Monday, April 1, 2013

SAN ONOFRE: Edison’s restart request reduces safety to a footnote

Friends of the Earth briefing Tuesday on utility’s plan to circumvent full license review and public hearing

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Southern California Edison’s draft request for a license amendment for one of the crippled reactors at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station would  ignore major safety issues and circumvent a public hearing process, warned Friends of the Earth today.

Edison released a draft of a license amendment request that they will discuss on Wednesday with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The document makes clear they consider their experimental scheme to restart reactor Unit 2 and run it at 70 percent power as only a minor administrative issue that can be handled with a footnote to their current operating license. If the NRC grants Edison its request, hearings could be held after the reactor is restarted.

Friends of the Earth will hold a telephone briefing Tuesday with John Large, a London-based expert on nuclear reactors, who will provide a detailed analysis of Edison’s request. The briefing will be at 10 a.m. Pacific time Tuesday. The call-in number is (661) 673-8600 and the access code is 231985#

Friends of the Earth said operating any nuclear reactor at reduced power impacts the safety of the entire reactor, so all related safety issues must be considered in a review of the operating license. In addition to ignoring these major safety issues, Edison is seeking to fast track the licensing process and block public oversight and participation by submitting a request to the NRC for a finding of no significant hazard.

“The NRC must stand firm and demand a comprehensive license amendment process that includes all safety issues, and the opportunity for full public hearing,” said Kendra Ulrich, nuclear campaigner for Friends of the Earth. “It must also reject Edison's demand for a no hazard finding. This is not a footnote in a license as Edison claims but a severely damaged reactor that is unsafe to operate.”

In Tuesday’s briefing, in addition to analysis on the licensing process Edison is planning to submit, John Large will detail how Edison was involved in the design of the flawed replacement steam generators from the very beginning of the process. He will discuss the clear evidence of Edison's prior knowledge of significant design failures with the steam generators at least as early as 2005, and how its failure to correct these problems led to unprecedented rapid tube wear.

Also today, public interest groups from across the country urged Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) to block Edison’s scheme. The letter (inserted below) asks Sen. Boxer, chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, and Rep. Waxman, ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, to exercise their authority to require that Edison undergo the rigors of a thorough license amendment and public adjudicatory hearing on all the San Onofre safety issues before a decision is made on restarting the reactors, and to deny any request from Edison for a No Significant Hazards consideration. A coalition of grassroots organizations also sent a similar letter today to Sen. Boxer and Rep. Waxman echoing these requests.

“The fact that Edison is, yet again, attempting to sidestep federal regulation and deny the public a meaningful hearing in the interest of expediency and its bottom line is wholly unacceptable,” says the letter, whose signatories include Terry Tamminen, former secretary of the California EPA, now president of Seventh Generation Advisors, the Sierra Club, Public Citizen and Physicians for Social Responsibility.

The letter further asks Sen. Boxer and Rep. Waxman to make sure that any discussion of Edison’s scheme be held in Southern California, where 8.7 million people live within 50 miles of the reactors. Wednesday’s meeting will be at NRC headquarters in Rockville, Md.
Contact:Kendra Ulrich, (202) 222-0715
Bill Walker, (510) 759-9911
SAN ONOFRE: Edison’s restart request reduces safety to a footnote

April 1, 2013

The Honorable Barbara Boxer Chairman Committee on Environment and Public Works United States Senate Washington, D.C. 20510

The Honorable Henry Waxman Ranking Member Committee on Energy and Commerce United States House of Representatives 2322 Rayburn House Office Building Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Chairman Boxer and Ranking Member Waxman:

We thank both of you for helping to ensure rigorous oversight of the San Onofre nuclear reactors. We were encouraged that Ranking Member Waxman openly questioned the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Chairman as to whether Edison’s proposed experimental restart of the crippled San Onofre nuclear reactor required a license amendment. Chairman Boxer has also shown exemplary leadership by not only calling attention to a Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) report that reveals new information about the design and fabrication of Edison’s now crippled San Onofre replacement steam generators and about the possibility that Edison was trying to avoid a license amendment before the faulty equipment was installed, but also requested that no decision on the restart plan be made until all investigations are completed.

We were encouraged to hear that Southern California Edison (Edison) may finally request a license amendment regarding its restart plan for San Onofre’s Unit 2. However, the utility also stated in its press release that it “ will submit a ‘No Significant Hazards Consideration’ analysis demonstrating that the license amendment does not involve any significant safety risks.” A No Significant Hazards Consideration (NSHC) would effectively strip the public of their right to full independent critical safety review and public hearing rights. It is a regulatory loophole that would make any public hearing take place after an unassailable license amendment decision is made, rendering public input meaningless. This is unacceptable.

Furthermore, the NRC has announced that a meeting to discuss Edison’s license amendment request is scheduled to take place April 3 in Rockville, MD. The appropriate place for such a meeting is in Southern California, where it would be accessible to those citizens whose lives will be most impacted by the matters discussed.

We hope and trust you will continue to exercise your strong leadership and regulatory oversight capacity by urging the NRC to require that Edison undergo the rigors of a thorough license amendment and public adjudicatory hearing on all the San Onofre safety issues before a decision is made on restarting the reactors, and to deny any request from SCE for a NSHC. Any discussion about an NSHC request ought to take place in the impacted region, namely Southern California. Restarting the crippled San Onofre reactor poses potentially enormous risks for the lives and livelihoods of the 8.7 million people living nearby. It is therefore imperative that any decisionsabout restarting the crippled reactors are made with maximum deliberation and meaningful opportunity for input from the public.


Terry Tamminen former Secretary of CalEPA President of Seventh Generation Advisors

Erich Pica President Friends of the Earth

Michelle Kinman Clean Energy Advocate Environment California Research & Policy Center

Kevin Kamps Radioactive Waste Watchdog Beyond Nuclear

Michael Mariotte Executive Director Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS)

David A. Kraft Director Nuclear Energy Information Service (NEIS)

Denise Duffield Associate Director Physicians for Social Responsibility-Los Angeles

Daniel O. Hirsch President Committee to Bridge the Gap

Glenn Pascall Chair San Onofre Task Force, Sierra Club Angeles Chapter

Glenn Carroll Allison Fisher

Coordinator Outreach Director for Energy Program

Nuclear Watch South Public Citizen

Susan Corbett Chair Sierra Club Nuclear Free Campaign

Jerry B. Brown, Ph.D. Director, Safe Energy Project World Business Academy

Deb Katz

Executive Director

Citizens Awareness Network

Leslie Sullivan Sachs Project Manager Safe and Green Campaign

Greg McMillan Chair Sierra Club Santa Lucia Chapter

Harvey Wasserman Editor

Court Dorsey Spokes Council Representative SAGE Alliance

Linda Seeley Member of the Board of Directors San Luis Obispo Mothers For Peace

Chris Williams Vermont State Organizer Vermont Citizens Action Network

Tim Judson President Central New York Citizens Awareness Network

Bobbie Paul Executive Director Georgia Women's Action for New Directions

Debra Stoleroff Organizer Vermont Yankee Decommissioning Alliance

Tom Wyatt Coordinator Clamshell Alliance

Cc: Allison Macfarlane, NRC Chairman Arthur Howell, NRC Region IV Regional Administrator William Borchardt, NRC Executive Director for Operations Eric Leeds , Director, NRC Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation (NRR) Daniel Dorman, NRR Deputy Director for Engineering and Corporate Support Jim Anderson, Chief, NRR Electrical Engineering Branch

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