San Onofre nuclear plant restart plan draws concern from residents


There was a lot of anger and frustration at the meeting, which was held at the St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort in Dana Point. Southern California Edison wants to restart a damaged reactor, and many people who fear a possible radiation leak voiced their concerns.

In January, the facility shut down after a leak was found in one of the reactors. Edison, which runs the plant, has recently asked the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for permission to restart Reactor Unit 2. The move is drawing heated reaction from both sides.

"We need the plant open. I mean, its employees - a lot of people here - it's their bread and butter," said Dennis Pasha, a San Onofre employee.

Some people fear restarting the plant could lead to catastrophe, especially since there's no solid answer yet as to what is causing the vibration and friction damaging parts of the reactors.

"We're talking about the safety of 7 million people that will not have the opportunity to evacuate in time if there's a serious incident," said Sabrina van Engelen of Aliso Viejo.

Edison says it will take extra safety precautions if the NRC approves its plan to restart the troubled reactor at 70 percent power for a trial period of five months.

"We are proposing that after five months, we'll shut the plan down and go through another complete series of inspections," said Jennifer Manfre of Edison.

The NRC would not discuss Edison's proposal to restart the reactor, saying instead it will hold a separate meeting to discuss that issue.

"This will not be a rushed decision. This will be something that we take our time and do a very independent and thorough review of what they're proposing," said Laura Uselding with the NRC.

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