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Residents Ask for Council Resolution Urging Nuke Plant Shutdown

Several dozen San Clemente and Southern California residents turn out again to oppose the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station's continued operation.

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.

Other stories about San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station:

ms.sc. May 19, 2011 at 04:15 AM
I meant James Schumaker, not Gary. I regret the error.
Gary Headrick May 19, 2011 at 01:33 PM
A friend who works at the power plant informed me that the GE valves mentioned above are not the kind used at SONGS. We can feel good about that. However, the two generators we use at SONGS were made in Japan, and one was actually rejected for poor quality. I am left to conclude that while it is important to be as accurate as possible about specific technical details, the overriding reality is that we are betting our lives and countless others in the hopes that nothing catastrophic will take place. How long should we play this game of chance? What is the payback? 7.5 % of our energy needs. Is it really worth it when there are so many possibilities that something terribly bad will eventually happen? It might be human error, technical failures, or an act of nature that can turn our world upside down. I care about those who work at the plant, and I understand how threatening the prospect of closing SONGS might be. The fact is, we need to move on, and we should help each other make the transition as smoothly as possible, including those who have worked so carefully to keep us safe all these years. We all owe you our deepest gratitude.
Gary Headrick May 19, 2011 at 02:32 PM
For those who agree that the risks posed by SONGS is not worth the 7.5% of the electricity we get from it, there is a petition you can sign up on at http://www.thepetitionsite.com/2/help-save-so-cal/
Jenifer Massey May 20, 2011 at 02:32 AM
Even with La Pata extended and even with a toll road the safe evacuation of 7.4 million people is not realistic.. If there should be an incident at SONGS that released radiation, it could travel across all of North America affecting the safety and health of even more than the 330, 000, 000 + Americans. Now with this in mind please consider how selfish it is of us who receive 7.5% of our energy from SONGS to threaten so many others. We owe it to ourselves, future generations and millions of people to decomision SONGS immediately !
Carol May 20, 2011 at 05:01 PM
There is no question. SONGS should be shut down immediately. All our plans for business, real estate, savings, politics, etc. etc. etc. mean nothing if we are all dead or fried. And all for 7.5% of energy, and for the big wigs and stockholders to make $$$. We must not trust. The people in Japan trusted and look what happened to their lives. If solar was made affordable, people would love to have it and with personal conservation, it would take care of all our needs. I refer to a writer who said he pays no electric bill or gasoline bill. His solar takes care of his home, his pool, and the charging of his electric car, a Tesla Roadster. By making solar affordable instead of all the millions spent on SONGS, we could have safe electrical power. That is what most citizens want.

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