Senator Barbara Boxer has expressed her desire for the Justice Department to investigate executives at Southern California Edison, the utility which operates the San Onofre Nuclear Power Plant, to determine whether or not they deceived federal regulators during the steam generator replacement process. Boxer received a internal letter written by a senior executive at the utility to Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in 2004 which lead her to believe that Edison intentionally mislead the public and regulators in order to avoid a more costly review process.
The letter, dated November 30th, 2004, from SCE Vice President Dwight E. Nunn stated, “although the old and new steam generators will be similar in many respects they aren’t like-for-like replacements.” Nunn also acknowledged in the letter that designing supports for the tubes would be tricky since larger generators appear more susceptible to tube wear, and added that he was “concerned that there is the potential that design flaws could be inadvertently introduced into the steam generator design that will lead to unacceptable consequences,” including tube damage. “This would be a disastrous outcome for both of us,” he is quoted.
Boxer said the letter shows “Edison knew they were not proceeding with a simple ‘like-for-like’ replacement as they later claimed.”