Senator Boxer Seeks Criminal Probe of San Onofre Nuclear Plant via Environmental News Service

WASHINGTON, DC, May 29, 2013 (ENS) – U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer of California is asking the Justice Department to open a criminal investigation into Southern California Edison’s statements to nuclear regulators about replacing steam generators at the shuttered San Onofre nuclear power plant.

Located on the California coast south of San Clemente, San Onofre has been shut down since January 2012 due to premature wear found on over 3,000 tubes in replacement steam generators and a leak of radioactive material.

Senator Boxer Tuesday released a 2004 letter by an Edison executive to steam generator manufacturer Mitsubishi Heavy Industries that she said presents “major new evidence of misrepresentation and safety lapses by Edison.”

Edison replaced steam generators in 2009 and 2010 without review by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission because the company said the replacements met a federal test of being the same parts.

But the November 30, 2004 letter from SCE Vice President Dwight E. Nunn released by Boxer, and now posted on the SCE website, states that “although the old and new steam generators will be similar in many respects they aren’t like-for-like replacements.”

The letter expressed worry that the new steam generators, which though similar, would not be “like for like” replacements and could lead to the same kind of potential “disastrous” issues that did, in fact, cause the plant’s shutdown in 2012.

Boxer said, “This correspondence leads me to believe that Edison intentionally misled the public and regulators in order to avoid a full safety review and public hearing in connection with its redesign of the plant.”

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