Calling the thought of a nuclear plant near Los Angeles International Airport "a bad April Fools' joke," City Councilwoman Ruth Galanter said Friday that she will propose a citywide ban on construction of this or any other nuclear reactor not used for research.
Galanter came to Dockweiler State Beach in Playa del Rey to protest the Metropolitan Water District's preliminary study of locations for a nuclear plant that would produce electricity and convert seawater to drinking water.
The property west of LAX and north of the Hyperion Waste Treatment Plant is one of 30 coastal sites between Oxnard and the Mexican border that the water district intends to study for a desalination plant. The site is slightly more feasible than the others, MWD officials said, because the agency, although it does not own the land, may be in a position to obtain it.
But water district spokesman Jay Malinowski conceded after the plans became public this week that the plant would not open until the year 2020 at the earliest and may not be built at all because of "safety and political" considerations.
"I believe that he is right," Galanter responded, "but I want to make sure that the political pressure does not go away." Appearing with Galanter were 30 environmentalists and community activists.
Galanter said she will introduce an ordinance Tuesday. The law would permit only reactors used for research.
The councilwoman, who represents a coastal district including the airport area, passed out copies of a letter that she said will be delivered to water district General Manager Carl Boronkay asking that all property in the city be removed from consideration for a nuclear plant. (One other city property, the Ballona Wetlands in Playa del Rey, is on the study list.)
Water district offices were closed Friday for the Easter weekend, and Boronkay could not be reached for comment.
MWD officials have discussed the conversion of saltwater to freshwater for more than 30 years. In the 1950s they drew the list of 30 properties considered large enough and close enough to major water lines for a desalination plant.
The MWD board in February authorized a $300,000 study of the feasibility of building a nuclear desalination plant on one of those sites.