Anti-Nuke Activists Strike Deal With Labor Over San Onofre Outage: Call for Independent Review and Hearing Before Restart

by on August 3, 2012 · 1 comment

in Activism, Government, Health

Safety Advocates Strike Exceptional Pact with Labor

One of the items approved on the agenda of the California Democratic Party’s Executive Board meeting in Anaheim this past weekend was a resolution that calls for an independent design review and public hearing before the Nuclear Regulatory Commission decides to restart either Units 2 or 3.

The resolution was a compromise worked out between anti-nuke activists and labor advocates over the San Onofre Nuclear Power Plant since its outages earlier this year. Here’s the final wording:

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED the California Democratic Party calls for an independent design review prior to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s decision to permit a restart of either Unit 2 or 3, culminating in an adjudicatory hearing including discovery, testimony and cross-examination by independent experts on whether it is safe to restart the San Onofre Nuclear Power Plant before it makes a decision on whether to permit a restart of either Unit 2 or 3.

Based on a final consensus between anti-nuke advocates and the Labor Caucus of the state party, the resolution is remarkable because for the first time since the crisis at San Onofre, labor advocates and union reps have come together to address the array of issues that has been forced upon them.  The Labor Caucus would rather have not had to address these issues but now has shown that it is willing to sit down and have a serious discussion when it comes to what should be done during the outage and what steps should be required before the plant can be restarted.

Martha Sullivan, a delegate from the San Diego County Democratic Central Committee and one of the key negotiators of the deal, said:

“We’re all Democrats here. No one wants to create the perception that we are working against good jobs in the energy sector. So when representatives from the Building & Trades Council brought up their concerns, we were more than happy to work toward a consensus resolution that everyone could be happy with.”

Discussions started with two similar “Shut San Onofre” resolutions from the two counties bordering the San Onofre Nuclear plant, San Diego and Orange Counties.

“I am greatly encouraged by this constructive, forward-looking Resolution working cooperatively with Labor.” Sullivan said.

Working with Ray Lutz, Judy Jones, Richard Mathews, David Sonneborn and others, Martha Sullivan took the lead role to construct a compromise resolution with Cesar Diaz of the State Building and Construction Trades Council, AFL-CIO, that would meet the concerns of the Labor Caucus and yet still voice the concerns expressed in the original resolutions.

“I’m thrilled to have worked out this compromise, combining important needs to increase use of renewable energy sources and to demand that the nuclear restart is not rushed,” said Richard Mathews, Executive Board member from Porter Ranch, who has a background in physics and has been speaking to groups about nuclear power safety issues.

Here below is the full resolution:

Response to the Continuing Outage of San Onofre Nuclear Power Plant

WHEREAS: the San Onofre Nuclear plant experienced an emergency shutdown and radioactive steam release January 31, 2012 after replacing four steam generators; and

WHEREAS: the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) preliminarily stated at its June 18, 2012 inspection hearing that the likely cause of the steam generator tube degradation was a design flaw that should have been identified in the computer modeling by the manufacturer, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, and the NRC will be holding additional investigative hearings in the months ahead to fully understand the causes and future options; and

WHEREAS: the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) is responsible for protecting California ratepayers, and the cost of the recently installed steam generators was $670M and the cost to repair or replace the recently installed steam generators is unknown but may be borne by ratepayers; and

WHEREAS, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission stated on June 18, 2012, in San Juan Capistrano that it will take as much time as necessary to ensure the safety of the San Onofre Nuclear plant and that no decision on restarting it has been made, and the California Energy Commission and Independent System Operator have announced they are planning for no San Onofre Nuclear plant supply through 2013-14 to ensure there are no rolling blackouts which may damage an already fragile economic recovery; and

WHEREAS, when fully operational, the San Onofre Nuclear plant supplies up to 2,200 Megawatts (MW) of electricity to the electricity grid, and is a major source of employment for 2,200 men and women of the building trades; and

WHEREAS, the uncertainty about its restart provides a concrete opportunity for California to realize the demonstrated potential for energy efficiency and conservation as a resource in its own right and of renewable energy power including utility scale solar, wind, geothermal and rooftop solar and micro-turbine wind power to offset this possible withdrawal of supply;

NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the California Democratic Party calls upon our State policy makers and the California Public Utilities Commission to: a) direct a focused implementation of a renewable energy program that generates high quality jobs, that pays prevailing wages, incorporates local jobs through Project Labor Agreements, and includes solar power on residential homes in order to reduce peak energy costs, water demand, improve air quality, and which puts the men and women of the building trades back to work in the service territories supplied by San Onofre Nuclear plant; and b) order utility-funded incentives for the owners of nonresidential buildings in these service territories to implement the California Energy Commission’s new energy efficiency standards before their official start date on January 1, 2014.

AND THEREFORE, BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the California Democratic Party calls for an independent design review prior to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s decision to permit a restart of either Unit 2 or 3, culminating in an adjudicatory hearing including discovery, testimony and cross-examination by independent experts on whether it is safe to restart the San Onofre Nuclear Power Plant before it makes a decision on whether to permit a restart of either Unit 2 or 3.

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A lawyer and grassroots activist, I was finally convinced by Patty Jones to start the OB Rag, a blog of citizen journalists, after she got tired of listening to my rants about the news. Way back during the Dinosaurs in 1970, I founded the original Ocean Beach People’s Rag - OB’s famous underground newspaper -, and then later during the early Eighties, published The Whole Damn Pie Shop, a progressive alternative to the Reader.
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