Anti-Nuke Activists Increase Pressure on Sempra About Unsafe San Onofre Nuclear Plant

by on May 17, 2012 · 0 comments

in California, Civil Rights, Energy, Environment, Health, Organizing, San Diego

Citizens Radiation Monitoring Being Set Up (see below)

With more and more doubts about San Onofre’s safety and future being raised on a nearly daily  basis, San Diego and Southern California activists are converging on utility giant Sempra as a focal point for their protests here locally. And there are apply pressure that is mounting across California.

For instance, activists will be presenting a “Demand Letter” to Sempra Energy Chair Donald Felsinger on Friday, May 18th. And a rally is being held at Sempra headquarters in downtown San Diego on Wednesday, May 23rd – part of a state-wide coordinated day of actions at utilities. Actions will also be held in Irvine, San Francisco, Oakland, and Fresno – all to demand a nuclear-free California.

On Friday, May 18th, local anti-nuke activists will attempt to present their demand letter, entitled “Stop Wasting Ratepayer Funds on Unsafe San Onofre” to Sempra Energy Chair Donald Felsinger. This will occur at 11:00 am at Sempra headquarters, 101 Ash Street in downtown San Diego.

And on Wednesday, May 23rd, activists are sponsoring a rally at the same Sempra site in downtown. The “Shut San Onofre” Rallytat 4pm is one of many statewide events, as also in Irvine, San Francisco, Oakland, and Fresno to demand a nuclear-free California.

Here are more details from the press release of the coalition of anti-nuke groups and activists:

May 16, 2012 (SAN DIEGO) – The public will rally in opposition to continued operation of the San Onofre nuclear plant on Wednesday, May 23, from 4pm to 6pm outside the Sempra Energy HQ, 101 Ash St., San Diego. Organizers will invite Sempra Chairman Don Felsinger to address the rally to explain Sempra’s continued waste of ratepayer funds on the unsafe San Onofre power plant. A letter from activists will be delivered to the Sempra Energy Offices at 11am on Friday, May 18 in preparation for the rally the following week.

Concurrent statewide events are planned for May 23: in Irvine at the Southern California Edison (SCE) office, the entity that is primarily responsible for the costly mistakes at the San Onofre reactor; in San Francisco, at the Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) building; as well as in Oakland and Fresno. Livestream video coverage of the events will be shared at each site and the media is invited to cover the event.

Mayoral and other candidates are invited to weigh in on the issue prior to the upcoming election and at the rally. This is an important issue for San Diego since Sempra Energy owns 20% of the plant and SDG&E ratepayers are subject to wasteful spending by the utilities, in addition to the stark reality that the 50-mile evacuation area encompasses most of the City of San Diego. If an earthquake or tsunami similar to what occurred in Japan happened here, much of the county would be subject to evacuation. San Onofre, designed for a 6.0 quake and upgraded to withstand 7.0, is certainly at risk given the recent 7.5 magnitude quake near Mexicali and the recently discovered fault only yards from the reactor site. That new fault experienced a 3.8 quake just last month.

The underlying agenda of SCE, the plant operator, was to “super-charge” the steam generators, essentially upgrading the plant to produce more power without NRC or approval by the public [1]. SCE Engineers admitted in January that they worked to avoid full NRC review of the changes. In an article in Nuclear Engineering International: “the major premise of the steam generator replacement project was that it would be implemented under the 10CFR50.59 rule, that is, without prior approval by the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (USNRC)” [2, emphasis added].

On April 25, citizen activists submitted a letter to NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko detailing requests for action prior to any restart of the reactors at San Onofre [3]. Actions requested included:

(1) determination of the root cause of the failure of the steam generators, including the analysis from the manufacturer, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries;

(2) corrective action to fix the steam generators so tube degradation will not occur;

(3) no accelerated restart of Unit 2, since it is of the same design as Unit 3;

(4) no “work arounds” such as plugging tubes and saying everything is fine;

(5) review of the steam generator design process where Southern California Edison (SCE) engineers worked to avoid NRC review of the design;

(6) request for full NRC oversight of the Root Cause analysis and Corrective action unlike the design process;

(7) No “trial-and-error” design, such as was used in this case when the SCE engineer admitted that they were not sure if they would operate as specified;

(8) address post-Fukushima safety issues, including computer-simulation stress testing using criteria now being used in Japan; and

(9) explanation of unsafe events, such as the 45-minute fire that broke out at the plant on April 20th.

“Sempra Energy has the opportunity to stand with city councils and communities that have legitimate concerns about the safety of this plant,” Ray Lutz said, an Electrical Engineer. “The plant is down now not because of devastating natural disasters, such as occurred in Japan, but simply because of overreaching by Edison in their attempt to surreptitiously super-charge the plant without NRC approval or public review. All bets are off if we have any natural disaster. It is time to cut our losses while we have a chance. The plant should not be restarted. It’s time to move to renewable sources.”

Speakers will also highlight the continuing disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan, where three of the reactors are in full meltdown, with the Unit 2 reactor core now completely liquified, an unprecedented event. Senator Ron Wyden recently completed a trip to Japan to review the situation there and said the fuel pool in reactor 4 is, indeed, the top short-term threat facing humanity.

Anti-nuclear physician Dr. Helen Caldicott says that if fuel pool 4 collapses, she will evacuate her family from Boston and move them to the Southern Hemisphere. This is an especially dramatic statement given that the West Coast is much more directly in the path of Fukushima radiation than the East Coast.

Experts estimate that the fuel pool cannot be stabilized for at least another 18 months. If an earthquake hits, the pool will drain and when the nuclear material is exposed to the air, it will begin to burn, and with no containment structure around it, Cesium 137 will be emitted directly into the atmosphere and will result in a “mass extinction event” of perhaps 200 million people. Nuclear expert Arnie Gundersen recently said “There’s more cesium in that [Unit 4] fuel pool than in all 800 nuclear bombs exploded above ground” but it would all be released at the same time. [4]

EVENT DETAILS:

ACTION 1: DEMAND LETTER DELIVERY

Date/Time: Friday, May 18, 2012, 11am.

Location: Sempra Energy Offices, 101 Ash Street San Diego, CA 92101

ACTION 2: “SHUT SAN ONOFRE” RALLY AT UTILITY COMPANY OFFICES

Date/Time: Wednesday, May 23, 2012, 4pm to 6pm.

Location: Sempra Energy Offices, 101 Ash Street San Diego, CA 92101

(And at offices in Irvine, San Francisco, Oakland, and Fresno.)

Parking: Free parking available at Horton Plaza parking garage (validate at machines in the mall).

Trolley Stop: Civic Center station, two blocks away.

Details: See http://ShutDownSanOnofre.org

Endorsed by:

San Diego Coalition for Peace and Justice (SDCPJ)
Peace Resource Center of San Diego
Residents Organized for a Safe Environment (ROSE)
Citizens Oversight Projects (COPS)
San Onofre Safety (SOS)
San Clemente Green

… and many more.

Citizens’ Radiation Monitoring Being Set Up

The Peace Resource Center has advised us that:

Citizens in San Clemente are setting up an independent monitoring system for nuclear radiation emissions.

And well they should, since we learned that 20% of the EPA’s radiation monitors were not working at the time of the Fukushima accident! And, the EPA’s monitor in San Diego was one of them! There are also issues with other monitoring agencies releasing the info the collect in a timely manner.

 If you are interested in learning more about this and becoming a part of the independent monitoring network, please contact Gene Stone, Residents Organized for a Safe Environment (R.O.S.E.) in San Clemente genston@sbcglobal.net

 You will need to purchase your own monitor. Please talk to Gene about what kind to get in order to be a part of the network. We will be planning a training session in San Diego very soon.

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