Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Southern California Edison's Virtual Tour of San Onofre


Dear Readers,

Southern California Edison has posted a "Virtual Tour" of San Onofre Nuclear Waste Generating Station. Here's the URL:


It's the best (and only) way to see the plant. The narrator sounds sooooo cheerful. She claims that San Onofre has been a good neighbor. Not so! They have been building up a deadly pile of radioactive waste -- three to four million pounds of it, of which a millionth of a GRAM will kill you. Also, the reactors have cost a fortune for the public over the years; it's really very expensive energy, and that money could have been spent on renewable energy. Instead, Southern California Edison continues to pour money into the plant, and into the propaganda campaign to keep the plant open. They've fought the activists tooth and nail just to keep making money and charging ratepayers for any mistakes -- and if there is ever an accident, they don't plan to pay for that either.

In the virtual tour, SCE claims they produce "baseload" power. But that ignores the times they have to shut the reactors off all of a sudden, such as, of all times, just when we need the energy the most: After an earthquake, wildfire, or other natural disaster! It's NOT reliable baseload -- as anyone can see by now, 11 months after the last kilowatt was produced! SCE also claims that SanO provides 24% of SoCal's electricity, but what's unsaid is that they define "SoCal" restrictively so the % seems higher than what's really delivered to the whole area that might be affected, say, by an accident. In fact, their plan to "restart" Unit 2 at 70% power will only supply, at best, 2% to 3% of SoCal's energy for five months, and then another shutdown, perhaps permanently if their "experiment" fails. All that risk for 2% to 3% of our electricity? Why bother?

And of course, they didn't mention SanO's 2012 contribution to the grid, which was next-to-nothing.

Regarding the spent fuel pools, the narrator says the radiation will "dissipate over time." She doesn't mention the eons of time this will take.

And the narrator implies -- perhaps correctly -- that all four Emergency Diesel Generators are all located in the same building! Not that that's stupid or anything... but even having two in one building kinda defeats the purpose of having backups, doesn't it?

In the picture of the plant, the growing mountain of dry storage casks is conveniently off-screen to the left, so they only show about 13 of them (probably <1/3rd of the current total).

Dry casks are the approved "solution" to the nuclear waste problem -- because all other solutions have already failed in one way or another. But dry casks are made of steel, concrete, and other materials. They will rust, they will crack, they will leak, and they can catch fire or have a criticality event (nuclear chain reaction). Yet those deadly dry casks are expected to sit on site for 80, 100, 200, maybe even 300 years or more. May God have mercy on whoever has to deal with them then! The radiation will be nearly as deadly as it is right now -- especially the plutonium, 1000 pounds of which is created every year at San Onofre. Plutonium is approximately 200,000 times more deadly than Uranium.

The Once Through Cooling pipes end within the picture. In fact they go much further out, presumably in order to reduce the potential radiation levels on local beaches: Dilution is always their favored solution to pollution. But the scientific consensus is that there is no threshold below which the full range of health effects -- cancer, heart disease, lowered IQ, fetal deformities and a thousand other problems -- do not occur (only their frequency, and in some case their severity, goes down as the dose is reduced). Releasing radioactive waste into the environment is premeditated murder. That's not mentioned in the virtual tour!

On a lighter note, but not much lighter, I suppose it's funny that they don't want to show how the fish elevator actually works (since it's not nearly as successful as they imply, and dozens of tons of fish are killed in it every year, and dozens of sea mammals, too).

And now they are saying that the tsunami wall is only 30 feet above "mean lower low water level" -- they used to say it was 35 feet -- I guess it sank! Or maybe they got cautious thanks to Gary Headrick's efforts to actually measure it???

And they describe a possible 27 foot tsunami as being the "maximum credible" event. That leaves 3 feet of leeway -- but only during "mean lower low water level"!! And every geologist, seismologist, or tsunami expert has had their entire education thrown on its ear by the actual tsunamis and earthquakes of the past decade. Yet San Onofre clings to old and outdated assurances.

But my favorite part of the tour is where they describe the nuclear reactors' turbines as being, well... just like a wind turbine (but not quite in so many words). But a wind turbine doesn't produce deadly nuclear waste that San Onofre doesn't know what to do about, and doesn't kill off the entire ecosystem when it fails.

Take the tour. Then tell San Onofre never to restart.

Ace Hoffman
Carlsbad, CA

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