The California Public Utility Commission (CPUC) meeting held at Irvine City Hall on Thursday was packed with standing room only. Many people in the audience wore green tee shirts and held signs reading, “Cut Our Losses, Not a Penny More.”
Michael Florio, one of the commissioners told the audience, that the purpose of this investigation is to discuss rates, operations and liabity of the plant. It is up to the Nuclear regulatory Commission (NRC) to decide the fate of San Onofore. The CPUC does not have that jurisdiction.
Public comment was limited to a total of 60 minutes so I am guessing that many who attended did not get a chance to speak. The majority of those who did speak were either representing a business association or representatives from surrounding city halls. As expected, businesses claimed their support for restarting San Onofore Nuclear plant citing their need for cheap energy and that if San Onofore remained closed it will hurt small businesses in Orange County. Another speaker for business claimed that this was all about scare tactics instigated by a bunch of anti-nuke people. Some said they cared about safety but cared more about people having jobs. In other words, it’s all about their bottomline.
Have any of these business organizations thought about how a nuclear fallout will hurt their bottomline? There was no mention about San Onofore sitting on a faultline or next to the ocean surf, which is only protected by a 30 foot cement wall, which becomes 14 feet during low tide. I am sure residents and business owners in Japan didn’t see the Fukushima disaster coming either.
A statement repeated from a few speakers is that San Onore is one of the safest nuclear plants in the country. I guess they didn’t get the memo that San Onofore is listed as the worst in the nation.
John Geesman, a former California Energy Commission member asked the CPUC members, ” Why should customers continue to pick up the tab for Edison’s mistakes?”
Out of all the speakers, I was most impressed by Zora Schoner, 13 years old, who lives with her parents in Idlewild, ” I am speaking on behalf of all Southern California kids. I think it’s a shame to waste so much money on an energy plant that broke down so soon. Please don’t waste more money on my future.”
The good news is that the commission voted a unanimous “yes” to move forward with their inquiry.
On the drive home I was thinking there are so many factors that were not discussed today. What if San Onofore did get to go online again and there was a nuclear disaster? What then? What about homeowners? Businesses? Hospitals? Is there a viable evacuation plan?
So this morning I called some different companies and agencies to see how prepared we really are. I started with a call to Sergeant Bob Dunn at the Anaheim Police Department who is in charge of public relations; he told me that in the event of a nuclear disaster the public will be notified via the reverse 911 system and will be told to “shelter in place.”
He did not mention that buildings will need to be “shrink wrapped” to keep radiation from seeping into windows and doors over the next several weeks. Remember that guy on t.v. after 911 who recommended keeping duct tape and plastic handy as part of the Homeland Security “alert” safety list? Maybe he should give that speech again in Orange County.
Then I called local major insurance companies with satellite offices in South Orange Counties. I called the big three, State Farm, Farmers and All State. I asked each of them if nuclear fallout caused by a nuclear reactor was covered by homeowners insurance. They all had the same answer, “No”.
So I called FEMA. That was a long wait to speak to someone and there are no disasters that I know of right now. I can only imagine how long the wait will be if something happens again and you can bet it will. I spoke with a woman who told me that FEMA provides help with disasters only after the President of the United States claims there is a National disaster and nuclear fallout will fall under that catagory, but since there is no precidence for that she wasn’t sure how people would receive assistance. Right now FEMA will help pay rent and give low interest loans to rebuild, but if something happened even remotely close to Fukushima there is no plan. People would not be reimbursed for the loss of their homes or businesses.
My last calls were to mortgage companies. I let my fingers ” do the walking” through the Yellow Pages because I thought it would be easier. I was amazed how many mortgage companies are gone in Orange County and a few were some big ones. Their numbers were disconnected so I figured that meant they are out of business. I did finally speak to someone though who lives close to the reactor and he seemed happy that its closed for now. I asked him if people still have to pay their mortgage even though they cannot live in it due to nuclear fallout and cannot buy insurance to cover that. He told me that they probably will be foreclosed by the banks and have bad credit, but they certainly have a legitimate excuse as to why they cannot continue to pay a mortgage on a house they can’t live in.
So from what I heard at the meeting, businesses are concerned about paying too much money for energy and loss of jobs. Citizens are concerned about safety. I wonder if anyone has considered the amount of jobs, businesses and homes that will be lost forever, if there were to be a nuclear disaster in Orange County, not to mention the health concerns for years to come.
Here is the link again for anyone who wants to give their opinion online to those who will make decisions about the fate of San Onofore: