If you live anywhere near the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, (SONGS) which straddles the border of Orange and San Diego counties near San Clemente and Camp Pendleton, then boy does the Alliance for Nuclear Responsibility have a treat for you. All this week, according to a story in yesterday's Orange County Register, the nuclear energy watchdog group will be posting signs in prominent locations that are meant to draw attention to the risk of a Japan-style nuclear emergency.
"Warning: San Onofre Evacuation Route," say the signs, which are yellow with red type and cheerfully decorated with toxic waste symbols. The Register says about 100 signs will be posted on private property "with the consent of the landowners" in a 10 to 20 mile radius of the plant. It's unclear from the story if the group's idea is to actually place the signs on along a specific evacuation route, or if the idea is that any road leading away from the plant is an evacuation route.
In fact, the question of how the tens of thousands of people who live in the immediate vicinity of SONGS, not to mention the hundreds of thousands of people who live nearby, would actually evacuate, is a pretty serious topic these days. As anyone who's been stuck in traffic on Interstate 5 in San Clemente already knows, the freeway could easily be mistaken for a parking lot on most afternoons. San Clemente's city council, which plans to hold a special community meeting on Sept. 27 to discuss concerns about SONGS, is also trying to secure federal funding "to help extend Avenida La Pata from San Clemente to San Juan Capistrano to provide an alternative to I-5 if evacuation is needed."
The city council is also trying to pressure the federal government to speed up efforts to find a long-term nuclear waste disposal site, so that the highly radioactive junk that is currently piling up at SONGS can have somewhere to go.
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Meanwhile, Southern California Edison, which operates the plant, claims that there's nothing to worry about, but (just in case, presumably) is also asking the California Public Utilities Commission for permission to increase rates charged to customers in order to pay for a $64 million study to determine if there are any hidden seismic risks at San Onofre.