My first anti-nuclear demonstration was at Diablo Canyon in 1981. i did not identify as an anti-nuclear activist at the time, and it would take almost a decade for me to realize that this was my calling. But Diablo still holds a special place in my heart.
When the president of the utility that built this reactor was being interviewed after he had left the job, he was asked if the protests at Diablo Canyon had mattered to his company and his response was unusually candid.
“At the time Diablo Canyon was completed, we were planning 10 more reactors in California, we did not build any of them”.
So as is so often the case, the people who were protesting did not see the effect of their work. Diablo went online not long after the protest despite thousands of arrests and proof that systems had been installed improperly.
So we lost the battle at Diablo, but we won the war agaisnt reactor construction nation wide. And as is so often the case with both technology and politics, as goes California, so goes the world. New reactor construction in the US had already dropped off to nearly nothing after the Three Mile Island accident, which resulted in over 100 in-construction reactors to be stopped.
Now California is possibly leading the way again. Voters will likely get a chance in November to keep all of the reactors in California off line, should they choose. The two San Onofre reactors have been closed for over a year now, awaiting very expensvie repairs. Similarly, Diablo Canyon has no place to put its radioactive waste and this initiative requires that a long term waste repository be established before these reactors can be trusted to dispose of their waste responsibly. With the canceling of the Yucca Mountain project, this will be years if not decades away.
We can only hope, as goes California so goes the world.