A nuclear power plant in Southern California that was shut down in 2012 continues to leak radioactive material and poses a threat to nearby communities.
The aging San Onofre, located in San Clemente, CA, was shut down in 2012 amid a leak that occurred due to malpractice. According to a report released in 2016, the plant “operated the reactor outside the allowable limits for pressure and temperature, causing the radiation leak that shut down the facility for good,” the San Diego Tribune noted. The shutdown also launched extensive investigations that implicated both the power company and state regulators.
Though the plant is out of operation, it still stores 3.6 million pounds of lethal radioactive waste, and according to a worker who blew the whistle on the plant just last week, a near catastrophe just occurred. As local outlet the Dana Pointer reported, plant worker David Fritch explained what happened at a public meeting:
“On 3 August 2018, a 100-ton canister filled with highly radioactive nuclear waste was being ‘downloaded’ into a temporary transport carrier to be moved a few hundred yards from inside the plant to a storage silo buried near the world-famous San Onofre beach. As the thin-walled canister was being lowered into the transport cask, it snagged on a guide ledge four feet from the top. Crane operators were unaware that the canister had stopped descending and the rigging went completely slack, leaving the full weight of the heavy canister perched on that ledge by about a quarter-inch.
“Had the ledge not held for the hour or more it took workers to realize and address the error, the thin-walled canister of highly toxic nuclear waste would have fallen 18 feet to the ground below.”
Each canister reportedly has as much radiation as was released during the infamous Chernobyl nuclear disaster.
Fritch says the staff is too small — and also undertrained. According to an article published in the Los Angeles Times this week by Steve Chapple,