The Week in Review with Major Players in the Nuclear Power Arena

What a week it was, starting last Tuesday, right up until today, with high expectations for more of the same to come. 

What a week it was, starting last Tuesday, right up until today, with high expectations for more of the same to come. 

A lively conversation took place on our way from LAX to Irvine. I had just picked up three of the most central figures in the arena of nuclear energy:

Arnie Gundersen of Fairewinds, an independent nuclear expert often called upon to testify before Congress, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and media giants like CNN. 

Dave Freeman (who was only able to join us for the day) is a utility expert who ran the LA Department of Water and Power, the Tennessee Valley Authority, and the Sacramento Municipal Utility District. 

Shaun Burnie, an anti-nuclear activist for decades with Greenpeace and recently working with Friends of the Earth to shutdown San Onofre. 

Needless to say, these guys knew what they were talking about, and while they each had unique reference points there was consensus on the fact that San Onofre was a disaster waiting to happen.

They were all headed to Irvine to participate in the City Council meeting which resulted in the unanimous conclusion that Irvine (and all of those cities within the 50 mile shadow of San Onofre) lacked the proper means to protect the public’s safety in any number of ways. “It appears the situation is even more serious than we had been lead to believe,” Councilman Larry Agran said during the packed council meeting. “And the prospects for restarting units two and three for this summer appear to be zero now, if we are indeed to believe our own words about public safety and assuring ourselves and the public at large in those regards.”

The very next morning we were on the beach in front of San Onofre helping to create a mock-up of the steam generators so that Arnie Gundersen could give a lesson to the media on just exactly what the problems are and just how close we came to a major catastrophe had Unit 3 been allowed to operate for another 24 hours after the pin hole leak developed. Thankfully the radiation leak was detected and the unit was shutdown in a hurry. Otherwise, there could have been huge amounts of radiation released in the steam coming from the generators. The same water is part of a loop that keeps the reactors cool and could lead to a meltdown far exceeding the radiation found at Fukushima, but as the PR folks at Edison like to say, the public was in no danger and that safety is their first concern. We sure put a lot of faith in a company that was not even capable of handling a wind storm that wiped out overloaded and poorly maintained power poles only a few months ago.

Then later that day was another  press conference with Mr. Gundersen followed by another appearance at the Solana Beach City Council who also passed a similar unanimous verdict regarding San Onofre. It seems that wherever we go with the truth, the public responds in a similar manner. Further meetings with the cities of Vista and Del Mar laid the ground work for more of the same. Thursday found us in Dana Point on the same mission. Later that afternoon we met at our regular strategic planning meeting to prep for the protest at San Onofre coming up on Sunday. Saturday, Dan Hirsch, another expert flew in for the occasion. Arnie had to leave by then, but speeches by Dan Hirsch and  Larry Agran  added quite a lot to the many other speakers that fine day.

Monday we had a chance to catch our breath only to be followed with preparation for the Nike surf contest at Lowers (close to San Onofre) to share the word with the strong and vocal surf community who also contributed much in stopping the Toll Road. We’ll have a presence there for the entire contest running until Saturday. Meanwhile, Laurie and I have been invited to participate in the Sierra Club National No Nukes Activist Strategy Summit, May 4-7, 2012 in Washington DC. 

We have our work cut out for us, but it is becoming more and more apparent to the public that the risks are far greater than any benefit we get from nuclear power. We simply don’t need it. As a matter of fact, California recently went 100% Nuke Free thanks to Nature and the folly of man. What ambitious engineers created with over-sized nuclear steam generators failing in the south-land, Nature achieved with the help of jellyfish-like creatures shutting down the only other nuclear power station in California. She also threw in a little seismic bump for good measure in San Juan Capistrano as a gentle reminder that the big one is brewing just below the surface. How many more signs will it take to signal the permanent end of nuclear power in California and the beginning of a truly sustainable energy future? It is here for the taking if we can pull ourselves away from the endless distractions and misinformation being promoted by an industry desperately clinging to the past. We must win this ethical battle to make sure public safety, not profit, always comes first. The stakes are too high to accept anything less. Restarting San Onofre should never be an option.

Additional Media coverage from the past week:


Video and article

Video and article

Gundersen gets a little defamation from Edison confirming their own sense of desparation

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