Year History of Opposition to Nuclear Power in California
citizens have made a unique stand concerning the attempts by Nuclear proponents
to make the state a premiere model for commercial nuclear energy. California's major
utilities, in particular Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) has spent an
enormous amount of money and political muscle in attempts to build reactors
across California but have mostly failed. PG&E was supposedly involved in
the Atoms for Peace proposal made in 1953 and was
part of a coalition of american utilities that investigated the technical
potentials for building nuclear reactors as a source of electricity.
is a brief summary of the battles against nuclear power that started here
in California in 1958.
California is the home of the first successful opposition to the promotion
and development of commercial nuclear reactors in the U.S. In the 1950's
northern and central California's privately Owned utility company, PG&E
was planning to be one of the giants in the new field of nuclear energy.
It had helped design and build the Dresden I reactor in Illinois with
a consortium of 5 major companies, including General Electric(GE).
with GE, it built the vallecitos nuclear complex south of San Francisco
and then went it alone with their Humboldt reactor near Arcata. But their
luck took a turn for the worse when they tried to build the world's largest
nuclear facility 1000 feet from the fault that caused the 1906 earthquake.
even said they could build a reactor in downtown San Francisco! In
fact they were planning the construction of 63 reactors in California
during the early 1960's, one every 25 miles along the coast They even
planned to build a floating reactor!!
Bodega Bay Duck Pond
started pushing plans to build the reactors at Bodega Pay in 1958 a literal
groundswell of opposition erupted during the next 6 years to stop them
dead cold. The site they had chosen near the San Andreas Fault Zone was
just a few miles from the epicenter of the Great San Francisco Quake where
ground shifts of over 20 feet had occurred in 1906.
unethical plans to build the reactor is not new for this company, as they
have a history of unfair tactics that goes back to the company's birth.
Upon deciding that the Bodega Headlands would be an excellent site for the largest nuclear
facility in the world, PG&E simply beat the state out in its plans
to make the area a state park.
started in 1958 when the Santa Rosa Press Democrat published the first
story on PG&E's plans. The company's ignored their own geologist, who had warned
that the area was likely to be effected by strong shaking during a quake.
Concerned citizens started getting involved as PG&E refused to acknowledge
publicly that they were actually going to build nuclear reactors at the
windscale accident in England, where a small reactor had burned out of
control for more than a day, helped focus concerns about safety on this
new idea of nuclear power.
after nearly 3 years of pushing their plan behind the scenes, PG&E
announced plans to build the Atomic Park at the Bodega site. The ensuing battle
and PG&E's nasty style started to backfire though as public concerns
came from within the ranks of the Sierra Club, but the board refused to
allow its active members the right to oppose the reactors on the issue
of earthquakes. When it came out that PG&E had doctored fault maps
of the site, all hell broke loose.
One of PG&E's
major claims at the time was that they could build reactors that would
survive a great Earthguake. At one point they said that the reactors could
survive a quake 50 per cent bigger than the O6' quake by floating the
reactors on 3 feet of compressable material but when the public and the
Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) got a close-up view of the devastation
from the air of the quake in Alaska during the spring of 1964, support
for the reactor complex dried up.
had "infiltrated" the federal government and were pushing
for closure. With the disclosure of the AEC's WASH 740 report, which documented
potential dangers to the bay area residents in case of an accident, opposition
finally reached all government levels.
governor Pat Brown asked that PG&E abandon the reactors. Two days
later PG&E caved in and called the project off. The battle ended in
1964 with a $7 million duck pond as a living monunent to the future. (It
is still there today)
gave PG&E a deadly lesson on how to overcome public concerns at their
next reactor site--Diablo Canyon.
Diablo Canyon Nightmare:
The 25 year
battle over Diablo Canyon is a classic case of courage in the face of
the political power this utility unleashed in its drive to build a major
nuclear facility in California.
plans to build a mega facility shifted south to the less populated coastal
area near San Luis Obispo. The company purchased the Nipomo Dunes and
told environmental leaders that unless an acceptable site was chosen that
they would go ahead and build a facility at the popular beach area. The
wife of the Sierra Club president was selected to come up with an acceptable
site in secrecy with the company.
chosen, Diablo Canyon, was California's second to last coastal wilderness
area, an area that had been proposed as a National Park due to its beauty.
Besides being a sacred Chumash burial ground, it was the home of one of
a kind 1,000 year old Oak trees (the largest in the world). It was also
the home of one of the state's largest populations of abalone and sea
In the process
of getting permission to go ahead with Diablo, PG&E suceeded in selling
the site to key members of the Sierra Club's board of directors. The Utility
had sympathetic board members flown over the Diablo site in Frank Sinatra's
Lear jet, with entertainment by Danny Kaye (Danny later came out against
slam-dunk by PG&E came against the local farmer who had the right
of way access rights over the Diablo property. The company went to court
and had his rights removed. The beligerant act made the man a life-long
opponent of PG&E's plan.
gets Cozy with Sierra Club Board Members
tactical plan was to focus on the Sierra Club. The company and the electric
industry already had the board's ear with their claims that nuclear power
could reduce air pollution that was caused by coal power plants. The utility,
with inside help then sought official support for Diablo Canyon when club's
only board member who knew about the site's natural value was in Europe.
The board went along with PG&E, and in fact voted to block any Club
members or chapters opposition to the facility. This move enraged David
Brower, eventually resulting in the split up of the club and the creation
of Friends of the Earth by embittered Sierra Club members who were angered
by the actions of key Sierra Club Board members.
success within the Sierra Club was the culmination of 2 years of behind
the scenes work by Doris Leonard. She was the wife of the president of
the club. Her role in exchanging the Nipomo Dunes site for Diablo Canyon
was rewarded later when she was elected to PG&E's board of directors.
Club refused to allow its local chapter near Diablo to use the club nane
in opposing the five proposed reactors at the site. The group was forced
to take on another name in 1966, the Shoreline Preservation Conference.
was concerned about earthquake faults along the coast as locals were fully
aware of the 1927 quake that completely destroyed a nearby city. They
called for a full investigation into potential fault areas. Their efforts
were ignored by the government and the media.
News of the
reactor siting was poorly covered by the Bay area's conservative media,
a tactic that made the issue invisible to bay area residents who had stopped
PG&E's Bodega reactor plans.
chart the Hosgri Fault The Hosgri fault had been mapped by Shell oil geologists
during the 1960's, but not published until 1970. PG&E claims to have
not found out about the fault until late 1972. The information was finally
publicized in November 1973 by an investigative reporter in Los Angeles.
In a suspicious turn of events, the lawyer who had been fighting the case
since 1965 was found dead in his car just after the announcement. Authorities
claimed it was suicide, with no other investigation to follow up.
bad memories of Bodega Bay helped fuel their push to ignore earthquake
concerns at Diabl Canyon. The same Seismic experts who had been involved
with the Bodega Bay facility were brought in to review the site for seismicity.
They pointed out major flaws in PG&E's own $2,000 seismic study. A
state of the art study at the time would have cost $100,000)
Hosgri Fault Forces PG&E to Rebuild Diablo Again
A storm of
controversy erupted around the facility as one of the units was reaching
completion. Even with the help of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's
(NRC) predecessor, the AEC, PG&E was finally forced after 3 years
of federal in-fighting to rebuild seismic bracing in 1976.
to stop a seismic retrofit, PG&E even coined the Tao Effect which
said that the bigger the structure, the less damage a quake would have.
for the concerned activists remained uninpressed, claiming that the fault
could create over an 8.0 quake, and was responsible for a 1927 guake that
devastated Santa Barbara.
was coming close to open again in 1979, when the Three Mile Island accident
forced the Nuclear Regulatory Commision to put all reactors plans on hold
until new safety standards were put in place. As a result of the 2nd rebuild,
Diablo's initial cost estimate jumped from $320 million in 1963 to $2.1
billion by 1981.
legal battles the NRC gave PG&E a license to load fuel and start low
power testing The Abalone Alliance used the license issuance to mobilize
what was at the time the largest civil disobediance action in U.S. history,
with over 1,900 people arrested.
Fault is it?
Just as the
protest was ending after three weeks of daily actions, a newly hired 25
year old engineer discovered that PG&E had reversed the blue-prints
of the seismic supports and had thus installed them backwards on both
The NRC in
embarrassment, pulled the utility's brand new operating license. After
several more scandals including one where PG&E was caught doctoring
up the final report on the problems at the facility, the NRC forced them
to do a massive redesign and rebuild program.
Corp., the largest nuclear engineering firm in the world and employer
of ex-DoD boss Weinberger and Sec. of State Schultz, were then called
in by PG&E to finish Diablo in 1982.
by no means infallable, had perforned a similar goof to PG&E's blue-print
reversals at the San Onofre facility, when they installed two reactor
vessels backwards, so they of course had plenty of experience in dealing
with this kind of problem. By 1984 they had found over 6,000 construction
errors which left the total construction costs for Diablo at over $5.8
To help fund
this massive project, PG&E had to get nearly $2 billion in low interest
loans from Reagan's EPA. These were given out as environmental protection
grants for constructing the containment vessels, which technically had
been conpleted by the early 70's
To get past
other blocks to operation PG&E had to rely on Reagan Administration
help including that of Judge Robert Bork The NRC had proaised legal intervenors
in 1982 that they would have generic seismic rules in place covering evacuation
planning before the reactors were allowed to go on line. Yet when August
of 1984 rolled around and no such plans were complete, the NRC held secret
licensing meetings that used unadjudicated seismic documents from PG&E.
Intervenors were ready for this move and countered with a federal injunction
blocking the license until the minutes of the NRC meetings were looked
at The NRC refused to release the minutes of their meetings on the grounds
that it would endanger national security The D C Federal Court of Appeals
caved in on the Injunction on Halloween eve after a secret meeting with
a special person within the NRC who secretly released the minutes of the
meetings with the minutes public, intervenors attempted to file another
injunction barring start-up of Diablo. The court agreed to rehear the
case but refused to block start-up In its final decision after over a
year of waiting, which was written by Judge Bork, the court refused to
"set national policy" by looking at the NRC minutes and then
went on to cite the PG&E unadjudicated document (unstated of course)
that there were no seismic dangers at Diablo This decision was made the
day before the Passover Eve accident at Chtrnobyl Congressional hearings
held later did indicate that the NRC had broken federal laws in licensing
Diablo but nothing was ever done about this by Reagan's Justice Department.
the reactors on line, PG&E then had to prove that all of its $5.8
billion in costs were legitimate before the California Public Utilities
Commission However, the PUC at the time still had a lot of nasty anti-nuclear
types leftover from the Brown era. In what was the largest legal battle
in the PUC history, PG&E spent over $110 million during the 4 year
struggle. The PUC, which by law is required to defend the public interest,
spent nearly $6 million while reviewing nearly 100 million pages of documents.
Their position after 2 years of digging chilled PG&E to the bone,
claiming that the utility should be forced to eat all but $l.l billion
of the $5.8 billion costs.
had several secret weapons up its sleeve. Republican control of appointments
to the PUC Commission had by 1986 shifted the balance of power from democratic
to republican control. This backfired slightly at one point when one of
the PUC Commissioners quietly stepped down when it was discovered that
he was doing work on the side for PG&E. The loss of Justice Rose Bird
and allies in the state supreme court was even more devastating to legal
challenges, as by law appeals of PUC decisions could only be heard there.
But the real
war was quietly waged in the state legislature PG&E was able to pass
legislation that created a huge loophole in the PUC laws which would allow
the soon-to-be republican controlled PUC to bypass traditional ratemaking
for Diablo Canyon if necessary.
On June 27,
1988, just as the final and most critical phase of the hearings was to
have commenced, PG&E, the State Attorney General who was running for
governor) and the PUC announced that they had reached a settlement. The
secretly negotiated agreement would not require the adjudication of how
much PG&E would have to pay for its horrendous construction activities
at Diablo Instead, the settlement, axing 3 years of legal preparation,
allowed PG&E the first free market contract in Oalifornia regulatory
history. This astounding turn-around was based solely on the law that
PG&E had gotten passed earlier. It was later discovered that the head
of the law firm that helped PG&E negotiate the secret settlement gave
Attorney General John van De Kamp a $60,000 donation for his governor's
later, it was also discovered that then Assembly Speaker Willie Brown
worked out a deal with PG&E where he agreed to kill all legislative
investigations of the what happened in exchange for a lucrative business
deal for a friend (Johny Cochran).
who had been satisfied with the PUC staff's earlier principled stand,
watched in horror as a new hearing process was rapidly pushed through
the PUC, leading to acceptance of the agreement on December 19th, 1988
by the PUC Commission itself.
agreement was heavily trumpeted by the major media as the best deal possible
for the ratepayers PG&E was allowed a fixed rate 30 year contract
for all power produced at Diablo with rates to start at .078 per kilowatt
hour produced, eventually going well over $.22/KwHr during the life of
of the contract claimed that it would lead to a $2.2 billion disallowance
during the life of the reactors if Diablo operated at the national average
capacity factor for reactors. Yet the deal was set up to give PG&E
a chance to recover all of its costs in the first 7 to 8 years of operation.
Diablo has not been operating at the national average which is 58% of
rated capacity, but at 90% (1990) of its capacity.
took in nearly $370 million alone in the first seven months of 1989. At
the present rate of operation which PG&E says it will try to maintain,
it would be very possible for them to recoup most of their investment
costs in the next 7-8 years, the period when a reactor traditionally has
its highest capacity factors all legal appeals to the PUC's decision were
rapidly knocked off by the republican controlled State Supreme Court,
leaving the likelihood that we will see a replay of the Rancho Seco history,
with PG&E pushing the reactors to get their money back.
People Say NO
discovery of leaking high level nuclear waste tanks at Hanford, the discovery
of the Hosgri fault at Diablo and the near accident at the Browns Ferry
reactor (1973-75) negative public attention was focussed on nuclear power.
PG&E's massive plans far developing reactors approximately every 25
miles along the coast of Central and northern California started to look
pretty nasty (yes, they also had plans for construction of a reactor in
past Reagan era and advent of Jerry Brown, opposition to nuclear reactors
that were planned or already built burst into flame across the state.
PG&E's standard tactic was to hire a company called Research West
to spy on activists that were opposing the utility's reactor plans. They
also brought out a flack of Spin Doctors to keep the local media confused
or in some cases angered.
Bodega atomic Park was then relocated another 50 miles north to the Point
Arena area when PG&E announced plans to build two 1,130 megawatt reactors,
the Sierra Club came out in opposition to the plans PG&E's initial
press release claimed the site wasn't near the San Andreas Fault but when
USGS experts asked far documentation they were Initially refused.
mildly threatened, PG&E handed over documents that showed the likelihood
of faulting on site. When the AEC asked for further fault studies the
utility quietly withdrew its request to build the reactors. The elapsed
time for Bodega II was six years, the final collapse taking place in November
next gambit was in the form of six reactors to be built north of Santa
Cruz to power the burgeoning Santa Clara growth. Sophisticated opposition
sprang up immediately to the plans. The county held a public forum that
featured Dr John Gofman. After the 1971 quake in southern California,
opposition mounted to the point that PG&E decided to cool its heals
on the plan, but not drop them altogether. In 1977 the plans resurfaced,
but this time opponents went to the Ca. Coastal Commission. A large public
outpouring of opposition killed PG&E's plans permanently. In 1989
the Loma Prieta Earthquake devastated the area. The planned reactor site
would have been a few miles away from the epicenter of the quake.
Kern County Plans Are the Next to Fail
PG&E and the Los Angeles Dept. of Water and Power announced plans
to build 4 giant 1250 Mega Watt reactors in Kern county north of Los Angeles.
This time they were thwarted by farmers who felt that the reactors would
threaten their supply of water. A grassroots campaign against the plan
succeeded in educating the county on the downsides of PG&E's plans.
In a stunning victory, opponents won by a 70% to 30% margin.
1975 Anti-Nuclear Initiative: Proposition 15
about the massive push for nuclear development in California culminated
in a 1975 state wide initiative (Proposition 15) to end the construction
of all reactors. PG&E and Southern California Edison, fearing the
growing grassroots juggernaut, used their massive political influence
to pass a law similar to the one on the ballot, hoping to head off support
for the initiative that would have closed all reactors down statewide.
law said that no new reactors would be ordered until a safe solution was
found for high level nuclear waste. With the law being passed as a media
event, just weeks before the vote, it successfully stopped the initiative.
came back and challenged this law in 1983 before the U.S. Supreme Court
but failed. As a result PG&E and So.Cal. Edison were forced to end
their romance with nuclear power plants. The utility was successful in
letting the PUC write off all its costs of failed reactors programs onto
the ratepayers though. xx In the Mid-90's, the republican controlled Public
Utilities Commission held a series of promotional events (they claimed
these were hearings) for a new type of reactor that claimed to generate
energy and also burn up high level wastes.
utility then turned its attention and brute force to another problem.
Ralph Nader had initiated a national campaign to build local Public Utility
Oversite groups that would be partially funded by state funding. Again
using its massive legal and political resources, the company snuffed out
dozens of organizations that had been set up by states across the country
by going once again to the U.S. Supreme Court and claiming that the newly
formed consumer groups inpinged on their right to do commerce. This time
swat at their opponents, the utility pulled off another major victory
by getting the U.S. Congress and Ronald Reagan to give them some 60 dams
outright that had been promised to public power agencies in the state.
These dams had been built on public property during the 1930's under California's
Central Valley Project, which was modeled on the TVA project. This grab
was worth billions of dollars in California real estate! The tactics PG&E
has used to destroy the CVP project and public control over electrical
generation is an important story (To Apear Soon on this web site).
then turned its clout with the media to its ugly public image as a brutal
bully. Initial state renewable energy programs that were put in place
during Governor Brown were all killed under republican control of the
PUC. As a result many community based organizations that were promoting
energy efficiency programs lost their funding and were forced to close.
The utility then worked out a new process with the republican controlled
PUC of reinstituting a privatized version of the popular efficiency programs.
These energy programs, initiated in heavy hand to hand combat against
opposed government officials were then adopted in a brilliant media strategy
claiming them as their own. As the controvsersy around Diablo Canyon dissappeared
PG&E's horrible image had been replaced as a national leader in the
promotion of renewable energy.
Bay #3: PG&E's Successful Failure
only other reactor that ever operated was their Humboldt Bay reactor.
Humboldt was a 63 megawatt reactor with construction starting 1958 and
operation commencing in 1963; Public pride in the new facility, as it
was billed as the first commercial reactor to start west of the Mississippi.
This was apparently enough for the AEC as seismic reports were graciously
never required for operation.
got off to a rather bad start, of course, by using stainless steel cladding
for the fuel rods. The rods broke open boosting radioactive releases out
the stack to over 85 million picocuries per second. When the AEC refused
to wave federal standards, PG&E decided to run the reactor at half
power. Rather than remove the dangerous fuel rods, the utility rotated
new zirconiun rods in during the next 3 refuelings. By 1970 Hunboldt was
labeled the dirtiest reactor in the U.S. The term Sponge was coined to
describe PG&E's practice of bringing in outside labor to deal with
its dirty refueling.
In 1977 the
reactor was shut down during refueling and never allowed to reopen PG&E
fought NRC demands to supply valid seismic information, but was forced
to acknowledge that the reactor sat between, you guessed it, 3 active
faults The utility was then asked to submit plans for resupporting the
reactor or decommission it. After a 6 year cat and mouse game with the
feds, the Redwood Alliance forced PG&E's hand, resulting in a PUC
ultimatum that led to Humboldt's final demise in 1983. The reactor has
been mothballed and spent fuel remains onsite, a worry to locals in case
an earthquake cracks the storage pond and releases the large volume of
So the nation's
largest utility company with plans to build over 60 reactors has come
to a halt with all but Diablo Canyon dead and gone. In 1995, Conservatives
had come up with a new plan to kill the growing environmental roadblock
on the push for unsafe forms of power. Deregulation. The outcome of such
a plan is highly questionable, when in compared to other attempts to deregulate
large economic sectors.
More Hot Times at the Ranch!
12, 1989 the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) Board of directors
finally laid their ill fated Rancho Seco nuclear reactor to rest by voting
not to sell the reactor to the Quadrex Company, which had proposed to
buy and operate the facility privately.
by SMUD brought the reactor's 14 year life to a safe closure. The 913
MegaWatt Rancho Seco was first proposed by SMUD in 1966, with construction
starting in 1969 and operation starting in 1975. SMUD's choice of building
a Babcock and Wilcox reactor was probably the most critical error the
utility could have made. It was a twin to the reactor at Three Mile Island
that partially melted down in 1979. The reactor was a hair trigger system
to operate that required critical routine maintenance that SMUD, a small
utility, could not afford to keep up. Within a year of start-up the reactor
was down for l4 months due to a turbine-generator breakdown. Then on March
20th, 1979 a light bulb dropped into an instrument panel triggering a
rapid cooldown of the reactor that could have shattered the reactor vessel.
This incident was considered the 3rd worst accident in the country during
In the Wake
of TMI accident, in Novenber, 1979, the Abalone Alliance staged a series
of direct actions at the reactor, with a dozen arrests and a high visibility
38-day sit-in at Governor Brown's office, demanding that he use his emergency
powers to shut down the TMI twin. The sit-in coincided with regional NRC
hearings on generic problems with Babcock and Wilcox reactors. The Alliance
was able to get the hearings opened to the public for a day, which drew
a good crowd of local plant opponents.
continued operating at a rather poor level of performance over the next
6 years. In 1984, two men were killed when they were scalded by high pressure
steam bursting from a boiler. By 1985 the tight budget restraints on SMUD
started seriously showing up as they had been cutting corners on preventive
maintenance. The reactor was shut down for nearly 2/3rds of the year with
On the morning
of December 26th, 1985 the Ranch suffered its most serious incident that
eventually triggered its final closure A relay circuit in the computer
that controlled operations of the facility shorted out causing complete
loss of control of the reactor for nearly half an hour Workers barely
averted a meltdown by manually controlling the system by the manipulation
of valves. The operator who successfully figured out the sequence that
saved the reactor had a mental breakdown and collapsed a short time later.
The facility did not have the phones of back-up staff on site, and being
already understaffed, were unable to carry out all prescribed emergency
procedures including communications with outside emergency officials.
The reactor then suffered the third worst overcooling incident in U S
reactor history, with the worst being the 1978 incident at the Ranch.
(See "We Almost Lost the Shasta Bioregion")
follow-up investigation found lax training programs for the staff but
worse still was the discovery of the state of maintenance. One major valve
that was involved in the accident had not been worked on for 11 years.
The most devastating aspect of the accident was the fact that the seriousness
of the accident never came out until after the Chernobyl disaster 4 months
led by their pro-nuclear president Ann Taylor vowed that they would repair
and restart the Ranch. Their first shock came from PG&E who offered
to buy the utility, decommission the reactor and keep rates as they were
before the accident. This was ignored by most Sacramentan's though, who
had broken from PG&E in 1947 to create the publicly owned utility.
PG&E, always an arch enemy of public power, next filed suit against
SMUD for breech of contract over lost power that the Ranch was to have
promised to PG&E At the height of this war, SMUD's legal firm called
the Abalone Alliance looking for hot poop on PG&E and its mismanagement
of Diablo Canyon We obliged thee if you will, but the judge in charge
refused to admit any of PG&E's nasty problems from Diablo Canyon.
As the repair
job soaked up several hundred million dollars of ratepayers money, their
rates which had been some of the lowest in the country rapidly climbed,
jumping nearly 90% before operation eventually continued SMUD com- missioned
an $800,000 independent study to evaluate the need for the Ranch. The
results showed that the utility should close the reactor, but the pro-nuclear
board refused to do so. Sacramentans for Safe Energy put together enough
signatures to force a public vote for June of 1988. But after being outspent
10 to 1 with over $3 million pouring in from nuclear supporters. The utility's
tactic of adding a measure that divided public sentiments helped in the
failure to permanently shut the reactor down.
instead voted to give the Ranch another chance, allowing an 18 month trial
operation. Shortly after the vote, the board fired the district's manager,
a nuclear engineer who had come out in opposition to the restart.
14, 1988 the reactor then suffered another serious accident when all four
of the reactor coolant pumps failed simultaneously. The only thing that
saved us from a serious accident this time was the natural circulation
of water through the system, which if this also had failed would have
led to the uncovering of the core and a likely meltdown. In December,
workers were able to get the reactor operational again even though malfunctioning
valves should have kept it shut down.
February of 1989, the Ranch was closed for another 45 days due to continue
problems. Bill Chapin Rancho Seco plant mechanical maintenance supervisor
and co-chair of the Rancho Seco Political action committee said, "I
think there is no doubt, the Ranch cannot have another breakdown between
now and June! politically speaking."
day, on the l0th anniversary of the accident at Three Mile Island, Rancho
Seco again had a forced shutdown. This was followed by a scathing report
from the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations that by mid April had all
but doomed the Ranch. More scandals continued to pour in right up to the
June 6th vote. This time though the outcome was different, with 54% in
favor of saying goodbye to the Ranch.
day, the SMUD board dutifully had the Ranch shut down. Yet, proponents
of the Ranch were not going to let it die easily. Ann Taylor who did not
rerun for the board had taken on a consulting job with a small California
company called Quadrex that made an offer to buy the Ranch and run it
privately, selling the power back to SMUD This enraged opponents who then
threatened to sue if the proposal was adopted But the SMUD board finally
saw the light. Upon reflecting about its own problems with the Ranch.
This being their small size and financial restraints that forced then
to cut corners to keep the reactor open. Quadrex was even smaller and
would be relying on junk bonds to try and keep it open. Thus the dangerous
life of another reactor was laid to rest, making the world a tiny bit
safer to live in.
Onofre 1 Finally Closed.
after years of work by activists in Los Angeles, Unit 1 of Southern California
Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric's San Onofre facility was forced
to close. The utility was under intense pressure by the Public Utilities
Commission which had done a financial analysis showing that the aging
reactor was uneconomical to operate. Other controversies included the
results of a 14 year government study showing that the reactor complex
was damaging sealife over a large area. Not to mention the ageing 1st
unit did not have a valid NRC permit.
shift their focus to Nuclear Waste With no more reactors under construction
or planned, concerns shifted to plans to build a major nuclear waste dump
near Needles in the desert. The proposed Ward Valley dump has ignited
a battle that has reached national prominence when President Clinton cited
it as one of the reasons for vetoing a major economic standoff with the
republic held congress.
struggle to stop Governor Pete Wilson's overt attempt to make California
a major national nuclear waste at Ward Valley. (The
Ward Valley Story) The proposed dumping ground has been blocked by
dedicated activists and concerned citizens across the state.
Activists have come a long way since 1958. The struggle to stop nuclear
power is not over yet. The state once had the most dynamic safe energy
movement in the world. The long struggle has taken a toll on many people.
PG&E and its allies are seeking to undue the many years of work and
struggle that has stopped nuclear power dead here as well as many other
Mark Evanoff--Memoirs of a Movement (unpublished), PG&E, Public Utilities
Commissions, Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Nuclear Information Resource
Service; Toward Utility Rate Normalization, Redwood Alliance, Mothers
For Peace, Sierra Club, S F Chronicle, S F Examiner, Sacramentans for