The top U.S. nuclear regulator, NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko, visited the San Onofre nuclear power plant on Friday. He was accompanied by California Senator Dianne Feinstein.
Jaczko said until the root cause of the problems in the steam generators is discovered the plant cannot be put back on line.
“The issue of the steam generators is a very serious issue,” he said.“ We take it seriously and after some very frank discussions today, I can say that I believe Southern California Edison takes it seriously too. The bottom line is, we have to have assurances of safety before we can allow the plant to restart.“
Anti-nuclear activists and elected leaders from communities near San Onofre, including San Diego’s North County, met with Jaczko to get his assurance that the plant would not reopen until the cause of the problem is confirmed and the problem fixed.
Jaczko offered no estimates of when that might be. He said NRC investigators are also working on the problem and will hold a public meeting when they reach a conclusion, to reveal their results to the public.
The design of the new steam generators installed in San Onofre in 2010 and 2011 is different from those in any other nuclear power plant in the United States.
The environmental group “Friends of the Earth” released a statement following Jaczko’s visit, questioning the NRC’s acceptance of Edison’s claim that the new design was equivalent to the old one:
The NRC will apparently investigate if and how Edison avoided oversight by claiming that replacement reactor equipment - costing hundreds of millions in ratepayer dollars - was an identical swap. Clearly that wasn't the case – the NRC has not only to hold Edison accountable but the Chairman needs to assure that the NRC’s own house is in order.