A manager from San Onofre shared his insights with me today into what he believes is going on with the leak at the plant right now.
A manager from San Onofre shared his insights with me today into what he believes is going on with the leak at the plant right now. He is very disappointed and frustrated with the way things have changed over the past few years. Decisions used to be made on a very conservative basis. Now they downplay every potential hazard leaving much uncertainty about what dangers we actually face.
He is also upset that they are having leaking tubes in the generators that are less than one year into production. If one new generator has begun to leak, what is to keep us from expecting problems with the other three generators recently replaced for a cost of over $650 million? If you remember, huge holes had to be cut into the containment domes to allow the new generators to be installed.
On top of that expense ratepayers must bear, there will also be huge amounts of revenue lost due to the shutdown which is certain to take some time to repair. First things must cool off enough to work on the generator. Then the bad tubes must be isolated and sealed off. The fact that the other reactor is shutdown for routine maintenance makes re-starting even more difficult and time consuming. According to him, one reactor is left running at all times so it can assist the other one when it is starting up.
Most alarming of all is the contamination factor. When a tube leaks, the closed loop system has been compromised. Radioactive water mixes with clean water used for steam generation. In order to shut down the system the steam must be released into the atmosphere. How much radioactivity is released depends on how much the tubes have been damaged. He compared the situation to Three Mile Island when they had to release steam from containment into the surrounding population. We have no independent radiation monitoring systems in place so there is no way to be sure about anything unless you blindly trust the industry who has much to lose if there is any bad news to report. The monitors that detected the leak can only show that radiation is present but it is not able to quantify how much has been released. We need to have an independent monitoring system in San Clemente. We also need to have regular samplings for epidemiological studies to know if there are any patterns of illnesses to be aware of.
He’s not sure how much contamination may have been released. He thinks it is probably a small amount, but you never know because they “downplay the Hell out of anything like this”. We’ll probably never know for sure. Although he is loyal to the company and proud of much of the work being done there he says that management continues to claim that things are getting better there when they are not. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is in a tough spot too. When things do not improve after years of oversight by the NRC, then they become anxious to find any sign of progress they can report on so it looks as if they are being an effective regulator.If it was up to him, he’d shut it down, but not before they have somewhere to take the radioactive waste. He’s convinced that if they leave it on site while the power plant is idle it just wont be getting the proper attention and maintenance.
With all the expense and risk to over 8 million people, isn’t it about time to move on to truly clean, safe and sustainable solutions? How much longer will we allow this private enterprise continue to take millions of dollars a day in profit while putting all of the risk on us?