Here is a statement from Damon Moglen, director of Friends of the Earth’s energy and climate campaign, on today’s decision by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission on FOE’s petition regarding the San Onofre Nuclear Power Plant:
In today’s decision, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has directed its Atomic Safety and Licensing Board (ASLB) and staff to consider the issues raised by Friends of the Earth in its petition filed June 18, 2012.
Specifically, the Commission:
- Referred to the ASLB whether the current CAL process is a de facto license amendment process, requiring an adjudicatory public hearing;
- Referred to the Commission staff whether Edison should have sought a license amendment, with attendant adjudicatory hearings, when it installed the defective steam generators in 2010-11;
- Offered to reconsider convening an adjudicatory hearing if the ASLB denies FoE’s request;
- Offered to reconsider staying the restart of the idled reactors if restart becomes imminent before the completion of the processes ordered above.
- In addition, the Commission states that NRC staff is “…already evaluating whether these SCE actions required a license amendment.”
However, we believe that the Commission could, and should, have made a decision on its own to convene an adjudicatory hearing now about Edison’s plans to restart San Onofre. A hearing would provide assurance to the 8.4 million people of Southern California who live within 50 miles of the crippled plant that it will not be reopened unless it is entirely safe. Further administrative process unnecessarily leaves the public in limbo.
In any case, the details of this case are crystal clear: Edison made dramatic and irresponsible design changes to the new steam generators which it chose to represent to the NRC as a “like for like” exchange for the original steam generators. Accordingly, Edison never got a license amendment for this drastically altered design nor does it have a license amendment under which it would operate this defective equipment at partial power, as it has proposed to do in the controversial and reckless restart plan. Edison’s design errors have lead to the multi-hundred million dollar failure of brand new equipment which has in turn endangered the lives and livelihoods of millions of people in Southern California.
Our local citizens groups are in total agreement with Friends of the Earth’s position. And Edison’s current proposal to restart the defective Unit 2 nuclear reactor makes it even clearer why we need an open, transparent hearing with independent nuclear experts.
Under the current process, independent nuclear experts, such as David Lochbaum (Union of Concerned Scientists) and Arnie Gundersen (Fairewinds Associates) cannot fully participate in the process. See David Lochbaum’s 10/12/2012 Letter to the NRC regarding concerns with Edison’s inadequate restart proposal. As of the date of this post, he has not received a detailed response to his letter. See also steam generator reports by Arnie Gundersen and others on the Handouts section of this website.