The Threat of San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station




[San Onofre image courtesy of Platypus Skateboards]

Did anyone notice the map in the story in the Register on April 13 (“Drill tests response to nuclear emergency”, Local News, page 7) about the nuclear plant emergency drill?  That map sure got my attention. It shows that if there had to be an evacuation of people living within a 50 mile radius of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station just south of the OC border that evacuation would cover 100% of Orange County, a huge chunk of San Diego County (including the critical Camp Pendleton Marine Corps training base), plus parts of Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Riverside Counties.

The significance of 50 miles is that this is the distance presently recommended by the U.S. government for the evacuation area around the quake and tsunami damaged nuclear installations in Japan. 50 miles means everyone – every building, every home, every school, every hospital, every nursing home – in Orange County. So, 50 miles can happen.

Given the situation in Japan, one that has demonstrated that a power company can fail in its mission to provide energy in a safe manner, it is no wonder that the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors has just gone on record unanimously to urge Pacific Gas and Electric to withdraw its application to extend its operating license for the two reactors for the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant. Apparently the reason for concern is that two earthquake faults lie near the plant. PG& E says that the maximum quake that could happen is a 7.5 and the plant is built to withstand such a quake.

The Santa Maria Times newspaper reports that the Supervisors want PG&E to focus on seismic studies for the next few years. The current licenses do not expire until 2024 and 2025.

Returning to the map in the April 13 Register, how comfortable are you living within 50 miles of the San Onofre facility? I wonder if the fact I live within 50 miles of that plant is something I will have to formally disclose if I ever want to sell my home. How is the new reality of nuclear plant hazards going to impact my property value? I know I see the Edison Company advertisements on TV touting that they have been trusted for 100 years, but I don’t remember taking steps to trust them with my life and that of my loved ones, nor the value of my home, but that seems to be the reality of San Onofre.

Given current events, it is time for our Board of Supervisors to engage in some intensive oversight and ask some tough questions so a public discourse about the safety and future of the San Onofre facility can occur. The United States Marine Corps might very well do the same, as a key facility to our national defense – Camp Pendleton – virtually surrounds the San Onofre plant.

About Over But Not Out

A retired Orange County employee, and moderate Republican. The editor seriously does not know OBNO's identity as did not the former editor, but his point of view is obviously interesting and valued.