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Edison Presents Its Restart Plan For San Onofre

Four representatives of the group that operates the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station south of San Clemente faced four nuclear regulatory commission officials around an oval table Wednesday to discuss a license amendment that would allow the plant to be restarted at lower power.

Aired 4/4/13 on KPBS News.

Southern California Edison has presented its plan to restart the San Onofre nuclear power station to the NRC. But the regulatory agency may not be in a hurry to approve it.

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The San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station at San Onofre State Beach on March 15, 2012 south of San Clemente, California.

Southern California Edison’s Ryan Treadway told the commission that the company found “no significant hazard” in restarting Unit 2 at 70 percent power.

“We concluded that there is no change within this license amendment that’s proposed that involves a significant reduction in margins of safety,” he said.

If the “no significant hazard” condition is accepted by the NRC, there will be no public hearing until after the license amendment is granted.

But Daniel Hirsch, who is a critic of nuclear power, called this the equivalent to a Wild West judge saying “we will hang 'em now but we will give 'em a fair trial later.”

Doug Broadus of the NRC told Edison it would be unlikely that the company would get approval by May as it requested.

“Your time frame that you specified — a June 1st start up time frame — just from the perspective of processing a license amendment, would be a challenge,” he said.

Edison said if allowed to restart the reactor, the company would operate under the new temporary license for a two-year cycle, but would close the reactor down every few months to check the tubes for premature wear.

Friends of the Earth, an organization critical of the restart plan, said “an experiment in which the damaged reactor is repeatedly turned on and off shows a disgraceful contempt for public safety."

Edison’s Treadway said there are “additional actions we are considering” in terms of the longer term future, but he did not specify what.

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