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Comments from Nuclear Regulatory Commission chair Alison Macfarlane on the future of San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station have generated media confusion and potentially put her at odds with environmental groups, Senator Barbara Boxer, and the NRC’s own Atomic Safety Licensing Board.

After speaking before a group representing nuclear industry business interests on Tuesday, Macfarlane said that a public hearing wasn’t necessarily required before changes to San Onofre’s license could be approved that would allow the plant to re-start. She did acknowledge public interest in such a procedure, however, saying the situation concerning the power plant’s shutdown had “multiple moving parts,” and that there existed “potential opportunities for public hearings.”

The Atomic Safety Licensing Board, however, ruled late Monday in favor of the public’s right to petition for just those hearings. While environmental watchdogs and anti-nuclear activists celebrated the ruling as a victory, it stopped short of guaranteeing that hearings would take place.

The public comment period on plant operator Southern California Edison’s re-start proposal ends Thursday, and activists have been ramping up calls for last-minute public involvement in the process. While some parties are hoping for quick action (Edison has suggested it may have to look into abandoning plans to resume operations if they don’t get a response to their demand for action by May 24), the Commission has said any concrete decisions may still be weeks away.

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Visduh May 16, 2013 @ 8:40 a.m.

Edison is bluffing. And the NRC is just the agency to call that bluff. Edison "demands" action or else? What is else? They're going to just shutter the place if they don't get their way? No, Edison will try everything in the book of tricks and bluffs to attempt to get their restart approved. It is not clear that Edison and cohort can ever expect to get ratepayers to cover their losses in case of a full shutdown and decommissioning. Oh, the current CPUC would look favorably on that, but that sort of regulatory malfeasance will not go on forever. So, Edison will whine, bluster, whimper, snort, bargain and bluff for a long time before they ever decide to fold.


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