Clouds spew from a cooling tower at PECO's nuclear generating station in LImerick, PA. (AP Photo/Geore Widman)

We win: Southern California Edison announced Friday it will shut down the troubled San Onofre nuclear power plant south of Los Angeles. Permanently.

The plant, which has been the target of anti-nuclear protests for decades, has been closed for seventeen months because of radioactivity leaking from the steam generators. But until now, Edison had defied critics and pledged to restart the plant.

Dan Hirsch of Committee to Bridge the Gap, who has been fighting San Onofre since before opened in the late 1970s, said, “An atomic dragon has been slain. Millions of people in Southern California are now safer.”

The decision to shut the plant came three days after former NRC head Gregory Jaczko said he had doubts about Edison’s recent announcement that it intended to restart the plant at 70 percent power for five months.“The approach does not instill a lot of confidence in me,” he said June 4 in San Diego. “It’s a fairly novel idea to allow a plant to operate at a reduced power level because of a safety issue.”

Leading the fight to shut down San Onofre have been locals Gary Headrick of San Clemente Green, Gene Stone of Residents Organized for a Safe Environment and Donna Gilmore of San Onofre Safety, along with Dan Hirsch of the Committee to Bridge the Gap. They’ve gotten help from Arnie Gundersen and Friends of the Earth and of course from Helen Caldicott. Activists held rallies, spoke at official meetings and petitioned the NRC and Congress. They pointed out that San Onofre has the worst safety complaint record of all US nuclear reactors according to Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) safety allegation data.