San Diego School Board To Vote On Resolution Opposing San Onofre

Monday, January 21, 2013
By Kyla Calvertand City News Service

The San Diego Unified School District Board of Education will consider a resolution tomorrow opposing the proposed restart of a reactor at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station until its operator undergoes a rigorous license amendment process.

The nuclear plant in northern San Diego County was shut down nearly a year ago, after a small leak was discovered coming from a steam pressure tube in one of the reactors, called Unit 3. The other reactor, Unit 2, was not operating at the time due to scheduled maintenance.

Neither unit has returned to service, but plant operator Southern California Edison has proposed starting up Unit 2.

Opponents of plans to restart San Onofre said Edison should go through a license amendment process with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission because the steam generators that failed were of a different design than their predecessors. The generators were replaced a couple of years ago, and it was discovered that vibration was causing the tubes to wear out quicker than anticipated.

The school board resolution proposed by Trustees Richard Barrera and Kevin Beiser says "the San Diego Unified School District believes restarting the defective Unit 2 nuclear reactor at San Onofre will have profound impacts on our children in San Diego Unified and the surrounding communities in the event of a nuclear accident regarding radiation contamination of air, water and food, evacuation plans, and long term viability of life in Southern California.''

Beiser believes every possible precaution should be taken before the Nuclear Regulatory Commission approves Southern California Edison’s plan to restart one of San Onofre’s nuclear generators. He says the school district has a special responsibility to consider all aspects of student safety.

“We have to feed the kids in the schools," he said. "We have to give them milk, we have to give them water. And if that’s all contaminated because of some mishap, I think that burden falls on all governing bodies.”

Martha Sullivan, an organizer for the Coalition to Decommission San Onofre, says these resolutions put pressure on the NRC to ensure their decision making process is transparent.

“That there are independent experts being heard, that the testimony is under oath, that there’s cross examination provided and that there’s a judge overseeing this process,” she said.

The proposed resolution also expresses support for a California Public Utilities Commission investigation into the reliability and costs of the nuclear plant, especially compared to alternative energy sources.

The item is scheduled to be heard at the school board's 5 p.m. meeting.

Board members also have a special meeting at 9 a.m. to hear a presentation on how Gov. Jerry Brown's proposed state budget will impact district finances in the next fiscal year.