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Various Authors 8:30 a.m., March 24
Southern California Edison, operator of the long-idled San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, has tentatively submitted paperwork for a license amendment that could lead to one of the twin nuclear reactors being re-activated before summer.
Current rules as defined by the plant’s operating license state that in order to operate, the plant must be able to safely run under full power for 22 months. A report released by Edison, however, shows a significant risk of another failure after the 11 month mark.
Edison has argued that these numbers are insignificant, because they plan only to run at 70% power for a five month test period.
When this rationale failed to win over regulators or vocal environmental watchdog groups, Edison changed tactics: the license amendment seeks to define 70% of the plant’s operating capacity as “full power,” therefore enabling the company to state with greater confidence that it can safely run as required.
Alliance for Nuclear Responsibility executive director Rochelle Becker offered the following testimony critical of the plan delivered to the California Public Utilities Commission last week:
There is no better way to describe the time and effort Edison has put into its ballyhooed desire to conduct a five-month operating test at 70% for Unit 2 than as an expensive, diversionary path to nowhere. Nowhere in the thousands of pages of self-justification Edison has commissioned is there a compelling linkage to eventual operation of Unit 2 at full capacity. Nowhere is there an attempt to justify the economics of operating Unit 2 over the long-term at only 70%. Nowhere is there any explanation of how even a successful Unit 2 test run might somehow enable a restart of Unit 3.
Others, such as Friends of the Earth, criticize the license change move as an end run around the more typical and lengthy amendment process that calls for mandatory public hearings.
The issue could be brought forward in final draft form as early as a Wednesday meeting with Nuclear Regulatory Commission officials.