Edison Defends Safety Of SoCal Nuclear Plant, But Residents Jittery

SAN CLEMENTE (CBS) — City leaders on Wednesday urged operators of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station to provide safety assurances following Japan’s nuclear power crisis triggered by a devastating 9.0-magnitude earthquake and tsunami, according to reports Wednesday.

On Tuesday night, City Council members gave Southern California Edison up to 90 days to report to the city on lessons that San Onofre has learned from the Japanese crisis in which workers have been scrambling since Friday’s disaster to cool overheating reactors that have caused surges in radiation levels at a six-reactor nuclear plant, the Orange County Register reported.

Council members also asked for Edison’s cooperation in setting up a workshop to address public concerns about the San Onofre plant two miles south of San Clemente.

Mayor Lori Donchak restated an earlier call for creation of a leadership council of South County officials and utility representatives to address nuclear questions on an ongoing basis.

Pete Dietrich, Southern California Edison’s chief nuclear officer at San Onofre, told the council that San Onofre is designed to withstand the level of force unleashed by Friday’s earthquake in Japan.

He said the plant can handle a 0.67 ground-acceleration earthquake, the equivalent of a 7.0 quake on the Cristianitos fault five miles offshore.

Jen Tucker, the city’s emergency-planning officer, said she has fielded phone calls from residents wanting potassium iodide tablets as thyroid protection from a radioactive plume that they fear could cross the Pacific from Japan in case of a nuclear-plant meltdown.

Tucker said there is no danger of such a plume coming here, and even if it were coming, the tablets can have side effects and should be taken only if advised by county health officials.

Several residents asked the City Council to oppose extension of San Onofre’s operating license beyond 2022, or even to seek shutdown now.

As the situation with Japan’s nuclear reactors grows more and more uncertain, locals are voicing their concerns about the safety of California’s two nuclear power plants.

While most are unaware that the type of seismic fault that generated the damage in Japan doesn’t occur in California, KNX 1070’s Pete Demetriou reports that hasn’t eased fears for those residents living near San Onofre.

“I am scared,” local resident Dagmar Foy told the council. “My friends are scared. My neighbors are scared. The parents at school are scared. We are all paying attention now.”

(©2010 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)


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