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A decision on whether or not the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission will allow Southern California Edison to fire up one of its nuclear reactors at San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station may be made by March. At that point in time the Commission will notify interested parties of its intent to issue a decision, though the actual ruling could take up to 30 more days.

“We know there’s a great deal of curiosity and the agency wants to be as informative and transparent as possible,” Commission spokesperson Victor Dricks told Bloomberg Business.

Meanwhile, the Commission sent inspectors to Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in Kobe, Japan, manufacturers of the faulty steam generators that sprung a leak and have caused the plant to remain in a state of emergency shutdown since January, and expressed dismay that sample tubing being used in models to attempt to engineer a long-term fix at San Onofre did not even match the specifications of the tubing that was used in the original construction of the generators. The Commission issued a "notice of nonconformance" in late November after visiting the Mitsubishi plant.

Edison is seeking permission to run its Unit 3 reactor, which did not have any tubes completely fail and was down for maintenance at the time a tube ruptured at Unit 2 and released a small amount of radiation into the atmosphere. It would operate the reactor at 70% power for five months in an attempt to reduce vibration, as friction between the tubes and their supports is suspected to be the cause of widespread premature wear, and would then shut the reactor down again for re-inspection.

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Visduh Dec. 18, 2012 @ 10:02 a.m.

There was a time, not so long ago (the 80's to be exact) when we in the US were attributing all sorts of near-superhuman qualities to the Japanese. They were supposed to be generally smarter than any other national group, and when their industries did something it was assumed to be superior to most or all competing offerings. That mystique largely dissipated when the Japanese economy tanked around 1990, and the "lost decade" followed. Actually they are in the third "lost decade" as far as real prosperity is concerned, and the nation isn't the world-beater it once appeared to be. Oh, we had the Firestone tire debacle of about a decade ago, with Firestone being owned by Japan's Bridgestone, when it took the blame for all the rollover crashes of Ford Explorers. Now we have this Japanese industrial giant associated with woefully defective nuclear generators, and when they try to devise a fix, cannot even do that right. Gosh, the Japanese aren't so smart or capable after all!


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