High profile surf spots and nuclear waste storage are not exactly a great combo – but this potentially lethal pairing is precisely the cocktail that exists at San Onofre, just a mile away from Lower Trestles. Although the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONG) run by Southern California Edison (SCE) was decommissioned in 2013 it has been used for storing nuclear waste ever since.
If this makes you nervous, you’re not alone. About 2.5 million people visit the park each year. As Dr. Chad Nelsen, CEO of the Surfrider Foundation explained on the organization’s website, “It’s hard to think of a worse place to store radioactive waste than feet from the beach at San Onofre, which is in the proximity of millions of people, one of the state’s most popular state parks, and home to some of California’s best surfing areas.”
So what’s the plan to make things safer for the millions of people who live nearby and travel through the region, not to mention all the wildlife in the area? While the answer to this question is still a little murky there is some potential for improvement on the horizon. As part of a recent legal settlement SCE, agreed to research alternatives, and spend upwards of $4 million to analyze more remote inland locations and facilities.
This is positive news but not exactly cause for celebration. Shifting nuclear waste from one site to another is more of a long-term process than an immediate event, and there is no specific alternative plan for storing the waste once it’s removed from the coast. Further vigilance, oversight, and political engagement will be required to see the transition through. To quote Nelson again, “This settlement agreement definitely advances the ball to remove the waste from San Onofre but we still have a long way to go.”
With a situation like this looming in the background at one of the world’s premier surf spots The Good Brine suggests taking the following action to bolster progress.
Stay informed and spread the word. Follow the news related to SONG, SCE, and their roles in relocating waste from the San Onofre location. Post and share articles like this one from the San Diego Tribune or this one from Surfline about the topic.
Make your voice heard. Appeal to your political representatives and let them know where you stand on the issue. Apply pressure by calling, emailing, and voting. Get involved in protests and actions related to the cause. For specific information on how to make contact with key politicians check out the websites for Senator Kamala Harris and Congressman Darrell Issa.
Support organizations working on the issue. Surfrider Foundation, Orange County Coast Keeper, Natural Resources Defense Council, and other nonprofits striving to protect the environment need our support to make a significant impact.
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featured photo by Awnis Alan from Wikicommons