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NRC To Hold Public Meeting On San Onofre Oct. 9

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission announced today it has scheduled an Oct. 9 public meeting in Dana Point to discuss issues with the troubled San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station.

The NRC said the meeting -- scheduled for 6 p.m. at the St. Regis Monarch Beach Hotel -- will include a roundtable discussion on the power plant's problems and a question-and-answer session with the public.

The NRC said roundtable participants will be chosen after consultation with various interest groups.

The nuclear power plant in northern San Diego County has been shut down since a leak in one of the reactors was discovered at the end of January. That led to the discovery that steam pressure tubes were wearing out faster than expected.

The other unit was already inoperative for scheduled maintenance.

Neither unit has been restarted. However, commission Chairwoman Allison Macfarlane recently told members of the U.S. Senate that the operator of the plant, Southern California Edison, had informed the agency a restart plan for one of the reactors would be submitted by the end of the first week of October.

The Los Angeles Times reported that Macfarlane said staff will review the plan in a process that "will be longer than days and weeks ... it will be on the order months.'' The newspaper said there were no current plans to restart the other unit.

In November, when the plant will have been out of service for nine months, state law will trigger an investigation in which the commission must consider lowering rates.

The investigation eventually could result in refunding money to customers so they would not pay the costs of a plant that is producing no power.

Anti-nuclear advocates have pressured authorities to keep the plant shut down, saying San Onofre's steam generators are among the worst in the industry.

Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., has suggested making regulatory changes that would require more extensive review of future projects, such as the costly steam generator equipment.

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