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Boxer Pushes NRC For Assurances On Nuclear Safety

Aired 9/13/12 on KPBS News.

Senator Barbara Boxer calls on the NRC to push more aggressively for safety improvements at nuclear power plants, specifically San Onofre

California Senator Barbara Boxer is calling on Allison Macfarlane, the new head of the Federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission, to push for safety improvements at the nation’s nuclear power plants, and specifically at San Onofre north of San Diego.


Boxer's comments

Boxer's comments

Boxer addressing the Senate Committee on Environment and Public works, which she chairs.

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Boxer said she has concerns that the NRC is allowing some nuclear plants to delay safety improvements. At a meeting of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, Boxer urged the NRC to address safety concerns at San Onofre in an “open and transparent way.” She said San Onofre’s reactors must not be started until the NRC’s investigation is complete and the results made public.

San Onofre has been offline since January when a small radiation leak from Unit 3 resulted in the unit being shut down. Unit 2 was already offline for maintenance.

Allison Macfarlane, NRC Chairman
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Above: Allison Macfarlane, NRC Chairman

The steam generators in both units were replaced in recent years at a cost of almost $700 million.

At a public meeting in San Juan Capistrano in June, NRC officials said the problems stemmed from inaccurate computer codes designed to predict how changes to the steam generator would function.

Macfarlane told the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee today that San Onofre’s operator, Southern California Edison, has told the NRC it will send a letter by the end of the first week in October outlining the “root causes “ of the problems with the steam generators. She said it will take the NRC a matter of months rather than weeks to determine whether the root cause of the problems are properly understood.

Edison has said Unit 3 is offline indefinitely, but it hopes to bring Unit 2 back on line by the end of the year.

Meanwhile a new report put out today by the anti-nuclear group the Committee to Bridge the Gap, said data on the steam generators in both Units 2 and 3 show the damage to both units far exceeds the norm of damage recorded in steam generators at other plants around the nation.

Edison has not responded to requests from KPBS for information about the difference between Units 2 and 3.

Boxer asked for assurances that the NRC’s plans to hold a public meeting in October are on track. NRC spokesperson Victor Dricks said the agency will announce a public meeting on its investigations into San Onofre when plans are finalized.

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Avatar for user 'Lowflyin_Lolana'

Lowflyin_Lolana | September 13, 2012 at 3:52 p.m. ― 4 years, 6 months ago

"Edison has not responded to requests from KPBS for information about the difference between Units 2 and 3."

Edison has maintained -- without challenge from the NRC -- that the fact that fewer tubes have been plugged in Unit 2 than in Unit 3 proves Unit 2 is in better shape and should be considered for restart. But the NRC data show that the number of tubes plugged in Unit 2 is still almost five times higher than in any other comparable reactor.

A May 7, 2012 condition report from Edison, which has not been made public but was obtained by Friends of the Earth, confirms that Unit 2 is identical to Unit 3 and shares the same problems. Analyzing the findings of the condition report, Gundersen concluded:

“The replacement steam generators at San Onofre Unit 2 and Unit 3 were designed to the same specifications, were modeled using the same flawed and inadequate computer codes, and both units have the same ... instability that is one of the causes of the significant tube generation.”

Dave Freeman, former head of the federal Tennessee Valley Authority and the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, said the condition report shows clearly that the picture Edison and the NRC are painting -- that Unit 2 is in better shape than Unit 3 -- is false.

“The fact that the first tube leak occurred in Unit 3 is simply a sneak preview to what could happen if either unit is restarted,” said Freeman, a senior advisor to Friends of the Earth. “The NRC needs to see through this blatant attempt to throw everyone off the real trail to safety. They need to keep both units shut down until the root cause is identified, an adjudicatory hearing is held and a determination is made on whether or how the steam generators could be fixed.”

Friends of the Earth has petitioned the NRC to require a formal relicensing procedure to determine whether San Onofre should be restarted. The NRC has yet to respond to the petition.


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Avatar for user 'CaptD'

CaptD | September 16, 2012 at 3:40 p.m. ― 4 years, 6 months ago

The SORE (San Onofre Reactor Emergency) started on Jan 31, 2012 and therefore has been going on for about 8.5 months...

Therefore at $65 Million per month, SoCal ratepayers have been charged (8 months X $65 Million Dollars per month) 552.5 Million Dollars which has gone to SCE and SDG&E for no electricity generated!

Said another way SoCal ratepayers have paid about HALF A BILLION DOLLARS in what I believe will be the biggest Energy Boondoggle in US History!

If a bank in CA was robbed and they stole a couple of million dollars, it would be on both the Local and National news, yet MSM in Southern California is almost silent about SORE (San Onofre Reactor Emergency) half a billion dollar Utility "heist".

Ask yourself why we should accept this, then ask all your elected Leaders why they are silent!

Each day we wait for a refund is costing all of US about 2 million Dollar more.

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Avatar for user 'CaptD'

CaptD | September 16, 2012 at 3:41 p.m. ― 4 years, 6 months ago

TONS More Comments here:

Proposed Changes To San Onofre’s Decommissioning Fund

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