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Nuke Regulators to Hand Down New Rules for San Onofre Soon

Officials at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station say it’s too early to know what new rules the NRC will apply to the plant as a result of its Japan Task Force. Some residents continue to fight for the plant's shutdown as media question safety.

U.S. nuclear regulations don’t address what to do if San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station lost all power for as long as Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi plant did.

Though plant and government officials uniformly say that risk is minimal, it was one of the findings from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s preliminary look at the disaster at the Fukushima plant.

Caused by the March earthquake and tsunami, the disaster sparked a public .

Southern California Edison officials at San Onofre say it’s too early to say what plant administrators will have to do in response to the recommendations from the NRC’s Japan Task Force, but agency officials said in hearings last week they would put together a specific plan within three months.

SOME PRELIMINARY LESSONS LEARNED

The Fukushima plant experienced extended “station blackout” when the 45-foot tsunami (27 feet higher than the plant was built to withstand) inundated the diesel generators that were supposed to keep instruments running.

“The operators were faced with a catastrophic, unprecedented emergency situation,” the initial report states. “They had to work in nearly total darkness with very limited instrumentation and control systems.”

(A complete copy of the Japan Task Force's 90-day review accompanies this article in PDF form. In it is a full timeline of the events at the Fukushima Daiichi plant.)

One of the NRC Japan Task Force’s main findings was that “station blackout is not a design-basis event,” meaning the engineers and architects of nuke plants in the U.S. weren’t required to envision a scenario in which the station could lose all power for an extended period.

Charles Miller, the head of the Japan Task Force, also reported to the NRC that, though “a similar sequence of events is unlikely to occur,” and “continued licensing and operations activities don’t pose a threat,” the current regulatory framework is a “patchwork” that needs an overhaul.

The recommendations from the committee include better preparations for extended station blackouts, a number of technical improvements to safety systems and continuing updates and retrofits according to the latest information about external hazards.

Southern California Edison is now

These Japan Task Force recommendations come as various media outlets such as the Associated Press and Pro Publica are questioning the efficacy of the NRC and the safety of U.S. nuke plants in general.

On Thursday, Pro Publica published an article quoting NRC whistleblowers who, in reports, “cited lapses by a parade of NRC inspectors … and systemic weaknesses.”

Furthermore, a scientist from anti-nuke group Friends of the Earth has heavily criticized the initial recommendations from the Japan Task Force. Friends of the Earth has connected with San Clemente Green and other local groups fighting for a San Onofre shutdown.

San Clemente Green founder Gary Headrick —experts who may challenge the assessments of NRC and SoCal Edison officials at the public informational meeting scheduled for that date.

NUKE PLANT OFFICIALS TRY TO REASSURE PUBLIC

San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station officials .

Plant spokesman Gil Alexander said the first line of defense is simply sucking power from the existing grid. The plant is powered through power lines like any other business, and the power system.

If, as in Japan, the grid were severed, diesel generators would kick in—in San Onofre’s case, unlike at Fukushima, the generators are sealed in concrete bunkers, offering some protection against a possible tsunami.

“Each of the reactor systems has two diesel generators, either one of which can power all of the safety systems,” Alexander said. “The backup generators have backup generators.”

To back up those power supplies is an array of batteries “that are ready to go in the case of the unimaginable … we’re way into the hypothetical here,” he said.

Alexander said that even in the case of a prolonged disconnection from the power grid, the San Onofre plant could run indefinitely off diesel generators as long as fuel could be trucked in; there’s enough on site to run the safety systems for seven days.

In addition, a tsunami wall, the top of which is 30 feet above sea level, protects the plant, Alexander said.

Despite reassurances by plant officials, it’s likely the plant administrators and technicians will have to adapt to new regulations and protocol in the coming months.

“It’s too early to tell yet in the NRC review process exactly what recommendations will be adopted and how they will be applied at San Onofre,” Alexander said.

Gary Headrick July 30, 2011 at 05:57 PM
It really bothers me to hear those we are supposed to trust when they lie about something as basic as the height of our tsunami wall. I measured it myself and it is only 14 feet above high tide (http://www.sanclementegreen.org/?q=node/162). No matter how they come up with 30 feet, it makes no sense at all. They are intentionally misleading the public to take measurements at anything less than high tide. * Did you know … SONGS was designed for a 7.0 quake, but sits next to a fault capable of a 7.5 to an 8.0 quake which is 5 to10 times more powerful, and it is long overdue according to USGS? * Did you know … over 4,000 tons of highly radioactive waste, exceeding original capacity for on-site "temporary" storage, is accumulating at an average rate of 500 pounds per day? * Did you know … 8.4 million people living in a fifty mile radius would need to evacuate if there is a radiation release at SONGS, perhaps never to return or be reimbursed for losses of property? * Did you know … SONGS has ten times more safety violations than the industry average making it the most dangerous nuclear power plant out of all 104 in the U.S.A? • Did you know … SONGS only provides 7.5% of California’s energy which could be offset by basic conservation measures while truly clean, sustainable and safe alternatives are expanded upon? This old nuke plant has to be shut down soon. Please go to sanclementegreen.org or sanonofre.com for more information.
James Schumaker July 30, 2011 at 07:14 PM
Gary, I agree with some of your "did you knows," but not all. San Onofre is designed to withstand ground motion equivalent to a 7.0 on the site itself. There's a huge difference between that and an 7.5-8.0 fifty miles away on the San Andreas fault. On another point, while SONGS has had more than its share of safety violations, almost all are "green" violations (i.e., not serious). San Onofre, on balance, is much safer than you contend. Most safety studies rank it somewhere in the middle range of U.S. nuclear power plants. I also think it highly unlikely that even the worst kind of nuclear accident, for which the likelihood at San Onofre is vanishingly small, would require the evacuation of 8.4 million people. I do agree that spent fuel is a real problem, since, due to Washington politics, it has no permanent home. Although dry cask is a safe method of storage for several hundred years, it is no more than a temporary solution, since the half-lives of some of the radioactive isotopes in the spent fuel rods run into the millions of years. Once we get through lobbying for more beach sand on Capitol Hill, we might think about investing some time and effort with other "nuclear cities" in lobbying for a permanent home for our spent fuel. I also think that we should look long and hard at San Onofre before even considering a renewal of its license in 2022.
Gary Headrick July 30, 2011 at 09:04 PM
Jim, Did you know they dropped an I beam in the spent fuel pool last Thanksgiving and that did not even rate as a safety violation? Did you know the fault I referred to is less than 4 miles from the plant? Did you know that with all things considered like size of population near a nuclear power plant makes us the second most dangerous plant in the USA? There is a lot to know about this situation, but most of all, it is not clean (mining and waste not considered), not renewable (will run out of uranium even faster if they add new plants), and is not safe (for all reasons above). Nuclear power has not met our expectations. Let's move on to truly green alternatives before we get left in the dust of our competitors!
James Schumaker July 30, 2011 at 10:05 PM
I'm with you on spent fuel, at any rate. The sooner it's out of our area, the better.
epiphany July 30, 2011 at 11:50 PM
Bet your life I want 2comment! ONLY 6% of our us farmland CULTIVATING THC-FREE HEMP (YOU KNOW, WHAT ALL THE US FARMERS&their sons were allowed2stay home & GROW FOR WWII PER FED GOVTS REQUEST) CAN GENERATE ALL THE ELECTRICITY NECESSARY2RUN AMERICA ALL YEAR AND SAVE THE OZONE&COMES W/A $100,000 CHALLENGE2THE WORLD2PROVE IT'S UNTRUE- www.jackherer.com/thebook-see Henry Ford&Ch. 9+See "Hemp for Victory"@same website! SATAN'S A LIAR!SO WHY DO OTHER OVERSEAS COUNTRIES CALL USA "THE GREAT SATAN?" Because they LIE about shortages, etc so they (the Stockholding Bureaucracy/Politicians&Corps) can make their retirements off of the ignorant public who doesn't really believe how THEY'RE ALL LYING2US 4OUR $$$!POWER PLANT EMPLOYEES WOULD RATHER WORK IN A BIOMASS GREENHOUSE W/TREES THAN PLAY W/SOMETHING WORSE THAN FIRE!NO SAFE PLACE 2store the waste& NOW THEY PLAN SENDING WASTE FROM ALL OVER US VIA 18-WHEELERS&BURLINGTON RR DOWN2 BURY IN EL PASO TX-DO18-WHEELERS EVER WRECK?! ONLY ONEAtlantic Tsunami...CallPres: 202/456-1111!
epiphany July 31, 2011 at 12:03 AM
Ps-- NO BIG DEAL COMING UP W/A WAY TO SAVE THE PLANET WE ALL MUST LIVE ON W/A TRILLION-DOLLAR-A-YEAR INDUSTRY PROVIDING BILLIONS OF GOOD JOBS BY UTILIZING THE ONLY ANSWER GOD'S GOING 2GIVE US HUMANS TO SAVE OUR HOME, A THC-FREE TREE CALLED HEMP! INSTEAD, THEY THINK THEY'D RATHER GIVE ALL OF AMERICA CANCER, DRILL 2000-mi OIL PIPELINES W/A 20-YR LIFE EXPECTANCY SO THEY CAN BURST & DESTROY ALL UNDERGROUND SPRINGS & ARE IMPOSSIBLE 2REPAIR 2,000 MILES-HOW RIDICULOUS! THE TOP SELLER ON BLACK MARKET IS REPORTEDLY RADIOACTIVE WASTE & LAW ENFORCEMENT CAN'T DO ANYTHING ABOUT IT BECAUSE THEY CAN'T MAKE ANY REVENUE--THEY CHARGE EXTRA FOR EVEN ANSWERING BURGLAR ALARMS-PRIMARY DUTY OF LAW ENFORCEMENT! WHEN DID THE PUBLIC BECOME THE SERVANTS/SLAVES OF PEOPLE IN AUTHORITY&NOT THE OTHER WAY AROUND? WASHINGTON'S REP DOESN'T CARE ABOUT SOCIAL SECURITY-THEIR RETIREMENT'S IN OIL&GAS/ENERGY STOCKS-DUH! CITIZENS WORK 33/40 HRS EA WEEK JUST 2PAY 4THEIR ENERGY COSTS (82% OF EVERYTHING EA ONE OF US EARNS) THEN 15%2IRS 4TEMP? WWII TAX!
epiphany July 31, 2011 at 12:21 AM
Honestly, WHY does anyone think they're Christian & are going to Heaven when they die IF THEY LIE & LIE UNTIL THE DAY THEY DIE ABOUT AN OIL SHORTAGE (THAT MEANS THEY DIE IN THEIR SINS BECAUSE THEY NEVER CAME "CLEAN" & TOLD TRUTH & REPENTED ABOUT LYING TO EVERYONE FOR ALL THE DISHONEST GAIN THEY COULD MAKE OFF THEIR BOGUS "ENERGY SHORTAGE" LIES)! THE BLOOD OF JESUS WON'T COVER THE ONES THAT DIED IN THEIR SINS! LIARS LIKE THAT WILL ALL HAVE THEIR PARTS IN HELL! GOD CONTROLS EARTHQUAKES & WE'VE TOO MANY NUKE REACTORS ON FAULT LINES & I CAN'T BELIEVE HOW GULLIBLE/ IGNORANTS/UNEDUCATED THE PUBLIC IN GENERAL IS & HOW DIABOLICALLY DISHONEST EVERYONE IN POLITICS IS 4THE LOVE OF$$$-THEY DON'T FEAR GOD OR THINK LYING OR COVETING PEOPLE'S LAST HARD-EARNED DOLLAR IS WRONG! WHEN YOU SPEND ALL YOUR LIFE MAKING YOUR $$$ DISHONESTLY, DON'T EXPECT TO GO TO HEAVEN! THE US SURE NEEDS TO GET INDIA 2SIGN A TREATY W/US PROMISING NOT 2GROW HEMP (GOD'S ANS 2WORLD HUNGER)-GREAT P.R, George!(Matt 7:20-God'sWill-NOT1SHOULD STARVE2DEATH
epiphany July 31, 2011 at 01:17 AM
Last comment: you don't HAVE to believe in supernatural or prophecy but...latest prophetic word from Holy Spirit is: 9/2007: "There's going an earthquake closer to the White House than they wish it were to teach the people in Washington that don't nelieve in Supernatural to RESPECT THE WORD OF THE LORD!" 1/10/10: "God is going to wait & see what Pres Obama's going to do 1st!" March 2011: "God's a little tired of watching over 'Sodom & Gomorrah' & TOO MANY INNOCENT PEOPLE ARE BEING LIED TO 4THEIR MONEY!"(BOGUS ENERGY SHORTAGE!) "The earthquake will be in the form of a tsunami!" June 2011:"If America doesn't want to repent, they can kiss the East Coast goodbye!" Spring 2011:"God can't respect the gays anymore than He did when He wrote the Book of Leviticus by the hand of Moses!"(See Lev. Ch 20 IF ANYONE WANTS2KNOW HOW STRONGLY GOD FEELS ABOUT IT)Henry Ford's energy inventions R only reason THC-free hemp's ILLEGAL-If pecan trees could do all that, they'd be criminalized!HONEST POLITICIANS R OUR ONLY REALSHORTAGE
epiphany July 31, 2011 at 04:42 PM
PPS- Jan. 2007: "GOD'S NOT HAPPY! HE MADE THE OIL TREE & THEY'D BETTER BE GLAD HE DID, OR HE'S BREAKING OUT THE MELANOMA!" In 2009, ONE DEATH PER HOUR ALL SUMMER LONG OCCURRED FROM MELANOMA--this is how the world finally ends--Bible says in last chapters of Old Testament "THE SUN WILL BURN 7 TIMES BRIGHTER AND THE MOON WILL BECOME AS BRIGHT AS THE SUN IN ONE DAY." Does America REALLY trust in God & try to keep his Laws & Statutes? WE'RE NOT SUPPOSED TO BE GOOD STEWARDS OF THE EARTH, ARE WE? "IT'S THE WILL OF GOD THAT THIS TREE (HEMP) SHOULD BE GROWN ALL OVER THE EARTH SO THAT NOT ONE SHALL PERISH FROM HUNGER." Again, see Numbers 11:7-8 Manna was ground hemp seed that was made into meal & cooked in pans & tasted Very Oily! "If the people don't want to do the will of God, they're NOT going to Heaven!" Matt. 7:20-even preachers are turned away @the gates of Heaven by JC! If they don't have God's love in them, they don't CARE to do His will!
epiphany July 31, 2011 at 07:36 PM
Last comment: you don't HAVE to believe in supernatural or prophecy but...latest prophetic word from Holy Spirit is: 9/2007: "There's going an earthquake closer to the White House than they wish it were to teach the people in Washington that don't nelieve in Supernatural to RESPECT THE WORD OF THE LORD!" 1/10/10: "God is going to wait & see what Pres Obama's going to do Qst!"
epiphany July 31, 2011 at 08:53 PM
Sorry for typo above "1st"(sp)--Also-"7/31/11: "they can kiss Stonehinge goodbye too if the world doesn't wake up!"(God's plan to save Earth w/a Tree/Atlantic Tsunami coming) Fukushima was 1st warning sign of Global Holocaust!" "The people who don't want to accept God's One & only sacrifice (JC WAS His son-apparently there are "Sons of God" in Genesis Ch 6 that watched from Heaven the fair maidens on Earth & came down & made wives of whomsoever they wished...Read it for yourself!) are'nt Pleasing God!" He desires Mercy-Not More Sacrifice! HE WANTS ALL PEOPLE OF ALL NATIONS TO KNOW & UNDERSTAND & HAVE LIFE IN ABUNDANCE, & "THIS IS THE ONLY ANSWER HE SAYS HE'S GOING TO GIVE US" & SAYS "HE DOESN'T HAVE TO LIVE ON EARTH, BUT EVERYTHING HE CREATED DOES HAVE TO!" HE SAYS "THERE'S ONLY ONE TRUTH FOR ALL PEOPLES OF ALL NATIONS!"(THAT IS THE GOSPEL!) ONLY WHEN ALL COUNTRIES HAVE ALL GOT ENOUGH LIFE IN ABUNDANCE&ALL HAVE FULL STOMACHS WHEN THEY SLEEP@NIGHT W/GOD'S PLAN, ONLY THEN WILL WE HAVE WORLD PEACE! Ps.Ch149

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