For those of us that live in California, Sendai, brings up our worst fears. We have 2 coastal facilities, the nuclear plant at San Onofre (run by SCE) and at Diablo Canyon (run by PG&E). The latter is actually built on a fault line. Brilliant.
Currently the operators at San Onofre, Southern California Edison, are trying to reassure residents that the nuclear events currently unfolding in Japan will not happen here. Of course, the problem is, the plants were built decades ago, to withstand what scientists then thought would be the maximum magnitude, for San Onofre, that guess was 7.0. For Diablo Canyon, 7.5. But those are clearly far less than the 8.9 suffered by Japan last week.
Reinforced concrete was put in place between the plant and the ocean, at San Onofre creating a 25-foot-high “tsunami wall” based on best estimates of potential threat from the geological fault 5 miles offshore, but that’s another figure gone by the boards when tsunami waves are reaching 35 and 40 feet.
San Onofre’s dome units were “built in layered shells, like Russian nesting dolls. The outer shell is made of reinforced concrete that is four-feet thick, and is designed to capture any unexpected release of radiation. The inner steel casing housing the reactor is 8 inches thick,” reports LA Now.”Inside the reactor, fuel rods and control rods that make up the nuclear core are surrounded by pressurized water.”
Again, that’s the same standard Japan was working with. And like Japan, San Onofre reportedly has the same safety systems — diesel generators (which actually came from Japan, in January 2010), a battery system, and gravity-driven emergency cooling. Edison says it will apply the lessons learned from the Japanese disaster. But it seems like the lesson here is, solar and wind power, and the end of nuclear and oil.