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Judge Connected To San Onofre Investigation Retires

Administrative Law Judge Melanie Darling stalled a probe into the closure of the nuclear power plant.

The judge who presided over the California Public Utilities Commission's investigation into the closure of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station is retiring.

The move by Administrative Law Judge Melanie Darling comes after revelations in an affidavit from a state criminal investigation into what went wrong at the plant, which was shut down after a radiation leak in 2012. The affidavit shows Darling discussed an alteration to a proposed settlement for San Onofre's shutdown costs with executives at Southern California Edison, the plant's operator.

A PUC spokesman says Darling's retirement has nothing to do with the affidavit. Another judge, Marilyn A. Bushey, has been assigned to the San Onofre case.

Even before last week's revelation in the affidavit, Darling had been criticized for phone calls and private email exchanges with Edison executives. In one email, she asked whether an incriminating report about what Edison knew about potential flaws in its new steam generators before they were installed would ever be made public.

Earlier this year, Darling ruled that Edison executives engaged in 10 unreported communications with the CPUC regarding San Onofre, which is against the agency's rules.

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Photo of Amita Sharma

Amita Sharma
Investigative Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksAs an investigative reporter for KPBS, I've helped expose political scandals and dug into intractable issues like sex trafficking. I've raised tough questions about how government treats foster kids. I've spotlighted the problem of pollution in poor neighborhoods. And I've chronicled corporate mistakes and how the public sometimes ends up paying for them.

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