Canister storage at San Onofre
Dry canister storage at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station. Courtesy Southern California Edison

A judge signaled Wednesday he is leaning toward letting Southern California Edison proceed with a plan to tear down the oval-topped buildings on the former San Onofre nuclear power plant site.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mitchell L. Beckloff issued a tentative ruling in which he concluded the California Coastal Commission acted properly in approving the dismantling project, despite a legal challenge by the Samuel Lawrence Foundation.

“Petitioner (the foundation) did not meet its burden of demonstrating error…,” Beckloff wrote in his tentative ruling.

“The court finds the Coastal Commission made the findings required by (law). In addition, the Coastal Commission’s … findings are supported by substantial evidence.

The foundation has not met its burden by demonstrating otherwise, Beckloff wrote.

Beckloff took the case under submission and did not say when he would rule.

The foundation’s petition was filed in December 2019 and its challenge to the site dismantling was based in part on concerns about the disposition of waste storage canisters.

SCE and the commission “have not sufficiently planned for on-site repair and replacement of waste storage canisters so that they may be transported off-site or on-site to a location further inland from the ocean,” according to the foundation’s attorney’s court papers.

The commission, in approving Southern California Edison’s plan, has “authorized the complete destruction of the spent fuel pools,” the foundation’s attorney argued in court papers.

The significant issues regarding the canisters, their inspection, potential repairs and their long-term storage “are glossed over as if they are mere and minor issues to the overall environmental integrity and well-being of the coast and the community at large,” the foundation’s attorney argues in court papers.

“The transportation of the waste material and its containment, should a breach occur, is simply left to chance.”

The Del Mar-based foundation “strives to promote human interaction and encourage broader community access to science, education and the arts,” according to its website.