By Michael Steinberg
A recent poll of Southern California residents found that most of them want to keep the troubled San Onofre nuclear power plant shut down . The poll also found that the residents don’t trust its majority owner and operator, Southern California Edison, to keep safety as its first priority at the nuke plant.
” A strong majority of Edison customers want to keep San Onofre shut down and almost half don’t trust Edison to put safety before profit,” environmental group Friends of the Earth reported on October 1.
Friends of the Earth (foe.org) commissioned David Binder Research to carry out the poll. The company talked to 700 registered voters in the counties San Onofre provides electricity to.
The results: “58% of respondents said they oppose reopening the plant…Only 32% said San Onofe should reopen,” Friends of the Earth reported.
The poll was carried out during September 15-17. The poll also found that nearly half of respondents don’t believe Edison’s slogan “Safety is our number one priority.”
In addition, 56% of respondents ” want California to reduce the use of nuclear power for energy, and “nearly three quarters expressed at least some level of concern about an accident at San Onofre.”
FOE’s Damon Mogien commented, “Edison’s customers are not buying the company line. After a summer when the lights stayed on without San Onofre, a strong majority of Southern Californians know these crippled reactors can be replaced with clean and reliable sources of energy. And a significant number believe Edison’s proposal to restart San Onofre is gambling with their safety.”
Off the Charts
Earlier last month, the nonprofit group The Committee to Bridge the Gap released a study documenting the number of damaged tubes in San Onfre Units 2 and 3’s steam generators, which caused the two nuclear reactors shut down in late January. The study was reported in the September 20 Pasadena Star News.
The group reported that tube wear at San Onofre was “off the charts compared with other US nuclear plants that have experienced similar problems.” According to the Committee, for those nuclear plants, “the median number of steam generator tubes showing wear after one [operating] cycle is four.”
But for San Onofre, Unit 2 had 1595 worn tubes , Unit 3 1806.
Also in the report was the “median number of indications of wear and tear on tubes after one cycle.” For other nuclear plants it also is four. But for San Onofre, it was 4721 for Unit 2 and 10,284 for Unit 3.
Committee president David Hirsch, a lecturer at UC Santa Cruz, commented, “They had relatively new steam generators that had been operating for about two years, yet San Onofre had hundreds of times more damage.”
Of Edison’s plan to restart Unit 2, which it is expected to submit to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission soon, Hirsch said, “That would be a big mistake. Unit 2 is seriously ill. It has the same underlying sickness that Unit 3 has. So this is very worrisome.”
Edison’s Jennifer Manfre responded, “It’s important to note they are just counting up numbers rather than looking at the actual cause. We’re plugging many tubes preventatively.”