COGG members learn about San Onofre’s safety challenges
By Elizabeth Marie Himchak
San Onofre’s licensing should not be renewed and taxpayers not cover the nuclear plant’s costs until a safe, permanent solution is determined for its high-level radioactive waste, according to Rochelle Becker.
Becker, executive director at the nonprofit organization Alliance for Nuclear Responsibility, spoke in Rancho Bernardo on Tuesday to Conservative Order for Good Government members and their guests, Marines recovering from war-related injuries at Naval Medical Center San Diego.
“We are not pro- or anti-nuclear,” Becker said, explaining her group’s mission is about protecting those living in the area surrounding San Onofre and Diablo Canyon, especially within a 50-mile radius.
San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, owned mostly by Southern California Edison and located in San Diego County just north of Oceanside, has been non-operational since January when its Unit 2 and Unit 3 reactors were shut down because of premature wear on the steam generators. They had operated since the early 1980s. Its Unit 1, built in the late 1960s, was closed in 1992.
Diablo Canyon Power Plant in San Luis Obispo County is operated by Pacific Gas & Electric. Operational since 1973, its licenses start expiring in 12 years.
Both plants are located near earthquake faults, discovered after construction began. The potential danger of something catastrophic happening should there be an earthquake is real, as evidenced by what happened to the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan following last year’s earthquake, according to the alliance.
Becker said her group is pressuring state officials and regulatory groups such as the California Energy Commission and California Public Utilities Commission to “do their job” when it comes to making sure the plants are safe and taxpayers are not paying beyond what they should for their continued operation, maintenance and repairs.
Regarding San Onofre’s problems, she said the $787 million cap has been reached and any further costs should not be footed by taxpayers.
“If Edison wants to fix the plant and replace the steam generators, it needs to ask its shareholders (for the money),” Becker said.
She said this is a bipartisan issue and the alliance’s position is asking “What does safety cost? Do we want to invest in (nuclear energy) or invest in something else?”
She said the group does not advocate replacing the energy produced by the nuclear plants with something else, such as wind, solar or other technology. But it does question what energy sources Californians should invest in, now and in the future. She also said there are concerns over the lack of a permanent coastal location to safely store the nuclear waste produced thus far, perhaps needing storage for the next 250 years.
“Democracy doesn’t work if the public doesn’t participate,” Becker said, adding “The decisions will cost us money, so we need to know that we are making the right decisions.”
Becker said there are “huge opportunities and huge risk” associated with the nuclear power plant decisions and it is important Californians “do not paint ourselves into corners” when making decisions that will have long-term impacts and potentially make California a national leader on the issue.
She said those interested in learning more about the area’s nuclear-free summer becoming a nuclear-free future and donating money toward the alliance’s expenses can attend a fundraiser from 4:30-7 p.m. Friday, July 13 at The Heritage, 14425 Cypress Point in Poway. The suggested donation is $50, which could be tax deductible.
At the event, Becker and John Geesman, California Energy Commission’s former executive director, will speak. There will also be presentations on making a home energy sustainable via various methods including solar and water optimization systems. RSVP at email@example.com or call 858-674-4889.
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