The San Onofre nuclear plant, which produces electricity for 1.4 million homes in Southern California, has been shuttered for more than two months because of a small radioactive leak in one of its reactors. After the plant’s closure, at least 300 tubes installed only two years ago-which were supposed to last until 2022-were found to be prematurely and unexpectedly worn.
The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission is investigating the situation. Its chairman, Gregory Jaczko, has promised the plant won’t be put back into operation until they figure out where the problem came from. However, some politicians like Darrell Issa are already exerting pressure. The congressman, whose district includes the shuttered plant, said he would like to see it open by the summer.
We think it’s inappropriate for a congressman to impose arbitrary dates for the plant’s reespecially when Jaczko did not offer an exact date for it. Because of San Onofre’s closure, Southern California’s capacity for electricity production could be affected, and there are fears that a heat wave could lead to power outages. A few businesses have said that not having the plant in operation could negatively affect them.It’s irresponsible to put pressure on officials to put San Onofre back in operation until we know exactly why tubes that are basically new are failing like this. Plant operator Southern California Edison must make sure the plant is 100% safe before reopening it, and politicians must put the safety of people and the environment above any other concerns.