OCEANSIDE - For more than 40 years, the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) provided electrical power to our region. However, due to premature wear found on over 3,000 tubes in replacement steam generators, operators ultimately chose to permanently decommission the station.
While this decision was reached in the best interest of the more than 8 million people who live within 50 miles of the station, there still remains a lingering problem: finding safe and responsible ways to move the 3.55 million pounds of spent nuclear fuel out of the region.
As the San Diego County representative on the Community Engagement Panel (CEP) for the past three years, that’s exactly what Jerry Kern has focused on.
“I’ve been working hard with local stakeholders, elected officials, government agencies, and other relevant entities to build support behind the effort to get this nuclear waste away from our region,” said Kern. “While we’ve been able to build consensus behind a need to remove the fuel, the difficult part is finding a place to put it.
“We’ve been seeking a destination that’s not only far away from human populations, but also won’t harm the environment,”
The efforts to transfer the fuel have focused primarily on the federal government. Legislation that recently passed out of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, the Nuclear Waste Policy Amendments Act of 2017 (H.R. 3053), included significant language that would allow nuclear waste from the San Onofre Nuclear Generation Station (SONGS) to be moved out of our community.
“We can finally see some light at the end of the tunnel on the nuclear waste problem. However, over the years, I have come to realize that when the Federal Government sees light at the end of the tunnel it often orders more tunnel,” Kern says. “We cannot let his happen; too much effort has been put into coming up with a viable solution on this issue.”
The federal government has been exploring the option of bringing back the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository in Nevada. Beyond that are sites located in New Mexico and West Texas that are safe and secure.
“I’ve been focused on this issue as an Oceanside Councilmember and I’ll continue to do so if elected as County Supervisor. North County residents have a significant stake in the outcome of this process, and they deserve an advocate,” concluded Kern.