California plans for 7.8 earthquake but ignores San Onofre nuclear plant 7.0 design limit

Drop, Cover, and Hold On graphic

California seismic planners want us to “drop, cover and hold on” as part of their Great ShakeOut earthquake drill for the expected and overdue 7.8 magnitude earthquake, yet they ignore the fact Southern California’s San Onofre nuclear power plant is designed for a 7.0 earthquake.  A 7.8 earthquake is 6 times more powerful than what San Onofre is designed to withstand.

San Onofre Nuclear Reactors graphicOur public officials need to learn the lessons of Fukushima.  Japan’s Fukushima nuclear reactors are still in meltdown, spreading radiation throughout the world and making large portions of Japan permanently uninhabitable.

    • Lesson #1: Earthquakes (not just tsunamis) can cause a nuclear catastrophe.
    • Lesson #2: Nuclear catastrophes result in ruined lives and abandoned cities.
    • Lesson #3: Nuclear catastrophes can be prevented if early warnings are heeded.

Please contact your public officials and request they take action to ensure the safety of our community.

For a quick way to email them, go to

For other ways you can help and to locate contact information for your elected officials, go to the Volunteer section of the website. Use this sample letter or modify to send your own personalized message.

Sample letter for your public officials

I am very concerned about the impact a major earthquake may have on our community, and I support efforts to ensure residents and businesses are well prepared for such an event. The Great California ShakeOut is an important component of ensuring community members know the risks and respond appropriately to help minimize the danger to themselves and others during a major seismic event. However, I was deeply troubled to learn that the Great California ShakeOut earthquake drill completely ignores the risk of an earthquake-induced nuclear accident at the San Onofre nuclear reactor site – a very real threat to the safety of our community since these reactors are not built to withstand an earthquake of the magnitude the faults around it may produce.

The San Onofre nuclear reactor site was built to withstand an earthquake of an approximately 7.0 magnitude. ShakeOut drill planners use the United States Geological Survey (USGS) estimates for a 7.8 quake – that is more than six times the force of a 7.0 quake. The Newport/Inglewood fault is only 4 miles out to sea from San Onofre. According to the USGS this specific fault has a potential for a 7.5 to 8.0 earthquake. We do not need more seismic studies to tell us there is reason to be concerned.

As a civic leader, I respectfully request that you take action to ensure the safety of our community. San Onofre is currently offline due to severely damaged equipment. Edison proposes to restart one of the reactors to see how well it holds up without doing any repairs. They risk our well being while they gamble with damaged equipment which may now be even more vulnerable to earthquakes. Ensuring public safety requires an open transparent process and expert testimony before an independent judge.

I urge you to join others who have made calls, written letters of support or introduced resolutions like those recently passed in Del Mar, Laguna Beach, Santa Monica and other others requesting the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) require Southern California Edison submit to the requisite license amendment process and an adjudicatory hearing before they are allowed to restart either reactor.

California’s electricity grid operator has plans to take us through another hot summer without San Onofre.  Now is the time to move to a safe, clean, reliable and cost-effective energy future. The aging, expensive and damaged San Onofre nuclear reactors are none of these things. Replacing San Onofre with energy efficiency programs and diversified renewables is not only safer, but also makes far more economic sense. We need to invest in the future, not in a dangerous nuclear reactor site built with five decade old designs.

For more information, including government and scientific documentation, go to

About Donna Gilmore

This entry was posted in Action Alert, California ISO, City Council, Earthquake, Emergency Planning, Energy Options, Fukushima, How to Help, NRC, SDG&E, Southern California Edison, Steam Generator and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s