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A recently released poll commissioned by nuclear watchdog group Friends of the Earth finds that either a plurality or a majority of 700 respondents in the Southern California Edison power district favor keeping both reactors at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station shut down.

Southern California Edison is the plant’s operator, and most of the power generated by the facility, when it was operating, went to provide electricity to the homes of its customers. The plant has been in a state of emergency shutdown since January, when one of the steam generators powered by the reactors sprung a leak and released a small amount of radiation into the atmosphere.

Before being given any leading background information, 50 percent of poll respondents said they were in support of shutting down San Onofre for good and focusing instead on renewable energy sources. 30 percent were opposed, and 20 percent were undecided.

The question was asked again after poll respondents were read the following:

“As you may have heard, the two nuclear reactors at the San Onofre nuclear power plant have been offline since January due to an accident that released radiation into the environment and the discovery of unexpected wear on scores of steam generator tubes that carry radioactive water and steam. A three-month federal probe blamed a significantly flawed computer analysis of major generator design changes which ultimately resulted in heavy wear to the alloy tubing. The operator, Southern California Edison, has yet to determine how to correct the problem.”

Once this information was given, support for closing the plant increased to 58 percent, though support for keeping it open also increased, to 32 percent. Only 10 percent remained unsure on the issue.

Another blow to Edison: while 93 percent of those polled said the utility should put safety before profits, only 47 percent expressed confidence that the company was consistently doing so.

“Edison’s customers are not buying the company line,” Damon Moglen, energy and climate director for Friends of the Earth, told ENews Park Forest. “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.”

Edison still says it will push forward with a plan to resume operations at San Onofre in the next few weeks, though any actual power generation activities are still months away.

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