SONGS Not so Sweet


Laguna meetings on safety of San Onofre Nuclear Plant


Since the meltdown of Japan’s Fukushima power plant in March and its undetermined health implications, the safety of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) is the only thing on the minds of the founders of San Clemente Green.

The group’s founder, Gary Headrick, will be the keynote speaker at two town meetings in Laguna Beach next week to discuss the implications that an earthquake and tsunami would induce upon Southern California and the potentially toxic downpour on Laguna Beach residents.

The first meeting, sponsored by Laguna Beach Citizens for Safe Energy, will be held at 7:30 p.m. next Tuesday, Sept. 13, at Hennessy’s Tavern, 213 Ocean Ave., and the second meeting, sponsored by the Laguna Beach Democratic Club, at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 14, at the Unitarian Church, 429 Cypress Street.

With Germany deciding to defuse its nuclear generating stations, pulling the final plug in 2022, Headrick, whose grassroots group is petitioning the San Clemente city council to rethink nuclear safety standards, said the hour for SONGS is getting late.

The most pressing concern, said Headrick, is that San Onofre sits near earthquake fault lines with a 12-foot sea wall in front of the nuclear station that he says is inadequate to hold back a tsunami.  This concern underscores the already dangerously outdated SONGS facility, he said, where any damage would instigate a life-threatening disaster to all Southern Californians.

“SONGS was built to withstand a 7.0 earthquake but sits on a fault that will likely produce at least a 7.5 quake, and statistics show that one’s due,” said Headrick, citing what as his seismic expert? “A lot of people don’t realize the vast difference in the impact from a 7.0 earthquake and a 7.5.”

The parallels to Fukushima don’t stop at the geological. He contends there are similar political maneuverings as well. The New York Times reported that in lawsuits filed by watchdogs of Japan’s nuclear industry, seismic dangers at power plants were underestimated or covered-up to avoid costly upgrades and were ignored by the industry, plant operators and government officials.

“The immense powers that insist on maintaining the status quo for profit can only be countered by the power of the people concerned about safety first,” said Headrick, who describes the situation as a “real emergency” since seismologists say the area is overdue for a major quake.

Headrick said San Clemente Green, made up of citizens concerned about sustainability, depends on likeminded people to help head off an impending disaster. He said the potentially life-threatening danger is not worth the “mere 7.5 % of our energy needs” that nuclear power provides.  He suggests reducing energy usage rather than perpetuating a power source he considers incompatible with living beings.

For more information about the meeting, call Marion Pack at 922-3273.


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