Bodega Bay Nuclear Power Plant

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Old foundation excavation at Bodega Bay Nuclear Power Plant site, locally called the "Hole in the Head"

The Bodega Bay Nuclear Power Plant was proposed but never built.

Pacific Gas & Electric planned to build the first commercially viable nuclear power plant in the USA at Bodega Bay, California, a fishing village fifty miles north of San Francisco. The proposal was controversial and conflict with local citizens began in 1958.[1]

The proposed plant site was right on the San Andreas fault and close to the region's environmentally sensitive fishing and dairy industries. Fishermen feared that the "plant's location and thermal discharge would interfere with their livelihood." Other citizens did not want their "simple isolated lifestyle" disturbed. The Sierra Club became actively involved and opposed the choice of the site.[2] The Secretary of the Interior, Stewart Udall, said he was "gravely concerned" about the Bodega site.[3]

The Northern California Association to Preserve Bodega Head (NCAPBH) was formed and released press statements and submitted appeals to various state and federal bodies. In June 1963, NCAPBH organized a public meeting and 1,500 helium balloons were released into the air. They carried the message: "This balloon could represent a radioactive molecule of strontium 90 or iodine 131." These two substances had reached public prominence in the debate about fallout from nuclear weapons testing.[3][4]

The conflict ended in 1964, with the forced abandonment of plans for the power plant. By this point, a pit had been dug for the foundation, near the tip of Bodega Head; since the abandonment of the site, the pit has partially filled with water and become a pond, informally called the "Hole in the Head." Thomas Wellock traces the birth of the anti-nuclear movement to the controversy over Bodega Bay.[1]

Attempts to build a nuclear power plant in Malibu were similar to those at Bodega Bay and were also abandoned.[1][3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Paula Garb. Critical Masses: Opposition to Nuclear Power in California, 1958-1978 (book review) Journal of Political Ecology, Vol 6, 1999.
  2. ^ Thomas Raymond Wellock (1998). Critical Masses: Opposition to Nuclear Power in California, 1958-1978, The University of Wisconsin Press, pp. 27-28.
  3. ^ a b c Wolfgang Rudig (1990). Anti-nuclear Movements: A World Survey of Opposition to Nuclear Energy, Longman, pp. 110-111.
  4. ^ Jim Falk (1982). Global Fission: The Battle Over Nuclear Power, Oxford University Press, p. 94.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 38°18′19″N 123°03′32″W / 38.30519°N 123.05881°W / 38.30519; -123.05881