Is It Safe Living Near Nuclear Generating Stations?

San Onofre Nuclear Power Plant Near San Clemente/AP Photo Lenny Ignelzi

With the recently reported radiation leak at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, operators of the facility said a ‘small’ amount of radioactive material from one of the units ‘could have’ escaped, but poses no danger to the surrounding communities.

Jointly owned and operated by Southern California Edison, San Diego Gas and Electric and the city of Riverside, officials at the San Onofre Generating Station said the leak was barely measurable.

Located just two miles from the residential seaside community of San Clemente and 45 miles north of San Diego, it’s estimated that 7.5 million people live within 50 miles of the nuclear generating facility.

The emissions-free station generates enough power to supply 1.4 million homes.

According to the World Nuclear Association, there are currently 104 nuclear reactors in 31 states producing 807 billion kWh worth of nuclear energy, supplying 20 percent of America’s electrical energy.

Upon further inspection of the entire facility a few days after the leak by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, officials said they discovered damage to another unit, which has been closed for several months for routine maintenance. The commission’s findings revealed extensive damage to dozens of tubes that carry radioactive liquid.

A spokesperson for the plant told ABC News that the plant is safe and the leaks and damage to the tubes are probably due to faulty equipment.

The leak raises concerns among enviornmental and nuclear watchdog groups because of possible radioactive material entering and contaminating the atmosphere and potentially creeping into groundwater supplies.

After the March 2011 cataclysmic 9.0 Great Eastern Japan Earthquake that generated a deadly tsunami that killed nearly 20,000 people, devastating nearby towns and triggering a nuclear meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, is it time to rethink nuclear energy as an alternative to fossil fuels and find safer, low carbon, renewable energy sources?

For more information, visit the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station website.


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