By Norris McDonald
I was extremely disappointed on Friday when I heard that Southern California Edison had made a dcision to permanently close the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS). My disappointment is now concern for electricity reliability in California. At the very least, Southern Californians are going to have to pay through the nose for imported electricity to help meet demand (remember this is why Gray Davis was replaced with Arnold Swarzenegger). At worst, there will be rolling blackouts all over Southern California if it is a very hot summer. I know. I know. SCE will assure everyone that they can still deliver. But at what price? Californians already pay some of the highest electricity rates in the country. SONGS can still deliver power reliably, safely and cheaply.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) should allow SCE to run SONGS at 70% power for five months, as SCE has requested. NRC's heavy hand in keeping the plant closed for a year and a half is unconscionable.
AND, the SONGS closure will significantly increase smog in an area that is consistently designated as a Clean Air Act nonattainment area. We asthmatics take this very personally. Firing up those two natural gas units down in Huntington Beach are not replacement for SONGS when it comes to smog generation. SONGS does not emit nitrogen oxides.
Oh. And what about carbon dioxide (CO2)? California is just implementing a groundbreaking CO2 reduction plan and closing SONGS blows a complete hole in that plan. Whatever reductions that are achieved via other industrial facilities will be neutralized by the closure of SONGS.
I am sure SCE never anticipated that NRC would not give them approval to restart after they voluntarily shut down after a few steam tubes (out of thousands of tubes) leaked a bit (within regulatory guidelines). SCE would shut down again if tubes started leaking. NRC please give SCE permission to restart now so that they can reverse this severely harmful decision to permanently close he facility.