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Federal inspectors with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission conclude in a report released yesterday that Southern California Edison is not guilty of having misled the Commission with regard to the complexity of design changes to the failed steam generators at San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station when they were installed two years ago. The finding disappointed environmental groups and scientists, who have alleged otherwise for several months.

“The bottom line is that the NRC was asleep at the wheel then, and now we've left it up to the same people to justify their mistake,” said Damon Moglen, a spokesperson for Friends of the Earth in a release.

While the Commission admits that “major design changes” were made, under current guidelines the generators still qualified as direct replacements not requiring extensive federal review. At issue now is whether the guidelines themselves should be reviewed as a potential problem.

In other news, the southern Orange County city of San Clemente, just north of San Onofre, voted 5-0 this week to draft a letter to the California Public Utilities Commission offering support for a proposed investigation into the financial effects of the rapid failure of the plant’s four new steam generators, installed at an undetermined cost that could top $780 million.

At issue is whether the customers of plant operator Southern California Edison and partial owner San Diego Gas & Electric should bear the cost of the utilities misfortunes, rather than stockholders of the highly profitable publicly-held utilities.

“We have an obligation to be vocal on this issue on behalf of our community,” Councilwoman Lori Donchak told the Orange County Register.

The council decided not to go as far as suggested by environmental group San Clemente Green, which is seeking to keep the plant shut down until waste storage issues at the plant can be addressed.

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Visduh July 20, 2012 @ 12:26 p.m.

With such rapid failures of the equipment, and if SCE did no wrong, that means that the NRC is not up to its regulatory task. How does that make you feel about all the other nuke facilities around the nation. If it could happen here, methinks it could happen anywhere.


tomjohnston July 20, 2012 @ 1:33 p.m.

You left out a just little bit. The NRC report found that the design changes were properly reported and reviewed and that the changes between the original and new steam generators were "commonly used in replacement steam generators today," although it also characterized some of them as "major design changes." Also the NRC team concluded that errors in computer modeling by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, the manufacturer of replacement steam generators, led to the tube wear issues.


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