NRC chair visits San Onofre alongside Calif. lawmakers

U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Chairman Greg Jaczko recently toured Southern California Edison’s (SCE) idle San Onofre nuclear plant in San Diego County, Calif., and assured California lawmakers that NRC would not allow the station to reopen until NRC is satisfied that tube problems are fixed and the plant is safe.

“It was important for NRC Chairman Jaczko to come to San Onofre today for a firsthand look at the situation,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said in an April 9 statement. NRC Chairman Jaczko toured the plant along with Feinstein and Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif.

The 2,200-MW plant, which is majority-owned and operated by the Edison International (NYSE: EIX) subsidiary, has been idle since January because of tube problems. What the company describes as a small amount of radiation was released in January. The California ISO has indicated that it might be forced to use some fossil fuel units this summer that were scheduled to be shut down if the outage lingers.

Meanwhile, the Friends of the Earth and other nuclear critics launched a new 30-second television spot targeting the problems at the plant and suggesting that it should remain closed. The Friends of the Earth spot is a 30-second television commercial which says that eight million Californians live near the plant.

“We deserve answers, and we better get them before they even think about turning these reactors back on,” Gary Headrick with San Clemente Green said in a statement issued by FOE. “If the Nuclear Regulatory Commission wants any credibility in this town, they need to know they can’t sweep shoddy equipment and radiation leaks under the rug.”

Meanwhile, Feinstein said she will ensure that the San Onofre review process remains transparent. “Chairman Jaczko and Edison CEO Ted Craver assured me that they will not allow the generators in units 2 and 3 to restart until they are both certain it is absolutely safe. I will hold them to that commitment,” Feinstein said.

About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at wayneb@pennwell.com.