Thanks to WHISTLEBLOWERS and ACTIVISTS, we are not the world’s next nuclear disaster, (YET) — Interview

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June 7, 2022 — Gary Headrick interviews Maggie and Arnie Gundersen, who exposed the installation of unreviewed and unapproved replacement equipment at the San Onofre Nuclear Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) near San Diego, Calif. The equipment in question failed eleven months after it was installed, part of a cascade of mistakes and failures that eventually caused Edison, the owner of the plant, to give up on its effort to extend the life of the plant several decades beyond its original design.

Gary Headrick writes:

9 Years ago today, I experienced one of the most joyful moments in my life. Without forewarning of any kind, early in the morning, June 7, 2013, news broke that the CEO of Edison was closing San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) permanently. Up until that moment, they were threatening to restart a defective nuclear reactor without fixing it first, “to see what happens”.

Actually, they were running up against a one year deadline that would have caused them to go through the entire relicensing process, like a new plant would go through. They would not have been able to meet the latest Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) standards, so their only option was to get up and running again for at least one refueling, (five months), to reset the clock for another forty years.

As time was running out and “Ox Boilers” were fired up and ready to go, (turns out, they were auxiliary boilers that brought the plant up to temperatures adequate to fire up the nuclear reaction. I didn’t know that when one of the whistleblowers called me about it :–)

Imagine the stark emotional contrast between feeling the potential for becoming the world’s next nuclear disaster, following Japan in Fukushima, only to find out unexpectedly, in the middle of a fight we seemed almost certain to lose, they called it quits.

Wow, that felt good!

Whatever caused them to make that decision didn’t matter. There was no longer the possibility of restarting Unit 3, (the exact replica of the one that failed, Unit 2) and nearly caused a nuclear meltdown when that reactor began to leak.

You will want to watch this entire story unfold, from the perspective of two heroic figures during those critical days, lending us their expertise and putting themselves on the line for us and countless others around the world. It is both heartwarming and alarming to hear them tell us directly, as if in person, just how much danger we were all in and the price people have to pay sometimes just to maintain their own integrity and concern for the greater good.

We intend to do a series of interviews like this, to bring this perilous history to life, before this deadly threat of nuclear waste is out of sight and out of mind completely. Our immediate goal is to insist that there is a contingency plan in case of radiation escaping from the nuclear waste dump for any reason. There is no adequate plan at this time. We need a HOT CELL built at San Onofre, in case Holtec’s thin canisters begin to fail, and we need to get it going ASAP. We look forward to your feedback and hope you’ll like, learn, enjoy, be inspired, appreciative, and feel the love from this first episode with Arnie and Maggie Gundersen of Fairewinds.

Gary Headrick
Cofounder of San Clemente Green


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