How safe is San Onofre? - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

How safe is San Onofre?

Posted: Updated:

SAN ONOFRE (CBS 8) - When they see what's going on in Japan, some San Diegans are concerned about the safety of San Onofre. The plant is built to withstand a 7.0 quake and a tsunami, but not of the magnitude that hit Japan.

How safe is the San Onofre Nuclear Power Plant? It's the question many San Diegans are asking, as the nuclear crisis in Japan continues to unfold.

"The plant is safe. We have redundant safety measures at the plant. We want to assure the public of that," Steven Conroy of Southern California Edison said.

According to Southern California Edison, the company that operates the plant, the facility was built to withstand a 7.0 earthquake, a threshold determined by historical and scientific data when the 84-acre site was built.

"We know historically there's a fault line out there and it is built to sustain anything that fault may generate," Conroy said.

A 30-foot tsunami wall made up of reinforced concrete sits between the ocean and the plant. It's five feet higher than what's in place in Japan. Officials say it's taller based on scientists' best estimates of a potential threat.

But the Alliance for Nuclear Responsibility says more up-to-date seismic studies are needed to ensure safety, and says it's unclear if the plant could sustain an earthquake and tsunami similar to what Japan experience.

"We don't know, and for Southern California Edison to assure people that everything is fine is irresponsible," Alliance for Nuclear Responsibility Executive Director Rochelle Becker said.

Officials are quick to point out what they call key differences between San Onofre and the Japanese plants, including an independent water system that they claim can more effectively cool reactors. It also has four diesel generators used as a backup safety measure, whereas Japan only has two.

"The multiple diesel generator backups, the electrical facilities well above the level of the operating unit. A lot of our infrastructure is 50-60 feet above the plant level," Conroy said.

While Japan's nuclear crisis continues to change minute by minute, officials know important lessons will no doubt come from this tragedy.

"If there is something to be learned we will apply that if necessary to make this plant safer than it is today," Conroy said.

Powered by Frankly
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2018 KFMB-TV. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy, and Terms of Service, and Ad Choices.