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SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO, Calif. ~ This week there’s been talk of restarting the Edison International-operated nuclear reactors at San Onofre. Located between Los Angeles and San Diego, the two operational pressurized water reactors there ~ units #2 and #3 ~ have been shut down since January 2012, when an inspection found that new pipes that carry steam to and from the reactor’s generators showed unexpected corrosion less than two years ago after they were retrofitted. Any other time in the atomic age, the public might have just shrugged and accepted all the assurances of the giant utility. “Not to worry, folks.”
But it’s only been 15 months since the triple meltdowns at Fukushima Daiichi, and three of the Japanese reactors there are still leaking radioactive becquerels and bucky balls of toxic isotopes and a tsunami-shattered fourth reactor building houses some 1,500 spent fuel rods that some say could create another nuclear disaster that will dwarf the one that the beleaguered Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) and the Japanese government will be battling for the unforeseen future.
The movement against the restarting of San Onofre #2 and #3 is growing. Warnings by the Southern California power companies that the absence of cheap and clean nuclear energy might cause rolling blackouts and limited time for junior on the Xbox don’t seem to carry the same fuzzy feelings as they did BF ~ Before Fukushima.
One month after Japan’s triple 3-11 disasters, our friends over at Gizmodo published a timely story entitled “How a Fukushima-Level Disaster Would Affect You in New York, L.A. or Chicago.” The story featured some maps that were chilling then and that are even more compelling today factoring in what we didn’t know about the on-going nuclear mishaps in Japan.
Gizmodo notes that while Japan opted for a 30-kilometer or 18.6-mile radius long-term evacuation zone, U.S. scientists tipped their hand last March when they advised any American citizen inside an 80-kilometer ( 49.7 mile) radius of Fukushima Daiichi to leave. If that same policy were applied in the case of meltdowns at reactors near the three top urban populations centers of the U.S. ~ New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago, this would be the scenario, according to Gizmodo:
♣In the worst case of an meltdown at Indian Point Nuclear Station in Buchanan, NY, more than 20 million people in the metro area would have to be evacuated, leaving the city deserted, from Long Island to the Bronx.
♣If a Fukushima-like accident were to hit San Onofre, Southern California, although the city of Los Angeles itself would fall outside the evacuation zone, some 15 million souls would be told to evacuate from most of Orange Counnty, Huntington Beach, Long Beach, Rancho Palos Verdes to the north; greater San Diego to the south; Fontana, Whittier and Pomona to the east; and Catalina Island and Pacific Ocean to the west.
♣A disaster at either Dresden Nuclear Power Station in Dresden, IL or Braidwood NPP, Braidwood, IL outside Chicago would see at least 9.7 million people evacuated from the Windy City and metro area.
Meanwhile, The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission announced the first of a series of public meetings on the issues that have shuttered the San Onofre nuclear plant for more than four months. The NRC meeting will take place June 18 from 6 to 9 p.m. at the San Juan Capistrano Community Center. [Gizmodo ~ How a Fukushima-Level Disaster Would Affect You In New York, LA or Chicago] [Nuclear Energy Institute ~ State-by-State Nuclear Facts]