Nuclear reactors were still in the "prototype stage" when the Atomic Energy Commission opened the doors for public utilities to operate nuclear power plants.
The LADWP (builder of the St. Francis Dam) and the city of Pasadena applied for a permit and initiated eminent-domain proceedings against The Newhall
Land and Farming Co. to build two reactors on the farming company's land at the mouth of San Francisquito Canyon, just west of the point where San Francisquito
Canyon Road diverged from Seco (aka Dry) Canyon Road. Why there? Because it was so remote and arid, an AEC spokesman said.
Today the area is roughly the intersection of San Francisquito and Copper Hill Drive — where Newhall Land
ultimately developed a residential community.
Click to enlarge.
New Light Thrown on Atom Plant in Francisquito.
The Newhall Signal and Saugus Enterprise | Thursday, May 5, 1960.
A little clarification has come forth regarding the announcement by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and the City of Pasadena, that application had been made with the Atomic Energy Commission to build a nuclear-powered electrical generating plant five miles north of Saugus on land belonging to the Newhall Ranch.
Inquiry by The Signal revealed the site to be more nearly half that distance and would be situated near the mouth of San Francisquito canyon, a little west of a point where the San Francisquito Canyon road leaves Dry canyon and enters San Francisquito canyon.
A spokesman for the Department informed The Signal that such sites are selected in conformity with requirements laid down by the AEC. The Saugus site was selected as conforming to those requirements, particularly in regard to isolation and meteorological conditions.
According to a story first appearing in last Saturday's L.A. Times, the joint application was made after an announcement last December by John A. McCone, AEC chairman, that publicly-owned utilities were invited to bid on nuclear plant permits. Under the arrangement the AEC would build and retain title to the reactor and the generating facilities would be built and financed by the two cities. Total cost would be about $20 million. A decision on the bid for the Saugus site may be made in July. It is a possibility the Los Angeles-Pasadena offer may be outbid by some other utility and the project would then not materialize. However, according to the Department spokesman, there is much optimism in both the utility organizations that the application would be granted.
Another interesting feature came to light this week. According to the Saturday announcement, condemnation proceedings had been started in Superior Court to gain title to the 1,170 acres of land. At the same time the Newhall Ranch, which now owns the land and against whom the proceedings were filed, expressed as much surprise at the announcement as did the rest of the community.
The power plant, if approved, will be built to generate 50,000 kilowatts of electricity but with a potential of 1,000,000 kilowatts. The reactors will be what is generally described as the "boiling water" type, which has proved commercially feasible. Although very little information is available on reactors in general, this type of action where the steam created to drive the turbines is derived from water which is circulated in contact with another circuit of water superheated by the reactor itself. The operation is absolutely safe, according to the Department of Water & Power. There are five or six now in operation over the country including the Santa Susana pilot plant operated by the Edison Company.
All nuclear generating plants are now more or less in the prototype stage, while utility men learn more about them and their idiosyncrasies. But as fuel costs go up in conventional steam generating plants, and as sites for hydroelectric development are exhausted, the atom will generate electricity just as surely as diesel supplanted steam on the railroads.