San Onofre Nuclear Plant Targeted in Ballot Proposal That Can Start Collecting Signatures

Signatures can be collected for a state voter initiative that would effectively shut down San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station.

California's only other operating nuclear power plant in Diablo Canyon would also be mothballed should such a measure pass.

Ben Davis Jr., the Santa Cruz activist who fought to close Rancho Seco and came out of retirement to back this new initiative, does have a couple sizable hurdles in front of him.

He and his minions must collect signatures from 504,760 registered voters-or 5 percent of the total votes cast for governor in 2010-by April 16, 2012, for the initiative to make the ballot. Then there will come the inevitable lawsuits from the power industry to stop the measure.

It would extend preconditions required of new nuclear power plants to San Onofre, the plant south of San Clemente run by Southern California Edison, and Diablo Canyon, which Pacific Gas and Electric operates near Avila Beach.

Specifically, the California Energy Commission would have to declare that the federal government has approved technology for permanent disposal of high-level nuclear waste from the plants. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission already concedes there are no facilities for permanent disposal of high-level radioactive waste.

California's Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance say that if such an initiative is approved, and the plants shutdown, loses would total $4 billion. State and local governments would lose revenue from fees, and government-mandated closures would likely require the power companies' losses to be covered, the agencies claim.

Meanwhile, disruptions to the state's electricity system--including rolling blackouts--and ongoing spikes in electricity prices would hit ratepayers in the wallet, the offices say.


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