Ed Bedford 11:44 p.m., June 19
Proposal that would ban nuclear power in California cleared to petition for 2014 ballot placement
Anti-nuclear activist Ben Davis Jr. is back with another proposed ballot initiative concerning the storage of nuclear waste that would effectively shutter the two remaining active nuclear power plants in California, or one if one doesn’t consider San Diego’s San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station “active,” as it’s now been shuttered for over a year.
Earlier this week, Davis was granted permission by California Secretary of State Debra Bowen to begin circulating petitions to place two initiatives regarding power generation in the state on the November 2014 ballot.
One ambitiously seeks to establish a statewide public utility to replace private companies such as San Onofre operator Southern California Edison and Sempra Energy’s San Diego Gas & Electric (to be covered at a later date). The other is similar to previous measures Davis has introduced, and seeks to extend a law requiring the California Energy Commission to “find federal government has approved technology for permanent disposal of high-level nuclear waste” from covering any proposed new nuclear plants to include existing plants at San Onofre and Diablo Canyon on the state’s central coast.
Such technology, however, does not exist, and plans for a nuclear waste repository are said to be at least 35 years away. Another exploratory proposal for reprocessing spent nuclear fuel rods may come sooner, but is still expected to take 20 years or more. Absent a plan for dealing with nuclear waste, which has been accumulating along the coast on the San Onofre site since 1968 (and at Diablo Canyon and the now-defunct Humboldt Bay and Rancho Seco plants), the current facilities would have to stop producing more waste, effectively ending operations.
Proponents of the initiative have until July 8 to gather 504,760 valid signatures to put the issue to a vote next year. A previous proposal failed to generate sufficient support after the Secretary of State included a comment predicting “billions of dollars” in costs to Californians on the petition, a statement Davis labeled “unsubstantiated, false, and misleading.”