Commentary: Edison panel should build trust, not stone walls
By Cathy Iwane
S.Edison’s Southern California Community Engagement Panel, funded by interest payers, is a sham. The panel’s public relations work quickly moves the utility’s agenda forward, but is sluggish, if not silent, in answering tough questions. At this point the panellists tried to ignore my questions altogether.
I’ve attended a dozen of their meetings. The perspective I bring is unique: my family fled Japan after the Fukushima collapse. You would think I could get the ears of panelists who claim to be a two-way channel to allay concerns. But my questions hit stone walls right off, including:
• Please explain how to repair damaged spent fuel canisters with nickel-based paint as suggested by the utility. What evidence can be shown that this method works?
• The utility has been discharging radioactive fluids into the ocean for more than 50 years. The public should be able to direct questions about cumulative radiation exposure – especially for women, children and fetuses – to persons with medical qualifications. Why doesn’t the Community Engagement Panel include a doctor?
• Can someone explain the references in liquid batch release reports that condition monitors have been out of service for more than a month? What was the exposure and risk profile during this period?
• The spent fuel pools at SONGS are approved for demolition. Help us understand what, how, and where the utility would fix a spent fuel canister and repackage the waste once the pools disappeared.
• Can the utility provide evidence that it can safely move a damaged canister?
• Can a contingency plan be displayed in the event of an earthquake, terrorism or flood damage canister?
The public deserves answers to these questions. An acceptable answer would go something like this:
“Dear Mrs. Iwane. Thank you for contacting us. Your questions are important and deserve the benefit of a factual answer. Working with the utility and its advisors, we will add supporting data to this response within 10 days. In addition, we will make everything on our website available to the public. “
I am assuming that I will need to find my information elsewhere.
Instead of building trust, the Community Engagement Panel builds stone walls. Instead of producing good data in response to serious questions, the panel produces nifty videos and comments that trumpet a relationship of trust that just doesn’t exist.
Cathy Iwane is one Member of the Samuel Lawrence Foundation The board of directors.