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The nuclear watchdog group San Onofre Safety is trying to expand its public outreach in the days leading up to the May 16 deadline for public comment on Southern California Edison’s plan to redefine the meaning of “full power” in order to avoid a license amendment that activists say should be required and further should have been required before the installation of four steam generators that prematurely failed, forcing the plant into a state of emergency shutdown in January 2012.

Last week, the group purchased billboard space along the SR-163 freeway advertising the group’s website and asking “San Diego, do you really want your nuclear reactor back on?”

Activist and urban planner Torgen Johnson says the immediate imperative is to get local residents to submit comments to the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission in charge of the plant and the restart request, asking the regulator to “do their job” by conducting further investigation before approving Edison’s request instead of potentially compromising the public’s safety, as Johnson and others including Senator Barbara Boxer believe the utility’s current plan does.

“I think what’s starting to happen is people are starting to realize the public interest is not being looked after by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission,” Johnson says. “There’s a huge gap in the regulatory oversight [at San Onofre] and the public needs to be aware of that.”

Another group, San Clemente Green, is circulating a petition calling for permanent closure at San Onofre, hoping to attract 5,000 signatures by the public comment deadline on Thursday. As of late Monday morning, the total had surpassed 2,500.

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