Chief of Nuclear Regulatory Commission investigating San Onofre Nuclear Station information provided by SCE

SAN DIEGO – The chief of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said today that it is investigating whether information provided by Southern California Edison on the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station has been complete and accurate.

NRC Chairwoman Allison MacFarlane made the comment in a response to a letter from Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass. sent Wednesday.

The elected officials alleged that a document provides ”alarming” evidence that the utility and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries knew that steam generators installed at the plant in northern San Diego County in 2009 and 2010 were problematic.

They said the manufacturer, MHI, authored the cited document.

A steam pressure tube in one of the reactors sprang a small leak a little more than a year ago, forcing the unit to be shut down. The other reactor wasn’t operating at the time due to scheduled maintenance.

Neither has been restarted.

”On September 28, 2012, the NRC’s Office of Investigations initiated an expansive investigation of the completeness and accuracy of information that Southern California Edison provided to the NRC regarding the steam generators at SONGS,” MacFarlane wrote. ”This NRC investigation is ongoing, and includes examination of the MHI report along with other evidence.”

She said the agency is using a variety of regulatory actions, including inspections and investigations, to address the plant’s issues. A study of the MHI document is being evaluated as part of a review of SCE’s replacement of the steam generators.

Opponents of a plan to restart the reactor that had been undergoing maintenance at the time of the leak contend the utility should have had to go through a rigorous license amendment process before the new steam generators were installed, because they were of a different design.

Boxer reacted to MacFarlane’s response by saying the investigations were a ”critical factor” in determining whether it was safe to restart the reactors. An NRC decision on a restart is scheduled for late April or early May.

SCE said Wednesday that it is taking the allegations in the Boxer-Markey letter seriously.

”SCE is fully cooperating with the NRC review process and is complying with all requests for information and documents related to the company’s San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station,” the utility said in a statement. ”The plant has provided voluminous records, data, information and other accurate reports as requested in the months since the plant was safely shut down.”

One Response to "Chief of Nuclear Regulatory Commission investigating San Onofre Nuclear Station information provided by SCE"

  1. Bill Hawkins   March 2, 2013 at 5:28 pm

    SCE presentation to NRC was very disappointing. Here is what the Los Angeles Times reported…

    Southern California Edison may be at odds with federal regulators over what it means to run the San Onofre nuclear plant at full power. Edison officials met with U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission staffers Wednesday to discuss the agency’s technical questions on a proposal by Edison to restart one reactor at the shuttered plant and run it at 70% power for five months before taking it back offline for more inspections. The company argued that running the reactor at reduced power will alleviate the conditions that led to unusual wear on steam generator tubes carrying radioactive water. The plant has been out of service for more than a year after one of the tubes in the plant’s Unit 3 leaked a small amount of radioactive steam. The NRC has asked Edison to show that Unit 2 — the unit proposed for restart and which showed less tube damage — could be run at the full power level allowed under its license without danger of tube rupture. Activists have contended that if Edison fails to prove there is no risk then it should be required to apply for a license amendment to run at 70% power. In a response submitted Monday, Edison argued that 70% power is, in fact, "normal steady state full power." The company said that the "clear purpose" of the technical specification governing tube integrity is "to ensure that the


Leave a Reply