San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station
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Environmental lawyer Cory Briggs, working for consumer protection group Public Watchdogs, today (November 16) filed suit against the United States Department of Defense, the Navy, Southern California Edison, and San Diego Gas & Electric over the spent nuclear fuel that Edison plans to bury 100 feet from the ocean at the now-closed San Onofre nuclear plant in North County. Government officials such as James Mattis, secretary of defense, were also named.

Cory Briggs

The suit was filed in San Diego federal court. Among other things, the suit states, "if a container storing spent fuel were to break open due to mishandling or due to corrosion caused by the proximity to salt-heavy ocean air and moisture, tens of thousands of people within 50 miles of [San Onofre] could be exposed to levels of radiation that would cause imminent death."

The suit argues that in 1963 Congress authorized the lease of 90 acres of Camp Pendleton land to Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric for the operation of a nuclear plant. Edison owns roughly 80 percent and San Diego Gas & Electric 20 percent of San Onofre. "Converting the site into a de facto radioactive dump [is] well beyond, and in violation of, the authorization Congress gave in 1963," says the suit.

Michael Aguirre

San Diego attorney Mike Aguirre, who is trying to arrange a move of the radioactive fuel in conjunction with Edison, says that suing SDG&E and branches of the United States Government could be counterproductive, particularly if the case is lost.

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Cassander Nov. 16, 2017 @ 6:55 p.m.

Sorry to hear that Briggs and Aguirre may be at odds over this. But it doesn't appear that Aguirre has had a "productive" relationship with SDG&E, or that arguments for off-site disposal are being considered seriously enough.

Seems to me that we need a group like Public Watchdogs to throw down the gauntlet to those responsible rather than rely only on goodwill for good results.


Don Bauder Nov. 16, 2017 @ 9:39 p.m.

Cassander: Aguirre and his partner Maria Severson believe they have a deal with Edison that will lead to the radioactive fuel being moved to Arizona or New Mexico. Briggs and Public Watchdogs doubt that states and communities will permit the moving of spent fuel through their territories. Hence, the disagreement between the sides, although all agree that the spent fuel MUST be moved from 100 feet from the beach. Best, Don Bauder


monaghan Nov. 16, 2017 @ 9:28 p.m.

What to do? The idea of "storing" radioactive waste along the beach at shuttered San Onofre Nuclear Generating plant in Orange County is mad. Aguirre has been fighting the utilities for years and correctly understands that Briggs' strategy of suing everyone in sight may be rash, but what else is there to do?


Don Bauder Nov. 16, 2017 @ 9:44 p.m.

Monaghan: The trouble is that the more lawsuits that are out there, the longer Edison has to go ahead with storing the dangerous material 100 feet from the ocean, as the company is working on right now. But if Aguirre and Severson fail to get another site, we will be glad we have Briggs to fight. Best, Don Bauder


monaghan Nov. 17, 2017 @ 1:09 p.m.

Lawyer clutter at the bench may be a problem, but it seems to me that the situation is sufficiently dire -- public safety and Edison treachery --that Briggs' waiting his turn could be a disastrously calculated risk that, as a longtime environmentalist (as well as a practiced litigator) he might find unsupportable.


swell Nov. 16, 2017 @ 10:03 p.m.

It's great to have these colorful characters in our bland city. I hope that everyone is also enjoying Mr. Aguirre on KNSJ radio 89.1 FM weekday mornings or at online.


danfogel Nov. 16, 2017 @ 10:05 p.m.

don bauder, Months ago, APS said they won't take it and they have no intention of applying for the required approval and licensing from the NRC to store used fuel from any other facility. Aguiree can "believe" what he wants, but the crap from SONGS isn't going to end up in Arizona!


AlexClarke Nov. 18, 2017 @ 7:13 a.m.

My sources tell me that it will take 25 years to decommission SONGS. I wonder what the actual cost per Kwh that nuclear power cost us.


danfogel Nov. 18, 2017 @ 8:25 a.m.

Your sources tell you it will be 25 years to decommission. Interesting. My "sources" tell me that complete site restoration, which among other things includes decontamination and dismantling of all major components, building decon, and removal of the spent fuel and completion of the ISFSI, which is , of course the only true measure of decommissioning, is not expected to be completed until 2052. That is of course, ONLY if things go as planned AND a site is created to store the spent fuel. Personally, at 61 years old, I don't expect those domes to disappear during my lifetime.


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