Environment & Science

Enviro group wants more information on San Onofre nuke plant

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Friends of the Earth Tuesday filed a Freedom of Information Act request for all communications between the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and Southern California Edison about the faulty replacement steam generator at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station. 

Friends of the Earth said it expects the records of communications will show Edison officials misled government regulators about significant changes to the design of the replacement generators.
The group said what Edison told the NRC about the design of the generators is the key question in assessing problems with the tubes.

The San Onofre nuclear plant, which straddles the seaside border of Orange and San Diego counties, has been offline since January, when radioactive steam leaked from one of the tubes.

Edison expects the plant to remain shut down through August. But California energy officials recently said San Onofre could be offline for an extended period beyond the summer. The NRC and Edison have said there is no timetable for restarting the damaged nuclear plant.

According to Friends of the Earth and Damon Moglen, under NRC rules, the new steam generators installed in 2009 and 2010 should have been essentially identical to the worn-out generators they replaced

But reports commissioned by Friends of the Earth said Edison made major design changes to the new generators.

"The NRC is trying to whitewash not only Edison’s intentional misrepresentation of the replacement steam generators but also the agency’s own failure to catch the deception,” said Damon Moglen, climate and energy campaign director for Friends of the Earth. “The records we’re demanding that the NRC release will reveal just what Edison said about the generators and how the agency responded.”

The NRC has previously said Edison complied with all federal requirements in making modifications to the steam generators at San Onofre. Edison and the NRC have refuted previous claims by Friends of the Earth that design changes made by Edison were different than what the utility filed with the federal regulator.
Moglen said the Freedom of Information Act request seeks the release of all e-mails, letters, notes from meetings and phone calls and other documents about the San Onofre replacement generators dating from November 1, 2001 to the present. It covers communications between the NRC and Edison and between the NRC and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, which manufactured the generators to Edison’s design specifications.

This story has been updated.