Former Utility Director Voices Nuclear Criticism

S. David Freeman, former general manager of the Sacramento Municipal Utility District, added his name to a list of critics calling for an end to operations at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station over the weekend, by way of an opinion piece published Saturday in the Sacramento Bee.

“San Onofre and Diablo Canyon [California’s other active nuclear plant] are both disasters waiting to happen: aging, unreliable reactors sitting near earthquake fault zones on the fragile Pacific Coast, with millions or hundreds of thousands of Californians living nearby,” Freeman writes.

“Does that sound alarmist? I've been in the utility industry for 40 years, and I have come to realize that you have to be blind not to be an alarmist about nuclear power.”

Freeman debates the wisdom of San Onofre operator Southern California Edison’s proposal to plug thousands of defective tubes in its steam generating units and resume operation at reduced power levels, and says it’s “time to look beyond the failed experiment with nuclear power and look to the future.”

Edison says it has not yet sought permission from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to resume operations at San Onofre.

During his tenure at the Sacramento utility, Freeman oversaw the dismantling of the Rancho Seco nuclear plant, which was approved via public vote in 1989, even though the facility was licensed to operate into 2008. Although the Rancho Seco reactors at the time provided half the area’s power, Freeman says construction of smaller co-generating plants and heavy investment in solar technology allowed the utility to replace the nuclear output without blackouts or rate hikes.

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