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NRC Responds To Problems At San Onofre

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has denied a suit filed by the group Friends of the Earth to require a license amendment before the NRC considers a plan to restart it. The amendment would have required public hearings.

San Onofre has been shut down since January, after a small radioactive leak was discovered in the newly installed steam generators.

The NRC, however, did not reject the idea of a license amendment altogether. Rather, it passed the matter on to the Atomic Licensing Board.

Damon Moglen of Friends of the Earth said the NRC left the door open to reconsidering the issue if a restart of San Onofre becomes imminent.

In the meantime, NRC chair Allison Macfarlane cited the concerns of communities around San Onofre in her address to nuclear industry leaders in Georgia earlier this week.

Del Mar, Encinitas and Solana Beach are among several cities that have written letters to the NRC about their concerns over San Onofre.

“I believe it is incumbent upon us to communicate transparently with these groups and policy makers," Macfarlane said, "and listen to their concerns.”

Macfarlane also said Southern California Edison is ultimately responsible, even for mistakes made by subcontractors like Mitsubishi, whose design errors led to the problems at San Onofre.

“The licensee is ultimately responsible for the work done by their vendors and contractors to ensure that they meet out quality assurance requirements,” Macfarlane said.

The NRC will hold another public meeting with Edison next Friday in Dana Point.

At the meeting, officials will discuss Edison's efforts to pin down the cause of the leak in the steam generators, and the company's request to restart Unit Two at lower power.

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