San Onofre and the Monks

monks protest San Onofre Nuclear Power Plant

Steven Georges, for the Register

I live less than 5 miles from San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) here on the coast in Orange County. The plant has been shut down since January when workers discovered a small radioactive leak. Southern California Edison, which owns 78% of San Onofre, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission assured us it was a tiny leak that was perfectly harmless. Nothing to see here. Move along.

Now, Edison feels that it can restart (at reduced power) one of the two reactors that did not leak back in January. And so they presented their case before the NRC at an overflow crowd public meeting yesterday in Laguna Hills. Although there was extensive questioning, the regulators have not indicated how they expect to rule. If this is a typical case, the regulators will side with industry and Edison will get its way and re-start reactor 2.

Meanwhile and eerily coincidental, Edison has reported that there has been tampering, perhaps sabotage, with the coolant used to keep the reactors within safe range. The FBI is taking over the investigation. As Democratic Underground reports:

This facility has the worst safety record of any nuclear plant in America, its workers are speaking out to warn of dangers, and 9 cities within the evacuation zone have now raised serious concerns.

And because we are in Southern California, a small group of Buddhist monks held a protest march from Dana Point to San Clemente where they plan to fast and pray near the pier. Their mission is to block the restart of the reactor and to shut down the plant permanently. From the Orange County Register:

“We need to shut down the San Onofre,” Gyosen Sawada of Los Angeles, who said he was born in Fukushima, Japan, told the group before beginning a three-hour walk from Dana Point Harbor. “No more Hiroshima. No more Nagasaki. No more Three Mile Island. No more Fukushima. No more San Onofre.”

Sawada and two Seattle-area monks – Senji Kanaeda and Gilberto Perez, who told the group he was a “homey from the projects in New York city, born in Cuba” – then set off down Pacific Coast Highway.

Look for a great slideshow at the Register of the monks and the NRC hearing.

Curiously, Edison has added a virtual tour of the power plant to its site. No mention of sabotage on this tour.

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