ENERGY: Anti-nuke crowd asks Oceanside council for support
North County Times (2012-06-27) Paul Sisson
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Fueled by last week's news of design flaws at San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, more than 20 anti-nuclear activists on Wednesday asked the Oceanside City Council to put nuclear safety on the agenda at a future meeting.
In other cities such as Encinitas and Solana Beach, the plea has produced a quick pledge from the council and a promise of future agenda action.
Oceanside Mayor Jim Wood politely thanked the crowd and said the council was aware of the ongoing issues at San Onofre, but made no immediate move to place the matter on an agenda.
San Onofre has been regularly in the news since operator Southern California Edison shut down one of the plant's two reactors on Jan. 31 after detecting a leak in one of the unit's two brand-new steam generators.
San Onofre has produced not a megawatt of power for the Southern California electrical grid since the last day of January, as the utility and regulators try to come up with a fix for unexpected amounts of wear observed inside the steam generators. The huge devices function like a car's radiator to transfer heat from the plant's reactors to steam that spins turbines to create electricity.
Last week, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission said publicly that the components were built with flaws. Computer models, regulators said, that were used to design the expensive upgrades failed to predict how much steam the generators would produce. The models installed at the plant, the NRC said, are making three to four times more steam than they should, causing the pipes inside to vibrate against each other.
Several of the speakers in Oceanside on Wednesday night referenced that latest bit of news, using it as a jumping off point to explore more general fears about nuclear power, from the nuclear waste that the plant produces to the perceived inadequacy of local emergency evacuation plans.
Chrystal Coleman of Vista played an emotional card, bringing a poster plastered with shocking images of Chernobyl victims with her to the podium.
"I will not allow this to happen to my children," Coleman said.
Swedina Hart, a biochemist from La Costa, painted a picture of millions of casualties that could occur if there were ever a disaster at San Onofre.
"I urge the City Council to agendize this subject and help us to shut it down permanently," Swedina said.
The issue is beginning to get national reach. Kendra Ulrich, a "nuclear campaigner" with the national environmental activist group Friends of the Earth, said she traveled from Washington, D.C., to attend. She said the fact that design flaws were recently announced at San Onofre should give Oceanside council members pause.
"If Boeing was producing airplanes that had a 300 percent to 400 percent error margin, we would not allow them to take off," Ulrich said.
So far, no local city councils have voted to ask for the plant to be closed, but the Solana Beach council voted April 25 to write letters of concern about plant safety planning, natural disasters and fuel storage to federal representatives.
Several other North County Cities are considering similar action.