February 2012 home page

Stifle SONGS
Don Mosier | Del Mar City Councilmember


A number of elected officials representing coastal cities from Los Angeles to Del Mar met with newly appointed Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Chair Allison M. Macfarlane on Monday, Jan. 14th to discuss their concerns about the restart of San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) Unit 2. I attended the meeting representing Del Mar. Other attendees were Mayor Teresa Barth from Encinitas, Councilmember Toni Iseman from Laguna Beach, Andy Schrader from Councilmember Paul Koretz’s office in Los Angeles, Mayor Rhonda Reardon from Mission Viejo, Mayor Miguel Pulido from Santa Ana, and Councilmember Peter Zahn from Solana Beach. Each of the cities represented (except for Los Angeles) have submitted letters or resolutions to the NRC expressing concern about the plans to restart SONGS.

Specific issues raised during the meeting were:

• Earthquake safety and new predictions of increased earthquake intensity
• Inadequacy of evacuation plans for neighboring communities
• Failure to heed the lessons of the Fukushima disaster
• Lack of trust in Southern California Edison (SCE)
• Need for a clear and transparent process by the NRC for considering the SCE petition to restart SONGS unit 2
• The enormous regional impact any disaster at SONGS would have
• Lack of general aviation and marine surveillance to protect against terrorism targeted at SONGS
• SCE/SDG&E’s near-term economic losses at SONGS should not be considered nor outweigh public safety considerations

The consensus was that we were all dependent upon the NRC to fulfill their primary role to protect public safety, and that the public needed to trust their process to accept any risk associated with a restart. A full, licensing amendment hearing would provide the best opportunity for public testimony from experts with differing opinions about the restart, and would allow the public to understand any final decision rendered by the NRC.

The technical review of the problems with SONGS steam generators and the proposed restart of unit 2 continues. One obstacle to the restart identified by the NRC is that the current license requires the plant to be able to operate at 100% power, so the proposal to start unit 2 at 70% power for a 5-month test period would appear to violate the license agreement.

In addition, the California Public Utilities Commission is investigating the appropriateness of the rate charges during the closure of SONGS since January of 2012. There is currently an important argument about whether or not the details of the steam generator failure are proprietary information that should be withheld from the public. At best, this can be viewed as an attempt by SCE to avoid further public embarrassment about the flawed design of the steam generators, since it is unlikely that anyone would want to replicate that design.



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