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San Onofre: Secret report confirms Edison knew of major problems

Posted Mar. 8, 2013 / Posted by: Lisa Matthes

Friends of the Earth: ‘Bombshell’ for plans to restart crippled reactor

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- A secret Mitsubishi Heavy Industries report released today confirms that Southern California Edison knew about serious problems in the radically redesigned replacement steam generators for the San Onofre nuclear reactors years before the defective equipment was installed, yet failed to make changes to fix the problems. The report was released today by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission after Senator Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Representative Edward Markey (D-Mass.) revealed its existence and demanded it be made public.

The report documents that Edison knew of specific safety concerns with the replacement steam generator design as early as 2005, and failed to incorporate changes proposed to fix it because they would trigger a more lengthy and public review by the NRC. It fatally undermines Edison’s case for restarting one of the plant’s crippled reactors and for receiving any compensation from the California Public Utility Commission.

“This is a bombshell,” said Damon Moglen, energy and climate director for Friends of the Earth. “Edison clearly knew about design problems with the San Onofre replacement steam generators yet failed to take corrective action. Instead Edison gambled with the safety of millions of Southern Californians. It is inconceivable that the NRC would now give approval to restart these damaged reactors without the thorough, public review of a license amendment proceeding.”

David Freeman, former head of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and a senior advisor to Friends of the Earth, said the Mitsubishi report could prove pivotal with the California Public Utility Commission, which is considering whether Edison can pass on to its customers the $671 million cost of the faulty generators, plus the cost of repairs and replacement power during the plant’s shutdown, now in its 14th month. Said Freeman: “It’s clear that ratepayers in Southern California can not be expected to pay for Edison’s defective equipment if Edison acted imprudently. At nuclear reactors, prioritizing construction speed over safety is the height of imprudence.”

Since Sen. Boxer and Rep. Markey revealed the existence of the report, Friends of the Earth has demanded that the NRC Petition Review Board consider it in proceedings currently underway. The Petition Review Board, in response to a petition from Friends of the Earth, is determining whether Edison improperly failed to apply for a license amendment before installing replacement steam generators of a radically different design than was permitted under the reactors’ operating license.

Nuclear engineers Arnie Gunderson of Burlington, Vt., and John Large of London, consultants to Friends of the Earth, are reviewing the Mitsubishi report and will provide expert analysis.

Click here for the MHI document.

Click here for the Friends of the Earth Petitions case.

CONTACT

Bill Walker: (510) 759-9911

Damon Moglen: (202) 352-4223

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