Oh, Really? OC Nuke Plant Safe, Say Nuke-Plant Officials

Categories: Breaking News
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Now this is a big relief: Southern California Edison, which operates the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS), says its nuke plant--you know, those two pendulous white domes on the beach between San Clemente and Camp Pendleton--is totally safe. And by "totally safe," Edison officials mean it was built to withstand a 7.0 earthquake and/or a 25-foot tsunami. This good news came courtesy of an Orange County Register story on March 12, the day after a 9.0 earthquake followed by a 30-foot tsunami hit Japan, creating a nuclear emergency of epic proportions, with three reactors now close to melting down.

So, what if a 9.0 earthquake strikes along the Newport-Inglewood fault, which is just off Orange County's coastline, causing a 30-foot or higher tsunami?

No comment, apparently.

In fact, if there's any good news to relate about SONGS, it wasn't in that particular story, but rather in another Register article based on a report by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The report lists 23 nuclear plants in the United States that are similar in design to the Japanese plant, and thankfully, SONGS isn't on that list. The plant's dome-shaped containment walls are generally considered much stronger in design and will thereby hopefully prevent the kind of hydrogen explosions that have led to the explosions of all three containment walls at the foundering Japanese plant.

So, to recap. As long as SONGS is never hit by the type of earthquake that just hit Japan, we're relatively safe, assuming that neither human error nor terrorist attack leads to a rupture at the plant or the release of radioactivity or a meltdown. Meanwhile, the only protection for the tens of thousands of people who live near the reactor, not to mention the hundreds of thousands to millions who live within a 100-mile radius, is to stay inside with a towel over your mouth until officials say it's safe to go outside.

And, oh, yeah, don't forget to take your potassium iodide pills, which became a controversial safety measure adopted at SONGS more than a decade ago, which I wrote about at the time.  I mean, who wants to survive a nuclear holocaust just to get thyroid cancer?

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19 comments
zqxz
zqxz

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Mikeogjr
Mikeogjr

I think people need to stop worrying about nuclear power. It is a cheap, efficient and safe way to power millions of homes. The probability of something horrible happening to a nuclear power plant is low, albeit if something were to happen the consequences would be high. Let's look at the disaster in Japan and lets take the chance to improve on our current nuclear reactors.

A 9.0 earth quake just struck Japan and the power plant was fine. Then a 33 foot tsunami hit the plant. Three hydrogen explosions later and the plant still isn't leaking enough radioactive material to harm the local environment. Let's see any other kind of main-line power plant in the world pull that off.

DrStrangelov
DrStrangelov

Let me articulate something. I helped build SONGS in the 80s. It is truely safe in my opinion. At the time there was a lot of talk about earthquakes and faults. The bottom line, the "design basis earthquake" was defined and the plant was designed to it. What was seen in Japan was not one DBE but two "beyond design basis events"! This was a double whammy that no technology is designed. Engineering requires a design basis. Buildings have a design basis. The Twin Towers were not designed to withstand the high temperatures from burning jet fuel, so they toppled under their own weight. We can not design to a "beyond design basis" until the bounding event is defined. This event has been defined and accepted by NRC. To speculate "well what if...." that is what risk acceptance is all about. We have accepted the risk of the beyond design basis event. Japan is showing us with great valor how people respond to the beyond design basis event.

Callin' you on your racism
Callin' you on your racism

Today's OC WEAKLY racist rant.

Stupid ass fucking bottle blonde fake titty whore. Whose dick did she suck to get in such an institution? God I fucking hate these spoiled racist whores.

Don't kid yourself, UCLA is full of cunts that think and behave exactly like this. This bitch's mistake was uploading her shitty ass fucktarded opinions to youtube.

----

You see Nick, your pathetic paper also posts overtly racist and bigoted comments. But its OK when its directed at White folks?

Jessica D
Jessica D

Nothing like blowing things way out of proportion. I live in Carlsbad and I'm not concerned. The thing is - there are experts who analyze this stuff and they probably know a lot more about seismology than you do (or me). A 9.0 is VERY HIGHLY UNLIKELY to strike along the fault you mentioned. The experts look at the surrounding faults, analyze the potential earthquake magnitudes and potential tsunami effects and then build accordingly. And a 100 mile radius? Please. More fear mongering!

Kaonashi
Kaonashi

James is correct. The Fukushima reactors were built over a period beginning in 1967, yet they managed to withstand the quake quite well. It was the tsunami that destroyed the backup generators that led to the cascading tragedy we have before us. Ironic how the most low-tech piece of that puzzle is what brought it all down.

SONGS will never face a similar-sized tsunami, and at any rate its generators are better protected.

Not to say that there are no worries, but power must come from somewhere, and I'd rather have SONGS in OC than some coal-powered plant.

Christiexox1
Christiexox1

I just heard there is a small leak at it will be in San Clemente in 11 days and last for 2 months... is that true?

James W.
James W.

I'm going to assume that you're not a geologist. We aren't capable of having an earthquake/tsunami event in southern california similar to the one that just occured in Japan. Our major earthquakes are typically caused by the lateral motion of plates travelling past each other, while the earthquakes in Japan are typically caused by vertical plate movement. That difference is due to different plate boundaries that exist in each region. Japan sits on a convergent plate boundary, where the oceanic plate is subducting underneath the continental plate. In our case, we are situated on a transform boundary, where the two plates are sliding past each other. In fact, the Newport-Inglewood fault that you cited typifies this type of movement. Additionally, the N-I fault isn't thought to be capable of generating much more than a 7.0-7.5 magnitude earthquake. This type of motion is not conducive to generating the tsunami events seen in Japan. Not to imply that a tsunami couldn't be generated elsewhere and travel to our coast, as we saw along the California coast recently, but that is a much smaller concern.

It looks like you guys could use a science editor to proof some of your articles. I'd be more than happy to contribute some time if needed.

Nschou
Nschou

Thanks, Dr. Strangeluv for being honest about the fact he worked at SONGS. What about you, Mikeogjr? Do you have any ties to the plant or the nuclear industry? Let's just start out by being honest about our affiliations, why don't we. That said, your comment underlines how inherently dangerous nuclear power is. That's the whole point, of course. My post makes clear that SONGS was designed and built better than the one in Japan. As Dr. Strangeluv says, you can't design a nuclear power plant for the kind of double whammy that Japan just experienced. But these things do happen. And now, Japanese officials are announcing that all emergency workers trying to contain the meltdown have evacuated the plant. Everyone within a 20 mile radius of the plant has been evacuated. What's next?

CNN is reporting that the plant has essentially been abandoned to its own fate, with radiation levels too high for workers to remain on site without risk of dea. No matter how well you build a nuclear reactor--and as my post makes clear, San Onofre was designed better than the one in Japan--you can't design it to prevent either human error or mother nature from turning your construction project into a disaster that, in this case, could rival the earthquake and tsunami. Let's pray that doesn't happen in Japan.

Nschou
Nschou

Yeah, we know all about that. Look at my last Fustercluck column where I explain that I'm tired of reading racist comments on both the Register and the Weekly's website, which is why I've stopped the column. We don't censor our comments, though, unlike the Register; therein lies the distinction. We also allow one-note morons to comment on stories, which is where you come in.

Bobo
Bobo

Thank you for your information...very enlightening. Please ignore the voices of the ignorant, who have nothing worthwhile to say, and say it loudly.

Jay
Jay

I would suggest a few news writers before they worry about a science editor.

They should stick to what they know best; ads for discounted plastic surgeons and feeling superior...

The guest that wouldn't leave
The guest that wouldn't leave

"Typically" this and "Typically" that..."fault isn't *thought* to be capable"... None of that makes me feel warm and fuzzy.

And what about the possibility of undiscovered faults in the area?

Callin' you on your racism
Callin' you on your racism

So the Register keeps offensive comments out, the Weakly allows them to be printed yet you spent countless hours keeping the Fustercluck aimed at the Register? wow Nick either the Orange Sunshine or the Nuke plant has affected your reasoning, or both. For you and your readers, I have only pity.

gustavoarellano
gustavoarellano

We also need a few good commentators to replace the masochistic morons such as yourself who read a paper they supposedly think sucks...

Bob Myers
Bob Myers

An undiscovered fault is possible, but not one that could generate a 9.0 quake. It takes a really, really large fault to create a quake that big - it's just not possible there could be an undiscovered fault big enough to do that. It would have to be literally hundreds of miles long.

Sorry about the lack of "warm and fuzzy" feelings, but that's not what scientists do. Scientists tell you what we know, to the best of our knowledge, which, in this case, is quite good.

gustavoarellano
gustavoarellano

Go back to to your American TP circle jerk, already...

Nschou
Nschou

Man, you're dumb. And creepy. Go away now.

Jay
Jay

masochistic? I don't think you know what that word means...

This article popped up on my front page, I didn't know it was OC POORLY until it opened.

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