Saturday, August 4, 2012

California Public Utilities Commission (owned & operated by Southern California Edison)


Dear Readers,

Last Thursday (August 2nd, 2012) the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) was expected to initiate a "thorough" investigation of the problems at San Onofre Nuclear (Waste) Generating Station (known as SONGS instead of SONWGS because the waste issue is ignored).

The "OII" (Order Instituting Investigation) could have begun immediately, but instead the CPUC found what they consider to be a loophole good for 90 more days. It works like this: Southern California Edison is expected to file a report with the CPUC after 9 months of continuous shutdown anyway, so the CPUC will just wait until after the report is due -- on Halloween -- to take any investigative action. Spooky...

The commissioners said they want to rewrite the plan for the OII in the meantime. They apparently want to narrow the scope. That way, they won't consider any of the pervasive problems, the generic problems, or even the obvious problems like the tsunami dangers highlighted by Fukushima. They won't redo the cost/benefit analysis for the citizens of California in light of everything that's come to light in recent years about San Onofre, such as the backup diesel generator problems, reactor pressure vessel head problems, backup battery problems, wiring problems, fire safety problems, grid stability problems, seismic problems, etc.. They won't consider the impact of the "waste confidence decision" in federal court recently, or of the lawsuits filed by reactor owners (including SCE) because the federal government hasn't taken possession of the used reactor cores as promised in the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982. The Act accomplished the goal of keeping the nuclear industry going with the promise that the federal government would take possession of the fuel -- an impossible expense for the industry otherwise, but an impossible promise to keep.

If the utility gets either unit at SanO operating, even at 50% power (or less), and even for only a short while, you can rest assured the CPUC will try to skip the OII entirely. And let SanO keep making more waste.

Never mind that we all know Unit 3 can't be restarted -- PERIOD -- and shouldn't that initiate an investigation?

Never mind that Unit 2 can only be restarted if the more dire consequences of failure are ignored completely.

Never mind the waste heat and radioactive effluents (such as noble gases) that will be released for eons to come from the used reactor cores -- or the cumulative expense of storing those old reactors for thousands of generations.

Never mind the zirconium fires which, once started, are impossible to put out and would release ALL the fission products within.

Never mind a criticality event.

Never mind.

Instead of doing their sworn duty regarding investigating the problems on top of problems at San Onofre, the commission, headed for the last nine years by Michael R. Peevey, kicked the hot potato down the road for at least another three months.

"President" Peevey seemed more like a dictator as he interrupted the other commissioners after asking them for their opinion. Instead he should have admitted his many ties to San Onofre and recused himself from the discussion entirely. But since regulating San Onofre and Diablo Canyon is the main purpose of the CPUC and he's been doing it for years, that wasn't about to happen.

Peevey was president of SCE until 1992, having started as a vice president there just as reactor units 2 and 3 went online after years of delays and cost over-runs. He worked directly under the future -- and now former -- Commerce Secretary John "it was just bad judgment" Bryson, who was chairman and CEO of SCE at the time Peevey worked there.

At the hearing on Thursday, Peevey didn't mention the junkets he goes on with the current executives of his former company, to Spain, Italy, Brazil, South Africa and elsewhere (but NOT to Fukushima). He didn't mention where his wealth came from or his retirement income comes from, nor the industry-funded "clean air" organization he heads, which funds just enough green energy projects (a few tens of millions of dollars' worth) to make him look green to someone -- someone in the media.

Perhaps SCE could cut off his pension for malfeasance! Peevey could resign from the CPUC because these steam generators were HIS problem: He approved their original design (as head of the CPUC at the time) and was just as culpable as anyone else for misunderstanding the engineering, trusting the computer program's output, trusting "experts", and forcing the ratepayers (bill-payers) to cover the costs so SCE could make a profit no matter what happens.

Peevey and the CPUC have looked the other way while San Onofre's management has intimidated and retaliated against whistleblowers. Despite the intimidation and retaliation that occurs there, more safety complaints have come out of San Onofre than from any other plant in the nation.

Meanwhile, so-called "refueling" of a reactor core is actually already illegal in California -- if you interpret the law properly. California's law states that it's illegal to build new reactors. This could be interpreted to mean that as the reactor "fuel" is removed, the reactor must be shut down. The logic for this interpretation follows:

What part of a nuclear power plant is the reactor? The so-called fuel -- it's the one thing that's common to ANY reactor design, so clearly, "the reactor" IS the reactor core: The physical configuration of Uranium and Plutonium "fuel assemblies" that can achieve "criticality" until "burn-up" is achieved of the U-235 and/or Pu-239 components.

Every part of a nuclear power plant -- without those deadly assemblies -- is just a "conventional" power plant of some sort, minus a heat source. The pumps, pipes, valves, vessels, electrical cables, control systems, and so on are all basically the same until you get to the reactor -- and its safety systems. (which may or may not work).

The law provides that there will be no new reactors in California until the waste problem is solved.

Yet currently, every 18 to 22 months, one third of the reactor -- the core, the heart, the cauldron -- is replaced, resulting in a completely new reactor every five to six years. The deadly used reactor cores sit on site because there is nowhere to put them.

Shut-down is the only reasonable option, and Michael R. Peevey should resign from the CPUC.


Ace Hoffman
Carlsbad, CA

Video of hearing by Steve Zeltzer:

Anti-NUKE Activists Speak Out At CPUC On San Onofre NUKE Plant "Shut It Down"
California anti-nuclear activists spoke out at the August 3, 2012
meeting of the California Public Utility Commission in San Francisco
about the threat to the people of California at the dangerous nuclear
plant near San Diego. The utilities which control the commission
through the former Southern California Edison executive Michael Peevey
who is chair of the commission refused to do a full investigation of the
causes of the accident and the cover-up by the utility which is costing
the people of California hundreds of millions of dollars to rate payers
and the public. No Nukes Action Committee Nuclear Free California

Spent Fuel: All dressed up, with nowhere to go:

(pdf created last week)
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