As a result of pressure from The Surfrider Foundation and the State Lands Commission, Southern California Edison has committed to providing 48-hour notifications of liquid batch releases of radioactive effluent at San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station.

Update November 17, 2020: Surfrider is excited to announce that we are partnering with Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution’s Our Radioactive Ocean campaign to test the radioactive effluent at San Onofre State Beach. The intent is to gain a better understanding of how this effluent impacts the ambient water quality and beachgoer radiation exposure. Our hope is to raise funding for six sampling events: two before an effluent release, two during, and two after. But we need your help! Click here to help fund this important independent testing effort. (The entire sampling and testing effort will cost just $3,300 so any funding you can donate will help).

Effluent containing small amounts of radioactive isotopes routinely get intentionally released from nuclear power plants. For Southern California, that means San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) releases these radioactive materials through ocean discharge pipes 1.1 miles offshore of the popular surf beaches at San Onofre State Park. Released isotopes often include cesium-137, cobalt-60 and tritium.

When the plant was in operation, SONGS averaged 171 radioactive liquid batch releases each year, without any notification. Now that the plant has decommissioned, the frequency and volume of releases has decreased substantially, with 11 releases occurring in 2020 to date. Edison has warned that in the next couple years, the frequency and volume will increase again due to the draining and demolition of spent fuel cooling pools and other infrastructure onsite.

Surfrider believes that people have the right to know about these releases, in advance. The good news is that the dose is extremely low and considered not a health hazard (e.g. based on previously reported dose levels, surfing San Onofre every day for 100 years would result in a radiation dose less than a single dental X-ray); however, any exposure to radiation is concerning and important to be aware of. Learn more about potential health risks associated with San Onofre batch releases from independent expert radiochemist, Dr. Ken Buesseler.

To help track these releases, Surfrider is actively monitoring Edison’s public Liquid Batch Release Notification page. All planned releases announced as of September 29, 2020, will be added to the list below.

November 17, 2020- Radioactive Effluent Release for THIS THURSDAY, Nov 19, Announced! Edison will release about 95,658 gallons of radioactive effluent, causing an additional dose of 0.0101 mrem, on Thursday, November 19. This release, when combined with the rest of the batch releases this year, will account for 0.473% of the Annual Whole Body Dose Limit set by the NRC.

October 26, 2020- Radioactive Effluent Release for THIS THURSDAY, Oct 29, Announced! Edison will release about 103,725 gallons of radioactive effluent, causing an additional dose of 0.0111 mrem, on Thursday, October 29. This release, when combined with the rest of the batch releases this year, will account for 0.305% of the Annual Whole Body Dose Limit set by the NRC (originally this was expected to account for 0.53% yet Edison reported that the actual dose was less than the estimated dose).

October 20, 2020- Radioactive Effluent Release for THIS THURSDAY, Oct 22, Announced! Edison will release the largest batch release so far this year, 103,725 gallons of radioactive effluent, causing an additional dose of 0.00473 mrem, on Thursday, October 22. The October 22 release, when combined with the rest of the batch releases this year, will account for 0.345% of the Annual Whole Body Dose Limit set by the NRC (the actual dose was reported by Edison to be less than the projected dose).

October 13, 2020- Radioactive Effluent Release for THIS THURSDAY, Oct 15, Announced! Edison will release about 20,412 gallons of radioactive effluent, causing an additional dose of 0.00419 mrem, on Thursday, October 15. The October 15 release, when combined with the rest of the batch releases this year, will account for 0.266% of the Annual Whole Body Dose Limit set by the NRC.

September 29, 2020- Radioactive Effluent Release for THIS THURSDAY, Oct 1, Announced! Edison will release about 20,160 gallons of radioactive effluent, causing an additional dose of 0.00107 mrem, on Thursday, October 1. The October 1 release, when combined with the rest of the batch releases this year, accounts for 0.146% of the Annual Whole Body Dose Limit set by the NRC.

California State Park beaches, including San Onofre, have reopened during this phase of the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to considering local water quality, it’s important to remember to follow local guidelines regarding COVID-19 and keep your distance from other beachgoers to protect your health and the health of others.

To learn more about Surfrider’s effort to protect the ocean, waves and beaches near San Onofre and get the waste off the beach, click here.