Decomissioned Nuclear Plant Takes Story on the Road

Decomissioned Nuclear Plant Takes Story on the Road

Fairs educate about nuclear energy and San Onofre nuclear plant's 20-year decommissioning plan.

Sandy Sewell, a radiation protection specialist at the San Onofre nuclear plant, demonstrates common household items that may emit radiation.

A Geiger counter swept over a bright red Fiesta dinnerware cup and saucer shows the radiation emitted by the glaze on the ceramic ware, which used to be made with uranium oxide.

The San Onofre nuclear plant at dusk. The plant is in the process of being decommissioned over the next 20 years.

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Tuesday, October 6, 2015 - 12:00pm

CONTENT: Article

The table display at the Laguna Hills Community Center looked harmless enough — a couple of old alarm clocks, a smoke detector and a bright red Fiesta dinnerware cup and saucer.

Sandy Sewell swept a Geiger counter over each item. The radiation-detection needle ticked up a little passing over the smoke detector, a little more with the alarm clocks, but then jumped to 40 counts per minute above the cup and saucer. Sewell placed a thin sheet of steel over the dinnerware, and the needle dropped immediately.

Her point was to show that radiation is all around us every day, even among commonplace items found in many homes.

“That was cool,” said Loretta Herrin, unconsciously taking a step back from the Geiger counter.

Sewell is a Southern California Edison (SCE) radiation protection specialist at the San Onofre nuclear plant. Her “Radiation and You” demonstration was part of a Decommissioning Education Fair held this summer.

Read full story in Edison's Online Newsroom.