San Diego hosts famous skeptics of nuclear safety

Former Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan bows to the altar during the national memorial service for the victims of the March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami in Tokyo Sunday, March 11, 2012. Through silence and prayers, people across Japan on Sunday remembered the massive disaster that struck the nation one year ago, killing just over 19,000 people and unleashing the world's worst nuclear crisis in a quarter century. (AP Photo/Japan POOL) JAPAN OUT — AP Several key figures in the recent history of nuclear power — including the former Japanese prime minister who presided over the Fukushima disaster two years ago — are scheduled to speak at a public event Tuesday in downtown San Diego.

Naoto Kan, who reversed Japan’s decades-long expansion of nuclear power after a devestating earthquake and tsunami in 2011, will share the stage with leading American nuclear experts who have questioned the safety of U.S. reactors.

Participants in the panel-style discussion are expected to include Gregory Jaczko, who served as chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission until July 2012. He oversaw the U.S. regulatory response to the partial meltdown of three reactors in Japan.

Peter Bradford, an attorney who served as an NRC commissioner during the Three Mile Island nuclear plant crisis in 1979, and nuclear consultant Arnie Gundersen also are scheduled to joint the seminar. The event is titled, “Fukushima Daiichi Accident: Lessons for California.”

The talk is taking place as Southern California wrestles with uncertainties surrounding a 16-month outage at the seaside, twin-reactor San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, which once provided one-fifth of the surrounding area’s power.

The plant’s operator, Southern California Edison, is seeking authorization from the nuclear commission to restart one reactor at partial power. The company is looking for a permanent solution to the rapid degradation of recently replaced steam generators at the facility.

Torgen Johnson, an urban planner from Solano Beach who helped to organize Tuesday’s event, said the speakers were selected because they are authoritative voices with a critical outlook on the industry.

“They’re all independent,” he said. “They’ve taken risks with their own careers to put the public first.”

Among those funding the event are Friends of the Earth, an international environmental group that has challenged Edison’s restart plan for San Onofre and its role in the outage, and the Los Angles-based Physicians for Social Responsibility, which sees nuclear power as a threat to public health.

Source: UT San Diego