Southern California Edison has a panel in San Juan Capistrano that is supposed to give balanced information on the controversial plan to bury nuclear waste near the ocean at the site of the shuttered San Onofre nuclear facility. It's called the Community Engagement Panel, and it includes San Diego members, including the chairman, David Victor of the University of California San Diego, and Bill Horn of the county board of supervisors.
On December 13, there was proof that this so-called panel is an Edison tool. Pam Patterson, councilmember in the Orange County city and former mayor, was removed from the panel by a 3-2 vote of the city council. The group has four meetings a year, and Patterson relentlessly peppered speakers with tough questions about the burial site near the ocean. Critics of the panel have noted for some time that it was just an Edison public relations effort.
Edison uses the forums to suppress views that oppose its own, says Patterson. "Misleading presentations occur at every meeting," she says. Michelle Anderson, a Laguna Beach radio host who attends the panels, says Patterson "is a voice of reason and speaks for the community and safety first."
Orange County scientist Dr. Roger Johnson says, "Having attended 17 of the 19 [Community Engagement Panel] meetings, it quickly became clear that the [panels were] designed to be a public relations forum to disguise Edison's desire to dump 2000 tons of uranium and plutonium as quickly and cheaply as possible and get out of the area before the accidents begin."
Patterson made such points as a true community representative. Critics say Edison is just days away of beginning the process of burying 23.6 million pounds of radioactive waste in thin-walled containers just 108 feet from the beach.