After the recent natural disaster in Japan, and the ensuing nuclear reactor crisis, the United States must reassess its own nuclear power facilities and the potential for lethal effects from such natural disasters. Specifically, the Indian Point nuclear power reactor in New York is surrounded by 6% of the nation’s population in the potential crisis area. There are also the two Southern California Edison San Onofre reactor units near San Clemente, California which are located directly next to the ocean. Up the coast north from San Onofre at Avila Beach in San Luis Obisbo County is the Pacific Gas & Electric’s Diablo Canyon reactor. These reactors, regardless of the safety of their operating records, are potentially high level threats to U.S. population centers. We must assess each of these reactors and decide whether they should be allowed to continue operating.
Presently, nuclear energy generates about 20% of the nation’s electric energy. No small contribution. Nevertheless, the forces of Mother Nature can be unkind to nuclear reactors, as witnessed by Japan’s nuclear crisis. The cost to decommission and replace these three generating stations with alternative generating capacity would be substantial. Arrangements for accommodating this would be something that would require much study and debate. Nevertheless, the potential costs in human life are so staggering that we must come to terms with these issues without delay