San Onofre is Dead and So Is Nuclear Power


The sun sets on San Onofre. (Photo: dolanh/cc/flickr)From his California beach house at San Clemente, Richard Nixon once watched three reactors rise at nearby San Onofre. As of June 7, 2013, all three are permanently shut.

It’s a monumental victory for grassroots activism. it marks an epic transition in how we get our energy.

In the thick of the 1970s Arab oil embargo, Nixon said there’d be 1000 such reactors in the US by the year 2000.

As of today, there are 100.

Four have shut here this year. Citizen activism has put the “nuclear renaissance” into full retreat.

Just two of 54 reactors now operate in Japan, where Fukushima has joined Chernobyl and Three Mile Island in permanently scarring us all.

Germany is shutting its entire fleet and switching to renewables. France, once the poster child for the global reactor industry, is following suit. South Korea has just shut three due to fraudulent safety procedures. Massive demonstrations rage against reactors being built in India. Only the Koreans, Chinese and Russians remain at all serious about pushing ahead with this tragic technology.

Cheap gas has undercut the short-term market for expensive electricity generated by obsolete coal and nuke burners. But the vision of Solartopia—a totally green-powered Earth—is now our tangible long-term reality.

With falling prices and soaring efficiency, every moving electron our species consumes will be generated by a solar panel, wind turbine, bio-fueled or geothermal generator, wave machine and their green siblings.

As of early this year, Southern California Edison’s path to a re-start at San Onofre seemed as clear as any to be expected by a traditional atomic tyrannosaur.

But with help from Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Senator-to-be Ed Markey (D-MA), a powerful citizen uprising stopped it dead.

So did the terrifying incompetence and greed that has defined the nuclear industry from the days of Nixon and before.

San Onofre Unit One shut in the 1990s due largely to steam generator problems.

In the early 2000s, Units 2 & 3 needed new steam generators of their own. In the usual grasp for more profits, Edison chose untested, unlicensed new designs.

But they failed. And the whole world was watching. In the wake of Fukushima, two more leaky tsunami-zone reactors surrounded by earthquake faults were massively unwelcome.

So a well-organized non-violent core of local, state and national activists and organizations rose up to stop the madness.

At Vermont Yankee, Indian Point, Seabrook, Davis-Besse and dozens of other reactors around the US and world, parallel opposition is escalating.

Make no mistake—this double victory at San Onofre is a falling domino. Had the public not fought back, those reactors would have been “fixed” at public expense.

Today, they are dead.

Worldwide, there are some 400 to go. Each of them—including the 100 remaining in the US—could do apocalyptic damage. We still have our work cut out for us.

But a huge double-step has been taken up the road to Solartopia.

There will be no Fukushimas at San Onofre.

A green-powered Earth is that much closer.

And we have yet another proof that citizen action makes all the difference in our world.

So seize the day and celebrate!!!

Harvey Wasserman

Harvey Wasserman’s Solartopia Green Power & Wellness Show is at www.progressiveradionetwork.com, and he edits www.nukefree.org. Harvey Wasserman’s History of the US and Solartopia! Our Green-Powered Earth are atwww.harveywasserman.com along with Passions of the PotSmoking Patriots by “Thomas Paine.”  He and Bob Fitrakis have co-authored four books on election protection, including How the GOP Stole America’s 2004 Election, atwww.freepress.org.

High Noon in Koodankulam– As the World Awakes, India Sleepwalks Into Nuclear Peril


Anti nuclear power movement's Smiling Sun logo...

Anti nuclear power movement’s Smiling Sun logo “Nuclear Power? No Thanks” Deutsch: Die Lachende Sonne der Anti-Atomkraftbewegung (“Atomkraft? Nein Danke!”) mit englischem Text Dansk: Solmærket (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


by NIRANJAN RAMAKRISHNAN

Many countries are rethinking their nuclear plans post-Fukushima.  Some are proceeding to draw down their nuclear power operations.  According to an AP report,

“Germany…turned decisively against nuclear power after the Fukushima crisis, shutting down eight reactors and planning to close the remaining nine nuclear power plants by 2022.”

Last June in the wake of the Japanese disaster, Italians held a referendum and rejected nuclear energy for their country, leading then Prime Minister Berlusconi to concede that his country would have to bid “addio” to nuclear power.

Having known nuclear devastation up close, first during wartime in 1945, and then in peacetime last year upon seeing the writing on the tsunami wall, Japan has acted with alacrity, From the same AP report,

“Japan will be free of atomic power for the first time since 1966 on Saturday, when the last of its 50 usable reactors is switched off for regular inspections. The central government would like to restart them at some point, but it is running into strong opposition from local citizens and governments.”

As Harvey Wasserman writes in CounterPunch, the recent election may hasten France’s move away from nuclear energy,

“And France has replaced a vehemently pro-nuclear premier with the Socialist Francois Hollande, who will almost certainly build no new reactors.  For decades France has been the “poster child” of atomic power.  But Hollande is likely to follow the major shift in French national opinion away from nuclear power and toward the kind of green-powered transition now redefining German energy supply.”

Wasserman’s article also declares that the chances of the United States building any new reactors are slim to none – the price tag of around $10 billion a reactor puts it at a decided disadvantage compared to  – renewable energy!

Following Fukushima, China is engrossed in a bottom-to-top reevaluation of its nuclear energy strategy.

Thus is there a pensive re-examination of faith even among fervent believers in nuclear power.  Theoretical argument is one thing; the sight of one of the world’s most efficient and advanced populations struggling to cope with a nuclear emergency gives an entirely different aspect to the matter.  The slightest chance that huge centers of population might not just be devastated, but rendered unlivable for hundreds of years, alters the mental odds-making completely, as well it should.

This is the setting in which an establishment high on the  ‘development’ narcotic and tantalized by the apsara of growth rate has decided to commit India to building no less than 30 new nuclear reactors in the next 20 years.

Deeming the Fukushima meltdowns no deterrent to their previous plans, the Indian government and its agencies have tried to downplay fears about nuclear power in general, and those concerning the Koodankulam nuclear plant in particular. The plant, located right on the ocean at the country’s southern tip, bears a certain situational resemblance to Fukushima.

Widespread misgivings about safety and health issues have been sought to be pooh-poohed by trotting out an army of ‘experts’, led by former missile scientist and ex-president APJ Abdul Kalam, best known for his well-publicized ardor for turning India into a ‘developed’ country by year 2020, read, an endorsement of every grandiose scheme to take Indians as quickly as possible into the top ranks of the world’s consumers.

But, Koodankulam’s residents and their neighbors have begged to differ with the authorities.  Their movement (there have been local agitations against the Koodankulam plant long before Fukushima), which the government has tried to ignore, belittle, slander and disrupt, is now engaged in a peaceful protest that has caught the attention of the world.  According to PMANE (People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy), some 9000 people are engaged in a sit in, with several hundred on an indefinite fast.  PMANE is now starting a ‘Respect India‘ campaign along the lines of Gandhi’s ‘Quit India’ movement of 1942. A line from their crisp  indictment of India’s development mania says it all,  ”As a result of our ruling class’s nuclear madness, our land, water, air, sea, sea life, sea food and food security will all become spoiled and poisoned.”

It is noteworthy that the anti-nuclear struggle has no backing from major political parties, handmaidens all to a development ideology run amok, unhinged from any concern but economic growth rate.

READ MORE AT COUNTERPUNCH

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