Summary: Community Symposium on Decommissioning San Onofre
San Clemente, California
October 19, 2013
On June 7, 2013, civic and environmental activists won a big victory when the troubled San Onofre nuclear plant ceased operations permanently. The current dispute over defective technology between Edison and Mitsubishi confirms how necessary this outcome was.
Environmental and citizen groups had only a short time to celebrate averting the risk posed by continued operation of the plant. Almost immediately it became clear that this site, wedged between Interstate 5 and the Pacific shoreline, poses a huge challenge of radioactive nuclear waste stored at the plant.
Much of the waste is a form of “high burn-up” fuel that is at least twice as radioactive as conventional fuel. Large uncertainties persist regarding how to store this fuel, where the waste will ultimately be sited, and for how long. Billions of dollars of expense will be required to manage these problems. These aspects of “decommissioning” San Onofre were secondary during the shutdown debate – but now they loom large.
At the October 19 Community Symposium on Decommissioning San Onofre, three nationally-regarded authorities addressed the challenges and concerns:
Dr. Arjun Makhijani, expert on Hardened On Site Storage of nuclear waste and long-term management of high-level waste. Dr. Makhijana is President of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research.
Dr. Marvin Resnikoff, advisor to government, industry and environmental groups on nuclear waste management issues. Dr. Resnikoff is Senior Associate at Radioactive Waste Management Associates.
Dr. Donald Mosier, expert on the public health effects of radiation. Dr. Mosier is a member of the Department of Immunology, Scripps Research Institute, and City Council member, Del Mar, California.
Co-sponsors of the Symposium included Residents Organized for a Safe Environment (ROSE), Sierra Club Angeles Chapter, Peace Resource Center of San Diego, San Clemente Green, Women’s Occupy, Citizens Oversight Project, and San Onofre Safety.
Charge to the Symposium by Event Organizers
Gene Stone, ROSE
We are safer now that San Onofre is shut – but we are not safe. Our immediate task must be to assure that best practices are applied to minimize the ongoing risks here. Our ultimate task is to reinvigorate the national dialog on how to deal with nuclear waste.
Carol Jahnkow, Peace Resource Center
Educate, motivate, activate – that is our goal. We did it in the shutdown and now we’ve got to do it in the cleanup.
Gary Headrick, San Clemente Green
How can crucial questions be addressed honestly, openly, certainly, and as soon as possible? An independent perspective is essential.
Ray Lutz, Citizens Oversight
In a situation like this, the focus of community oversight is not to obstruct but to work at solving mutual problems through a cooperative, vigilant process driven less by costs than by a commitment to best practices.
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