Collamer Nuclear

Nuclear Regulatory Smackdown at San Onofre


See Jerry Collamer’s piece on San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) as the “Scariest Workplace in the USA.”

This is Part I of Jerry’s smack-by-smack reporting of the fun in Nuclear-Safety-Discussions…

Neighborly Report: Weds a.m. – Dec. 15, 2010.

SONGS’ Nuke Plant Tues-Night Smack Down

By Jerry Collamer

I’m writing this while it’s still fresh in mind:

Last night I attended what few in Orange or San Diego Counties ever attend – a San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) / Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Tuesday Night at Dana Point’s Double Tree Hotel Nuclear Smack Down (my title).

Nuke Regulators Smack Down at San Onofre By Jerry Collamer

I know you didn’t attend (unless you work at SONGS), because I saw the dozen or ‘less’ regular local citizen-attendees who always show at the now every-6-months SONGS / NRC Regulatory Public Smack Downs.

I call’em Public Smack-Downs, because at the ‘very’ public Hearings, SONGS’ top guns (team of 4), volley nuke-safety-plant issues with (federal) NRC’s team of 4.

NRC is tasked with overseeing SONGS’ progress i.e. improving SONGS dismal safety record, from “worst” in the nation (104 US nuke plants, 2 in CA), to a level somewhere north of last place.

If SONGS produced something other than nuke-power – say car tires, or truck headlights, or marshmallows, Public Safety would not be a concern. BUT when nuke-plant safety is factually Job-1, and SONGS’ is holding down a seemingly permanent Last Place, as determined by NRC (explains why NRC lives at SONGS), monitoring progress first hand. And or, the dangerously frustrating lack of. That said, news from SONGS isn’t good. Should this worry you?

As a San Clemente resident living adjacent to the plant, it worries me.

That’s why I attend SONGS’ very public hearings, hoping for signs of progress.

At September’s 2010 Late Summer Smack Down, a new, aggressive plant manager was introduced.  He promised to right SONGS’ leaking lena.

To Make Things Right!

Then last night (Dec. 14, 2010), just 4-months-in, a New{er}, aggressive sounding plant manager was introduced to us?

Hmm, that was fast.

SONGS New GM’s opening remark: “The journey will be long. And it will be difficult.”

Reminiscent of September-SONGS’ GM’s (now ex) opening statement four quick months ago. What both tough-talking GM’s face / faced:  a tired nuke plant 4-decades old, under massive renovation. Think: aged senior citizen gets heart transplant. But what about the failing kidneys, liver, pancreas, advanced arthritis, gout, and creeping dementia? Nuke plant life-spans are measured in dog-years, due to the extreme heat and pressure coursing through the miles of pipe and valves, chambers, joints, twists and turns, reining in the ungodly heat generated within, pressuring to burst welded seams, or rip open valves as it scorches its hot path through the best alloys money can buy.

Over dramatic prose you say?  Neighbor, we’re talking nukes, not knitting.

To Be Continued…

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