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San Onofre nuclear plant to shut down permanently

SAN DIEGO -- Southern California Edison said today that the troubled San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) will be shut down permanently.

California Assembly Majority Leader Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) hailed the decision to retire the nuclear power plant.

“Given the safety concerns and uncertainty surrounding operation of SONGS, I applaud Edison's decision,” she said. “Ever since the facility shut down, I have advocated for a transparent process that does not saddle ratepayers with the costs of operating a non-functioning plant.

“As SONGS winds down its operations, it will be important that safe handling of nuclear material be a priority, that both ratepayers and employees be treated fairly, and that we continue to work to ensure an adequate power supply for Southern California,” said Atkins, who represents the 78th Assembly District, which includes the central and coastal San Diego area from Imperial Beach to Del Mar.

Environmentalists and other activists successfully waged a 16-month battle to stop the nuclear plant from going back online. The 40-year-old facility provided power for 1.4 million homes until it was shut down in January 2012 after a small radiation leak revealed damage to hundreds of tubes that carry radioactive water.

Advocacy group Friends of the Earth, which opposes nuclear energy, praised the decision to close the aging plant.

"We have long said that these reactors are too dangerous to operate and now Edison has agreed. The people of California now have the opportunity to move away from the failed promise of dirty and dangerous nuclear power and replace it with the safe and clean energy provided by the sun and the wind," Friends of the Earth president, Erich Pica, said in a statement.

California officials and the state’s Public Utilities Commission said they would work with energy producers to make sure Southern California has enough electricity. There was no word on Southern California Edison’s plans to replace the facility.