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Roger Johnson, San Clemente

Edison engineer Greg Becker says he has been reading that his company hates children and is intent on destroying San Clemente (“SONGS: Time to Relax,” March 13). What has he been reading? Nothing like this has ever been published anywhere. What has been said is that Edison focuses more on profits than on safety. Their attempt to sneak through a major design change to get more profitable steam generators is what caused them to fail and the plant to be closed down.

It is true, as Mr. Becker says, that Edison starts every meeting by saying that safety is their number one concern. That is because Edison has a very poor safety record, and it is easier and cheaper to deal with safety through public relations efforts. All the scare tactics warning that we cannot live without nuclear power turned out to be false. The bad consequences never happened. Instead, we finally have California turning to green renewable energy rather than dirty, expensive and unreliable nuclear power.

Mr. Becker goes on to claim that all radioactive fuel will soon be in dry casks. Is he getting this misinformation from Edison? The NRC now promises that all fuel will be out of the pools by 2074. Edison has been dragging its feet about doing this, partly because they switched (without public disclosure) to more dangerous and more radioactive high-burnup fuel back in 1996. This fuel must remain in pools much longer. The Sandia National Lab experiments showed that even a truck bomb outside the perimeter could lead to radiation releases causing massive evacuation of all nearby towns.

Yes, casks are safer than fuel pools, but the problem is that most of the dangerous material at San Onofre is in pools rather than casks and will remain there for years to come. Does anyone feel safe with these pools and all those casks stored openly next to Interstate 5? They are guaranteed for only 20 years, and the casks at Three Mile Island are already leaking.

The Japanese “relaxed” and believed the safety claims of the nuclear industry. Let’s not make the same mistake.

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comments (5)

  • As usual, Mr. Johnson, you do NOT know what you’re talking about. 2074? Are kidding me? What planet are you beaming from? As stated by everyone except your tin-foil hat club, it is in SCE’s interest, and in their plan, to be rid of the fuel as soon as possible–you can chalk it up to profits if you will. How many times must it be stated before you cease repeating this lie? Do you not get it?The sooner the fuel is out of the Spent Fuel Pool, the sooner they can get rid of those who monitor it, i.e., ME! Best case scenario is January 2018 for ALL of the fuel, but I wouldn’t bet on it being before 2019.
    What Sandia Lab experiments are you talking about for your preposterous claim about truck bombs? Here, from Sandia Labs:
    I encourage all to view these videos for some relevance on spent fuel casks. You can also see:
    FYI, Roger, street level is far above where the spent fuel pool is. So, any proposed “truck bomb” would first have to go through the block wall, cross the narrow parking lot, through the concrete barriers, then a chain link fence, then move down hill through the switchyard (yes, changing directions) some how avoiding all the breakers and thick, up right supports for the transmission lines, and the concrete relay house, through another fence including more razor wire than most people have ever seen, across the east road, before it even hits the first steel reinforced concrete wall, then another steel reinforced concrete wall and then the steel liner of the pool. You may have observed this in a cartoon but this hardly merits consideration in a serious discussion. But, all this is really academic isn’t it for I suspect you really don’t care what the facts are. You have a mission and facts and reality are just an easy casualty. Does your crowd have no shame? Is there no one within your group with any integrity? If the anti-nukes wish to be taken seriously by the majority, you folks have to stop lying.

  • By the way, the casks at TMI are not leaking fuel, i.e., nothing radioactive. It is only non-radioactive helium. This is the usual “slight-of-hand” by your crowd to misinform the public, to frighten them into thinking there is some real reason to fear. Here is a link for info.

    Some statements by the NRC: All U.S. nuclear power plants store spent nuclear fuel in “spent fuel pools.” These pools are robust constructions made of reinforced concrete several feet thick, with steel liners. The water is typically about 40 feet deep, and serves both to shield the radiation and cool the rods.
    And again: The NRC believes spent fuel pools and dry casks both provide adequate protection of the public health and safety and the environment. Therefore there is no pressing safety or security reason to mandate earlier transfer of fuel from pool to cask.
    So, who are we to believe on this issue, an anti-nuke activist with NO credentials, or the NRC whose business it is to study these issues and who do possess the requisite credentials?
    As to SCE sneaking a design change by on the Steam Generators, again Roger, you are lying. The NRC states that SCE followed the process. And California turning to Green Energy? You know oil fired plants were restarted to make up for the loss of generation when San Onofre shut down, but again, just facts that you’ll ignore, they don’t fit your narrative.

  • When I see someone gushing about the benefits of nuclear power I automatically think they are either ignorant of the economic realities of nuclear power, they are ignorant of the inherent dangers, or they are a paid advocate for the industry. I think that many energy corporations bought into the whole “nuclear power is our future” propaganda only to discover after initial startup that nuclear power plants go over budget to build, are more expensive to maintain and repair. The cost of staffing a training department for their licensed reactor operators and other plant workers is higher than anyone expected because of increased NRC standards after the accident at Three Mile Island. Also, the number of work hours involved in fulfilling all of the regulatory requirements placed on plant operators by the NRC is significantly higher than anyone foresaw in the early years of nuclear power generation. Every new law and regulation that is passed can easily add tens of millions of dollars in extra cost per year. Finally, the cost of storing nuclear waste or building an Independent Spent Fuel Storage Installation (ISFSI) is higher because a long term geological repository has never been created by the Federal Government. Ultimately, the operating cost per megawatt ratio for nuclear power is bad for the ratepayers who are footing the bill for this expensive electricity. Perhaps the best thing we can hope for at this time is that the NRC will create a San Onofre Lessons Learned Task Force to establish stricter criteria for safety related equipment replacement projects and an evaluation process for identifying a nuclear organization in crisis. However, it is going to take a tremendous amount of public pressure to get the NRC to be honest and do something about the inherent dangers that nuclear facilities pose to public health and safety. It would also help if more nuclear workers had the personal integrity, and boldness to step forward and report the safety violations they witness to NRC resident inspectors. Unfortunately, the fear of retaliation and professional peer pressure to remain silent is very real within the nuclear power industry. What happened at San Onofre is tragic for the people who lost their jobs, but it is also a modern day lesson on what can happen when an energy corporation ignores all the warning signs.

  • Whenever I see someone attacking nuclear power I think ‘tin-foil hat crowd.’ Personal integrity of workers? How about the personal integrity, or should I say, lack of integrity of the anti-nukes. Again, they lied about San Onofre’s Emergency Batteries claiming they were disconnected for 4 years. Their “expert” Arni Gunderson lied about the Steam Generators; Headrick made a materially false statement which he repeated when he said the tube leak on 1/31/12 could have resulted in a worse disaster than Fukushima; told Vikki Vargas of channel 4 that San Onofre would be rotating spent fuel in and out of casks and that moving spent fuel is dangerous–both statements are patently false! In the US commercial fleet alone, Spent Fuel has been safely moved hundreds of thousands of times. Other anti-nukes lie about things being done in secret such as burning fuel longer, rad monitoring, and make preposterous statements about truck bombs being able to take out the spent fuel pool. I could go on and on about Helen Caldicott, Christopher Busby, and Joe Mangano who engage in FUD, junk science, and outright lies as they take advantage of the gullibility of the anti-nuke crowd who seem to believe anything these charlatans tell them. Do you subscribe to this practice of lies and exaggeration? Do you defend these people and their methods? Are you one of those who would give these folks money to come to your meetings and tell you lies?
    As for economics, let’s look at the darling of the anti-nukes–Solar. Here from the LA Times:

    Of the 365 federal solar applications since 2009, just 20 plants are on track to be built. Only three large-scale solar facilities have gone online, two in California and one in Nevada. The first auction of public land for solar developers, an event once highly anticipated by federal planners, failed to draw a single bid last fall.
    Some power from the three new operating plants has hit the grid, but as of 2012, solar’s contribution to the total national power supply was less than one-half of 1%.
    Gene Stone claimed at the first Community Engagement Panel, that CA had added 2000 MW of solar power not counting roof-top solar. Not sure who’s hat he pulled that figure out of but I cannot find anything to substantiate that–just another example of anti-nuke falsehoods. Even if this was true, equating 2000 MW of solar, which operates less than half the time (capacity factor of 25-28%) does not make up for San Onofre’s 2250+ MW which works all the time at a capacity factor of 90% AND is local, ie., doesn’t require transmission across hundreds of miles of power lines, a practice that reduces grid stability.
    Because anti-nukes can’t get plants shut down on the merits of their ridiculous claims, they attempt to drive them out of the market by demanding ever tighter and expensive controls under the guise of safety. They are not interested in safety, they are only interested in shutting these plants down and will say anything to do it–THEY have no integrity.
    Cheap NG is putting a strain on all their competitors and is the chief reason why Kewaunee nuclear plant shut down.
    So, choose your poison, where are we going to get our power from, or are you only interested in attacking and not providing solutions?

  • Your short term memory loss is quiet interesting to observe. You seem to have forgotten that SCE claimed that the Unit 3 steam leak was small and just a minor problem, and the Unit would be up and running in no time. You seem to have forgotten that SCE lied for months about their ability to run Unit 2 at 70% power. Which the NRC never approved and determined was unsafe. You also seem to have forgotten that the activists you mentioned in you post did not shut down the plant. SCE did. SONGS was not the “most wonderful place on earth.” You sound like a candle maker at the turn of the century complaining that you cannot earn a living because everyone has electric lights. Many nuclear workers at San Onofre saw the end coming way before the Unit 3 steam leak and left. You need to let it rest, Mr. Davidson.

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