SoCal Edison to shut down San Onofre permanently

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SAN ONOFRE, Calif. – Strength in numbers, members of the Coalition to Decommission San Onofre Nuclear plant gathered together to declare victory.

“It’s a happy, happy day,” said Ray Lutz, activist.  “This blunder and catastrophe we see behind us is finally going away.”

SanOnofreFor years activists have waged war on Southern California Edison and the San Onofre facility.  Today the utility announces it’s pulling the plug on the power plant for good.

“The principal reasons we’ve outline for that are continuing uncertainty future of the plant,” said Ted Craver, Chairman and CEO of Edison International.

The plant has not produced power since January 2012.  As the twin reactors have sat idle, Edison’s spent more than $500 million in repairs and replacement power.  It has been a 16 month tangle on whether the reactors could safely be restarted.

In the end, company officials said it came down to regulatory hurdles and economics.

“It wasn’t just the approval, but it was also the length of the approval process,” said Craver.  “While the plant sits idle we would have to endure major costs to keep the plant in the ready when the approval came through.

Craver added by the end of the year, it would really not be the least cost alternative.

“”It’s a very old plant, it’s risky,” said Lutz.

Activists said the shutdown had nothing to do with cost, but rather safety.

“This was the nearest near miss we’ve had in the US in the last 10 years,” said Arnie Gunderson, a consultant hired by the group Friends of the Earth.

Gunderson who has worked in the nuclear industry for more than 40 years conducted several recent studies.  He looked at the reactors after a small leak was detected in a steam generator in January of 2012.

“We identified the old steam generators were entirely different than the ones they replaced them,” said Gunderson.

He said when the utility tried to replace the old with the new, it only made the problem worse.

“They made the decision at the beginning of this process that caused those generators to break,” said Gunderson.

Gunderson claimed the idea of restarting the plant was based purely on experiment.

“Unit 3 was so badly broken they said it would never start again, unit 2 they were trying to run as 70% power,” said Gunderson.  “Edison’s blaming everyone except themselves, this is a self  inflicted wound.”

“The steam generators have not performed as the original specifications,” said Craver.  “The design and manufacturer of the steam generators clearly are not performing the way they were specified.”

Edison admits the plan was a mistake.

“If we could roll the clock back we would try to do it differently,” said Craver.

Activists argued the mistake left millions of lives in jeopardy.

“They were playing with the health and safety of 8.4 million people and their livelihood,” said Cathy Iwane,

“If that earthquake were to happen this plant would go into a meltdown,” said Lutz.

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