San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station. File photo
San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station. File photo

By Jim Shilander

Critics of Southern California Edison and the decommissioning process for the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station denounced the utility’s security plans for the site, noting a lack of ability to respond to airborne threats and vulnerability of its spent fuel pools and dry storage casks.

New San Juan Capistrano Community Engagement Panel representative Pam Patterson said she was “not feeling confident” about the current plans, noting that the plant could potentially be vulnerable to a hijacked flight from John Wayne Airport, as well as doubting whether the plant’s security would be able to handle a terrorist assault.

Edison officials said security plans include having a number of defensive positions, an experienced security staff and the ability to call on other forces, such as the Marines, as well as extensive screenings or personnel to weed out potential saboteurs.

Members of the CUP were to meet with members of the California Energy Commission to encourage the development of a state interim solution for storage for spent nuclear fuel, which is currently under control by the federal Department of Energy. A potential solution at Yucca Mtn. in Nevada is unlikely now that a proposed permanent repository has stalled.

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comments (6)

  • Terrorists remain a threat in this day and age, but I am far more concerned about the havoc an earthquake or a tidal wave would have on the storage areas. There is simply no safe way to evacuate the residents of South Orange County if a nuclear event were to occur. South of Lake Forest there is one major highway — the I-5, supplemented by the Toll road. Bottom line is we would have major grid lock and chaos on both highways and the numerous side street.

    • Regarding earthquakes, Japan suffered a 9.0 quake, 4th largest in recorded history and the plants at Fukushima including Spent Fuel Pools and Dry Cask Storage, weathered it fine with all systems operating as designed. California has never even had an 8.0 earthquake so there is no rational reason to fear the public is in danger from earthquakes. Unlike Japan, Southern California is NOT prone to tsunamis, but should one occur that knocked out all power including emergency power, recall that Dry Cask Storage doesn’t need power and the Spent Fuel Pool could go at least six weeks without power.

      Meanwhile, coal continues to kill and natural gas continues to pump GHGs into the atmosphere. Our state lost 2300 MWs of GHG free electricity when San Onofre was shut down; with friends like the anti-nukes, the environment needs no enemies.

  • Well said, Joanna. And the situation south of SONGS is worse re: major roads. And what of the 60,000+ folks who live in Camp Pendleton? Nuclear plants should have had to have a safe place to store spent fuel rods, or they should never have been built.

    • Anti-nukes understand they will never prevail on the merits of their case (they have none) so instead, they raise smoke screens and law suits to delay and interfere making it difficult for nuclear power plants to do business as costs rise. The ultimate losers are the general public who are forced to pay higher utility bills, live with higher green house gases (nuclear power is GHG free), and experience reduced grid reliability.

      Fuel has been on site at San Onofre for 47 years, 47 years without incident. Only one terrorist attack on a nuclear facility has occurred anywhere in the entire world and that was perpetrated by environmentalists on a plant in Europe that was under construction. See here for a link on the NON-dangers from the threat of terrorism:

      Anti-nukes opposed Yucca Mt., the chosen site for the storage of used nuclear fuel. Now they complain about storage on site at San Onofre…this is all part and parcel of what I stated above and is their tactic for simultaneously driving up the costs of nuclear while attempting to embarrass the industry with claims that they have no solution.

      Should these anti-nuke radicals have their way, America will be driven back to the age of the horse and buggy.

      • Mr. Davison,
        With all due respect, Southern California Edison and it’s stewardship of San Onofre have done NO favors, or even equitable service to the rate payers. They cannot, and still meet the corporate goals of the shareholders.

        Re: the future of nuclear energy,,,,,it is no secret why the US has not built newer facilities. We have in everyone of those still operating, and the idled, a stockpile of radioactive spent rods that are a risk to any humans. In addition, we have huge stockpiles of nuclear weapons in deteriorating containers that will fail. Nuclear was 1940-1965 thinking.

        America will not go back to “the age of the horse and buggy”. Japan is trending the same, so is Europe. Fukushima was very instructive.

  • @ Bonnie Benton

    Assuming you live in the area, you’ve been using power from that plant and when you think of rates, think of the expenses the anti-nuclear groups have cost the nuclear industry (who’ve lacked the courage to fight the falsehoods) by their lawsuits, getting Yucca Mt. shut down, and the cost to the companies to respond to these scions of disaster.

    “…a stockpile of radioactive spent rods that are a risk to any humans…”

    Just as the stored water behind any large dam is a risk to humans. Indeed, more people have been killed due to dam failure in THIS COUNTRY alone than in all the “incidents” at commercial nuclear power plants WORLD WIDE.

    Don’t conflate nuclear weapons with nuclear power UNLESS you wish to talk about how former Soviet nuclear weapons were used as fuel in American commercial reactor plants to provide 10% of the electricity for all of America.

    “Nuclear was 1940-1965 thinking.”

    Yea, that’s why some 69 commercial nuclear power plants are being built around the globe even as we speak…because it’s so yesterday.

    “Fukushima was very instructive.”

    It is just that anti-nukes learned all the wrong lessons from it. 2nd worst nuclear accident in world history, so bad, it killed no one nor is it expected to. The same earthquake that was the catalyst for Fukushima caused a dam failure in Japan which killed 8 people…that’s 8 more than have died from the nuclear power plants.

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