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Local Leaders, Scientists Sounding Alarm Over Possible Nuclear Disaster In Southland

LAGUNA BEACH ( — A standing-room-only public forum was held Wednesday night to warn the community about Southern California Edison's plans to bury radioactive waste near San Onofre State Beach.

If nothing is done, the utility will be allowed to bury 2,000 tons of high-level nuclear waste in canister less than an inch thick 100 feet from the beach, according to the newly formed Secure Nuclear Waste Coalition, made up of scientists, city leaders and people who live near the San Onofre nuclear plant.

"Each canister contains a Chernobyl's worth of radiation, and there's 50 of them. And they want to put 100 more without dealing with the fact that ocean air is going to cause them to crack and potentially and even explode," Donna Gilmore said.

The California Coastal Commission approved the beachfront nuclear waste burial on October 6, 2015.

The group told those living within the 50-mile evacuation zone from San Diego to Long Beach that even though the San Onofre nuclear- generating station has been shut down, the real danger still lies in the still highly radioactive spent nuclear fuel that will remain on site for years.

"They have been called rightfully so - bombs in our backyard," warned Rita Conn of the coalition.

Edison has maintained the shuttered nuclear power plant and the spent fuel rods stored there are safe. But some fear Southern California is one earthquake, one tsunami or one terrorist attack away from a nuclear disaster.

"Whether it's mother nature, human error or terrorism, anything could close down the 7th largest economy of the United States for the next 10,000 years," Laguna Beach resident Marni Magda said.

"If we don't do anything about it, people are just going to have their heads in the sand and heaven forbid, something terrible happens," Donna Tiab warned.

A call to Southern California Edison for comment Wednesday night was not returned.

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