San Onofre Nuke Plant Needs Inspection Now, Say Senators Boxer and Feinstein

Categories: Breaking News
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One of the terrible ironies of the unfolding nuclear crisis in Japan is that two of the reactors that are overheating weren't even turned on when the earthquake and tsunami occurred. What sparked their meltdowns weren't the reactors, which were cool, but rather the toxic waste being stored next to them in so-called cooling ponds. Here in California, such waste has been piling up at our two reactors in San Onofre and Diablo Canyon ever since 2000, when it became clear there was no place else to put it.

The presence of all this nuclear waste at a location--a nuke plant, which is inherently dangerous--has never been lost on anti-nuke activists. You can read a story about their concerns regarding San Onofre's toxic waste stockpile that I wrote all the way back in November 2000 right here. Chief among their worries is the fact that the nuke plant sits alongside a seismic fault, which is apparently the exact same concern now being voiced by both California Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein.

We first heard word of a letter that they just sent to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) about San Onofre in a Fountain Valley Patch story today. Their letter apparently cited the fact that a recent California Energy Commission (CEC) study found that while San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station was only built to sustain a 7.0 earthquake, there's reason to believe that much more powerful earthquakes could strike along the nearby Christianitos fault.

"The unfolding nuclear disaster in Japan has raised questions about the safety of nuclear-power plants here in the U.S.," the letter states. "As senators from California, we are particularly interested in the safety of San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, located in San Clemente, and the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant near San Luis Obispo, both of which are near earthquake faults."

Boxer and Feinstein point out that while about 424,000 people live within 50 miles of the Diablo Canyon plant, for San Onofre, that number is 7.4 million. Officials with So Cal Edison, which operates San Onofre, routinely claim the greatest intensity earthquake that could possibly strike the plant is 7.0, which poses no threat. But Boxer and Feinstein want the NRC to look into the recent CEC study and also determine if any new faults have been identified since the plants began operating.

Strangely, despite the seeming comprehensiveness of their letter to the NRC, Boxer and Feinstein's letter makes no reference at all to what would happen to all that nuclear waste being stored in cooling ponds at the nuke plant in the event of a catastrophic earthquake or tsunami.

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17 comments
Rwolf
Rwolf

Nuclear Reactor Risks

If Japan’s damaged nuclear reactors continue to leak radiation into the air and oceans, many exporting industries may be damaged by radiation contamination. For example fishing industries. How far will millions of gallons of radioactive water travel dumped from damaged Japanese reactors? Will Radioactive Fish migrate to other nation’s waters affecting other countries? One can foresee grocery store and seafood restaurant customers checking purchased seafood with a Geiger counter. If Japan’s damaged nuclear reactors continue leaking radiation into the air, could over a period of time that cause dangerous levels of radiation to be absorbed by U.S. farm crops and cattle, making U.S. farm products unmarketable; cause U.S. food shortages and high prices. Could several of Japan’s industrial products become too radioactive to export? So much for clean nuclear energy.

In the U.S. most nuclear reactors have to be subsidized by taxpayers. When nuclear reactors leak as shown in Japan, it can be hugely expensive; unaffordable when damaged reactors melt down spreading high levels of radiation. In the U.S. too many nuclear reactors are close to large U.S. populations; 500 miles may be too close when communities are downwind. In addition to catastrophic health costs, a leaking reactor can contaminate for decades and longer large geographic areas, destroying real estate values of entire cities, shutdown industries. The potential risks of operating or building more nuclear reactors in the U.S. can’t be justified considering their catastrophic downside. The U.S. has approximately 104 nuclear reactors. From a military standpoint, U.S. enemies would only need target several U.S. nuclear reactors to spread deadly radiation to large cities crippling America. Nuclear reactors are a losing bet.

zqxz
zqxz

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Leena
Leena

boxer is an idiot.. I voted Carly :]

Dweezle.Di
Dweezle.Di

Then we now know YOU are an idiot! Some stupid bitch Brags about sending 35,000 HP Silicon Valley Jobs to India and China, then has the audacity to run a campaign based on "Creating Jobs"? Drink some more urine flavored tea you Astroturf Bot!http://www.alternet.org/media/...

909Jeff
909Jeff

Me too, Boxer has to go she is such a screechy, petty, nasty, hag. Feinstien I'm okay with I actually voted for her the last time she ran. Mostly because I didnt want to vote for a loser and partly because I was impressed with her introduction of Condi Rice when she had to testify before congress. Maybe I dont always agree with her politics but she remains classy. I would rather bludgeon myself to death than vote for Boxer.

Dweezle.Di
Dweezle.Di

I am a registered Democrat for now, (until a Progressive American Labor Party can form) and I plan to vote against Feinstein as I do not like the way she 1 Supported the war based on lies in Iraq 2. She continually joins Republicans in bills to spy on American Citizens without court supervision (or Subpoenas). She was a co-Sponsor of extending the un Patriot ic act, again limiting our rights as protected in the Bill of Rights based on a panic driven Shrub PR campaign right after 9-1-1. 3. she is a supporter and co-sponsor of the H1B Visa program allowing employers to import foreign workers (from India and China mostly that will work for cheap wages). partially responsible for more unemployment in the USA. 4. She sponsored internet censorship legislation (COICA Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeit Act) which she later flipped on, saying "She did not realize it had such intrusive stipulations" She Sponsored a bill that she did not understand? She continually sides with the most repugnicant of lawmakers such as John Kyl from AZ. Time for a change!

Swknight
Swknight

Shut it down.

There is high risk of Earthquakes now even tomorrow on the

RING OF FIRE!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...

Bill T.
Bill T.

The plant has withstood many earthquakes over it's lifetime. Getting all in a huff because "there is high risk of Earthquakes (sic) ..." is completely nonproductive. Actually it's 100% sure that there will be earthquakes in the not distant future, the only question when and how severe. The plant may well not be safe from the maximum projected earthquake that it might have to weather. But then again, it could be, you (and I) are not qualified to assess that.

zqxz
zqxz

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Drqingchen
Drqingchen

THAT'S SCARY! WE SHOULD DO EVERYTHING NOW TO MAKE THIS NUCLEAR PLANT SAFE! STRONGER TO STAY SAFE WHEN 9.0 EARTHQUAKE HAPPENS.

Bill T.
Bill T.

Where have you seen any credible geologist quoted that projects a threat of a 9.0? The closest major fault to San Onofre is the Elsinore fault with a projected maximum of 6.5-7.5, many times smaller than a 9, the faullt anywhere near having the capability of producing that magnitude earthquake is the San Andreas with a projected maximum of 8, still several times smaller (Southern California Earthquake Data Center). Caution is good, panic based on ignorance is no better than overconfidence from ignoring risk. The correct approach is to have competent people asses the risk, assess the plant's capability of withstanding the stresses then design mitigation, if any is required.

Loricci
Loricci

Maybe if the Lunatic Leftists hadn't prevented new nuclear plants from being built for the last 40 years, we would have replaced the aging ones with newer, better ones by now, with newer, safer technology.

The price of mindless anti-nuclear fervor has been a dangerous reliance on aging plants and the loss of several generations of people with nuclear know-how.

Way to go, Idiocracy; you've made America a more dangerous place to live. Oh, but that's what you America-haters wanted isn't it?

Dweezle.Di
Dweezle.Di

Yes, we now see how Japan is so safe with their state of the art Nuclear facilities built on the "ring of fire". Oh, shit! what do we do with spent rods? No one has any repositories for nuclear waste. Want to store them in YOUR back yard?

gustavoarellano
gustavoarellano

Um, FreeRepublic is thataway...

909Jeff
909Jeff

So what are you saying? You only want to pander to those who agree with you? Thats stimulating...

Erik Gruenwedel
Erik Gruenwedel

I sure the hope to zeal to slash government budgets and bureaucratic regulations doesn’t apply to our neighborhood nuke plant. Local conservatives wouldn’t be that ignorant regarding a potential nuclear disaster in their own backyard, would they?

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