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      Wednesday
      Jun062012

      San Onofre Problems and Costs Continue to Mount

      Amidst alarming malfunctions at the San Onofre nuclear power plant and continued inaction by California officials, the top US nuclear regulator says southern California can weather the coming hot summer with the facility still shut down. 

      Meanwhile, Californians for a Responsible Energy Policy demands that the plant remain shut and ratepayers be spared the cost of any fix, which may reach one billion dollars.

      A former nuclear engineer at the Hanford, Washington, facility has told the Peace and Justice Resource Center that successful repairs on San Onofre’s faulty pipes are highly unlikely, making it necessary to “replace the entire system” at unknown costs. The current crisis began several months ago with the discovery that 871 tubes in one steam generator were damaged, radiation had leaked, and a worker had fallen into a reactor pool. (Los Angeles Times, February 5, 2012) San Onofre is first in the US in onsite nuclear safety complaints substantiated by the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

      Over eight million Californians live within 50 miles of San Onofre, the plant with the most onsite safety complaints in the United States. California lacks any official plan for a rapid transition to energy conservation, solar and renewables, even though such a blueprint was published in May 1978, during the Jimmy Carter era, by policy experts at the Lawrence Nuclear Laboratories on a US Department of Energy grant. The report concluded that:

      “From a technical point of view, it does appear feasible for a complex post-industrial society such as California to operate on renewable, largely-distributed (decentralized) energy systems, even assuming that California population doubles and economic activity triples in 2025 compared to 1975 figures.”

      Interim report, “Distributed Energy Systems in California’s Future,” US Department of Energy, Office of Technology Impacts, Vol. 1, p. 154, May 1978.

      For more information, please contact Bernadette Del Chiaro of the California Clean Energy Program, at Environmentcalifornia.org.

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