San Onofre restart issue growing more contentious and convoluted

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Southern California Edison installed replacement steam generators (RSG) at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS), located a mere 62 miles southeast of Los Angeles, both of which were fabricated by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) in Japan at a $670 million price tag.
Southern California Edison installed replacement steam generators (RSG) at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS), located a mere 62 miles southeast of Los Angeles, both of which were fabricated by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) in Japan at a $670 million price tag.

This week U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer and U.S. Rep. Edward J. Markey wrote to Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairwoman Allison Macfarlane and alleged that a report by Mitsubishi indicates that Southern California Edison (SCE) and MHI were aware of serious problems with the design of San Onofre nuclear power plant’s replacement steam generators before they were installed” and “rejected enhanced safety modifications and avoided triggering a more rigorous license amendment and safety review process.”

In response, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission announced that on September 28th, 2012, they had launched an “expansive investigation of the completeness and accuracy of information that Southern California Edison provided to the NRC regarding the steam generators.” Neither Mitsubishi nor Edison representatives would immediately comment on the issue, and the report itself still has not been made public.

Thursday, at a board meeting of the California Independent System Operator, California’s main grid operator acknowledged that it was unlikely that either San Onofre reactor would provide any power during the hot summer months.

Also on Thursday, Hitoshi Kaguchi, a nuclear projects director at Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, gave testimony to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission how alterations to anti-vibration tube supports had led to the destructive tube-to-tube wear so bad it had never seen before in the industry before.  At the meeting, Commission Chairman MacFarlane said the reason they were prevented from conducting a more effective probe into the San Onofre issue was the current challenges made by Friends of the Earth, which even if taken into consideration in arguendo does not make the issue any more clear.

Maybe even more harmful to any proposed restart plans, is a new initiative sponsored by Ben Davis Jr., that was cleared by California Secretary of State Debra Bowen this week, which would shut down both of California’s nuclear power plants until the federal government comes to a new waste confidence decision.

The initiative (pdf) now moves to the signature collection phase. It needs 504,760 signatures to qualify for the 2014 ballot.

Source: LA Times

Source: Bloomberg

Source: UT San Diego

Source: Forbes

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