She said the letter does not pack enough of a punch, and objected to edits made to the draft letter. She also promised to write her own more strongly worded letter.

“It says so little,” Sanchez said. “I’m very concerned this is our only position.”

Deputy Mayor Chuck Lowery said moving the nuclear waste off the beach site is a “big deal.”

“It’s clearly an unsafe situation,” Lowery said. “We knew that decades ago. We need to continue, opposing in any steps we can.”

Due to legal processes, which include an act of Congress and wait period for the spent nuclear fuel to cool, the earliest it might be moved is 2022.

Following the meeting, Councilman Jerry Kern, who serves on the San Onofre Community Engagement Panel, clarified that edits to the city letter were to correct and update information that has changed, including actions that have been completed.

“Nobody wants it here,” Kern said. “Cities up and down the coast have written letters.”

Kern added the demand for Oceanside to have updates on how stored nuclear waste is monitored remains in the letter, but will be addressed by the Community Engagement Panel at its Sept. 14 meeting. The public meeting will be held at 5:30 p.m. at the QLN Conference Center, 1938 Avenida Del Oro, Oceanside.

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