Monday, December 19, 2005

Song of San Onofre

Song of San Onofre

Song of San Onofre (2005)

Today's new image sings a song -- and it's hot.

Speaking of cooking, are you feeling a little more fried at the beach lately? An accident last February California's surfside San Onofre plant lead to rolling blackouts. According to Nuclear Information and Resource Service:

The accident occurred when a circuit breaker fault caused a fire -- that lasted nearly three hours -- a loss of offsite power and a reactor scram. A related failure of an oil pump resulted in extensive damage to the plant's turbine. The reactor is expected to be shutdown for repairs for at least three months. Although the utility claims no radiation was released and no nuclear safety issues were involved, the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission sent a Special Inspection Team to the plant site to investigate the accident. The NRC met with SCE officials today to go over their findings. That team's report is expected to be publicly released soon.

"This serious accident, which has gone virtually unnoticed in the daily attention given to California's electricity problems, highlights the vulnerability of electrical systems that rely on nuclear power, and is a clear demonstration why atomic reactors can never be counted on to meet energy needs. Not only have nuclear plants always been too costly, they are too unreliable as well," said Michael Mariotte, executive director of the Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS), a Washington-DC based nuclear watchdog group.

Naturally, the EPA denied any harmful ramifications and greenlighted San Onofre with a boy-in-a-bubble obliviousness. I know it's fun to chuckle at the three-eyed fish jumping in the foreground of Homer Simpson's nuclear plant, but do you feel like shooting some tubes here?

Beach Blanket Meltdown...

Soak Up Some Rays?

And you think those containment domes are tough? Think again says Russell D. Hoffman at CounterPunch:

San Onofre's containment domes, for all their apparent mass and heft when viewed from the outside, are surprisingly thin and eggshell-like when considered in proportion. Or when it is considered that the containment dome is believed by most people to be strong enough to survive the impact of a 747 or an A-380 Airbus, but it can't. It can only survive the impact of much smaller planes -- even smaller than the four 767s used by terrorists on 9-11.

Furthermore, that's not really their purpose. The real purpose of the containment dome is to hold back explosions inside the dome during a meltdown or near-meltdown of the core. These are expected to generate forces less than about 3.5 atmospheres within the dome -- otherwise, the containment dome will burst and once it does, "all hell breaks out."

There's plenty of past history at the plant suggesting San Onofre has been generating some private hells for quite some time. From a 1993 Los Angeles Times report seen at Howarth & Smith:

Rung C. Tang, whose damage suit is set to begin trial next week, says her work at San Onofre left her stricken with acute myelogenous leukemia, a cancer associated with survivors of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombs and the Chernobyl nuclear accident.

If Tang wins, it could encourage other suits by other workers against the nation’s 109 nuclear power plants, potentially imperiling the financial viability of an industry already beset by economic and political problems, some industry observers say.

Tang, now 44 and hospitalized after a bone marrow transplant, was assigned to San Onofre as an inspector during 1985 and 1986, a period in which the plant had continual problems with defective fuel rods and hundreds of incidents involving so-called fuel fleas.

Fuel fleas are microscopic particles of radioactive material that escape from containment areas of nuclear power plants. At San Onofre, particles clung to workers who unknowingly carried them to supposedly safe areas in the plant and to the community outside.

The suit will allow Tang’s lawyers to present evidence on two points that nuclear critics have long argued. That monitoring devices worn by workers to measure their personal exposure to radiation are unreliable, and that there is no such thing as a safe dose of radiation.

Those fleas sound more painful than a bikini wax. Rage might result and invoke the going postal factor. From NucNews, which lays out a litany string of problems at San Onfore

January 8th, 2002: San Juan Capistrano (CA) police arrest a man who had threatened to shoot up the San Onofre Nuclear Power Station and his former coworkers etc. at the plant. He had an arsenal of almost 300 weapons, including illegal assault rifles, 5,000 rounds of ammunition, an antitank rocket launcher, four live hand grenades, tear gas, survivalist material, etc.

and further observes that

October 2nd, 2003: San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station [SONGS] ranked THIRD among the U.S. facilities "most likely to suffer a meltdown" according to the Union of Concerned Scientists. The risk is in part due to design defects in the sump pump system, according to the group. There is potential for debris to clog the screen on the containment-vessel sump. Such a clog could prevent water from being pumped through the reactor core, causing the reactor’s fuel rods to overheat and melt down.

Surf's up and smokin'. Sounds like a good place to hang and get a dark sunless tan.

4 comments:

Neil Shakespeare said...

Ooo. That's an awful scary picture of the beach there. Do you suppose those folks ever look around and go, "Ah! The Nuclear Mountains! They're so pretty in the ocean mist, aren't they dear?

cruelanimal said...

Yeah. A phrase like "Turn over -- you're burning" takes on a whole new meaning here.

enigma4ever said...

really beautiful picture, again. And your nuke piece is really good, very scary, but dead on. I have new post over at http://watergatesummer.blogspot.com/ ,
called The Enemy Within

idyllopus said...

I was wondering day before yesterday, with the illness consequence of working at Hanford, about work rage and if anyone had ever threatened going postal.

Good post.

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