Senator Boxer calls on NRC and Southern California Edison to provide information related to plant safety

Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, sent a letter to the Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), Dr. Gregory Jaczko, and to Southern California Edison (SCE) requesting information regarding the replacement of steam generators at the San Onofre nuclear plant.

Concerns have been raised that design changes contributed to accelerated wear in tubes carrying radioactive water at the facility, which is located in San Clemente, California.

Text of the two letters is below:

May 15, 2012

The Honorable Gregory Jaczko

Chairman

U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission

Washington, DC 20555-0001

Dear Chairman Jaczko:

On February 8, 2012, I wrote to ask the Nuclear Regulation Commission (NRC) to review the safety of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station after problems were discovered with the facility’s redesigned steam generators. You committed to conducting a thorough review before deciding whether to approve the restart of the reactors.

Since my letter to you, the media and others have raised concerns that design changes in the San Onofre replacement steam generators contributed to accelerated wear in tubes carrying radioactive water. Recent media reports quote a Southern California Edison (SCE) executive as saying, “We are thinking that this is probably a design defect.”

Among other requirements, NRC rules state that a nuclear power plant operator must obtain a license amendment for any change that would result in more than a “minimal increase in the likelihood” of a malfunction of a structure, system, or component important to safety. SCE determined that such an amendment was not necessary for its redesigned steam generators.

Please provide me with a written summary that describes NRC’s plans for establishing whether SCE’s replacement of the steam generators required a license amendment, as well as any documents related to NRC’s review of the design change. In addition, provide me with all documents in the NRC’s possession or control related to SCE’s determination that a license amendment was not necessary. Please deliver these documents to my Committee office by May 21, 2012. I also have requested from SCE all documents related to their determination. Contact Terrance Horner or Grant Cope (202/224-8832) with any questions.

Sincerely,

Barbara Boxer

Chairman

***

May 15, 2012

Theodore F. Craver Jr.

Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer

Edison International

555 12th Street, NW

Washington, DC 20004

Dear Mr. Craver:

I write to request that Edison International provide me with documents related to the San Onofre nuclear power plant’s redesigned steam generators. On January 31, 2012, the facility shut down a reactor because radioactive water leaked from tubes in one of the redesigned steam generators. Concerns have been raised that design changes in the steam generators contributed to accelerated wear in tubes carrying radioactive water.

The determination to restart the San Onofre reactors must ensure the safety of the millions of Californians who live and work near the plant. Please provide all documents related to Edison’s determination of whether a license amendment was required for the replacement of the steam generators. I ask that you deliver all documents to my Committee office by May 21, 2012. Contact Terrance Horner or Grant Cope (202/224-8832) with any questions.

Sincerely,

Barbara Boxer

Chairman