A man-made disaster that could happen in California

With Japan’s nuclear disaster still unfolding, we know more than 100,000 citizens were evacuated from their homes, large quantities of food was dangerously contaminated, and radioactive water 7.5 million times the allowable levels leaked into the ocean near the Fukushima power plant. 

California has two aging nuclear power plants: Diablo Canyon Power Plant, located in San Luis Obispo and owned by Pacific Gas & Electric; and San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, located in Orange County and owned by Southern California Edison. Each of these plants is located on the coast, near fault lines, and each stores large amounts of nuclear waste on-site.   

The truth is that California’s nuclear power plants have many of the same vulnerabilities as the nuclear reactors in Japan. Even though California’s nuclear plants are not the same design as the plant in Fukushima, any combination of events that results in a loss of power to the primary and backup cooling systems for the reactors, or the cooling systems for the on-site spent fuel pools, could initiate the same kind of crisis as we are witnessing in Japan.

Even before the tsunami hit Japan, California officials were concerned that safety studies at both Diablo Canyon and San Onofre were more than ten years old and didn’t take advantage of modern assessment tools. Furthermore, according to the 2007 Working Group on Earthquake Probabilities, California faces a 99.7% chance of experiencing an earthquake of magnitude 6.7 or greater in the next 30 years. There is a 47% chance of a 7.5 earthquake or greater in the next 30 years.

California should stop the relicensing of its nuclear plants and shift to clean energy

In spite of the inherent dangers posed by nuclear power plants on California’s coast, both PG&E and Southern California Edison are actively seeking to extend the life of their plants — already over 30 years old — into the middle of this century.     

California should act immediately to stop this relicensing and instead begin phasing out the use of nuclear power in an orderly fashion. 

Fortunately, California has more than enough renewable energy and energy efficiency potential to replace the 12% of our electricity that currently comes from these two plants. What’s more, shifting toward a more diversified clean energy future is better for ratepayers and our economy at large.   

With your help, we can move beyond nuclear power 

We’re working to phase out the use of nuclear power in California and shift to a truly clean energy future. Our vision is to meet 100% of California’s future energy needs with clean energy like solar and wind power and by increasing energy efficiency.   

We’re testifying in Sacramento, educating lawmakers, and shining a spotlight in the media on the need for California to continue to lead the way on clean energy, while educating the public and decision-makers about the dangers of a continued reliance on nuclear power. 

Thousands of you have joined the fight too. Across the state, you’re emailing state and federal decision-makers, signing petitions, and spreading the word to your friends and family.

We need even more people to get involved if we’re going to truly shift away from nuclear power. If enough of us act, we can end our reliance on unsafe energy sources and transition to clean energy.

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