Climate & Energy Blog

San Onofre: Edison admits need for license amendment, but wants to circumvent safety questions

Posted Mar. 22, 2013 / Posted by: Lisa Matthes

Friends of the Earth: Full public participation essential

Washington, D.C. -- After more than a year of denial, Southern California Edison is ready to concede that a license amendment is needed before restarting one of the crippled reactors at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station. But Friends of the Earth said the utility’s request to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission would actually be an attempt to get around a rigorous license amendment proceeding with full examination of critical safety issues and public participation. 

Edison’s announcement was made this morning at the opening of oral arguments before the Atomic Safety Licensing Board in a case brought by Friends of the Earth, which argues that Edison’s restart plan requires significant changes to their operating license. Edison said  it may request a license amendment early next month, but with a catch: a “No Significant Hazards Consideration” analysis claiming that restart would not involve any significant safety risks. If the NRC grants the request under those conditions, the public would yet again be denied their lawful right to full and meaningful participation in the process.

“Edison has finally admitted they are wrong. They claimed for months that they did not need an amended license for their experimental restart plan. Now these claims have been shown to be as unreliable as their reactors,” said Kendra Ulrich, nuclear campaigner with Friends of the Earth.

“But the devil is in the details,” Ulrich continued. “The key issue will be whether they’re willing to address the multiple unresolved safety issues with San Onofre’s steam generators. In the past, Edison has requested minor amendments as a PR ploy to claim they’re complying with the process. It looks like they’re trying the same trick again.”

Edison's planned request comes despite major ongoing safety reviews of San Onofre. The NRC has yet to conclude an extensive investigation into the crisis at the plant, including detailed technical assessments as to whether it’s safe to operate the reactor for five months at reduced power.

“It is inconceivable that the NRC would grant a finding of no significant hazard in this case,” said Damon Moglen, climate and energy director for Friends of the Earth. “It is obvious to everyone that Edison could not get a new license to run these damaged steam generators and that the damage caused has already lead to the release of radiation in the past. Once again, it appears that Edison is more focused on making profits than it is in assuring the safety of millions of Southern Californians living near these reactors.”

Contact:

Kendra Ulrich, 216-571-7340

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