Tuesday night, October 18th, was at least a partial victory for us in this final meeting the city held in a series of three on lessons learned from Fukushima.
It was clear from the beginning that the council would not go as far as calling for an immediate shutdown, but we felt it was worth the effort to try to persuade them while also informing a public largely blind to the true dangers of San Onofre.
In our awareness campaign alone, we distributed over 6,000 fliers revealing reliable and verified facts that should concern those of us living within 50 miles of the second most dangerous nuclear power plant of all 104 in the USA.
In the last four months we must have attended at least six televised city council meetings with passionate and persuasive requests to take action. Often we were criticized for being alarmists and extremists, but so were four of the top independent nuclear experts that we brought into the talks. It seemed no one wanted to hear the truth from us or anyone else.
But then the staff recommendation for council action came out shortly before the meeting and had an alternative proposal similar to ours, citing many of the same issues, but falling short of demanding an immediate shutdown until after the lessons from Fukushima had been applied.
We were glad to see one statement in particular calling for a moratorium on re-licensing until a permanent storage solution for the highly radioactive waste was available. That shuts down any likelihood of Southern California Edison operating the plant past 2022, but of course, we don't think we have that kind of time to wait for the next major quake in our area.
Coincidentally, Thursday was the practice run for the "Great Shake Out" statewide earthquake drill which simulates a 7.8 on the San Andreas Fault, although seismologists know it could easily be an 8.0 or greater, (twice the power of a 7.8).
The death and destruction they anticipate is staggering, and even at that, emergency quake plans have no consideration at all for nuclear fallout in case there are problems at San Onofre.
Perhaps it is simply incalculable. How foolish can our planning efforts be if we anticipate a huge earthquake with such certainty in "The Great Shake Out," but act as if the big quake is highly unlikely when discussing vulnerabilities of a nuclear power plant only built to withstand a 7.0 quake?
Anyway, after a long night of deliberations, we were pleased to get a 5-0 Vote for the staff recommendation which was actually strengthened by additional language stressing urgency and a call to action for every city in Orange County to support this effort. That was bigger than anything we ever expected.
We are very grateful to the leaders of our city for showing the courage and wisdom of holding these meetings for us and for reaching beyond their comfort zones to do what is right. It is certainly quite an accomplishment in a company town like ours when Edison claims to contribute over $200 million to our local economy per year.