A Southern California Edison spokesman on Wednesday said officials with the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station near Lake Elsinore and Wildomar are doing everything possible to ensure the facility can hold its own against Mother Nature.
During a Chamber of Commerce networking breakfast in San Juan Capistrano, SCE spokesman Chris Abel said that officials at the San Onofre plant are closely examining the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s latest safety recommendations for American nuclear power plants.
“That’s a process that the entire nuclear industry is going through right now,” Abel told the approximately 30 people gathered at the Vintage Steakhouse in San Juan Capistrano.
The power station is jointly owned by SCE, San Diego Gas & Electric, and the city of Riverside, according to SCE.
creating a tsunami that caused widespread devastation and damage to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant -- enough to cause three reactors to melt down.
After investigating the incident, an NRC task force released a list of recommendations for the nation's nuclear power plants, and Abel said Southern California Edison officials are looking at the recommendations.
“There will be lessons learned,” Abel said. “But it’s going to take a while.
“To give you a frame of reference,” he said, “after Three Mile Island, it took about a year and a half before they really determined what the recommendations were.”
However, Abel said, people should feel assured about San Onofre’s ability to withstand the largest tsunamis and earthquakes that the area around the power plant could produce.
The San Onofre plant is located less than 25 air miles from Lake Elsinore and Wildomar.
According to Abel, the San Onofre facility can take double the maximum amount of peak ground acceleration that local fault lines produce.
As for tsunamis, the latest research shows that the largest wave that nearby conditions could produce would be between 19 to 22 feet, according to Abel.
A 30-foot wall and the reactor's location of 50 feet above the sea, more than compensates for that, Abel said.
“We have backup system upon back up system upon backup system,” Abel said.
At the end of a presentation, when Abel gave an overview of the plant’s inner workings and environmental mitigation efforts, he took questions from the audience.
After an attendee asked about the plant’s security force, Abel said the security personnel are well trained.
“We spare absolutely no expense on technology or their training,” Abel said. “Plus, we have the resources of Camp Pendleton behind us if we need it.”
Another attendee asked how the plant, built in the 1970s, compares with plants constructed with newer technology.
“They [the reactors] were built back in that time, but the technology that we’re using is completely up to date,” Abel said. “It’s not like we have 1979 or 1984 technology running the plant. We have 2011 technology running the plant.”
Dana Point resident Penny Maynard, who attended the breakfast to hear more information about the power plant, said the presentation was worthwhile.
“I thought it provided a lot of detail,” Maynard said.
until the companies complete detailed seismic maps and better understand risks posed by earthquakes and tsunamis.
Lawmakers questioned whether the utilities have been dragging their feet on conducting three-dimensional seismic studies called for in a 2008 state report to assess the risks posed by offshore faults.
Caroline McAndrews, director of licensing at San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, said in March that the plant has applied to the Public Utilities Commission for permission to charge ratepayers an estimated $21.6 million for those studies.
The license for San Onofre expires in 2022, and Southern California Edison has not yet applied to renew it. --Toni McAllister contributed to this report.