Thank you Tom Osborne for asking us, “Is Nuclear Safety an Oxymoron?” (Fe. 17 edition).
We are very fortunate to have our Laguna Beach City Council voting to send a letter to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission asking that Edison remove the growing pools of radioactive waste from San Onofre. Of all 104 nuclear reactors in the United States active today, only two locations are in high probability earthquake zones. Both of those are in California, Diablo Canyon in San Luis Obispo and our own SONGS in San Clemente.
California earthquake faults light up the entire state. We don’t need an unimaginable Fukushima 9.0 earthquake to bring disaster to 8.4 million people here in Southern California. San Onofre is only guaranteed against a 7.0 earthquake. The NRC thinks that is “adequate” protection. Japan has spent $120 billion so far attempting to contain Fukushima’s disaster. Only 100,000 people had to leave the 18-mile radius around the nuclear plant. For us, it is millions who would have to leave. San Onofre is an old plant with tens of thousands of corroded pipes and a dismal safety record. It is past time to shut it down and remove the dangerous nuclear waste from California.
What we can learn from Fukushima comes from the words of Japan’s nuclear safety chief, quoted in the New York Times on Feb. 16: “Japanese officials had succumbed to a blind belief in the country’s technical prowess and failed to thoroughly assess the risks of building nuclear reactors in an earthquake-prone country.”
The oxymoron of San Onofre is in the sales pitch coined by Edison, calling the plant the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station hence the acronym, SONGS.
There is no song but Ulysses’ siren songs in ignoring the 20,000 years or more that spent fuel must be stored “safely.” Nuclear fuel is not cheap or safe. In California with our earthquake history, we are playing Russian roulette with our future.