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San Onofre problems prompt possibility of policy change

The San Onofre Nuclear Power Plant is seen on April 6, 2012.
The San Onofre Nuclear Power Plant is seen on April 6, 2012.
Grant Slater/KPCC

A rule allowing nuclear plant operators to replace certain equipment without prior approval from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is being reconsidered.

Speaking in North Carolina on Wednesday, NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko said the tubing trouble at San Onofre suggests the rules under which the generators were installed may need to be modified, the Associated Press reported.

The twin reactors, offline for months, will need federal approval to restart.  Plant operator Southern California Edison hoped to reopen in time for summer's peak energy use, however no projected timeline has been released.

Earlier this week, NRC Chairman Jaczko announced he will be stepping down from his post.

After nearly eight years on the Commission, I am announcing my resignation as Chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, effective upon the confirmation of my successor. My responsibility and commitment to safety will continue to be my paramount priority after I leave the Commission and until my successor is confirmed. 

The chairman was "championed by watchdogs for his cautious approach to nuclear power" and "criticized by Republicans in Congress for an overly hard-charging style," says the L.A. Times

Gregory Jaczko, who led the commission’s efforts to protect Americans in Japan during the nuclear crisis at Fukushima and played a key role in fighting the nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain as a former top aide to Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.), the majority leader, came under scrutiny for what critics called an overbearing management approach at the agency.



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