Troubled San Onofre nuclear plant in Southern California to close

San Onofre. Photo: Xeni Jardin.

The San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (known to locals as The Giant Nuclear Boobies), which once supplied power to nearly 1.5 million homes in Southern California, will be permanently retired. Edison International, which owns the operator that runs San Onofre, announced the news today. The plant has been closed for over a year, since a tube leaked "a small amount" of radioactive steam. More than a thousand layoffs are expected.

"It's a shame about the jobs, but I don't think anybody feels safe anymore," said Jonel Miller, a 12-year San Clemente resident, in an interview with the Los Angeles Times.

There is much conflict over who should pay for the plant's closure. It's not gonna be cheap: the environmental impact will be huge.

Those who don't spend much time in the area may not know that San Onofre is also one of California's greatest and most legendary surfing spots. It's a particularly beautiful stretch of coastline, with sweet swells.

As noted in this previous Boing Boing post from 2011, the plant was more than 44 years old, was situated near a fault line, and was built to withstand less in terms of seismic activity and potential tsunami blows than Fukushima.

The plant once delivered 17 percent of the power provided by operator SoCalEdison. The permanent loss of this plant's generating power adds to the challenges for a state already struggling to provide energy to its growing population.