“What if you had just 15 minutes to evacuate, looking around your apartment or house, trying to quickly decide what you will take, how overwhelmed would you be, knowing you couldn’t return for 10,000 years?”
That was the question asked at April 17’s Earth Day gathering in City Heights by Rocky Neptun, volunteer director of the San Diego Renters Union. He stated that members of the group have asked him to run for mayor to focus attention on the continuing operation of the nuclear power station at San Onofre. (Rent control and free public transportation are two other issues on which his campaign will be based.)
“Just 45 miles from where we gather,” Neptun told the gathering, “is a nuclear power plant with two reactors working and one shut down, storing spent fuel rods, just like [Japan’s] Fukushima [nuclear power plant]. For far too many years, we have naively accepted our government’s propaganda that the facility is safe because in our Faustian bargain for cheap electricity we have hid from the truth.
“Unit three at San Onofre is 27 years old while unit two is one year older, and like an aging 1980s vehicle trudging through Death Valley, they are totally dependent on their cooling systems. These aging cooling systems — hundreds of miles of pipes and conduits — are all that separate this scorching, churning, gaseous death from our families.
“There is 11 years left on San Onofre’s license, but Southern California Edison is already beginning the process for relicensing this decaying facility by asking ratepayers — you and I, since SDG&E owns 20 percent of the plant — to pay for a $64 million whitewash study of earthquake preparedness. They are asking for another 20 years to operate but have not come forward with a single plan to dispose of the dangerous, volatile spent fuel rods.”
Neptun told the gathering that the U.S. currently has 71,862 tons of spent fuel rods. “Most of the 104 operating nuclear reactors and all the 15 closed-down ones house the spent fuel onsite in water-filled cooling ponds or in dry-cask storage bins, but these storage holding facilities last a maximum of 100 years — not the necessary 10,000 years.”