Another Unresolved Nuclear Risk



Thank you Rita Robinson for covering San Onofre nuclear power plant woes for the year of 2013 to its celebrated shut down (“Looking Back on 2013’s Top Stories,” Jan. 3 edition).

As your interview with activist Gary Headrick reveals, we are far from safe from a nuclear disaster here in Southern California because of the continued storage of 1631 tons of spent fuel on site that was never meant for long-term storage when the plant was built. The spent fuel was to be moved for the last 30 years, and it hasn’t been. The cooling pools were therefore not required as stated by the NRC to have “defense-in–depth” nuclear safety features.  We are sitting on a powder keg.

Southern California Edison is paid to keep the spent fuel on site by our federal taxes, so it lacks incentive to move the fuel quickly.  The NRC gives SCE two years to create a plan and 60 years to complete decommissioning.  Any day an electrical outage of more than the two back up generators at SONGS can handle — which is safely eight hours — could create the radiation fire that science does not know how to extinguish.

Electrical outage, Santa Ana wind-induced firestorm, tsunami, earthquake or terrorism could close Carlsbad to Laguna Beach for 24,000 years. The science of dry storage casks must be made public.

Right now even our California Congressional leaders are not being given the information they need to protect California.  The NRC is blocking information in an attempt to make the public accept a federal study of the probabilities of nuclear danger and a generic approach that will apply to all commercial spent fuel in the USA, which it recommends be stored on site for 60 years after the reactor has been shut down.

California cannot afford to wait 60 years and hope nothing goes wrong.  Our spent fuel is not even guaranteed against a 7.0 earthquake.  San Clemente’s city council just passed a resolution demanding answers for the safety of their residents.  It is time for all of Southern California to join this push that will be even harder than pressing for the shut down, but ignoring the danger is asking to be another “dead zone” like Fukushima.  The probabilities said Fukushima should have been safe.

Marni Magda, Laguna Beach


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