Tuesday night- March 27th – supporters of decommissioning San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station packed into the 250+ seat City of Irvine Council Chambers in Orange County. At least 50 people wore green clothing to mark their support for San Clemente Green, an environmental action group working since the Fukushima meltdown last March towards a San Onofre shut down.
After general city announcements and a few agenda items, item 6.1 came up for the Irvine council. Councilman Larry Agran introduced the topic, stating that is was his motion to add San Onofre to the evening’s agenda; he’d invited San Clemente Green to present public comments as they had previously at city council meetings in San Clemente, Laguna Beach and San Diego’s own Solana Beach.
In his opening remarks Agran admitted that after a year of research (following the March 11th Fukushima disaster) he was not an expert on nuclear energy.
“In fact” he continued, ” I haven’t met anyone who would claim expert knowledge and infallible judgment in all the complex matters of nuclear safety. But I do know enough to have reached this conclusion: I believe that our shared community commitment to public safety requires that we bring about the safe, orderly decommissioning of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station as soon as possible–and certainly before 2022, when the current San Onofre nuclear reactor licenses expire.”
Agran went on to call out Southern California Edison corporate leadership to put public safety first and not squander the time at hand seeking re-licensing (which they’ve already begun–to keep reactors running until 2042!).
Agran commented that while many might say the chance for a nuclear disaster is “1 in a million” he sees it as being more like “1 in 100.”
Agran followed-up his comments with 8 questions for the Irvine City Council to address, requesting that they submit responses in discussion and writing at their April 24th meeting. Among these crucial questions Agran included questions of the scope of equipment, planning and chain of command in the event of a full evacuation of their city–a question every city within 50 (or 100!?) miles of San Onofre should seriously consider.
Also, Agran pressed the council and city managers to report back on equipment to measure radioactive contamination, safety gear for public workers and the general public–and, what about iodine pills for widespread distribution to protect against thyroid cancer? Finally, in his final question, Agran asks what the steps would be for the city of Irvine to seek state and federal “participation” in the event that Southern California Edison pursues license renewal–eloquently spoken fighting words that must have been music to the ears of every anti-nuke activist in the building.
The remarks and questions were so good, I decided to scan the copy the city clerk gave me and share them here for your reading enjoyment. It’s not everyday you get to witness a public official doing what they damn well ought to do–I was impressed and somewhat reassured.
Following Agran’s comments, the council patiently heard the public comments of 20 speakers, ranging from generally peeved residents to first-hand participants in the cement and steel tragedy that is San Onofre. Dr. Nelson Mar was a key player in the engineering, analysis and design of the containment vessels in reactors 2 & 3 at San Onofre. In the 6 minutes he was allowed to speak to the council he stated his discomfort at seeing the tragedy unfold in Fukushima and then clearly explained that the containment vessels he helped design in 1973 would no longer be adequate.
Coupled with the LA Times story that San Onofre is prohibited from restarting and the increasing public awareness that San Onfre should remain shut down because it is stupidly dangerous, expensive to maintain and not worth the risk–it was a good week for the movement to end nuclear energy in California. It was an excellent intersection between direct action and decision making by elected officials, albeit slow an bureaucratic in terms of stopping force.
So here is my question for you, dear readers & OB Rag comment thread crew: what would it take for the San Diego City Council to issue a similar set of remarks and questions to Southern California Edison? Why haven’t we pushed for this yet?