Agreement Approved to Protect Emergency Preparedness at San Onofre Nuclear Plant

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Legislation introduced by Senator Patricia Bates (R-Laguna Niguel) last year to protect emergency preparedness at the shuttered San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) has helped ratify an agreement this week among stakeholders. The ratified agreement means that Senator Bates’ bill is no longer necessary.

Southern California Edison and five local government agencies announced that they will continue their longstanding collaborative emergency preparedness activities related to SONGS. The five jurisdictions are the counties of Orange and San Diego, and the cities of San Clemente, Dana Point, and San Juan Capistrano. The county boards of supervisors and city councils approved the new agreement at their respective meetings on June 2.

Senator Bates, Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes, and Southern California Edison Vice President and Chief Nuclear Officer Doug Bauder issued the following statements regarding the agreement:

Senator Bates:

“I applaud the agreement that was ratified this week between Southern California Edison and local governments. Everyone recognizes that the continued storage of SONGS’ waste at San Onofre poses an ongoing danger to Southern California. This agreement ensures that affected communities will continue to have the resources they need to protect public safety and health concerning SONGS.”

Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes:

“Achieving this agreement will ensure Orange County residents have the necessary resources to maintain emergency preparedness. I appreciate the efforts of Senator Bates to move this agreement forward. The best way to keep our community safe is to lean forward and stay prepared.”

Doug Bauder, Southern California Edison Vice President and Chief Nuclear Officer:

“After all the spent nuclear fuel is in dry storage this summer, San Onofre will be primarily an industrial deconstruction site for the next eight years. We value our longstanding relationships with the local jurisdictions and maintaining our association with our local first responders for the long term is important to us and to the community.”

The agreement will provide the five local jurisdictions more than $12.6 million for the eight-year deconstruction period of SONGS through 2029, and more than $9.9 million for the 20-year period through 2049, by which time spent nuclear fuel could potentially be removed from SONGS.

Senator Bates authored Senate Bill 465 in 2019 that would have made it clear that local governments will continue to receive funding for costs incurred as a result of carrying out activities that ensure the safety and welfare of the communities surrounding SONGS.

The full Senate and the Assembly Governmental Organization Committee both unanimously passed SB 465. In discussions with stakeholders, Senator Bates agreed to hold her bill to see if a voluntary agreement could be reached and ratified, which occurred this week.

She has long advocated for the federal government to move SONGS’ nuclear waste to a safe and secure location that is far from communities as possible. SONGS sits near an active fault line, adjacent to the heavily-trafficked Interstate 5 and the Pacific Ocean, and sandwiched between densely-populated Orange and San Diego counties.

Senator Bates previously served on the San Onofre Community Engagement Panel (CEP) when she was an Orange County Supervisor. She worked with her fellow panelists to address the issues raised by the continued storage of SONGS’ waste on-site.

She also authored Senate Joint Resolution 23 in 2016 that urged Congress to pass the Interim Consolidated Storage Act of 2016 (House Resolution 4745). The Act would have paired a region that is volunteering to host an interim waste storage facility with communities around the country that have nuclear waste demanding a better storage solution.