Monday, August 29, 2011

Lessons Learned From Fukushima

Promised Public Meeting in Doubt?

“Lessons learned from Fukushima” was the topic suggested by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) at an annual public meeting held April 18 in the City of San Juan Capistrano. During the meeting, the public wanted to ask many questions about the recent events at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant in Japan. Much of the time for public input was restricted in the meeting controlled by the NRC. Basic concerns of the public like, "Could it happen here?" went largely unaddressed. Like Fukushima, San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) sits at the ocean’s edge with known tsunami dangers and earthquake faults which exceed the nuclear power plant's design capacity.

In response, the San Clemente City Council offered to hold a public meeting dedicated to the topic suggested by NRC. Mayor Donchak proposed that a committee be formed to create a balanced meeting, including representatives from local environmental groups, but the suggestion was rejected by the City Council. Instead, the City Manager was assigned the task to gather questions from the public and to invite industry experts to participate. Representatives from Edison, the NRC and Emergency Planners all committed to participating. The NRC accepted the invitation until it became known that independent nuclear experts would also be invited. Even though the meeting was scheduled at the NRC's convenience, their attendance is now in doubt.

With the September 27th meeting less than a month away, City Manager George Scarborough has decided that there are to be two separate meetings unless the NRC is agreeable to the format and approves the list of independent experts that environmental groups have invited. Concerned citizen are being told that such a meeting would be too long and unmanageable, but the truth is that the NRC holds meetings of this sort on a regular basis with more participants in less time.

A coalition of environmental groups made up of San Clemente Green, Residents Organized for a Safe Environment (ROSE), and Citizens for Responsible and Ethical Environmental Decisions (CREED), reject this conclusion. It totally undermines the intent of the meeting which is to provide the public with a more balanced and comprehensive understanding of the situation. It is also the meeting that has long been deferred to by the City Council when pressed to consider a Resolution proposed by the coalition to shut down SONGS until known safety concerns have been addressed. Creating a situation where experts with contrasting views must be separated into two meetings smacks of favoritism towards the industry and does the public a great disservice, especially considering the potential danger we all face.

The coalition is deeply concerned that public safety will be superseded by influence from the nuclear power industry, as was the case in Japan and recently suspected in our own country by various government agencies and representatives. Too much is at stake to allow this to take place and citizens need to stand up for their own protection. We call upon the press and the public to scrutinize this decision depriving us of a fair and balanced discussion. Honest dialog is the best way for public concerns to be addressed. All experts need to be represented at the public hearing to be held at the Community Center on September 27 from 6:00 to 9:00pm. We encourage anyone who shares our concerns to contact the City Manager and City Council.

George Scarborough

City Council

Thank You.

Gene Stone
Residents Organized For a Safe Environment (ROSE)
NUKES, TVA, Health & Safety, The NRC & the Nuclear Industry With Ann Harris

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