Don Mosier | Rimini Road
|Celebrating the closing of San Onofre at the home of Cathy Iwane in Del Mar are (l to r) Don Mosier, Lee Haydu, Gary Headrick, and
Grace van Thillo. Photo provided by Lee Haydu.
Click to enlarge.
On Friday, June 7th, Southern California Edison (SCE) announced its decision to permanently close San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS), thus ending a push to restart the poorly designed Unit 2 reactor at 70% power.
The closing is a rare victory for community activists and elected officials united in defense of public safety and common sense. Eight million people in Southern California and everyone in Del Mar is safer because of the decision to close SONGS.
The most damaging blow to the restart plan was a unanimous decision on May 13th by the Atomic Safety Licensing Board that the plan represented a “de facto license amendment” and that a full license amendment hearing was required. This represented a substantial victory for petitioners Friends of the Earth and National Resources Defense Council, and for all the cities (including Del Mar) and environmental activists who had advocated for a full public hearing prior to the restart. This hearing process would delay any restart for 1-2 years, and SCE Chairman and CEO Ted Craver stated that the uncertainty about when and if the plant might return to service was “not good for its customers and investors."
At a June 4th meeting in San Diego hosted by 3rd District County Supervisor Dave Roberts, former Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Chair Gregory Jaczko said the plan to restart the plant at 70% power “does not instill a lot of confidence in me.” SCE’s own engineers had predicted a high probability of a radioactive steam leak following the proposed restart.
Despite SCE’s repeated mantra that safety was their highest priority, the decision to close SONGS was clearly based on economics and a loss of investor confidence. SCE has yet to admit that safety concerns expressed by the public and experts in nuclear power had anything to do with their decision. In a strange twist to the close relationship between SCE and the NRC, lawyers for the NRC have petitioned to vacate (erase from the record) the Atomic Safety Licensing Board decision of May 13th. If you can’t win, at least you can rewrite history.
Closing SONGS is the start of a long decommissioning process that will take generations waiting for the natural decay of highly radioactive fuel rods.