We’ll begin with a Tuesday RT report on the plant:
The program notes:
Nuclear energy is responsible for powering nearly 20 percent of the US, and in Southern California the San Onofre nuclear power plant has created much debate in the surrounding community. The station has been closed for about a year due to a leak that was detected in the steam generator tubes, but despite the wishes of the people living the area to keep the plant closed, the utility company is pushing to bring the reactor back online. Arnie Gundersen, chief engineer for Fairewinds Energy Education, analyzes the situation.
Plant with a history
We’ve been interested in Southern California’s San Onofre nuclear power station since first arrived in California back in 1967.
We worked as a reporter and then as city editor for the late Oceanside Blade-Tribune, and the plant was a few miles to the north, a sight we passed often on trips to Los Angeles and Orange County. The plant’s second domed containment structure was rising at the time, and we occasionally mused about the potential impacts of an earthquake and/or tsunami [since the plant is right on the shoreline].
The 2011 earthquake-spawned Fukushima disaster increased our concerns, since we had family living a few miles from the reactor site.
Then came word last year that new steam pipes designed to last 40 years were failing after 22 months, forcing a shutdown of one of the plant’s two reactor units.
And the latest, stunning twist
Now comes word that plant owners Southern California Edison knew of the potential problems before the system was installed, but opted to go ahead anyway.
Abby Sewell of the Los Angeles Times reports:
[Sen. Barbara] Boxer’s office cited a leaked report from Mitsubishi Heavy Industries — the manufacturer of the steam generators — obtained by her office. It is the first indication from government officials that Edison and Mitsubishi knew the now-shuttered system had problems before it was installed.
Boxer and U.S. Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) wrote to Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairwoman Allison Macfarlane on Wednesday and said the Mitsubishi report “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.”
Read the rest.
More from the letter via Don Bauder of the San Diego Reader:
“This newly-obtained information concerns us greatly, and we urge the NRC to immediately conduct a thorough investigation” into whether SCE and Mitsubishi failed to make necessary safety enhancements, say the legislator. States the letter, “All people in our nation, including the 8.7 million people who live within 50 miles of the San Onofre plant, must have confidence in the NRC’s commitment to put safety before any other concern.”
Michael R. Blood of the Associated Press reports on corporate and government responses to the letter:
In a statement, the NRC said it received the letter and “will review all available information in making a judgment as to whether the plant would meet our safety standards if restart were permitted.”
Edison said in a statement the company “takes very seriously all allegations raised by the letter” and would comply with all requests for information and documents.
“SCE is strongly committed to the transparent review of its operations at San Onofre and the safety of the public and its employees,” the company said.
Mitsubishi spokesman Patrick Boyle did not immediately respond to an email and phone message seeking comment.
Read the rest.