SoCal reactors trip offline — Most extensive power outage in state history — Massive explosion heard near substation — First time entire system has been lost — 5 million affected

Published: September 9th, 2011 at 3:56 am ET


AP: A major power outage knocked out electricity for up to 5 million people…

KESQ: Callers to News Channel 3 reported a loss of power hitting around 3:45 p.m. […] The company released the following statement: “Edison is working with the California Independent System Operator to determine grid factors that caused the two San Onofre units to trip offline as designed at approximately 3:38 p.m. Pacific (time).

San Diego Union Tribune: The most extensive power outage in California history…

AP: Mike Niggli, chief operating officer of San Diego Gas & Electric Co., ruled out terrorism but said the cause was unclear. “To my knowledge this is the first time we’ve lost an entire system,” he said.

KESQ: Some callers to News Channel 3’s newsroom reported hearing a loud explosion near North Shore at the Salton Sea shortly before the electric interruption.

KGO: Viewers of ABC affiliate KESQ in Palm Springs, Calif., have called in to say they heard a massive explosion at a substation in Coachella. Those reports could not be immediately confirmed. The loss of power led to a shutdown of two reactors at the San Onofre nuclear power plant.

: “The San Onofre plant won’t be back for a couple of days,” Niggli told reporters.

Published: September 9th, 2011 at 3:56 am ET


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18 comments to SoCal reactors trip offline — Most extensive power outage in state history — Massive explosion heard near substation — First time entire system has been lost — 5 million affected

  • September 9, 2011 2:35 AM EDT
    Millions Still Without Power in Southwest U.S., Northwest Mexico
    A massive blackout caused by “human failure” left nearly 5 million people without power in parts of California, Arizona and Mexico on Thursday, and officials said many residents may be out of service for a day or more.

    The outage, apparently triggered by an employee error at a substation in Arizona, snarled traffic on Southern California freeways, knocked out water supplies in parts of San Diego County and Tijuana and sent some elderly residents to emergency rooms, Reuters reported.

    San Diego International Airport canceled all outbound flights, traffic came to a standstill as the city’s street lights quit and about 70 people had to be rescued by the firefighters from stalled elevators.

    San Diego schools were ordered closed until Monday as utilities could not guarantee that they would be able to turn on the lights in classrooms.

    “There was a very major outage, a regionwide outage,” San Diego Gas and Electric President Mike Niggli said. “There’s no doubt this has never happened before to our system.”

    But police in California’s second-largest city, located between Los Angeles and the Mexican border, reported no major problems, and hospitals successfully switched to backup power, the Scripps Health chain said.


    An ill-fated procedure in Arizona first knocked out a high-power line supplying electricity to Southern California before unleashing a domino effect across the Southwest, officials said.

    That in turn led to a blockage at California’s San Onofre nuclear energy plant, a second major source of power to the San Diego area, San Diego Gas and Electric said.

    San Diego Gas and Electric said in a tweet that all 1.4 million of its customers in the San Diego area were without power. Blackouts also affected 3.5 million people in Baja California, according to local emergency services and state authorities.

    The city of Yuma, Ariz., reported that more than 50,000 people had lost power.

    “There appears to be two failures here — one is human failure and the other is a system failure. Both of those will be addressed,” said Damon Gross, a spokesman for Arizona utility APS.

    By early evening, crews had restored service in the section of the line that triggered the massive event and had begun to restore power to parts of San Diego County.

    But San Diego Gas and Electric told customers that power might not be restored overnight and urged them to conserve electricity.

    “Prepare to stay home tonight without power,” the utility, owned by Sempra, told customers.


    Mexico’s Federal Electricity Commission said 180,000 customers had been brought back online in Baja California. The commission said it was making progress in getting power back on in state capital Mexicali, Ensenada and Rosarito.

    Stuck without refrigeration, employees at the Cardiff Seaside Market, a grocery and specialty food store in Cardiff-by-the-Sea, north of San Diego, started grilling their inventory of fresh steaks and tuna in the parking lot and selling it cooked to passersby for cash.

    Meanwhile, a line of about 50 customers waited at the front door for their turn to be led inside by a clerk to do their shopping in groups of two or three at a time.

    “It’s real hectic; there’s lines everywhere now. But the customers are happy, everyone’s patient, everyone’s in a good mood, and we’re serving them as quickly as we can,” manager John Shamam, 33, said as he served up a plate of tuna.

    Many of the tweets from San Diego residents revolved around air conditioning. “I’m going to die of heat in this house with no AC!” wrote Ashleigh Marie. “What am I supposed to dooo.”

    But San Diego resident Kiersten White tweeted that the power outage “makes me glad I don’t have air conditioning to begin with … nothing to miss!”

    Other people were having a harder time. “Trapped outside of our rooms at the hotel,” tweeted Rob Myers, visiting from Washington. Other members of his party got trapped in an elevator, he wrote.

    Blackouts hit Mexico’s Baja California Norte state in the afternoon, knocking out power to hundreds of maquiladora export assembly plants in the sprawling industrial powerhouse of Tijuana, south of San Diego.

    The blackouts knocked out stop lights at intersections across Tijuana, causing traffic snarls, and also cut power to hospitals and government offices. The border crossing at Otay Mesa was closed to all but pedestrian traffic.

    • Mack Mack

      I noticed a change in how the EPA explains radiation risk:

      They used to say:

      “Current evidence suggests that any exposure to radiation poses some risk, i.e. there is no level below which we can say an exposure poses no risk.” (U.S. EPA, “Radiation: Risks & Realities,” Air & Radiation, 6602J, EPA 402-K-92-004, Aug. 1993)


      But now the EPA says this:

      “In setting limits, EPA makes the conservative (cautious) assumption that any increase in radiation exposure is accompanied by an increased risk of stochastic effects.”

      Here are the definitions of “stochastic” from

      1. statistics a.(of a random variable) having a probability distribution, usually with finite variance

      2. rare involving conjecture

      Which definition are they are referring to?

      Then the next sentence by the EPA is this:

      “Some scientists assert that low levels of radiation are beneficial to health (this idea is known as hormesis).”


    • mikey

      Massive explosion heard near substation……Hmmmm I wonder if seal team 6 did that..

  • Morning Op.
    Cheers, 😉

  • BreadAndButter BreadAndButter

    I hope the diesel backup is in place and working.

    Now I guess times are getting rough for the pro-nukers.

  • I had a dream about nuclear power today! It was sooo weird x.x;

  • Despicable you….

    ☢ Emails About Fukushima Disaster Between UK Government Departments and Nuclear Industry ☢
    Hi folks, FC from brought up an interesting thing on the chat earlier today. There have been emails released under the Freedom of Information Act that reveal some disturbing things. These emails that have now been released are between different UK Government Departments and the Nuclear Industry during the Fukushima Daiichi crisis.

    So what are these email saying? I have embedded the whole document. So you can read them all here. However I would like to qoute some of the things being said here.

    Take this first one sent March 13 2011:

    “With regard to the nuclear events in Japan. I have been watching over the weekend. We need to work together on this and have very strong coordinated messages. There is a risk here that this event could impact on the global industry. We need to ensure the anti-nuclear chaps and chapesses do not gain ground on this. We need to occupy the territory and hold it.

    From web searches I can see anti-nuclear people across Europe have wasted no time of blurring this all into Chernobyl and the works.”

    Well we all know now that it is a Cernobyl disaster.. Chernobyl on steroids even. There is no blurring going on anymore with this. Another Email from March 13 reads:

    “We need to highlight that radiation that has been released has been done so through controlled venting. The explosion whilst visually dramatic is part of the saftey system, the building has protected the reactor.”

    • BreadAndButter BreadAndButter

      Hi Tacoma, I think it was The Guardian who made these e-mails public on July 1st. Was quite a story here in Europe…
      “Fukushima spin was Orwellian”

    • James2

      Ahh the nucleargate emails.

      I hadn’t heard of them, but I’d like to see a similar set for the United States.

      I read a few, and they are what I thought they would be. The nuke industry knew they were in trouble from the beginning and has been in full-on spin mode ever since.

      This reveals the tactics – many of which we have noticed here – all of which are fabricated.

      I’ll be reading the rest. This is the kind of stuff that is needed to prepare a strategy to combat it.

  • 5 million people is a big interruption. That San Onofre worries me. If I’m not mistaken it is near a fault line?

    Now I raised the issue of YouTube user guardianofmiyagi

    Please contact him on YouTube. He has a lot to say. Some very disturbing. He has treated kids with nosebleeds etc. Doctors are leaving or planning to leave the area. I only post articles and videos. I was hoping enenews will look into this. It seems whoever runs enenews may have more time than me to investigate.

  • Mack Mack

    “[…]the NRC, an independent agency that oversees safety at the nation’s 104 nuclear reactors, inspects about 5% of plant operations.” said David Lochbaum:

  • Ariana

    The cause is unclear….switch the letters around: unclear-nuclear 🙂

  • Tuzzie

    I wonder why they blame some guy in a substation but fail to mention the huge x class solar flare that hit us this morning