The SONGS is Over: San Onofre to Shut Down, for Real, for Good

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San Onofre in black bra

San Onofre is closing.  The year’s-long process will not look like this.

Southern California Edison announced this morning that San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS), which has been closed since January 2012, will not reopen.

The announcement that Unit 2 and Unit 3 reactors will retire was made by Southern California Edison early Friday.

The company cited “continuing uncertainty about when or if SONGS might return to service” as the cause for their decision.

Edison International CEO Ted Craver said the company concluded that questions over when or if the plant might return to service was not good for customers or investors.

It will take years to retire the units. The company said it’s “top priority will be to ensure a safe, orderly, and compliant retirement” of these two reactors.

We’ll have more on the story as we can mentally process it.  Meanwhile, there’s this:

UPDATE, 6/7, 1:30 p.m.: OK, it’s no longer morning, and we’re still not yet alert, so we’re just going to hand the mike over to Harvey Wasserman of Alternet for four — oh, let’s make it eight, since they’re calling for us to celebrate! — short paragraphs of fair use:

Germany is shutting its entire fleet and switching to renewables. France, once the poster child for the global reactor industry, is following suit.  South Korea has just shut three due to fraudulent safety procedures.  Massive demonstrations rage against reactors being built in India.  Only the Koreans, Chinese and Russians remain at all serious about pushing ahead with this tragic technology.  

Cheap gas has undercut the short-term market for expensive electricity generated by obsolete coal and nuke burners.  But the vision of Solartopia—a totally green-powered Earth—is now our tangible long-term reality.

With falling prices and soaring efficiency, every moving electron our species consumes will be generated by a solar panel, wind turbine, bio-fueled or geothermal generator, wave machine and their green siblings.

As of early this year, Southern California Edison’s path to a re-start at San Onofre seemed as clear as any to be expected by a traditional atomic tyrannosaur.But with help from Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Senator-to-be Ed Markey (D-MA), a powerful citizen uprising stopped it dead.

Make no mistake—this double victory at San Onofre is a falling domino.  Had the public not fought back, those reactors would have been “fixed” at public expense.

Today, they are dead.

Worldwide, there are some 400 to go.  Each of them—including the 100 remaining in the US—could do apocalyptic damage.  We still have our work cut out for us.

But a huge double-step has been taken up the road to Solartopia. There will be no Fukushimas at San Onofre.  A green-powered Earth is that much closer.  And we have yet another proof that citizen action makes all the difference in our world.

Meanwhile, the Democratic Party of Orange County (currently being reviled elsewhere in these pages) issued the following statement:

San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station to Shut Down 
Santa Ana, California – 6/7/2013 – Southern California Edison (SCE) announced today its plan to retire Units 2 and 3 of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station in Southern Orange County. This will effectively shut down the entire plant. The plant has not produced electricity since January of 2012, following the discovery of broken water tubes and premature wear. Significant job layoffs are imminent, but SCE will collaborate with the Utility Workers Union of America and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers to ensure a smooth transition for their workers.
“While the Democratic Party of Orange County (DPOC) is concerned about the 1100 working families that will be impacted by this decision, we applaud SCE’s commitment to ensuring the safety of the surrounding communities.  We are hopeful that SCE will be equally diligent in facilitating the transition of the workers to new jobs,” said DPOC Chair, Henry Vandermeir.
The past 16 months of battle over whether to return the units to use have come to an end, and the plant will close. Concerns regarding the design and fear of earthquakes and similarities to the Fukushima-Daiichi disaster also furthered concern, as more than 7.4 million Californians live within 50 miles of the plant.
The city of Riverside, San Diego Gas & Electric, and Southern California Edison are the joint-owners of San Onofre. The next step will be to safely shut down and retire all units, which will be monitored by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Nice and even-handed — yes, the consequences for jobs are a big priority, but SCE is going to be generating energy somehow, and those electrical workers are going to be one of their best assets in making it happen.

Having been one of the small group doing the heavy lifting within the county party on our resolutions to shut down SONGS, I can tell you that the Democratic Party did not want to poke its fingers in the eye of either SCE or the IBEW.  Yes, we do need energy; yes, we do need jobs.  Our recent Executive Board resolution on the issue came out only after a long conversation with an SCE spokesperon who gave us a good and measured presentation.  And the members of the party don’t like opposing the IBEW’s concerns and don’t do it likely.  But the environmental and the consumer concerns here were simply overriding — and the chance of successfully restarting the reactor was, in any case, slim.  The question was how to let it go with relative peace and dignity.  I’m glad that we took a stand — and I hope that, in some small way, it helped resolve this.

I’ll happily append comments from the Greens, Libertarians, and Republicans as well — if they come forth.

About Greg Diamond

Somewhat verbose attorney, semi-retired due to disability, residing in northwest Brea. Occasionally runs for office against bad people who would otherwise go unopposed. Got 45% of the vote against Bob Huff for State Senate in 2012; Josh Newman then won the seat in 2016. In 2014 became the first attorney to challenge OCDA Tony Rackauckas since 2002; Todd Spitzer then won that seat in 2018. Every time he's run against some rotten incumbent, the *next* person to challenge them wins! He's OK with that. Deposed as Northern Vice Chair of DPOC in April 2014 (in violation of Roberts Rules) when his anti-corruption and pro-consumer work in Anaheim infuriated the Building Trades and Teamsters in spring 2014, who then worked with the lawless and power-mad DPOC Chair to eliminate his internal oversight. Expelled from DPOC in October 2018 (in violation of Roberts Rules) for having endorsed Spitzer over Rackauckas -- which needed to be done. None of his pre-putsch writings ever spoke for the Democratic Party at the local, county, state, national, or galactic level, nor do they now. One of his daughters co-owns a business offering campaign treasurer services to Democratic candidates and the odd independent. He is very proud of her. He doesn't directly profit from her work and it doesn't affect his coverage. (He does not always favor her clients, though she might hesitate to take one that he truly hated.) He does advise some local campaigns informally and (so far) without compensation. (If that last bit changes, he will declare the interest.)