I was appalled at the NRC chairman Jaczko’s press briefing yesterday when asked point blank how many nuclear reactors in the US were near faults…
Instead of answering the question he said that all reactors near faults designed withstand both quakes and tsunami events.
There was no follow-up question as to whether or not this country’s evacuation plans would do any better than Japans.
In 1986, after the Chernobyl disaster California ordered all nuclear reactors to evaluate their evacuation plans. I have the transcripts of that investigation… Of course, it was the Chernobyl disaster that launched the campaign that ended up with a public vote that shut down the Rancho Seco reactor near Sacramento California…
But there were several rather stark issues, not to mention the recently posted article that PG&E was allowed to go ahead without even having a real evacuation plan in place. More on this later…
The transcripts at San Onofre were especially telling. By the way San Onofre is just south of downtown Los Angeles, near Camp Pendleton Marine base, the home of Dick Nixon and actually a lot closer to San Diego than Tokyo is to Fukushima.
The first thing all the mayors, police, fire, CHP and regional officials were told that they would do a walk through rather than a test of the evacuation because a real test would be economically nonviable, as well as the fact that since there was never a chance of this happening that everyone would just do a verbal walk through together of a possible scenario.
Probably the most telling and insane piece came almost at the beginning when everyone in the room was told that the official plan called for everyone within 10 miles of San Onofre would be required to evacuate according to NRC requirements that people beyond this would told to stay in place and take shelter. He then told them that The California Highway Patrol (CHP) would be blocking all entrance and exits in the 50 mile radius around San Onofre so that people the closest could leave… Immediately after he said this a mayor of a city just outside the 10 mile evacuation zone spoke up and said that if this was the plan then the first people to die would be the CHP!
About the Diablo Canyon Nuclear facility:
1. The reactors at Diablo were the most fought over anti-nuclear battle ever, having been opposed by the local chapter of the Sierra Club since it was proposed in 1963. The Sierra Club national headquarters, which had been bribed by PG&E, ordered the San Luis Obispo chapter not to oppose Diablo, so instead they formed a new group to do so with their primary concern being faultlines, based on the memory that a major quake in 1927 destroyed a nearby city.
There were allegations from the start that PG&E covered up the fact that the reactors were located 2.2 miles from the Hosgri faultline because they had just gone through the nations first anti-nuclear battle between 1958-63 over their attempt to build 4 reactors less than 1000 feet from the 1906 quake line that destroyed San Francisco. Students within the Sierra Club played a major role inf forcing PG&E from stopping construction of the complex leaving behind an 8 million dollar duck pond at Bodega Bay. The wife of the president of the Sierra Club was elected onto PG&E’s board for her work in getting Diablo Canyon sited. This major scandal would play a major roll in David Brower quicking the club and forming Friends of the Earth.
The state and the federal government refused to listen to local concerns about the faultline until an LA journalist discovered reports of the faultline in 1972, which forced PG&E to rebuild the reactors. PG&E was then forced to rebuild them again in 1981 after the Abalone Alliance’s blockade, when a newly hired 25 year old engineer discovered that PG&E had built the seismic supports backward. It would not be until 1985 and 5.8 billion dollars (the original estimated costs was less than 350 million for both reactors) that the units would be ready to go online. One of the NRC Commissioners would leak the NRC transcripts to a local TV station showing that the NRC commission considered earthquakes to be on a par with snow or rain when they let PG&E go ahead with operation. Those leaked transcripts then resulted in a legal challenge by the Mothers for Peace that would go on until April 25th 1986 when none other than Robert Bork (of Nixon’s infamous Saturday night massacre) made the ruling that looking at the leaked transcripts would be judicial activism so he refused to look at the leak transcripts that detailed the illegal NRC failure to take in seismic dangers.
But the real battle still didn’t really end even after over 22 years in 1985, as there would then be 4 more years of hearings by the state of California as to how much the public would pay for them. The state government under democratic control at the time promised that only 2.2 billion of the 5.8 should ever be passed on. However, the next year, the republicans gained control of the state government and immediately replaced most of the PUC’s leadership, resulting in PG&E getting everything it wanted. During the hearings I was able discover the fact that PG&E which was unable to get loans from anywhere in the world after the 1981 fiasco, was secretly given over $2.2 billion in loans from the Environmental Protection Agency by order of Reagan… The massive rate increase that followed the full ratebasing would nearly double California electric rates, that in turn led to a revolt that in turn led to the deregulation of electric industry that of course led to the 2001 energy crisis…
It should be noted that PG&E is refusing do carry out new investigations into concerns about a new fault that was found.
According to the Environmental Working Group PG&E has for years also refused to properly obtain a state license for the massive 2 billion a day discharge of contaminated water into the Pacific Ocean. That led last year to the state demanding that they and So Cal Edison be required to build cooling towers rather than direct discharges.
For anyone wanting to see a more detailed history of California’s anti-nuclear history here’s a link.