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Out of the Blue: Speak up against San Onofre

May 16, 2013|By Billy Fried

Amid a spate of promising economic news, home values are climbing. Now for the bad news.

For the first time in human history, the concentration of climate-warming carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is nearing the milestone level of 400 parts per million.

We continue to ingest the hazardous waste known as processed and genetically modified foods. And if that's not enough to kill ya, there's talk of opening San Onofre again.

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The Nuclear Regulatory Committee, a notoriously fractured committee composed of industry insiders, is about to rubber stamp a "no significant hazard" certification, allowing San Onofre to reopen its failed reactors as early as June.

"This is all based on hypothesis that has never been tested, so NRC is essentially approving an experiment," said Kendra Ulrich, of Friends of the Earth, a global network of nearly 2 million activists who urge policymakers to defend the environment.

Here's the background: Mitsubishi Heavy Industries replaced the 30-year-old San Onofre generators in 2010, and they failed two years later. We still don't know the cause. But we do know that thousands of cooling tubes have weakened.

Now Southern California Edison tells us that the reactor could not run safely for more than 11 months at 100% capacity. So it is proposing a test of five months at 70% capacity. Do you think this an acceptable risk to the 8.7 million of us who live within 50 miles?

This old, shuttered relic is built in a seismic zone on the Pacific. Hey, sounds like Fukushima. And we know how that played out.

A recent article in the New York Times showed, in a horrifying graphic, the hundreds of massive storage tanks at the 42-acre site in Japan filled with radioactive wastewater. Turns out that "groundwater is pouring into the plant's ravaged reactor buildings at a rate of almost 75 gallons a minute" and becomes radioactive, the article said.

A small army of workers is struggling to contain the continuous flow, and now Tokyo Electric Power Co. (Tepco) is chopping down a small adjacent forest to make room for more tanks. This doesn't mitigate the problem of another perfect storm of earthquake and tsunami.

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