Chart of the day: San Onofre, a question of faults


Okay, so it’s a map. But it shows the real reason lots of folks should be worried about Southern California’s ticking nuclear time bomb, especially now that San Onofre owner San Diego Gas & Electric is threatening to permanently close the plant unless the Nuclear Regulatory Commission gives fast approval to a restart.

The chart was prepared by Dr. Nelson Mar, who served as  Senior Engineer during the design of two of the plant’s reactor units. The reactors, he told the Irvine City Council, were designed to withstand a maximum 7.0 earthquake and a thirty-foot-high tsunami, but after the Fukushima disaster in Japan, Mar took a new look at updated seismic research and discovered that the plant lies adjacent to a fault capable of generating an 8.0 shocker. Such a quake would release thirty-two times more energy than the reactors are designed to withstand.

The two circles represent two different standards for areas to be evacuated in event of a disaster, with the smaller zone representing the current U.S. standard and the larger circle representing the safe distance from the Fukushima reactors recommended to Americans by the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo after the disaster.

Click on the image to enlarge.

BLOG Onofre faults

H/T to San Onofre Safety.

And for fun, here’s a video of powerful California Rep. Howard Berman, when he was confronted by activists Myla Reson and Roger Johnson about the corporate push for a fast restart at San Onofre:

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3 responses to “Chart of the day: San Onofre, a question of faults

  1. Gray Brechin

    The reactors sit on a sandy beach with what looks like a pitiful 10′ wall to protect them from a tsunami.

    It’s just a matter of time.

  2. What lessons can we draw from this tragedy in Japan? First, even though nuclear plants are constructed with many layers of inbuilt safety against Earthquakes of the Magnitude of 7.5 or 8 (should now be raised to 9), it is impossible for them to withstand a double onslaught of earthquake and tsunami. Two, multiple safety systems do not rule out accidents as reactors can be disabled by a single root cause, like Tsunami in the Japanese case. Despite all the inbuilt redundancies, failure of one single system like power back up in this case can become most difficult to handle. Third, problems in one reactor can add to the problems in another. In view of the above, the prompt decision of the Government to carry out a safety audit of all our nuclear plants is commendable. However, to be of value, it should be imperative that it involves independent experts from outside the Atomic energy establishment. The current thinking of having multiple reactors at one site, as it believably makes them more economical and easier to build, also needs to be reexamined. These plants also need to be located a minimum of 10-15 Km away from the coast line. Internally, there is a need to consider providing more wherewithal to the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) in terms of total autonomy, self sufficiency in man-power, resources and finances to be more effective. The exercise begun to enforce some measures in the wake of Mayapuri radiation incident need to be implemented without any loss of time including approved expansion of Emergency Response Centers and equipping of a large number of police stations with dosimeters in cities with over two million population. Finally, the most important of all, we as a nation may also like to take another well considered call on the usefulness of nuclear energy, because of its attendant risks and strengthen the safety aspects in both existing and proposed nuclear installations in earthquake- and tsunami-prone areas.

  3. Pingback: Active fault underlies a Japanese nuclear plant | eats shoots 'n leaves

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