And it's not just environmental groups and liberal Democratic congresswomen who find SCE's handling of SONGS laughable. One industry source whose company owns power plants in California (and asked to not be identified) said that SCE has bungled the crisis at the plant ever since Jan. 31, 2012, when the radiation leak occurred. "[SCE's] handling of the initial radiation leak from San Onofre was ridiculous," he said. "The spokesperson from Edison initially concluded both that Edison didn't know the level of the radiation leak, but that the radiation leak was no threat to the public or their workers. That just doesn't stand to reason and calls into question Edison's credibility."

The expert also echoed concerns that given San Onofre's unique location in the midst of one of the largest masses of humanity on the planet—Southern California—it should be held to the highest possible scrutiny. "There is significant scrutiny across the country of the operation of any nuclear plant that is either within 50 miles of a major population area or is vulnerable to natural disasters such as earthquakes," he said. "San Onofre has three black marks: Nearly 9 million people live within a 50 mile radius, and [it has] vulnerability to both earthquakes and tsunamis."

Last summer for the endless bummer?
Brendan Klein
Last summer for the endless bummer?

Given all the controversy swirling around the plant—most recently, the California Public Utilities Commission announced it will probe why SCE never made its safety concerns public earlier—it's looking increasingly unlikely that SONGS will ever reopen, concludes Bill Walker, a FOTE spokesman. "The bottom line is that the crisis for Edison is mounting every day; there is a new call for investigation every day," Walker said. "The question is, are we in the end game? Is the clock ticking on an inevitable announcement on when they will close the plant?"

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