People are Freaking Out Over this Google Earth Imagery of a Nuclear Plant

March 14th 2017

Almie Rose

Residents of San Diego County near San Onofre State Beach have been long aware of the location of the closed San Onofre Power Plant — but a Google Earth image of the plant is raising wider concern.

The plant, which was permanently closed in June of 2013, is a stone's throw away from the ocean. The San Diego Union-Tribune spoke to concerned citizens in a piece published on Tuesday, like Joe Holtzman, a "longtime critic of majority plant owner Southern California Edison," who said, "I used to walk that beach so I know how close it was. But the photos are even more depictive about how scary it is."

Though the plant is no longer active, there is still "millions of pounds of radioactive waste" left from when the plant was open and fully functional, according to The San Diego-Union Tribune.

The "scary" part to some is the realization of how close to the shoreline the nuclear waste storage part of the plant will be located.

The Google Earth Photos

The images reveal a view of the plant that shows where the nuclear waste will be stored, and it's "about 100 feet from the shoreline" in the small square-like structures, according to the Union-Tribune:

San Onofre nuclear plant

Here is a zoomed in photo of those structures:

San Onofre nuclear plant

As The San Diego Union-Tribune reported in a separate piece on Tuesday, the closure of the plant five years ago, which closed "amid leaking radiation" is still a hot topic:

"A $680 million steam generator replacement that was supposed to add 40 years of life to the aging plant instead brought its premature demise. Now the twin reactors on the north San Diego County coast generate drama and political intrigue instead of electricity to serve millions of Southern Californians."

And one of those "dramas" being played out now is the current plan for the location of the nuclear waste. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) told The Union-Tribune on Feb. 2, "[The nuclear waste is] just located on the edge of an ocean and one of the busiest highways in America. We’ll be paying for storage for decades and decades if we don’t find a solution. And that will be added to your electricity bill."


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Now with the new Google Earth photos of the plant's waste location available for all to see, more people are speaking up and expressing concerns about environmental factors, the Union-Tribune reported on Tuesday:

"Opponents of the storage plan worry that the canisters may be vulnerable to earthquakes or tsunamis. They say the casks could leak or become unable to be moved to a federal nuclear waste repository if one is ever developed.

Environmentalists sued the California Coastal Commission for issuing a permit to allow the waste to be stored within 50 miles of more than 8 million residents. A hearing in that case is scheduled later this month."

The radioactive waste, which hasn't yet completely filled the planned storage casks, wasn't always stored so close to the shore. It used to be held "in cooling pools between the twin reactors," according to The Union-Tribune. The hearing on March 30 will determine whether or not the waste will be completely moved and permanently stored there.


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As Ray Lutz of Citizens Oversight, who filed the lawsuit against the California Coastal Commission, told The Union-Tribune on Feb 2., "They haven’t carefully looked at other places where this fuel could be safely stored. The location they picked may be the most convenient for Edison but it’s the absolute worst for everyone else. You have the proximity to the ocean, the salt air, the tsunami risk, the earthquake faults, the 10-lane freeway, the railroad tracks and 8.4 million people within 50 miles."