Powered by Max Banner Ads
The Simpson’s are an institutional wonder. Who would have thought a cartoon series for adults would sell? Well, first off – we are not suggesting to anyone that the Simpson’s are going off television…..at least we hope not. For those who have been living in a box without television for the last 23 years the paternal character Homer Simpson works as a safety inspector at the fictional Springfield Nuclear Power Plant. Homer faces all the traditional travails of modern living with Marge his dutiful wife and Bart, Lisa and Maggie – the baby…that in all these years…never seems to get older. Also Homer has to deal with his boss Mr. Burns, who owns the power plant.
Fast forward to the San Onofre Nuclear Power Plant – that for over 41 years has served the needs of Southern California, in spite of huge hedge price gouging by Enron. During natuarl disasters and an array of anti-nuclear sentiment over that time San Onofre - had soldiered on. A few years ago, Edison decided in its wisdom, to “upgrade” the three generator facility with some new reactor tubes – initially designed to replace the worn tubes that had been operating just fine, for many years at various reduced power levels. From the initial concept, Edison Engineers and Administrators thought that with the New Tubes (which cost over $160 Million dollars to install and upgrade!) San Onofre could be operated at a higher level – therefore getting more power out of the facility and to recapture the cost of repairs - overall. Sounded logical at the time.
In what might be called: “The best laid plans of mice and men!” – it was soon discovered that operating the facilities at a higher output level had created some problems – over capacity issues – which resulted in quickly worn new tubes and finally in a small radiation tube leak. Not much mind you – but certainly enough to get the attention of the National Regulatory Commission, State oversight agencies and the attention of citizens and politicos around Southern California. In the meantime, the tsunami in Japan had exposed how dangerous Nuclear Power Plants could become when things go wrong. The food supply, the water supply and a huge dead zone created by the blow up of two of three reactors in Japan – have all been affected for at least 30 years. That six degrees of separation seemed to have put a huge Kibosh on further unrestricted development of Nuclear Energy Plants throughout the world….let alone San Clemente, Orange, San Diego and Los Angeles Counties – which all could be affected by a meltdown. The danger zone extended all the way from Long Beach to San Diego. Serious business, should something go wrong in a big way.
Edison announced today that 730 employees from the San Onofre Facility will be laid off for the foreseeable future in the last quarter of 2012. Evidently, there seems to be no “quick fixes” available that could get the San Onofre Nuclear Facilities working back to maximum capacity….any time soon. The unintended consequences of this reality may include: Restricting future housing, commercial and government development projects. As has been seen, smaller Stand Alone Electrical Power Stations have been added to secure various individual new developments over that last several years. These stations still require back-up and support from a higher source. What the shutdown of San Onofre means to the economy of Southern California….will have to be seen. 730 folks losing their high paying jobs – will require them to either move to other nuclear facilities elsewhere or change jobs completely. No word from Edison whether any of these folks will be getting new job training or are going to other facilities through transfers. More importantly; with the current aging and engineering design flaws – is any of it fixable at all? If it was, we surmise – it might seem academic that the Federal Government would simply “bail out” the Edision project because it is just ”too big to fail”!
One thing is clear: Those huge power lines crossing the 5 Freeway just south of Christianitos are not going to be transferring much energy – for some time. Our hearts go out to those 730 San Onofre workers and their families. Sorry Homer – tell Marge to call the moving van. You will have to leave Springfield for a while!
[UPDATE, 9:50 a.m. Ed. note -- this is Greg; I'll take over from here. Thanks for starting us off, 'ships!]
The most important part of the above is addressed in a comment on the LA Times story, by a “S C Green” (presumably “San Clemente Green), which as a correspondent says “hits just the right points about this announcement:”
“Edison seems to be preparing to cut and run rather than face responsibilities to safely decommission this dangerous plant with 4 times the amount of nuclear waste that itwas designed to hold.Instead of cutting loyal and nuclear trained employees loose they could be redirecting their efforts to immediately move this vulnerable stockpile of more than 1400 tons of highly radiaoactive waste into Hardened On Site Storage (HOSS). They could be retrained to prepare for decades of service in oversight and maintainence during the critical process of returning the site to it’s original condition.
This is a troubling signal from Edison which we all need to watch closely. No doubt they will try to stick it to the ratepayers or the taxpayers one way or another. We have more serious concerns than what is best for Edison’s shareholders. A long overdue earthquake is expected and we better get our act together on how best to prepare for it. Time is not on our side and we need Edison to make bold moves now, not self-serving decisions that leave the public exposed not only to financial risk, but to environmental destruction that will last for eons.I’d rather see Edison invest more to deal with this harsh reality, not take drastic cost saving measures when there is so much important work to be done by these people trained in the nuclear industry. Decommission now, but do it responsibly!”
Clean up your mess, Southern California Edison. Y’all pay for it, too.