FOE, NRDC argue for hearing before any San Onofre restart

Friends of the Earth (FOE) and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) have filed a 69-page brief opposing an NRC “finding of no significant hazards” determination for Southern California Edison’s (SCE) proposed license amendment for San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) Unit 2.

The two groups assert there should be a hearing prior to any NRC finding on the license amendment to restart Unit 2. Units 2 and 3 have been idle for nearly a year-and-a-half. A few months ago the Edison International (NYSE:EIX) subsidiary proposed a plan to restart Unit 2 for several months at 70% power.

Critics, and an NRC safety panel, have said this would allow the unit to operate outside the reactor’s current approved safety analysis.

FOE’s and NRDC’s analysis is supported by the Atomic Safety Licensing Board’s (ASLB)’s May 13 decision holding that the licensee’s restart plan, which proposes operation in conformance with the proposed license amendment, constitutes a de facto license amendment proceeding.

The document was filed with NRC staff May 16 and revisits much of the tube wear situation at the steam generators prior to the units being idled in January 2012.

To analyze the tube situation the two organizations have enlisted the help of four specialists, including former NRC Commissioner Victor Gilinsky. Gilinsky served a four-year term on the commission starting in January 1975.

The three other officials who worked with FOE/NRDC on the issue are former NRC staff member Joram Hopenfeld, nuclear engineer John Large of Large & Associates, and Arnold Gundersen, who is a nuclear engineer at Fairewinds Associates.

In 2010 and 2011, SCE replaced the original steam generators in Unit 2 and Unit 3, which had operated for 28 years, with ones constructed by a different manufacturer, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI). Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., has urged the U.S. Justice Department to investigate SCE and MHI to see if NRC was misled about the scope of the steam generator replacement project.

Docket ID NRC-2013-0070

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.