Nuclear Fission: In the Beginning, It All Looked So Simple

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South Orange County – June 18th, 2012 – Nuclear Regulatory Commission & Edison host a town hall to discuss San Onofre Nuclear Power Generating Station’s (SONGS’s) status in its current Shut Down mode, due to systemic tube leaks in its new reactors.

Rube Goldberg Electricity

Eyeballing the complicated graphic interpretation of how SONGS works, displayed by Edison at their recent San Juan Capistrano public town-hall, a professionally drawn image, designed to explain what makes SONGS tick, to me, Joe Everyman, wasn’t working. All I could see, was Rube Goldberg.

San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station

In the beginning, it all looked so simple.

Rube Goldberg drew a lucrative career cartooning overcomplicated mechanisms back in the 20th century, long before crazed nuke wizards configured their own crazy maze of complexity; reprocessing H-bomb technology into home electricity. A bold undertaking. I staggered back to my chair in the standing-room-only community center thinking Jules Verne would love that drawing. Steampunk, the art form / plumbing meets steam; replicates perfectly SONGS’s mad-mad maze of nuclear plumbing twist & turns. No wonder SONGS leaks.

Reuben Lucius Goldberg was an American cartoonist, sculptor, author, engineer and inventor. He is best known for a series of popular cartoons depicting complex gadgets that perform simple tasks in indirect, convoluted ways. Wikipedia

Solar panels, wind mills, and rushing rivers, spinning out electricity in simple, safe ways, filled my thoughts as I sat down. Just another face in the crowd seeking nuclear clarity from those on the dais spewing obfuscation. Cockeyed optimists are we. SONGS’s 1950s Future World crazy dangerous plumbing maze drew me to the meeting. How’d we get into this looney-bin business of squeezing electricity from nukes? Why nuclear power plants at all? Causing citizens to pack town halls, protesting obsolete, society ending behemoths, vulnerable to every form of mishap –natural or man made.

Why? After WWII we needed nuke warheads (according to global destruction history), tens of thouands of them, and nuclear fission is what creates an H-bomb’s mushroom cloud potential. To make H-bomb production appear respectable, some glowing genius figured how to process warhead-stuff, while also producing a salable byproduct – electricity! Electricity from nukes: the perfect cover.

Japan bought our power-from-nukes’ scam, hook, line and sinker. We know the result.

Thank God we only swallowed 20% of the nuclear kool-aid our congressional military complex pours. No thanks, we’re not drinking. Not anymore. Not surprisingly, many in the nuke industry come from the military, trained in nukes. Trained in living dangerously. Trained to obey orders, no matter what. They view nuke’s implicit danger, as the price we pay for its magnificent reward: a society ending Rube Goldberg conflagration when things go haywire. SONGS legacy: of all 104 US nuke plants, SONGS hosts the worst workplace record.
Could it be worse? With nukes, yes.

Keeping SONGS Off is all us non-engineer types need to know, to live happily ever after here in San Clemente, or anywhere within the 50-mile evac-zone radiating out from SONGS’s two aged thunderdomes. Extracting electricity from nukes is the most expensive, most dangerous Rube Goldberg way to keep our lights on ever conceived by mankind. Results from the town meeting: Edison and NRC’s nuke-perts admit to being baffled by the aged plant’s leaky dilemma, after 5 1/2 months of shutdown? OMG. The good news: SONGS remains off.

If they turn it back on – head for the hills.

San Onofred Nuclear Generating Station dangerIt’s come to that. Do you feel unfulfilled after reading this report? Well, welcome to the club, citizen.

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About Jerry Collamer

Jerry Collamer is a creative communications specialist. Backgrounds in National Advertising and Television Communication. Writer. Artist. Native Californian with a world-view career arch. Pragmatic and common sense urban activist -- co-founder of Wild Heritage Planners.