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A couple stands near the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station at San Onofre State Beach on March 15, 2012 south of San Clemente, California.
Last night, hundreds of people gathered at a U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) forum regarding the future of the San Onofre plant. The plant, which has been shut down since January due to tube leaks, once supplied power to 1.4 million homes in the Southland.
After the leaks were discovered, Southern California Edison, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and the NRC all began an investigation of the plant which has gone on for months. The leaks were caused by the tubes rubbing against each other and support structures when the reactors were operating at high power. The forum event was held to debate the pros and cons of using the less damaged reactor at 70% for five months. Experts believe that such a level will prevent the rubbing, and thus the leaks, from happening again.
The event was often chaotic, with warring sides between environmental protestors, plant workers and others cheering and yelling over each other. However, no decision was meant to be made last night, and this will most likely be the first in a series of such public hearings.
What’s next in the battle over the San Onofre nuclear power plant? How early could power be restored? Is it time for that area to start looking for another source of permanent power?
Ben Bergman, KPCC’s Orange County reporter
Daniel Dominguez, business manager, Utility Workers Union of America Local 246
Rochelle Becker, Executive Director, Alliance for Nuclear Responsiblity