SCE, Communities Near San Onofre Removing Long-Retired Emergency Sirens

ROSEMEAD, Calif., June 26, 2019 — Utility crews will begin Monday depowering the 50 community alert sirens once required for operation of the San Onofre nuclear plant. The sirens are located within a 10-mile radius of the plant in the communities of San Clemente, Dana Point, San Juan Capistrano, unincorporated Orange County, the Camp Pendleton Marine base and on state park lands.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission, along with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, determined in 2015 the sirens were unnecessary because accident scenarios at the defueled nuclear plant can no longer exceed Environmental Protection Agency protective action values that recommend evacuation or sheltering in place.

While the reactors at San Onofre were operating, the sirens would only have been activated during the two highest emergency levels, known as a site-area and a general emergency. Neither can occur at San Onofre now that the reactors are retired. In the more than 39 years that the sirens were in service, they were never activated due to an emergency at San Onofre.

“Although emergency planning requirements are changing with the elimination of almost all accident scenarios, we continue to maintain a robust emergency planning and preparedness program,” said Kelli Gallion, SCE’s senior manager for Emergency Planning at San Onofre. “We thank our local community partners for working with us on the siren removal process.”

Local communities were given the option of maintaining the sirens or poles for their own use. While none are keeping the actual siren function, some jurisdictions will be keeping the physical infrastructure. Camp Pendleton, for instance, will use the siren hardware as part of its public address system. In other communities, the poles on which the sirens were attached will remain for street lighting or to support communication or video infrastructure. The three sirens located on California State Parks land will be removed and the areas will be served by the adjacent communities and Camp Pendleton.

See below for more information on how communities will use any remaining pole infrastructure:

San Clemente – 19 sirens: San Clemente will retain five poles to support existing streetlights and infrastructure. The city has an active Emergency Planning and Preparedness program with details available here.

San Juan Capistrano – 9 sirens: San Juan Capistrano will be retaining two of the poles to support existing streetlights and infrastructure. The city maintains a comprehensive Emergency Management program and encourages residents to learn more about these efforts here.

Dana Point – 8 sirens: Dana Point is keeping seven of the eight poles installed by SCE and is actively looking for a new system that will provide the city with additional siren and messaging capabilities and allow for clear verbal messaging. The system would be used to disseminate information regarding disasters, hazards or public announcements, as well as providing systemwide and individual siren control for disbursement of specific information to specific areas of the city.

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