Feds Investigating San Onofre Nuke

Monday, February 25, 2013 @ 02:02 PM gHale

An “expansive investigation of the completeness and accuracy of information that Southern California Edison provided to the NRC regarding the steam generators” at San Onofre is ongoing, federal regulators said.

Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Chairwoman Allison Macfarlane gave that statement in a letter sent to two federal lawmakers.

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Macfarlane’s comment was the first public comment the NRC has been investigating the issue. The investigation has been under way since September 28 and “includes examination of the [Mitsubishi Heavy Industries’ (MHI) root-cause analysis] report along with other evidence,” Macfarlane told Senator Barbara Boxer of California and Representative Ed Markey of Massachusetts, both Democrats.

No information was available on what prompted the probe. “Given the ongoing investigation, the letter represents everything the agency has to say at this point,” said NRC spokesman Scott Burnell.

Boxer and Markey asked Macfarlane to investigate information in MHI’s root-cause analysis report on the steam generator tube problems that shut San Onofre-2 and -3 in January 2012. MHI manufactured the replacement steam generators for the twin reactors.

The lawmakers had said the report indicates SCE and MHI were aware of “serious problems” with the replacement steam generators before they installed in units 2 and 3 in 2010 and 2011, but did not do some safety modifications because they believed that might jeopardize their ability to justify the replacement steam generator design.

SCE denied that claim, saying it would never install steam generators that it did not believe would operate safely.

Boxer called the investigation “a critical factor in determining whether it is safe to restart” the San Onofre reactors. SCE needs NRC approval to restart either San Onofre unit.

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