October 2021 Hearing Report

From ActCoastal

By Mandy Sackett | Published 2021-11-01

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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 Report

The Coastal Commission’s October meeting took place on Wednesday, October 13 and Friday, October 15. Thursday’s meeting was scheduled for the Hollister Ranch Public Access Workshop but was postponed due to the Alisal Fire. The meeting contained several important informational updates including the Orange County oil spill in the Executive Director’s report and the state’s sea level rise education campaign - The Ocean is Moving In. The Commission also approved the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station’s two year mitigation monitoring program work plan as well as the proposed Ocean Rainforest pilot kelp aquaculture farm near Santa Barbara. The meeting resulted in one vote chart for the Ocean Rainforest.

Hollister Ranch Public Access Workshop

Due to the Alisal Fire on the Gaviota Coast, the Coastal Commission postponed the Thursday, October 14 Hollister Ranch Coastal Access Program workshop. Given the severity of this fire, and its direct impacts on the ability of key constituencies to participate, the Commission chose to postpone.. The workshop will be rescheduled for the earliest possible date in November.

Stop Offshore Oil Drilling

On Saturday, October 2, an oil sheen was reported offshore of Huntington Beach. The sheen was linked to a release of crude oil from a pipeline that connects Platform Elly to the shoreline. An agency-led ‘Unified Command’ was formed to lead all response efforts to date. The Unified Command estimates that up to 126,000 gallons of crude oil have been released. The cause of the spill is still being investigated. Beaches and fisheries from Huntington Beach to Dana Point were closed. Coastal Commission response is detailed in the Executive Director’s Report.

NGO efforts are underway to:

  • Hold the polluters accountable for this disaster. NGOs are fighting to ensure that the company abides by the Oil Spill Prevention and Response Act, a law that requires companies to mitigate ecological harm after a spill and prevent future spills by investing money into spill prevention.
  • Push government agencies and Amplify Energy to conduct a comprehensive cleanup effort that removes the oil and protects public health and safety. Surfrider Foundation was appointed as the NGO Liaison to the Unified Command and is working directly with U.S. Coast Guard, CDFW & local governments.
  • Stop the deadly extraction of fossil fuels NOW. Join us in urging Congress to permanently prohibit new offshore drilling in the Pacific and nationwide. Please take action and contact your representatives in support!

For more information, please visit: https://socalspillresponse.com/.

The Ocean is Moving in!

On September 28, the Ocean Protection Council, in partnership with other state agencies including the Coastal Commission, launched a Sea Level Rise Awareness Campaign called “The Ocean Is Moving In.” It is the first statewide campaign in the continental U.S. to raise awareness about the urgent threat that sea level rise poses to coastal and inland communities. It features light-hearted videos the video and posters of various sea creatures taking up residence in people's homes with the goal of inspiring people to visit the state’s new sea level rise website, [www.sealevelriseca.org www.sealevelriseca.org], where they can learn more about sea level rise and how to take action. The most recent episode of Surfrider’s Protect and Enjoy Podcast features an interview with OPC Director Mark Gold about the campaign.

Emergency Seawalls Update ​​ The season of emergency seawall permits is upon us! The first winter swells are rolling in and washing away sand that has accumulated over calm summer months. Though the use of ‘emergency’ processes might suggest that such events cannot be anticipated, this is a pattern of permitting we see every year that will only escalate as sea levels rise. Last month, an emergency permit was submitted/approved for a 350 foot rock revetment at Westward Beach in Malibu. This month, Beach Road in Dana Point and railroad armoring in San Clemente, among others, are being considered as emergencies.

During public comment, the Surfrider Foundation requested that Commission staff evaluate the status of all the emergency permits and map their location and expiration date along with follow up permit information. Surfrider cited the need for more transparency around the emergency permit process and its impacts to the coast. Emergency seawalls’ are rarely removed. If we doesn’t start limiting emergency permits, it will be difficult to save the coast from sea level rise. Erosion should no longer be accepted as an unforeseen emergency worthy of emergency permits.

SONGS Mitigation Monitoring Two-Year Work Plan

On Friday, the Commission approved Southern California Edison’s application for the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) mitigation monitoring two-year work plan. Surfrider supported the work plan’s inclusion of Coastal Commission oversight and independent monitoring to ensure integrity of the data.

The mitigation monitoring plan and data has been sporadically presented at the SONGS community engagement panel quarterly meetings. Surfrider requested more regular updates at those meetings to give the public an opportunity to weigh in on potential adaptive management needs. SONGS impacts on marine life over past decades has been enormous and must be fully mitigated.

Tangentially, Surfrider is conducting independent monitoring of water quality near the SONGS ocean outfall. Last year, Surfrider announced a collaboration with Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution’s Our Radioactive Ocean campaign to test the liquid radioactive effluent at San Onofre State Beach and to gain a better understanding of how radioactive wastewater from SONGS impacts the ambient water quality and beachgoer exposure, particularly after batch effluent releases as the plant decommissions and the cooling pools are emptied.

In February 2021 Surfrider took baseline samples for radioactive isotope Cesium-137 in both the surf zone and at the outfall site located 1.1 miles offshore. Those samples were aligned with expected ambient ocean levels. As a result of community-based efforts, SONGS is currently the only nuclear plant in the U.S. to give liquid batch release notifications for ocean effluent and post details on the volume, radiation dose and time of release 48-hours in advance. The next batch release will be in February 2022 — Surfrider will again take samples to compare with ambient level results.