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The Alliance for Nuclear Responsibility yesterday released an open letter sent to California Public Utilities Commission president Michael Peevey, critical of the agency for what the Alliance calls “failure of the agency to assert any regulatory oversight” related to seismic studies to be performed at San Onofre Nuclear Generating station as part of the nuclear power plant’s push for an extension in its operating licenses for the Unit 2 and Unit 3 reactors.

In May, the Commission approved $64.25 million in ratepayer funding for advanced 2-D and 3-D seismic studies in response to the discovery of previously unknown earthquake faults, one within 1800 feet of the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant on California's central coast. Similar funding is being sought for San Onofre, which will be considered at an October 25 meeting in Irvine. The decision called for an “Independent Peer Review Group” to comment on the proposed studies’ scope, and for all documents to be made available to the public, with open access workshops scheduled.

Instead, four months later the independent review group has yet to be formed and no public meetings have been held.

That hasn’t stopped San Onofre operator Southern California Edison from moving forward, however. Edison has commissioned the Scripps Institute research vessel Marcus Langseth to conduct studies on behalf of the utility, despite what the Alliance says is a complete lack of public oversight. Further, the lead scientist from Scripps announced recently that 3-D studies are not even a confirmed part of their plan for work regarding San Onofre.

“Southern California Edison appears to be flaunting every possible ratepayer safeguard that the CPUC placed on this decision, and the inattentive CPUC staff has put no effort into preventing these disgraceful circumstances,” says Alliance executive director Rochelle Becker.

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