Tuesday, May 28, 2013
Sen. Boxer suggests Edison 'misled' public on San Onofre plant - latimes.com
A letter sent by a Southern California Edison executive in 2004 shows the company was concerned about the possibility of design flaws in replacement steam generators manufactured by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries that could lead to the type of "disastrous" equipment problems that ultimately led to the San Onofre nuclear plant's yearlong shutdown.
The letter was released by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), who argued that the letter shows that Edison may have misled federal regulators about the extent of design changes in the new steam generators.
Boxer called for the U.S. Justice Department to investigate whether there was wrongdoing by Edison. TheU.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission's office of investigations is already probing whether Edison gave the agency complete and accurate information about the steam generators, and the NRC's office of inspector general is also investigating.
The nuclear facility was shut down more than a year ago after a steam generator tube sprung a leak and released a small amount of radioactive steam.
Boxer pointed to a section in the letter that says, "although the old and new steam generators will be similar in many respects, they aren't like-for-like replacements."
There has been an ongoing dispute between Edison and opponents of the nuclear facility about the extent of the design changes between the new and old steam generators. Environmental group Friends of the Earth has asserted that many of the design changes should have prompted a license amendment, which would potentially involve a lengthy public hearing process, and that Edison deliberately sidestepped that process.
“This correspondence leads me to believe that Edison intentionally misled the public and regulators in order to avoid a full safety review and public hearing in connection with its redesign of the plant," Boxer said in a statement.
"... Given this new information, it is clear to me that in order for this nuclear plant to even be considered for a restart in the future all investigations must be completed and a full license amendment and public hearing process must be required..."