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NRC To Host Public San Onofre Meeting Tonight

Aired 10/9/12 on KPBS News.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission will host a public meeting tonight to address concerns about the San Onofre nuclear generating station.

Most people who attend tonight’s public meeting in Dana Point expect to discuss the latest news about the future of the San Onofre nuclear power plant. Southern California Edison released its restart plan last week. The Chief Nuclear Officer, Peter Dietrich, described the company’s plan to keep Reactor Unit 3 offline indefinitely, but restart Unit 2.




NRC Notice of Public Meeting

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“Here’s why it will be safe to restart Unit 2 at reduced power,” Deitrich said, “detailed vibration analysis have been completed by several independent experts. These experts have concluded that operating Unit 2 at 70 percent power will eliminate the thermal hydraulic conditions that caused the tube-to-tube wear in Unit 3.”

Dietrich said Edison proposes to shut the Unit 2 reactor down again within five months to inspect the steam generator tubes. These tubes are the weak link in the nuclear generation process, because one of the tubes in Unit 3 ruptured last January, releasing a tiny amount of radiation.

Edison’s explanation of why it is safe to start Unit 2 though not Unit 3 has raised questions. Groups like Friends of the Earth say the tubes in both units are in far worse shape than at any other plant in the country.

But Lara Uselding of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said it’s too soon for ask the NRC to respond to the restart plan.

“It just so happens that Southern California Edison was ready to submit their restart plans,” Uselding said. “We are obviously not going to be ready to respond to in-depth questions about that, because it’s going to take several months to review the several hundred pages of documents that have come in.”

Uselding said the purpose of the meeting is to share the latest on the NRC’s investigation of San Onofre’s problems and hear public concerns.

A panel of people has been invited for a roundtable discussion. One of them is Don Mosier, a Del Mar city councilman.

“I’m going up there," Mosier said, "to say that Del Mar and eight other impacted communities close to the San Onofre nuclear generating station all oppose the restart of Unit 2 without a full evidentiary hearing.”

The demand for a “full evidentiary hearing” comes from people who think the NRC may have approved Edison’s new steam generators without enough oversight.

Daniel Hirsch of the group Committee to Bridge the Gap said his group and the environmental group Friends of the Earth have demanded hearings with independent experts for months. He said the operator, Edison, should not be allowed to restart the reactors without a license amendment, and that would require an independent hearing.

Hirsch called tonight’s meeting a poor substitute.

“It is essentially a public relations exercise,” he said, “to claim there was some effort to have a public meeting and to make sure that you never have a real testing of the technical claims Edison has made.”

The regulatory agency has in the past denied petitions from Friends of the Earth for independent hearings. NRC Regional Administrator Elmo Collins said yesterday that the license amendment is " an open question."

"I'm not saying yes or no," he said.

Rochelle Becker of the Alliance for Nuclear Responsibility will also be on the panel at tonight’s meeting. She said she will be there to listen.

“Most importantly,” Becker said, “to make sure that the Public Utilities Commission, who represent me as a rate payer, is listening and listening very carefully.”

This is the first time, Beck said, that the California Public Utilities Commission has attended a public meeting on the problems at San Onofre. She said this state agency, not the federal NRC, will ultimately decide if the problems at the nuclear plant are just too expensive to fix.

“It’s very important,” Becker said, “that the agencies that oversee nuclear, whether they be federal or state or the utility, all sit in the same room and listen to the same information.”

Tonight’s meeting may be a prelude to a new round of CPUC hearings expected to start later this month, that will consider if it is really cost-effective for the ratepayer to bring San Onofre back on line.

Live Webcast: Audio Stream: 1-888-989-4359; pass code 1369507.

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Avatar for user 'DonnaGilmore'

DonnaGilmore | October 9, 2012 at 10:41 a.m. ― 4 years, 5 months ago

Edison told us these steam generators were the best technology the industry had to offer and would last at least 40 years. Instead they leaked radiation in one year and have set a new record for worst steam generators in the nation, according to NRC data. Now Edison wants to restart this defective equipment without fixing it first and the NRC has not told them "no".

This, along with San Onofre's worst nuclear safety record in the nation and highest rate of retaliation against employees who report safety problems says it all.

Concerned citizens oppose Edison's re-start of their defective nuclear reactors. We demand a full, transparent Adjudicatory Hearing and License Amendment process, including evidentiary hearings with sworn testimony and cross-examination which include experts independent of the NRC, Edison and the nuclear power industry. This public meeting tonight cannot be considered a substitute for this process. Given how we arrived at this point and the serious loss of faith by the public in the NRC and Edison as a result, we can see no reason why all five NRC Commissioners would not want this as well. That process should be started immediately.

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Avatar for user 'Stewey'

Stewey | October 9, 2012 at 9:26 p.m. ― 4 years, 5 months ago

What is wrong with these people? Does anyone realize what happened in Japan so shouldn't we be proactive and start building a desalinization plant with pumps going into the reactors powered by generators to keep them from over heating? The ocean could really be our biggest resource to hold us back from what happened in Japan last year. I do belive we should as tax paying citizens have a say in what is going to proceed in the future of the plant it just needs to be shut down. Nuclear power is not clean it could potentially kill everyone in Southern California then become a nuclear waste land. Southern California Edison should create jobs by taking on solar and wind power which techniqically it could help monopolize the market even more than they already have. Solar and wind power is clean not nuclear power.

I wish that the people that do work for the plant also understand that there are jobs out there besides nuclear power you all will find jobs. We are all putting our families and children at risk including the people that work at the plant. I have been watching the webcast and it really seems like a joke by the executive commity of NRC plus Southern California Edison. For this reason, the questions that are being asked by the people are not being answered correctly the NRC and SCE should be straight forward. Obvisouly, the plant is not up to par so why should us the citizens be tested in this experiment because it really seems we the people have no say in this issue? Regardless this damaged plant is going to be restarted and we will have to just find out and see what happens right? NO WE DO NOT! Furthermore, how do we let our government run our lives like this I mean it is walking on eggshells we the people do not know when total melt down is going to happen but, it will? Let's face it people the Japanese have proven time and again to be smarter than Americans just based on technology alone yet their entire country is now contaiminated by radiation.

In conclusion, we must shut down the nuclear power plant not only in southern California but, all around the world because of the tragic disaster that happened in Japan and years ago in Russia. Let's create the clean energy like solar, wind and water but, let's also stop fooling ourselves that nuclear power is safe because we saw how dangerous it really is.

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