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Showdown at San Onofre: Why the Nuclear Industry May Be Dealt a Big Blow

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Two stricken California reactors may soon redefine a global movement aimed at eradicating nuclear power.

They sit in a seismic zone vulnerable to tsunamis.  Faulty steam generators have forced them shut for nearly a year.

A powerful "No Nukes" movement wants them to stay that way.  If they win, the shutdown of America's 104 licensed reactors will seriously accelerate.

The story of San Onofre Units 2 & 3 is one of atomic idiocy.  Perched on an ocean cliff between Los Angeles and San Diego, the reactors' owners  cut unconscionable corners in replacing their multi-million-dollar steam generators.  According to Russell Hoffman, one of California's leading experts on San Onofre, inferior metals and major design failures turned what was meant to be an upgrade into an utter fiasco. 

Installed by Mitsubishi, the generators simply did not work.  When they were shut nearly a year ago, tubes were leaking, banging together and overall rendering further operations impossible.  

Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric have unofficially thrown in the towel on Unit 3.  But they're lobbying hard to get at least Unit 2 back up and running.  Their technical problems are so serious that they've asked the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to let them run Unit 2 at 70% capacity.  In essence, they want to "see what happens" without daring to take the reactor to full power.   


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