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In San Clemente, price of ocean views may be peace of mind

December 26, 2010 | 11:54 am

Siren test in San Clemente

When your closest neighbors include Southern California's only nuclear power plant and its largest military base, you hardly even blink when the thunder of high explosives echoes over the hills or sirens wail a nuclear-alert drill.

Exposure to danger comes with the geography of San Clemente, a prosperous, laid-back Orange County beach town flanked on three sides by steep, brush-covered hillsides, the San Onofre power plant and the Pacific Ocean.

Wildfires often break out during military exercises in the hills of Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton or in coastal canyons that creep down the hillsides toward the ocean. Heavy rains sometimes saturate the hillsides, causing destructive landslides. There are tsunami warning signs posted near the shoreline. And medicine cabinets are stocked with potassium iodide tablets because of the remote, but real, possibility of a nuclear accident.

Read more: "Beach town lives on the edge of danger."

-- Tony Barboza

Photo: A test of the local emergency sirens interrupts Kathy and Dennis Godbout's breakfast in San Clemente. Credit: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times / Oct. 20, 2010

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