Several dozen residents Tuesday urged the San Clemente City Council to adopt an official resolution calling for the shutdown of San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, among other measures.
"We should learn from the mistakes of others so we don't repeat them," said Karen Tanner of Capistrano Beach. She spoke on behalf of the Orange County Interfaith Coalition for the Environment.
The anti-nuclear power sentiment has been inflamed since the earthquake, tsunami and subsequent nuclear disaster in Fukushima, Japan earlier this spring.
"It's very likely that when the next earthquake in San Clemente happens, we'll probably have a similar disaster," Tanner said. "Despite all their precautions and preparedness, look at what happened to them."
Souther California Edison, the nuclear plant operator, has a expansive seismic study in the works and has recently attempted to reassure the public that the San Onofre facility was safe.
Ella McClure, 9, of San Clemente, expressed similar concerns about the potential for nuclear disaster.
"Our town is like Japan's Fukushima town. Here's why," McClure said. "Parents told their kids not to be scared, but they were wrong. ... Don't give our town's adults time to be wrong."
Leading off the public comments was Gary Headrick, the founder of San Clemente Green. Since the Japanese disaster, he has been at the forefront of organizing people to rally against the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station's continued operation.
He outlined five demands he had put together with input from other organizations and individuals around town, including the local Residents Organized for a Safe Environment and the Coalition for Responsible and Ethical Environmental Decisions (ROSE and CREED).
Though Headrick said the crowd was aware the San Clemente City Council had little jurisdiction over the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, he called for the members to adopt a resolution of support for closing the plant down.
He outlined five requests:
- Shut down the plant and begin the decommissioning process.
- Reinforce on-site containment structures for nuclear waste and immediately start finding somewhere away from large populations to store it.
- Establish alternatives to what he called "unrealistic" evacuation plans.
- Redirect billions of dollars in rate-payer funds toward completing a "smart grid" that could, by some estimates, much more than make up for the absence of nuclear power.
The council, at the suggestion of Councilman Jim Dahl, agreed to move ahead to send letters to federal legislators requesting they demand that work begin to move waste off-site.
Mayor Lori Donchak also reiterated her commitment to find funds for a planned two-mile connector that would .
City Manager George Scarborough said that new road would be a third crucial escape route in case of a nuclear or other disaster.
"The La Pata extension literally almost doubles our capacity for evacuation," he said.
- (Opinion Column)
The council deferred further action until a public meeting planned for September. At that meeting, Southern California Edison and Nuclear Regulatory Commission officials will be able to speak about and address new knowledge of disaster preparedness learned from the Fukushima disaster.
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