Chapter Opposes Ratepayers Paying for Study to Extend Life of San Onofre Nuclear Plant
By Rochelle Becker
Vice-President of National Sierra Club Radiation Committee
By Jim Stewart, Ph.D.
Co-chair of Sierra Club Angeles Chapter Global Warming, Energy & Air Quality Committee
At its February meeting, the Angeles Chapter Executive Committee, with concurrence from the San Diego Chapter, voted to oppose Southern California Edison's request for ratepayer funding of a study of license renewal for San Onofre nuclear reactors, and also requested the Club to authorize intervention at the California Public Utilities Commission.
The Club, consistent with its established policy on nuclear power agreed to the action, so the Club will be protesting rate payer funding of the study. The license renewal, if approved by the CPUC would extend the life of the facility for another 20 years beyond the current license expiration in 2022. Others involved in the intervention include Environment California Research and Policy Center, CALPIRG and the Alliance for Nuclear Responsibility.
The Club's opposition to this proposal is based on it being very premature for ratepayers to fund SCE's study of license renewal until the California Energy Commission has completed, adopted and implemented the results of its cradle-to-grave cost, benefit and risk analysis of the economic impacts of continuing to operate nuclear reactors.
Chapter members in Orange County have been especially protective of the open beaches and are among the many users of the San Onofre State Beach just south of the San Diego County Line; they are very aware of the San Onofre nuclear power plant and the health and safety issues surrounding the plant. Newspapers have reported on San Onofre's less than perfect safety record, including falsified Fire Watch Certification Sheets.
Those who also fish off the coast are also aware of the devastating effect of San Onofre's once-through-cooling process on aquatic and marine life. SCE is supposed to complete construction of a 127-acre artificial reef this summer, just to offset the loss of kelp, algae and animals caused by the nuclear power plant. SCE tried to get credit for future damage with this mitigation but the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that this mitigation should be for past damage only and that damage from once-through-cooling must not continue. To comply with the court order, SCE is going to have to change its methods or engage in even more mitigation. The Club also feels that SCE should not be allowed to use ratepayer dollars to fund a study until issues are resolved around a recently issued Inspector General report. This report studied the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and concluded that 'In the 13 relicensing cases it examined, the office found little evidence that NRC staff had confirmed the integrity of aging safety systems they approved.'
Every year San Onofre's two reactors generate 40 tons of deadly radioactive waste.
In spite of efforts to establish a repository at Yucca Mountain northwest of Las Vegas, the U.S. has no safe depository for this waste, so hundreds of tons have been 'temporarily' stored at the beach site since the 1960s. Much of this waste is radioactive for hundreds of thousands of years. A major earthquake could release this waste into the air, land and sea, potentially costing billions to clean up.
Among the many types of deadly isotopes in this waste is plutonium. One pound of plutonium released into the air contains sufficient radioactivity to kill 17 million people Inhaling 27 micrograms is a lethal exposure.
Edison's request is now being considered by the California Public Utilities Commission. For more information, go to www.a4nr.org. Click on news or sign up for alerts. Letters expressing your concerns can be addressed to President Michael A. Peevey, CPUC, 505 Van Ness, San Francisco, CA 94102 or fax: 415.703.1758, or email via form at: http://www.cpuc.ca.gov/PUC/aboutus/Commissioners/01Peevey/contact.htm.
A reference in your letter to : A.07-11-011 will make sure it joins the correct file.
Local Public Hearings Regarding San Onofre
April 14, 2008, 6:00 p.m.
Palm Springs City Hall Council Chamber 3
200 Acquits Canyon Way
Palm Springs, CA 92263-2743
April 15, 2008, 6:00 p.m.
Visalia Convention Center - Sequoia B
303 E. Acequia Avenue
Visalia, CA 93291
April 28, 2008, 6:00 p.m.
Long Beach Public Library - Main Library Auditorium
101 Pacific Avenue
Long Beach, CA 90822
April 29, 2008, 12:00 noon
Santa Ana City Council Chambers
22 Civic Center Plaza
Santa Ana, CA 92701
April 30, 2008, 6:00 p.m.
San Bernardino Library - Bing Wong
555 West 6th Street
San Bernardino, CA 92410