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.
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.
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.