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San Onofre Gets On Twitter

Aired 10/19/11 on KPBS News.

Today the San Onofre nuclear power plant north of San Diego conducts the annual test of its emergency sirens. But if there is a real emergency, there may be a better way to get the message: via Twitter.

The San Onofre nuclear power plant sits 60 miles north of downtown San Diego. The system of sirens that go off in the event of an emergency only reach residents within 12 miles away. The sound does not reach residents of Oceanside which is 17 miles away.

The San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station in northern San Diego County is sho...
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Above: The San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station in northern San Diego County is shown in this undated photo.

Gil Alexander is spokesman for Southern California Edison, the power company that owns the plant. He says the nuclear disaster at Fukushima in Japan has not changed the company’s policy to warn people further away. He says scientific evidence to date suggests the danger zone if a radioactive cloud were released from the plant is limited to people living less than 10 miles away.

However, Alexander says, the company is still reviewing lessons learned from Fukushima.

“Some of the greatest attention since Fukushima,” he said, “ is how do you ensure the appropriate and timely flow of information to the public.”

Darin McClure lives two miles from the plant. After Fukushima, he urged officials at the San Onofre plant to sign up with Twitter.

Southern California did : @ SCE_SONGS

McClure is within earshot of the sirens, but, he said, now everyone in Southern California has a better way to find out what is going on if there is an emergency at the plant.

“Tell all your listeners to go check out @SCE_SONGS on Twitter,” he said “because Twitter is going to be the only way they are going to be able to get information in case of a real emergency.”

McClure said Twitter will allow the company to give specific instructions to people : Either stay indoors, evacuate or take potassium-iodine pills.

Company spokesman Alexander said Edison will use Twitter if there is an earthquake to tell people if the plant is affected.

He said the company hopes to hear this fall whether the California Public Utilities Commission has approved their request for $60 million to study the risk posed to the plant by earthquake faults.

“We have been aware," he said, that there is new technology coming on line. "For example 2D and 3D, pioneered largely by oil-research companies, that could be applied to even better analysis of the seismic threats that we face. “

Alexander said if that study is approved, it will cost ratepayers an additional half of 1 percent of their electricity rates.

He said the company also has a web site that would be used during an emergency to provide updates.

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Avatar for user 'wkinsinger'

wkinsinger | October 20, 2011 at 8:18 a.m. ― 5 years, 5 months ago

The assertion that "everyone" would be notified through Twitter in the event of a crisis at San Onofre is absurd. The majority of people do NOT have Twitter accounts. I can't see how that is the most effective means of communication. It should be one of many means of media to use in the event of an emergency.

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Avatar for user 'withhope'

withhope | October 20, 2011 at 10:18 p.m. ― 5 years, 5 months ago

Actually there is some misleading information in this article. The direct distance from the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station to downtown San Diego (not driving directions) is 50 miles.

This is important to know, because on the Embassy of the United States Tokyo, Japan website “This Travel Warning replaces the Travel Alert dated March 13, 2011. The United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) recommends that U.S. citizens who live within 50 miles (80 km) of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant evacuate the area or take shelter indoors if safe evacuation is not practical.”

“There are numerous factors in the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami, including weather, wind direction, and speed, and the nature of the reactor problem that affect the risk of radioactive contamination within this 50-mile (80-km) radius or the possibility of lower-level radioactive materials reaching greater distances.”

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Avatar for user 'DarinRMcClure'

DarinRMcClure | October 21, 2011 at 1:20 p.m. ― 5 years, 5 months ago

Dear wkinsinger there is just no argument on how useful twitter is after a disaster, just ask FEMA.

Voice networks go down, Stay off your phone, get on Twitter.

Case in point, After our recent "Great Blackout" even the power company held their news conference via Twitter.

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