FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Showdown at San Onofre

Two stricken California reactors may soon redefine a global movement aimed at eradicating nuclear power.

They sit in a seismic zone vulnerable to tsunamis.  Faulty steam generators have forced them shut for nearly a year.

A powerful “No Nukes” movement wants them to stay that way.  If they win, the shutdown of America’s 104 licensed reactors will seriously accelerate.

The story of San Onofre Units 2 & 3 is one of atomic idiocy.  Perched on an ocean cliff between Los Angeles and San Diego, the reactors’ owners  cut unconscionable corners in replacing their multi-million-dollar steam generators.  According to Russell Hoffman, one of California’s leading experts on San Onofre, inferior metals and major design failures turned what was meant to be an upgrade into an utter fiasco.

Installed by Mitsubishi, the generators simply did not work.  When they were shut nearly a year ago, tubes were leaking, banging together and overall rendering further operations impossible.

Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric have unofficially thrown in the towel on Unit 3.  But they’re lobbying hard to get at least Unit 2 back up and running.  Their technical problems are so serious that they’ve asked the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to let them run Unit 2 at 70% capacity.  In essence, they want to “see what happens” without daring to take the reactor to full power.

The NRC has expressed serious doubts.  On December 26 it demanded answers to more than 30 questions about the plant’s technical realities.  There have been assertions that unless San Onofre can be shown as operable at full power, its license should be negated.

San Onofre’s owners are desperate to get at least Unit 2 back on line so they can gouge the ratepayers for their failed expenditures.  If the California Public Utilities Commission refuses the request, there’s no way San Onofre can reopen.

So nuclear opponents can now fight restart both at the federal level and with the state PUC.  The state regulators have opened an in-depth investigation into what’s happened at San Onofre, and the picture is not expected to be pretty.

Economic analyses show the reactors to be uneconomical anyway.  “Experts” warned California would suffer blackouts and brownouts without them, but nothing of the sort has happened.  The only real reason San Onofre’s owners want to get it back up is to charge the ratepayers for their failed repairs.

The fiasco at San Onfre is being replayed at rust bucket reactors throughout the US.  Progress Energy poked some major new holes into the containment at the Crystal River reactor it was allegedly fixing.  Nebraska’s Ft. Calhoun has been flooded.   An earthquake hit Virginia’s reactors with seismic forces that exceeded design specifications.

In Wisconsin, Kewaunee’s owners will shut it for economic reasons.  A new study shows Vermont Yankee, under intense attack from a grassroots citizens’ upheaval, has major economic benefits to gain from shutting down.  Elsewhere around the US, technical and economic pressures have the industry on the brink.

Meanwhile, the conversion to green power in Germany is booming.  When 8 reactors were shut and the conversion to wind, solar and biomass became official policy, “experts” predicated energy shortages and soaring prices.  But the opposite has happened as supply has boomed and prices have dropped.

The same things will happen in California and elsewhere as these radioactive jalopies begin to shut.  The effectiveness of citizen activism in California is now vastly multiplied as these two decrepit reactors become increasingly obsolete, inoperable and economically insupportable.

As Kewaunee shuts, as Crystal River heads toward salvage, as No Nukes citizen action escalates, and as renewables and efficiency soar in performance and plummet in price, a green-powered era is dawning.

But as Fukushima Unit 4‘s spent fuel pool teeters 100 feet in the air, we are reminded that the danger from the failed nuclear power experiment is far from over.

The two reactors at San Onfre linger on atop major earthquake fault lines, just steps away from an ocean that could wash over them as sure as it did at Fukushima.

The California No Nukes movement may indeed be on the brink of a major victory.  But we had better get these reactors buried before disaster strikes yet again.

Harvey Wasserman’s SOLARTOPIA!  OUR GREEN-POWERED EARTH is atwww.harveywasserman.ning.com, along with WILL THE GOP STEAL AMERICA’S 2012 ELECTION?, co-authored with Bob Fitrakis.

More articles by:

Harvey Wasserman wrote SOLARTOPIA! Our Green-Powered Earth. His Green Power & Wellness Show is at www.prn.fm

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

June 25, 2019
Rannie Amiri
Instigators of a Persian Gulf Crisis
Patrick Cockburn
Trump May Already be in Too Deep to Avoid War With Iran
Paul Tritschler
Hopeful Things
John Feffer
Deep Fakes: Will AI Swing the 2020 Election?
Binoy Kampmark
Bill Clinton in Kosovo
Kenneth Surin
Brief Impressions of the Japanese Conjuncture
Edward Hunt
Is Mexico Winding Down or Winding up the Drug War?
Manuel E. Yepe
Trump’s Return to Full-Spectrum Dominance
Steve Kelly
Greed and Politics Should Not Drive Forest Policy
Stephen Carpa
Protecting the Great Burn
Colin Todhunter
‘Modified’: A Film About GMOs and the Corruption of the Food Supply for Profit
Martin Billheimer
The Gothic and the Idea of a ‘Real Elite’
Elliot Sperber
Send ICE to Hanford
June 24, 2019
Jim Kavanagh
Eve of Destruction: Iran Strikes Back
Nino Pagliccia
Sorting Out Reality From Fiction About Venezuela
Jeff Sher
Pickin’ and Choosin’ the Winners and Losers of Climate Change
Howard Lisnoff
“Bomb, Bomb, Bomb Iran”
Robert Fisk
The West’s Disgraceful Silence on the Death of Morsi
Dean Baker
The Old Japan Disaster Horror Story
David Mattson
The Gallatin Forest Partnership and the Tyranny of Ego
George Wuerthner
How Mountain Bikes Threaten Wilderness
Christopher Ketcham
The Journalist as Hemorrhoid
Manuel E. Yepe
Yankee Worship of Bombings and Endless Wars
Mel Gurtov
Iran—Who and Where is The Threat?
Wim Laven
Revisiting Morality in the Age of Dishonesty
Thomas Knapp
Facebook’s Libra Isn’t a “Cryptocurrency”
Weekend Edition
June 21, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Brett Wilkins
A Brief History of US Concentration Camps
Rob Urie
Race, Identity and the Political Economy of Hate
Rev. William Alberts
America’s Respectable War Criminals
Paul Street
“So Happy”: The Trump “Boom,” the Nation’s Despair, and the Decline of Joe Biden
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Ask Your Local Death Squad
Dr. Vandana Shiva
Fake Food, Fake Meat: Big Food’s Desperate Attempt to Further the Industrialisation of Food
Eric Draitser
The Art of Trade War: Is Trump Winning His Trade War against China?
Melvin Goodman
Trump’s Russian Problem
Jonathan Cook
Forget Trump’s Deal of the Century: Israel Was Always on Course to Annexation
Andrew Levine
The Biden Question
Stanley L. Cohen
From Tel Aviv to Tallahassee
Robert Hunziker
Permafrost Collapses 70 Years Early
Kenn Orphan
Normalizing Atrocity
Ajamu Baraka
No Dare Call It Austerity
Ron Jacobs
The Redemptive Essence of History
David Rosen
Is Socialism Possible in America?
Dave Lindorff
The US as Rogue Nation Number 1
Joseph Natoli
The Mad King in His Time
David Thorstad
Why I’m Skipping Stonewall 50
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail