REGION — A Los Angeles judge has denied a Del Mar-based organization’s petition challenging the California Coastal Commission for its decision to approve the demolition of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS).
The Samuel Lawrence Foundation (SLF), an environmental nonprofit, has challenged SONGS and its owner, Southern California Edison, since the Coastal Commission granted the utility company a permit for the demolition of SONGS in 2019.
According to SLF, the permit is risky because of the “lack of transportability, lack of inspection, lack of maintenance and lack of monitoring of storage containment.”
The foundation also claims that by approving the permit, the state commission ignored seismic and tsunami risks, and violated its own code and the Coastal Act.
The nonprofit also doesn’t want the plant demolished until its spent fuel storage installations are removed and taken somewhere safe.
Edison’s plan is to demolish the plant’s above-grade structures, including its Unit 2 and 3 reactors, over the span of about a decade, leaving only the ISFSI (independent spent fuel storage installations) in place until at least 2035 or whenever the federal government determines a permanent repository for spent nuclear fuel, which has yet to happen.
After the case’s June hearing, the verdict denying SLF’s petition was released in mid-September.
According to Judge Mitchell Beckloff’s court findings, SLF’s argument against the Coastal Commission was “undermined by the substantial evidence supporting the Coastal Commission’s Coastal Act consistency findings and destruction of the spent fuel pools.”
The judge also noted that there is “substantial evidence” to show that even after the spent fuel pools are dismantled, safe storage and transport alternatives exist.
John Dobken, a spokesperson for Edison, said the utility company is pleased with the court’s final ruling.
“The dismantlement of SONGS is moving forward with a focus on safety, environmental stewardship and transparency through public engagement,” Dobken said via email. “We maintain a shared interest with the local communities to move forward with dismantling the plant in a safe and timely manner restoring the SONGS site for return to the U.S. Navy.”
In response to the verdict, SLF declared it would continue to push for strict monitoring, protocols and handling facilities at “Edison’s nuclear waste dump.”
“In the course of this action, we have gone a long way toward directing public attention to the deadly nuclear waste stranded on the beach at San Onofre,” said Bart Ziegler, president of the foundation. “Our Coalition for Nuclear Safety has solidified. Relations with supporters and government officials are stronger than ever.”