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San Onofre report confirms serious safety issues

Posted Jul. 19, 2012 / Posted by: Becca Connors

Questions remain on Edison’s compliance with NRC Rules

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s report on the crippled San Onofre nuclear plant confirms that both of the plant’s reactors have suffered serious and widespread damage to their steam generators and remain too dangerous to consider restarting, Friends of the Earth said. The group also said that contrary to the NRC’s assertion, the report does not clear plant operator Southern California Edison of violating federal rules by significantly altering the design of the generators.

Here is a statement from Damon Moglen, climate and energy campaign director at Friends of the Earth:

"The NRC report affirms that Edison made 'major design changes' (p. 36) that have led to 'the loss of steam generator tube integrity [which] is a serious safety issue that must be resolved prior to further power operations.' (Executive Summary) It further affirms that the faulty steam generators in Unit 2 and Unit 3 were constructed according to the same faulty design and exhibit the same kind of tube wear and pose the same kinds of risks.

"The NRC is completely clear that these reactors can not be restarted unless the 'Licensee has developed a plan to prevent further steam generator tube degradation and the NRC independently verifies that it can be operated safely.' (NRC press release)

"At the same time, this staff report appears to be an effort to validate the NRC’s prior failure to require that Edison file for a license amendment and a full, public adjudicatory process. An insight to staff thinking is the statement that '10CFR5059 does not require the licensee to presume deficiencies in the design or fabrication.' (p. 36)  

"The bottom line is that the NRC was asleep at the wheel then and now we’ve left it up to the same people to justify their mistake."

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