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article imageHow California can stop nuclear power Special

By Ann Garrison     Apr 4, 2011 in Environment
Can Californians prevent Pacific Gas'n Electric and Southern California Edison from relicensing their nuclear power plants in the state, in the wake of Japan's nuclear catastrophe?
"Yes," says, Rochelle Becker, Executive Director of the Alliance for Nuclear Responsibility. "Absolutely."
Becker doesn't want to engage in the wide ranging anti-nuclear argument that includes nuclear power, weapons, and war, nuclear power plants as feedstocks for plutonium to create nuclear weapons, or the nuclear empowered permanent members of the UN Security Council---the U.S., Russia, the UK, France, and China.
Rochelle Becker  Executive Director  Alliance for Nuclear Responsibility
Rochelle Becker, Executive Director, Alliance for Nuclear Responsibility
Alliance for Nuclear Responsibility
She doesn't want to talk about whether excessive Western consumption creates more demand for energy, including nuclear power.
Or about the enormous water cost of nuclear power, or the ravages of uranium mining in indigenous country.
Or, at least, not right now.
Becker wants to talk about an immediate, winnable public safety battle in the State of California, where two nuclear power plants are so close to earthquake fault lines, and to the Pacific Ocean, that California could be the next Japan. Even if its reactors were shut down tomorrow, Becker says, an earthquake of unanticipated magnitude could cause catastrophe because of all the nuclear waste stored at Pacific Gas'n Electric's Diablo Canyon plant and Southern California Edison's San Onofre plant, both of which are also on the California Coast, as the Fukushima Plant is on Japan's.
Southern California Edison s San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station in Orange County on the Californi...
Southern California Edison's San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station in Orange County on the California Coast.
WIkimedia Commons
She and the Alliance for Nuclear Responsibility are urging Californians to attend the April 14th hearing in Sacramento, the state capitol, on the the risk posed by both plants' proximity to earthquake faults. Pacific Gas'n Electric is in the process of re-licensing its Diablo Canyon plant now, and Southern California Edison will soon apply to re-license its San Onofre plant.
Persuading the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission to close the plants on any grounds appears as an insurmountable task to almost anyone who has ever been involved in the anti-nuclear movement, but now, as the Japanese catastrophe continues, Californians have a chance to close them, on seismic grounds, through their state legislators and the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC).
Speaking to KPFA Radio-Berkeley this week, Becker said:
"The one thing that separates California from every other reactor site in the nation is the seismic proximity. There are four active faults within 5 kilometers of Diablo Canyon, one 1800 feet away. There are several active faults offshore of San Onofre and there are new studies being done that have come out of the Baja quakes last year. We are focussing on what the State has jurisdiction to do. If we step into fighting nuclear power, fighting the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, then we have a much greater hill to climb. And, we are on the other side of the country from the rest of the reactors' groups. We need to focus on California. We certainly support what everyone else is doing, but in California, it is California rights that should do this. It is California officials who are responsible."
More about California, Nuclear power, antinuclear, Rochelle Becker
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