November Hearing Update 2017

From ActCoastal

By Mandy Sackett | Published 2017/11/21

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Commentary is provided by ActCoastal partners.

This blog represents the views of the authors, and does not necessarily reflect the positions of ActCoastal and its partner organizations.

October Coastal Commission Hearing

October’s two-day hearing took place at the Chula Vista City Council Chambers. The October meeting agenda had several important items including coastal access, marine protected areas, sustainable development and more. The Spent Fuel Storage Briefing informational item drew out a crowd on Wednesday morning. There were also several development projects approved in the City of Santa Monica, including the City Services Building - Living Building Challenge.

San Onofre Nuclear Waste Briefing

On Wednesday morning, Coastal Commission staff gave a presentation on the Commission’s 2015 decision to approve on site spent fuel storage at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS). This was as an informational briefing item to educate new commissioners about the ongoing community concerns about the project. They emphasized that Commission staff does not have a role to play in determining the radiological safety of storage options and that the permit is in compliance with Nuclear Regulatory Commission regulations. They further stated that they did not have cause to revoke the permit, as some community members have asked them to do based on safety concerns. Ground for revocation of a permit are stringent and must prove intentional omission or misrepresentation of information that would have led to permit denial.

Next, Michael Leyton, Director of Spent Fuel Management at the NRC presented on that agency’s role and responsibilities. The NRC approved the canister storage design that Southern California Edison (SCE) elected to utilize by a company called Holtec. Leyton also mentioned that the NRC is prepared to proceed with any court proceedings that would have to come before potential permitting of storage at Yucca Mountain in Nevada, as a result of numerous legal contentions filed against the project.

SCE’s VP of Decommissioning and Chief Nuclear Officer Tom Palmisano spoke on behalf of SCE. He stated that all of SCE’s spent nuclear fuel will be able to ship off site by 2030 as the fuel will all be sufficiently cooled for transport by then. SCE stated they still need funding for DOE licensing, state and federal legislative support in order to proceed with moving the waste off site.

Several elected officials spoke including Mary Anne Pintar on behalf of Congressman Scott Peters, Diana Spay on behalf of California Senator Tony Atkins and Oceanside City Council Member Jerry Kern. They largely focused on the need for federal action to secure a national spent fuel repository. Local advocacy groups CItizens Oversight, Public Watchdogs and San Clemente Green, along with other local residents, spoke and expressed concern and dismay about SCE’s intentions to store spent fuel on site at San Onofre and distruct in the design of SCE’s spent fuel storage system, canisters and monitoring.

All involved seem to agree that San Onofre is not an ideal location to store spent nuclear fuel. The site is 100 feet from the dynamic coastline, and adjacent to one of the busiest highways in the country and most densely populated areas, with 8 million people in the vicinity. The Surfrider Foundation asked the Coastal Commission to write a letter to federal elected officials and ask them to find a solution to the nation’s spent fuel storage issue.

The Commission agreed that a letter is necessary and directed staff to craft a letter to federal officials. For more, see coverage in the San Diego Union Tribune.

Santa Monica City Services Building

The City of Santa Monica submitted a CDP application to construct three-story City Services Building. The addition will extend across the east elevation of City Hall. The City Services Building addition will be a “Living Building Challenge” certified building (i.e. Net Zero Energy, Net Zero Waste, Net Zero Water, etc.), and Net Zero Water is proposed to be met through reduction of water use, water reuse, and water recycling. Reused and recycled water will be utilized to water the proposed landscaping. Moreover, stormwater runoff will be diverted to a bio-swale for onsite infiltration. The Surfrider Foundation supported the proposed development as it aligns with the principles embodied by Surfrider’s Ocean Friendly Gardens program which considers landscapes and streets as opportunities to solve water pollution issues. The building also marks an urban planning choice that protects water quality and could serve to bolster coastal preservation.

Several local residents spoke in opposition of the project due to concerns over potential impacts to public access and parking. However, based on the current inventory, Commission staff determined that the Civic Center surface parking lot and parking structure would not have a significant impact. Ultimately, the Commissioners agreed with staff’s recommendation to approve the proposed development. Commissioner Mary Luevano motioned to approve the permit and Commissioner Steve Padilla seconded. The motion passed unanimously. Check out the vote chart here, for complete details.