East County News Service
September 27, 2017 (San Diego) -- Congressman Issa (R-Vista) took part in a hearing before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee yesterday, examining nuclear waste storage policy and solutions that would allow nuclear waste, like that from the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS), to be moved out of our communities.
“At the urging of Congressman Issa, the hearing included a local representative, the Chairman of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station Community Engagement Panel -- David Victor -- as it is imperative to ensure concerns from San Onofre area residents are heard and prioritized as the House continues advancing new policy aimed at breaking the decades of gridlock over the safe storage of nuclear waste,” a press release issued by Issa’s office states.
Highlights from Congressman Issa's portion of the hearing are below, as is a link to footage where the entire hearing may be viewed.
Congressman Issa: "Is there anyone who disagrees that there aren't a number of places inherently safer [than San Onofre] and that it would be inherently reckless to leave them in the least safe place that one could describe: on an earthquake fault, in a populated area, between an interstate and the ocean?" [Clip here]
Mr. Victor: No. I completely agree, there are a lot of places that are a lot smarter.
Congressman Issa: "I fear that if we do not find [a solution], taxpayers will find that the fund will be evaporated [and] taxpayers will pay hundreds of billions of dollars, if we do not act now and act in a responsible way. I know for an absolute certainty taxpayers are already on the hook at this point for tens of billions of dollars over the next century, but this is a 10,000-year problem in need of a low-cost, safe solution. I thank you and the Ranking Member for holding this hearing. It's a great first step." [Clip here]
Other witnesses in the hearing included:
Mr. Anthony J. O’Donnell
Commissioner of the Maryland Public Service Commission
Chair of National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners
Mr. Chuck Smith
Councilmember of Aiken County, South Carolina
on behalf of Energy Communities Alliance
Dr. Edwin Lyman
Senior Scientist, Global Security Program
Union of Concerned Scientists
Ms. Katie Tubb
Policy Analyst at the Institute for Economic Freedom
The Heritage Foundation
Congressman Issa is the lead sponsor of the Interim Consolidated Storage Act of 2017, which he's introduced to pave the path forward on removing the nuclear waste from San Onofre. Earlier in June, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce approved the Nuclear Waste Policy Amendments Act of 2017, which included language he fought to include that would authorize interim storage to get the spent fuel removed from his district as soon as possible.
The Congressman's H.R. 474, the Interim Consolidated Storage Act of 2017, is supported by groups including the City of Encinitas, the San Diego County Board of Supervisors, the Orange County Board of Supervisors, the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, and the Mayors of Oceanside, Huntington Beach, Laguna Beach, San Clemente and Seal Beach through the Concerned Coastal Communities Coalition and the Angeles Chapter of the Sierra Club.
The Congressional hearing comes on the heels of a lawsuit settlement announced recently by Citizens Oversight Committee requiring Southern California Edison to invest in evaluating alternative storage sites to San Onofre with a goal, though not a guarantee, of moving the waste elsewhere. Some organizations including Public Watchdog and Physicians for Social Responsibility have criticized that settlement as not having strong enough assurances that the waste will ultimately be removed.
Removing the radioactive waste, which could contaminate the region for thousands of years in the event of a catastrophic radioactive release, has drawn numerous protest rallies by southern California residents, consumer advocates and environmental organizations all wanting it moved to a safer location far from heavily populated areas and a coastline subject to earthquakes and tsunamis.