San Onofre Settlement To Move the Waste FAQs
Citizens Oversight (2017-09-04) Ray Lutz
This Page: https://copswiki.org/w/bin/view/Common/M1786
More Info: Settlement To Move San Onofre Waste
This page was edited by Ray Lutz
, founder of Citizens Oversight
Settlement document, press release, etc:
Please define the abbreviations being used.
- Areva NUHOMS ISFSI = The existing ISFSI uses horizontal canisters and currently has 51 canisters loaded in it. 50 are spent fuel from the Unit 1 reactor, and one has "Greater than Class C waste" which is not spent fuel but still considered extremely dangerous and must be stored like spent fuel.
- Canister - The inside component of a multilayer cask system. See MPC-37.
- Cask - used to indicate the overpack, such as the HI-STAR 190 transportation CASK, or single-wall systems that use much thicker ductile cast iron walls, perhaps up to 19" thick, and a bolted lid which has seals that have to be replaced. Such cask systems do not need an overpack and are commonly stored in a building. The casks at Fukushima were of this design. There are no casks of this type currently licensed in the US that will fit the fuel assemblies used at San Onofre. These are also much more expensive.
- CCC = California Coastal Commission
- CEP = Community Engagement Panel established and run by Edison to provide information about decommissioning and spent fuel plans. Not an advisory group, it has no power to reach a position on any issue.
- CIS = Consolidated Interim Storage - A site where nuclear spent fuel is stored in air-cooled dry storage so they can cool prior to being placed in a permanent repository.
- COPS = Short for Citizens' Oversight Projects
- CPUC = California Public Utilities Commission -- Regulatory agency that is responsible for setting fair energy rates from Investor-owned Utilties.
- DOE = Dept Of Energy -- Responsible for regulating nuclear waste
- Eddy Lea = Cooperative in eastern New Mexico which includes the mayors of the adjacent towns of Hobbs and Carlsbad, proposed as an Consolidated Interim Storage site.
- Holtec HI-STAR 190 - This is the transportation overpack which is used with the MPC-37 canister. It has steel walls with 9" of lead inside.
- Holtec HI-TRAC - This is the transfer cask which is used only for local movement to shield the MPC-37 canister from workers.
- Holtec UMAX ISFSI = This is the new ISFSI which was built in 2017 and has 75 vaults for MPC-37 canisters.
- IOU = Investor Owned Utility, such as SCE, PG&E, SDG&E
- ISFSI = Independent Spent Fuel Storage Installation, AKA Dry Storage Facility
- MPC-37 = Multipurpose Canister, 37 fuel assembly capacity. These are the inner part of a two-part cask system. They have 5/8" thick walls and weigh about 104 tons loaded.
- NRC = Nuclear Regulatory Commission -- Responsible for safety and licensing of nuclear facilities and nuclear waste.
- SCE = Southern California Edison
- SMR = Small Modular Reactor
- SONGS = San Onofre Nuclear Generation Station
- Yucca Mtn = The only deep geologic repository proposed in the United States, approximately 90 miles north of Las Vegas. It is near the atomic bomb testing range.
What is the settlement agreement?
On October 6, 2015, the CCC voted to approve a permit
to allow SCE to build the Holtec UMAX ISFSI at a location approximately 100 ft from the seawall, and only inches over the high-water mark. After that meeting Ray Lutz and Citizens Oversight joined with Patricia Borchmann to sue the CCC and SCE as the party of interest to revoke the permit
. On April 7, 2017, the parties agreed to enter settlement negotiations. On August 28, 2017, the settlement agreement
was announced to the public.
Since you sued the CCC, how did SCE get involved?
SCE was the permit applicant and the permit contained a provision that SCE would defend the CCC if there was any legal challenge to the permit. Thus, SCE then became the real party of interest in the case and thus in the settlement negotiations and the settlement agreement. Although the CCC was informed about the settlement as it progressed, they did not take an active role in the negotiating process.
What are the primary provisions of the settlement agreement?
The main settlement points are as follows:
- SCE shall use “Commercially Reasonable” efforts to relocate the Spent Fuel to an Offsite Storage Facility. “Commercial Reasonableness” ensures that any actions taken under the Settlement Agreement are prudent and take into account a number of factors including safety, technical feasibility, costs, and utility customer interests.
- To facilitate SCE’s efforts to relocate the Spent Fuel offsite, SCE shall spend up to $4,000,000 on the following “SCE Commitments”:
- Select and maintain an “Experts Team” to advise SCE on any proposed relocation of Spent Fuel;
- Develop a Conceptual Plan for the offsite transportation of Spent Fuel, based on considering the following locations:
- Palo Verde Nuclear Power Plant in AZ
- Consolidated Interim Storage in Eastern NM or Western TX
- Any other locations, and we recommend that the following be considered:
- Inland at Camp Pendleton
- Somewhere near the railroad line between San Onofre and Yucca Mtn.
- Develop a Strategic Plan to support the development of a Commercially Reasonable Offsite Storage Facility;
- Make a formal, written request to the owners of Palo Verde regarding the development of an expanded ISFSI to store Spent Fuel;
- Develop the Inspection and Maintenance Program for the 2015-approved ISFSI by October 6, 2020; and
- Develop a written plan addressing contingencies for damaged or cracked canisters consistent with NRC regulations and requirements by October 6, 2020.
- Implementation of the strategic and and transportation plans will be funded by one of the following sources: Decommissioning Funds, Nuclear Waste Fund, or ratepayer funds. Applications will be submitted to the CPUC to access those funds in an appropriate manner.
- Provide reports initially on a monthly basis for the first six months and quarterly thereafter, to Citizens Oversight so we can promulgate that information to the public.
I want to read the entire agreement
The entire agreement with legal stipulations and order that the court maintain jurisdiction is available for your review --> Entire Settlement Agreement - San Onofre Nuclear Waste
Where do they plan to store the waste, if not at San Onofre
Please see the settlement provisions above regarding the "conceptual plan" and "strategic plan". We are always open to additional ideas.
Please define "commercially reasonable" as it relates to the San Onofre Nuclear Dump settlement
This term is defined in the settlement agreement very specifically:
For purposes of this Agreement, the term “Commercially Reasonable” (or “Commercial Reasonableness”) shall mean such actions a prudent utility would undertake or decisions it would make under similar circumstances based on the information reasonably available to it at the time. For avoidance of doubt, Commercially Reasonable actions or decisions under this Agreement are those that a similarly situated utility determines in its reasonable discretion (a) are practicable and reasonably financially prudent taking into account all relevant considerations such as safety, scientific and technical factors, the regulatory environment, financial costs, resource availability, and the likelihood of success of any such actions or decisions, (b) would not unreasonably impair or delay SONGS decommissioning activities, financially or otherwise, and (c) would allow the Owners to recover all of their costs from their respective nuclear decommissioning trust funds or from the DOE.
According to our attorney, the term "commercially reasonable" is a legal term of art, and is generally considered very strong. It is especially strong in this case because the utilities can get funds approved by the CPUC either from the Decommissioning Trust Fund ($4.1 billion), DOE litigation proceeds, or even from current ratepayers. Because the court retains jurisdiction over the settlement, which is a very rare and strong approach, SCE will have to justify that they actually did attempt to perform under the settlement.
Will SCE load the newly built Holtec UMAX ISFSI with spent fuel?
The settlement is actually silent on whether SCE be moving the spent fuel from the wet pools to the new Holtec UMAX ISFSI. SCE plans do not include moving any more canisters to the older Areva NUHOMS ISFSI. The position of Citizens Oversight is to delay moving spent fuel to the ISFSI until at least the Strategic Plan has been completed as it may be feasible to move the fuel in a "load and go" scenario where the canisters are loaded directly onto railcars and then transported to an offsite location. We believe this site is a bad place for the UMAX ISFSI, and despite getting a permit from the CCC, SCE should not use it if at all possible.
Does the settlement 'green light' the movement of spent fuel to the new ISFSI?
This question is incorrectly framed because it implies that transferring spent fuel was red-lighted (stopped) by our court case. The whole project was originally "green lighted" by the various agencies, such as the NRC, that approved the Holtec UMAX system (including canisters, transportation casks, etc), the DOE, that established the Generic Environmental Impact Statement which says that nuclear plants can store spent fuel indefinitely pretty much anywhere. Our court case put the CCC permit in question, but to actually stop work on the approved permit through an injunction was going to require a $200 million bond. We did not have that money nor could we see any way to raise it. Thus, our court case only put the CCC approval in question. If we did not settle, then we would have gained only a delay, and SCE would have resubmitted their application with all the issues we identified resolved and the CCC would have likely approved it again.
The key decision was made on April 7, when SCE took us up on our offer to settle. If we decided not to settle at that time, then the court would have ruled on it on April 14th, most likely. The ruling could have been to simply allow them to go forward anyway and we would have gained nothing. Or, the ruling could have been to revoke the permit. That MAY have blocked them from installing the Holtec UMAX system, but lack of the CCC permit may not have blocked it. (See "Some groups say that the Coastal Commission does not have Jurisdiction, and could not have approved the waste dump anyway," below) At that point SCE would resubmit their application, and we may have been able to get a few more conditions prior to approval in that process that would result, but it does not appear feasible at all that we would gain any ground on moving the waste to a safer place.
Instead, with the settlement, we started the larger process of moving the nuclear waste to a safer place, which was our original agenda. We consider it unacceptable to leave the spent fuel so close to the ocean, no matter what sort of container they are in.
Wasn't the original goal to "Rescind The Permit"
We could have gotten the court to rule that the CCC must revoke the permit, perhaps. But, realize that SCE could have refiled it over and over until the coastal commission finally approved it. Given that I we do NOT have access to $200 million for a bond to force them to stop, we could not do it with this mechanism. But I believe what we did get was more valuable than just leaving the spent fuel in the pools, given that we did not have the $200 million bond. We have the start of a process to actually try to solve the problem. If we work to block everything, then they just move ahead with the spent fuel on the beach. Anyone who thinks we should have blocked the ISFSI I agree but I wonder why you did not provide the $200 million bond when we needed it.
CANISTER vs CASK issue
Why does the settlement not require thick casks instead of the thinner Holtec canisters?
The CCC has no jurisdiction over the canisters, so it was not possible to include this in our case. Those are licensed by the NRC. The cask system can
be considered by the experts in the strategic plan that is produced.
It is the position of COPS that we will focus not on the canisters or casks but on moving the waste to an offsite location. We see no hope of changing the canisters that are being used at San Onofre and we assert that there is no perfect canister or cask available. All have trade-offs. The UMAX system is a two-layer system that is not perfect but the single-layer cast-iron "thick" casks have their own set of problems, such as the need to replace seals. There is no feasible way to cause them to change the dry storage system at this juncture.
With that said, we do support dry storage that is very very good, for the future long-term storage site, which we believe will be surface storage for quite some time so it can cool. Thus, we have started a new project, the "HelmsProposal" which proposes adding an additional outer layer which provides a sacrificial pressure vessel that will protect the interior canister from environmental degradation. HELMS means Hardened, Extended-life (dual wall), Local (move from water but not across the country), Monitored (7/24 monitoring including leak detection), Surface (not in deep geologic repository because the canisters are too hot anyway for 100 to 200 years) storage. See Helms Proposal
for more information.
Does Citizens Oversight endorse the Holtec canisters?
COPS endorses the HELMS Proposal
which includes at dual-layer cask approach and does not endorse the current system.
In terms of thick vs. Thin, there are advantages and disadvantages of each design and it is not a slam dunk for any single solution that is absolutely safe. Nothing is. The thicker casks have seals that wear out and are a single-layer system that even for gasoline has been banned in California. Holtec is at least a two-layer system. To compare these fairly, you should include the 9" lead overpack of the HI-STAR 190 transport cask. Please join with the momentum of moving the waste off the beach and stop trying to bury it here in thicker casks that are probably just as risky.
Here is the Holtec system. There are several components. Typically, there are two layers in each use rather than a single layer.
We view these canisters as only suitable for SHORT TERM storage, i.e. < 20 years, and it is our intention to have them moved to a safer location and use a much more robust dry storage system, likely one that will encapsulate the existing canisters without ever opening them.
With that said, the Helms Proposal
provides an upgrade path so we can get to a dual-wall configuration, and so we are not dumping our problem on some other community without solving some of the key storage risk issues.
Why can't we get agreement that both thick canisters and movement from San Onofre should not be mutually exclusive. Moving the waste in thin canisters and leaving them would not be a prudent solution. Particularly if you are considering another site on camp Pendelton. The devastation from a failure would be just as bad.
I agree that the issues are not mutually exclusive. Our Helms Proposal
deals with the thin canister issue. We hope you will sign on here: Helms Petition
With that said, we did get two big wins to help the safety of the canisters:
- Inspection for cracks by 10/2020
- Repair plan (such as keeping fuel pools or other mechanism) by 10/2020.
Moving the waste is a heavy lift. If we work together and in the right direction, we can get this done. If we get sidetracked and do not lift in concert, the lift is too heavy. We must lift together, in the same direction. Do I know how it will work out? Not exactly. But I know that if we all work together, big things can happen.
Can't someone make SMALLER cans? Why so huge??
These canisters were originally designed as a way to prudently cheaply store spent fuel outside the spent fuel pools, given that the Federal Govt had promised to take the spent fuel by Jan 1998. The notion was that a geologic repository was right around the corner, and that notion was completely false. It is clear that the nuclear industry has done a very bad job of standardizing and looking to the future of actually moving this stuff away from sensitive areas.
The plants continue to run even though there is nothing to be done with the waste. At first, it accumulated in the spent fuel pools until they were completely full. The first step was to pack the fuel assemblies into the spent fuel pools much tighter than originally designed. Now, they have reached that limit, with the fuel assemblies "racked" in the pools with the same density as those in the reactor itself.
At that point, they came up with the dry storage cask solution. In the U.S. these are generally a two-part system, with a thinner interior canister which is welded shut, and an exterior part, which absorbs the radiation, which can then be replaced as it deteriorates. Concrete does a good job absorbing radiation. This is used in the UMAX system and in the above-ground system. Lead is used in the transportation overpack (HI-STAR 190) we will likely use to move the spent fuel away from San Onofre.
The Federal Justice Dept, I understand, will not compensate nuclear plant operators for spent fuel canisters or casks that are "wasteful" of resources by being too small. All these were planned only for very temporary storage on site, and they are required to put in as much as possible. So the industry has their hands tied by the attorneys in DC. My view is that we already have thousands of these large canisters so any solution should embrace that reality. It would be easier if they were smaller and could be more conveniently transported and protected, but that is water under the bridge. We have to deal with the thousands of canisters we have now.
The DOE did work on a project to standardize the canisters to smaller sizes that would be much more easily transported and would also fit into a waste repository like Yucca Mtn. The canisters envisioned for Yucca Mtn had 24 fuel assemblies, not 37. At this point, I don't think any standards for smaller canisters have been embraced. One good thing about the project we have started with the settlement is that the issues surrounding the movement of spent fuel will have to be discussed.
One rationale for very large canisters is to make it very difficult for any to be easily stolen by terrorists or anyone else. Really big and heavy means they are much more difficult to steal.
What about the 51 canisters in the older NUHOMS ISFSI?
In the settlement, SCE must provide a repair plan by Oct 2020. Some people claim these will leak in three years. We view this as unlikely, but if they do, then the fuel pools will still be intact and it should be feasible to use those to repackage them if there are any leaks. What is good about the NUHOMS horizontal design is that the containment structure around them can be disassembled if it is not feasible to slide it out by pulling on the lid. This is a known weak point, according to Holtec, but I daresay pulling the whole thing out of the Holtec vertical vaults may be even more difficult.
If those older canisters do not leak by 10/2020, SCE is obligated by the settlement to have a repair plan, and that might mean that if they demolish the fuel pools, then they will have to have a hot-cell available.
What proof do you have that putting a thin wall canister into a thick overpack can be done and will work?
Actually, no one has hard evidence until they are used in practice, I agree with that. The HI-STAR 190 transportation cask has been approved by the NRC (and thus we had no basis to change that in the settlement process). They have dual steel walls encapsulating 9" of lead. The MPC-37 can be placed into those casks, that is how they are designed. These are remarkably like the "thick cask" designs promoted by those who claim thick casks are the way to go. They can be inspected, have a bolted lid. The good news is that the technology for making casks for short-term use is relatively simple and well understood, and their design has been carefully reviewed by the NRC to make sure it meets their safety criteria.
From San Onofre, the rail line does not go through any tunnels and there are very few bridges. Most are small culvert bridges to allow flood waters to flow under the railroad tracks. We have 125 canisters to move, and we can legally put five on one train. Thus, we have about 25 train loads. These trains would travel at night surrounded by heavy security. The transportation plan is one part of the deliverables of the settlement agreement.
We have heard that the canisters cannot be inspected or repaired, is that true?
One significant "win" in the settlement is that SCE will have to prepare plans, approved by the NRC, for both inspection and repair of leaking canisters by 10/2020. Repair of the canisters might mean that any leaking or nearly leaking canister is replaced with a new canister. They will need to either use the spent fuel pool or a "dry cell" which is a chamber filled with Helium. In either case, they cut open the canister, remove the fuel assemblies, and then put the in a new canister.
This is absolutely technically feasible and they have included this to make sure any local storage is safe. Inspection is a tricky process because the canisters are too radioactively hot for a human to do the inspection in person. Instead, it will likely utilize high-resolution cameras along with other sensing technologies, such as eddy current imaging. The important thing here is that SCE has committed to providing these safety measures prior to 2020, and that commitment is enforceable by the court.
We encourage SCE to delay loading any canisters from the fuel pool until these plans are in place.
It is our position that the canisters should not be loaded until they are ready to be transported to the off-site location using the NRC-approved "Load and Go" procedure, where canisters are loaded directly on the railcar and are never stored in the ground. However, even with that said, there might be a need to use the UMAX ISFSI on a limited basis, so that the canisters are ready to load on the railcar when it returns from the offsite location and no time is lost waiting for canisters to be loaded in the spent fuel pools.
The thin-canister design has some clear advantages over the single-wall thick cask design because the interior canister can be placed inside yet another cask. If the outer cask develops a leak, then that can be detected long before the interior canister is ever compromised. Our new project, the " 1000-Year Dry Storage Challenge
" will hopefully provide some new thinking on the overall question and guide us toward a long-term solution that will stand the test of time much better than any of the current designs.
Someone said each canister was just as bad as Chernobyl. Is that correct?
An exaggeration to be sure! Chernobyl was a full melt down of a nuclear reactor and contamination of a vast area of Russia and Europe. You are very much understating the devastation of Chernobyl to equate it to stored nuclear waste in a sealed canister. The only way this myth was started was to equate the total amount of Cesium 137 they claim was released
at Chernobyl and the amount of Cesium that is inside a canister
. Those are two very different things. You would have to completely and optimally disperse the cesium 137, and now that the cans have been stored for a while, the amount of cesium has been reduced, since its halflife is relatively short, only 30 years.
With that said, I don't want to undervalue the toxicity of the spent fuel in these canisters. If you stand next to an uncontained fuel assembly that has been cooling for 10 years, you will still reach a fatal dose in about 3 minutes. It is essential that these are stored safely, and that is what makes this problem so hard to grapple with.
Is the selection of experts an open process, and can I recommend an expert to the panel?
Yes, the selection of experts will be handled by sending out RFP (Request for Proposals) which will be reviewed by SCE. Yes, you can recommend people to be on the panel. Citizens Oversight must be consulted on the team of experts. If we have any critical concerns, then it is likely they will be cooperative, because it is commercially reasonable to do so.
At this point, the experts team has been selected and they have started work. See Expert Team lineup here: Settlement To Move San Onofre Waste
I know some people who might be interested in consulting on the SCE Experts Team to be created as stipulated in the settlement. How can they throw their hat in the ring for that? Will the RFPs be issued only to consultants pre-qualified by SCE, or will it be an open RFP process?
I understand it will be an open RFP process. If you want to make a suggestion right now, you can email the ideas to me, email@example.com
I did confirm that it will be an open process. I am guessing they will be posting a place for anyone to respond to the RFP. If you provide their contact information then I am sure SCE will be willing to add them to the distribution list for the RFP.
Citizens Oversight will also be assembling our own "SettlementOversightPanel" to follow the settlement process as it unfolds. This oversight process is what makes the settlement so strong. And you have to understand that the court will take into consideration how we got to the settlement in the first place. The intent is to move the waste to a safer place. If, at the end of the process, the waste is still not moved, they can't just say they decided they did not want to do it after all because in their opinion, it is not commercially reasonable. Instead, they have to come back into court, and justify that it was not commercially reasonable and prove to the court that it was not commercially reasonable. And since these utilities can charge various accounts for the movement, it will not probably be able to be justified that it is too expensive.
The really good news is that the utility actually does not want to keep the spent fuel either. So we are not butting heads here, but instead are trying to work together to solve a very prickly problem.
How can a wider cross-section of the public be brought into meaningful, more lengthy discussion and debate with Edison regarding the fuel storage disaster in the making? The real estate, tourism, action sports, manufacturing, agriculture, biotechnology industries among others need to be brought into this fight. Rather than nondisclosure can we create a system of public discussions and press conferences to bring about full disclosure?
To open up the process, Citizens Oversight has recently announced the formation of the Settlement Oversight Panel
, which will conduct public meetings and review the progress of the settlement. This will provide an alternative venue for discussing the issues which is not controlled solely by Edison.
We are past the confidential settlement negotiations that were controlled by the evidence code in terms of confidentiality. I am committed to the settlement because I believe it is a very good direction to go so we can move toward a real solution. I have conducted many public meetings to provide information about the situation and our desire to move the spent fuel from this location. Although I do support the settlement, I do not support using the Holtec ISFSI at all at San Onofre. Waste should be moved directly from the fuel pools to the remote location.
With the momentum in the direction of moving the waste, we need to, in my view, join with a common and clear voice that this site is unsuitable and the waste must be moved to safer location. No one disagrees with this notion. Now we just need to solve the many problems before us. It is a heavy lift but we need to combine forces and lift together and in a common direction. The settlement sets that direction. The challenge now is to communicate that and get people to understand the wisdom of this opportunity rather than just shooting it down.
You must have spent hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars working on this settlement, are you saying that you won't get a dime from Aguirre & Severson for all the hard work?
That is right -- at least not as a part of the settlement deal. Unless Aguirre & Severson LLP or their attorneys decide to make a donation to Citizens Oversight like any other potential member, COPS gets nothing. I would love to know how to get around this restriction because, in my view, the law goes too far in cases such as this.
Please consider a tax-deductible donation to Citizens Oversight at this link: http://www.citizensoversight.org/donate
I agree the falling cost of renewables is making nuclear power even less attractive than it ever was, but two reactors are still being built in America (in Georgia), dozens are being built around the world, and SMRs are being designed and proposed, and financing is available for them from people like Bill Gates. The industry is far from dead.
True, but it is tending in that direction and it is my belief that if we get the nation to start to debate moving spent fuel and the need to deal with it for many millennia, then it cannot survive. The Russian state-run nuclear energy company is turning to other fuel sources. It is not dead, but it is dying. Those two new reactors may never go on-line because they are already uneconomic. PV power will continue to drop because they don't need any fuel at all, and may run for many decades. The longer they run, the effective cost is lower still. Solar is still on a tear and has already fallen below ALL other energy sources. Nuclear is increasing in cost, and will continue to do so esp. if the waste situation is fully appreciated.
The following diagram, I believe, is the most important chart of our lives. It shows that solar will essentially kill all other methods of generating electricity, and most particularly, nuclear.
Palo Verde is about 70 miles from Phoenix so it's not true that it is "not near much of anything".
I meant in terms of water resources. It is VERY unusual in that respect as all other plants in the world are right next to a major water resource. Palo Verde goes through a lot of water effluent from Phoenix and evaporate it to get the cooling. Uses 20 billion gallons of once-used water each year that could be recycled into drinking water. I believe they filter the effluent before they evaporate it.
From Wikipedia: "Due to its location in the Arizona desert, Palo Verde is the only nuclear generating facility in the world that is not located adjacent to a large body of above-ground water."
Won't property owners near any off-site location object to placing nuclear waste there?
That's why the target site will probably need to buy up all the surrounding land at pre-project values, if anyone lives there. Grazing lands and mining probably those values are not appreciably affected. The 1,000 square mile area around the Eddy Lea proposed site is all either grazing, mining or industrial, and it is next to the WIPP (waste isolation pilot plant) plant which accept waste from the Hanford WA nuclear weapons site. See full site report: https://www.nrc.gov/docs/ML1024/ML102440738.pdf
Some groups say that the Coastal Commission does not have Jurisdiction, and could not have approved the waste dump anyway. What is your response?
A letter was sent to the Coastal Commission by the U.S. Navy (Page 184 from Petitioner's Administrative Record). You can read this letter here:
Fundamentally, if the Coastal Commission does not have jurisdiction, then we created a miracle by suing the CCC and getting an agreement to work to move the waste to a safer place. If the Coastal Commission did not have jurisdiction, then we would have had no basis for our lawsuit, and thus the judge would have instantly ruled against us. But this was all handled in the first rounds of the case, and it was ruled that the CCC does have limited jurisdiction on the coast, so our case did go forward and we got the settlement. If the claim is correct that the CCC has no jurisdiction, then it does NOT mean the facility will not be built, only that SCE would not have to even file for the permit. The NRC and the CPUC has already given it the green light.
What about the Public Watchdogs Case to stop transferring the waste to the faclity?
On November 15, 2017, Public Watchdogs and attorney Cory Briggs filed a lawsuit naming the federal government, Department of Defense, Defense Secretary James Mattis, the Department of the Navy, Richard Spencer as Secretary of the Navy, SCE and SDG&E for an injunction to stop the movement of the waste.
Central to this case is "Public Law 88-82" enacted on July 30, 1963, to provide a lease for the site where the San Onofre Nuclear plant was eventually built. The lease is for
...approximately ninety acres in area, within the Camp Joseph H. Pendleton Naval Reservation, California, for the construction, operation, maintenance, and use of a nuclear electric generating station, consisting of one or more generating units, and appurtenances thereto; and easements in, under, over and upon such additional lands of the United States of America with in the Camp Joseph H. Pendleton Naval Reservation, California, as are necessary or desirable for the purpose of constructing, operating, maintaining, and using electric transmission and communication lines, switchyards and substations, cooling water conduits, pipelines for water, gas and sewage, railroad spur tracks, access roads and other appurtenances to said facilities and to said electric generating station"
The claim made by the lawsuit is that the list of things allowed in the lease does not include specifically the words "Independent Spent Fuel Storage Installation" or "Dry Storage Facility". Indeed, in 1963, those things were not even defined yet as the waste was thought not to be any big problem and would be easily dealt with later.
It appears that the case hinges on the question of whether the phrase "and other appurtenances to said facilities and to said nuclear generating station" includes an ISFSI. Almost all nuclear plants do have a dry storage facility within the footprint of the secured area of the plant, and so it is not out of the ordinary. It is approved by the NRC, CPUC and Coastal commission (they approved the earlier dry storage for the Unit 1 spent fuel and its later expansion). So if this ever makes it through the initial motions to dismiss, then it will hinge on this point. The reader will have to evaluate whether this looks like the court will rule that "appurtenances thereto" do or do not include an ISFSI.
The latest on this case is that on 1/19/2018 and 1/26/2018, motions to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction and failure to state a claim were filed.
Here is the response by Mike Aguirre of the law firm Aguirre & Severson, LLP, who handled the settlement to move the waste, regarding these two FAQS, above.
Greetings: For over 5 years our firm (Aguirre & Severson) has worked to investigate SCE’s unlawful conduct in
connection with San Onofre and the ensuing fraud to make utility customers pay for the closed plant and to endure
having 1800 tons of waste on our beach in San Diego. We hammered out an agreement to develop and implement a
plan to move the waste away from San Diego. In order to make it work we need the Governor, the CPUC, our local
elected officials and our media to support or in the case of the media to inform the public about the plan.
Some of our misguided friends who did not do their homework objected to the plan but failed to provide any realistc
alternative. There was a 5 page lawsuit filed that was given broad media coverage that claimed it was seeking an
injunction to stop the San Onofre waste from burial in silos at San Onofre. The only follow up was provided yesterday
when the group circulated a “breaking news” le er from the U.S. Navy raising issues about whether the California
Coastal Commission had jurisdiction to issue a coastal permit allowing the spent nuclear fuel to be buried at San
Onofre. As you can see from the markings on the attached letter the U.S. Navy letter was already part of the years-old
administrative record in the case our firm filed against the Coastal Commission and SCE. There was nothing new
about the letter. When it comes to the so-called injunction this group claimed it was seeking to stop the burial of the
waste, in the words of Walter Mondale: “Where’s the beef.” Thank You, Mike Aguirre
The judge ruled in this case that no oral arguments were needed and will rule based on the briefs. As of 5/30/2018, no ruling has been filed.