[UPDATED with Federal Action Sought:] No Neighboring Nukes Tempt San Clemente City Council

UPDATE, MAY 18, 11:31 A.M.: Facing a full house of potential voters opposed to the continued operation of the nearby San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS), the San Clemente City Council decided Tuesday night to send letters to lawmakers seeking removal of radioactive waste from the plant.

The council will also request federal funds to extend Avenida La Pata as an alternative evacuation route should . . . you know.

The show of force was organized by Gary Headrick of the environmental group San Clemente Green. He and most of the other 26 speakers the council heard from demanded that the letter call for the nuclear waste removal and the road extension.

But they also had other demands that: SONGS to be shut down and decommissioned; the reinforcement of radioactive storage facilities there; the exploration of safe and clean energy alternatives by Southern California Edison (SCE), which operates the plant two miles from city limits; the redirection of the power giant's plant funding to the creation of a smart energy grid; and a reassessment of the effectiveness of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). 

The council decided for now to only address in the letters nuclear waste removal and the extension of Avenida La Pata, a project that has $33 million banked but is estimated to cost $77 million. Because extending the four-lane road north two miles will cover unincorporated land before meeting La Pata Avenue in San Juan Capistrano, the Orange County Board of Supervisors considers its role in the project Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the letters seeking federal funding of the extension and nuclear waste removal will go to California's U.S. senators, Democrats Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein; Speaker of the Senate Harry Reid (D-Nevada); and Rep. Ken Calvert (R-Corona), whose gerrymandered district takes in San Clemente.

Other issues raised by the SONGS foes are to be addressed at a special town hall meeting in September with federal regulators and SCE representatives.

The topic: lessons learned from Japan

ORIGINAL POST, MAY 17, 7:48 A.M.: Opponents of the continued operation of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station drop into San Clemente City Hall tonight in hopes of enlisting some high-powered help.

Gary Headrick of San Clemente Green will ask the City Council to take a formal vote against the nuclear power plant at a future meeting. No action is expected tonight.

In other business, the council is expected to formally allow "big-money bingo" in town.

Besides allowing bigger jackpots under the city's existing bingo ordinance, a proposal passed unanimously by the council on first reading two weeks ago would set up TV monitors in the Elks Lodge on North El Camino Real, linking to other bingo games and winning purses throughout Southern California. The State Senate in September authorized these in California with the Remote Bingo Caller Act.

The linked system San Clemente will likely plug into is the brainchild of Bingo Innovations of California, an Ontario-based company that already has bigger money games rolling in that city, Desert Hot Springs and Dixon (which is between Sacramento and San Francisco). Bingo Innovations bills its higher jackpots as "life-changing money."

If games in 10 locations with at least 100 players each are linked, pots could range from $5,000 to $10,000, the company estimates. By comparison, traditional, single site bingo games might have top pots topping off around $500.

The chance to win bigger pots has also reportedly increased the numbers or players buying in and purchasing food and beverages from groups that have already linked in. Such funds generally go to charities.

The Placentia City Council, which previously directed its city staff to explore jumping onto the remote bingo bandwagon, is expected to vote on the matter soon.


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