One of the most distinct features of the California coastline, the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, will be shut down permanently. The owner of the nuclear power plant, Edison International, announced on June 7 that regulatory costs and safety concerns would make it unprofitable and dangerous to continue producing electricity from the plant's two nuclear reactors, which were suspended in January 2012. The decision to shut down the 2,150 megawatt (MW) power station will be seen as a victory by environmentalists and nuclear activists.
San Onofre became the target of much criticism and heightened scrutiny after the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi reactor meltdown in Japan. It was later discovered that the plant had major design flaws that exposed the California coastline to radioactive water and meltdown hazards.
Nuclear power is a divisive issue. Some say it produces clean energy, but in fact spent radioactive fuel can pose a serious public health and environmental hazard for thousands of years, making the cost of mitigation efforts almost incalculable.
"I am greatly relieved that the San Onofre nuclear plant will be closed permanently," said U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) in a statement. "This nuclear plant had a defective redesign and could no longer operate as intended."
This creates an excellent opportunity for the state to migrate to renewable sources to pick up some of the slack left by the decommissioning of plant. Renewable energy, which currently makes up about 12 percent of California's electricity sources, provides the same power with none of the environmental costs of fossil fuels and nuclear.