Boxer and Markey urge NRC launch investigation re: San Onofre steam generator installation despite known flaws
The Honorable Barbara Boxer (Democrat from California, Chairwoman of the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, photo at left) and Ed Markey (Democrat from Massachusetts, Ranking Member of the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee) today sent a letter to U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairwoman Allison Macfarlance, demanding an investigation into new revelations that Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Southern California Edison knew that replacement steam generators were significantly flawed, before they were installed at the San Onofre Units 2 & 3 reactors in San Clemente, CA, at a cost to California ratepayers of $671 million. Additional costs approaching $1 billion have accrued over the past year, since San Onofre 2 & 3 were forced to shut down due to the replacement steam generator tube degradation.
Sen. Boxer and Rep. Markey's letter begins:
"We have become aware of new information contained in a 2012 Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) document entitled "Root Cause Analysis Report for tube wear identified in the Unit 2 and Unit 3 Steam Generators of San Onofre Generating Station" (Report).
We strongly urge the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to promptly initiate an investigation concerning the troubling information contained in this Report.
The Report indicates that Southern California Edison (SCE) and MHI were aware of serious problems with the design of San Onofre nuclear power plant's replacement steam generators before they were installed. Further, the Report asserts that SCE and MHI rejected enhanced safety modifications and avoided triggering a more rigorous license amendment and safety review process..."
Friends of the Earth (FOE) has petitioned NRC for a license amendment proceeding to address the un-analyzed safety risks associated with the major -- and faulty -- design changes carried out by MHI and SCE. FOE recently launched a t.v. ad, "No Way Out," about the impossibility of evacuating the 8.5 million Californians living within 50 miles of San Onofre if a radiological disaster occurs.
While San Onofre Unit 3 appears destined for permanent shutdown, due to its severe steam generator tube damage, SCE is seeking permission from NRC to restart San Onofre Unit 2, and run it at 70% power, despite its own severe steam generator tube damage.
For Immediate Release
February 8, 2013
Contact: Mary Kerr or Kate Gilman (EPW/Boxer): 202-224-8832
Eben Burnham-Snyder (Markey): 202-494-4486
U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works
Senator Boxer and Rep. Markey on NRC’s Response to Letter on San Onofre Safety Investigation
Washington, D.C. - Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW), and Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA), Ranking Member of the House Natural Resources Committee, issued the statement below on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC) response to the letter that they sent requesting that safety concerns at the San Onofre nuclear power plant be fully evaluated.
Senator Boxer said: “Today, the NRC confirmed that an expansive investigation is underway into the completeness and accuracy of information that Southern California Edison provided to the NRC related to the replacement of the steam generators. The NRC has also confirmed that it is reviewing the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries’ Report to determine whether Southern California Edison fully complied with its legal obligations. This investigation is a critical factor in determining whether it is safe to restart the San Onofre reactor’s Units 2 and 3.”
Rep. Markey said: "The Nuclear Regulatory Commission today confirmed that it is investigating the issues raised by our letter. Our nuclear safety officials should now postpone any decision on the re-start of the reactors until this critical investigation is complete."
Fairewinds Energy Education has published a special edition of their podcast, to discuss Sen. Boxer and Rep. Markey's letter to NRC. Here is the episode's description from the Fairewinds website:
SEN. BOXER BELIEVES THAT SAN ONOFRE KNEW ABOUT PROBLEMS YEARS EARLIER
In this special edition, Fairewinds analyzes a letter from Senator Boxer and Representative Markey that indicates that the problems at San Onofre were known to its owner, Southern California Edison, years before the steam generators were installed and rapidly failed. This statement by Boxer and Markey supports Fairewinds analysis of one year ago that indicates Edison took shortcuts to avoid public participation in a license amendment for San Onofre.