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The Alliance for Nuclear Responsibility has released a letter addressed to the co-chairs of the Blue Ribbon Commission on Nuclear Waste, a group tasked with exploring long-term solutions for the management of spent nuclear fuel.

In the open letter, the Alliance repeats an earlier request for the Commission to hold at least one public meeting in California. The Alliance has long expressed concern about the risks posed by earthquake to California’s three nuclear facilities, including a decommissioned power plant in northern California that still stores its spent fuel onsite. The group’s concerns are amplified as the two remaining facilities, including the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station in northern San Diego County, push for license renewals to allow continued operation past their currently scheduled closure dates.

“[I]sn't there a prediction that the West Coast is likely to get hit with some huge earthquake in the next 30 years or so? Yet we relicense their plants,” wrote Brian Sheron, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s chief of Nuclear Regulatory Research in an e-mail from March.

18 million people currently live within the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s recommended 50 mile evacuation area in the event of a meltdown at San Onofre. This makes it the second most populated zone in the country, behind only the Indian Point plant north of New York City. Spent nuclear fuel at San Onofre is stored in large cooling pools, and there remain no long term plans to transport materials off site to a less sensitive location.

“[B]y hiding behind the indefinite definition of “temporary” storage, our federal agencies continue to play semantic games with a very real threat. Should California allow 20 more years of radiaoctive waste production, and then wait another sixty years for the federal government’s promises to be fulfilled?” asks Rochelle Becker, executive director of the Alliance.

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