SAN DIEGO (CNS) – Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., Wednesday blasted a preliminary finding by Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff that restarting a unit at the idled San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station would not present significant safety hazards.
Officials with Southern California Edison, the plant’s majority owner and operator, have asked for permission to operate the plant’s Unit 2 reactor at 70 percent beginning June 1. The utility wants to run the unit at partial power for five months, then shut it down for an inspection of steam pressure tubes.
Boxer and Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass, sent a letter to the NRC this week demanding that a comprehensive investigation of the plant be completed before any units be permitted to operate. They also said full public hearings should be held before a decision is made.
“The NRC staff proposal, which could pave the way for the restart of the San Onofre nuclear power plant before the investigation of the crippled plant are completed, is dangerous and premature,” Boxer said in response to the commission staff’s preliminary finding. “It makes absolutely no sense to even consider taking any steps to reopen San Onofre until these investigations look at every aspect of reopening the plant, given the failure of the tubes that carry radioactive water.
“In addition, the damaged plant is located in an area at risk of earthquake and tsunami,” she said. “With 8 million people living within 50 miles of this plant, the staff proposal is beyond irresponsible.”