Concerns over nuclear waste generated by the now-defunct San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station expressed by environmental activists for years took another turn in the spotlight on Monday (July 20), as local activist attorney Mike Aguirre called attention to what he terms "SCUD," or Southern California Uranium Dump.
Today, July 21, county supervisors are considering a $1.6 million agreement with San Onofre operator Southern California Edison to provide offsite emergency planning in the event of an on-site catastrophe. The specter for such an event looms as long as spent nuclear fuel, which remains highly volatile for millions of years, remains stored at the former power-generating facility.
Concerns about the San Onofre site as a long-term waste-storage site include several nearby earthquake faults. Experts have called for the fuel to be stored in dry casks after an initial five years' cooling-off period in open pools of water, which Edison officials say they'll do. Still, the casks are only expected to safely contain radioactive waste for about 25 years, though no long-term waste-storage facility exists and, even if one were cleared for construction immediately, it could be decades before waste is ready to leave the seaside locale near a public beach and within a potential evacuation zone that could displace millions of residents in a worst-case scenario.
“It is ludicrous that the same company that created the disaster by skirting safety rules is now responsible for the cleanup," decried Aguirre in a release Monday afternoon. "They have behaved like drunken frat boys, leaving a mess on the beach for the adults to clean up. Can we really trust them to do it properly?"