Boxer wants faulty nuclear power plant repairs investigated
May 29, 2013
California Senator Barbara Boxer is calling for a federal investigation into Southern California Edison’s past handling of the currently inactive San Onofre nuclear power plant after receiving information suggesting that utility executives misled the public and regulators about repair work. [KABC]
Boxer says she has obtained a 2004 letter written by a senior Southern California Edison executive that suggests the utility improperly replaced four steam generators in order to avoid a potentially long and costly regulatory review of the process.
Regulations require Southern California Edison to replace generators with equipment that is nearly identical to the old parts, yet the 2004 letter Boxer received indicates that utility officials knowingly used dissimilar replacement parts.
“Edison know they were not proceeding with a simple ‘like-for-like’ replacement as they later claimed,” Boxer said.
Southern California Edison hired Japanese engineering firm Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in 2003 to replace the steam generators in the two San Onofre reactors that were active at the time. Mistubishi Heavy Industries completed the replacements of the steam generators in one reactor in 2010 and in the other reactor in 2011.
In January 2012, power plant officials discovered excessive wear inside radioactive water tubes after first finding a small radiation leak. San Onofre has not produced electricity since, leaving Diablo Canyon as the only active nuclear power plant on the Pacific Coast.
Southern California Edison officials are currently seeking federal approval to reopen the Unit 2 reactor, which has incurred more than $500 million in costs since shutting down. The plant has three reactors in total, but one has been decommissioned since 1992. The other two reactors each have excessive tube wear.
A federal investigation into Edison’s practices could threaten to shut down San Onofre entirely.