(San Diego) California Assembly Majority Leader Toni Atkins of San Diego has sent a letter to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) asking that the commission obtain and release to the public an unredacted copy of a document that appears to reveal that flaws in steam generators at San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) were known prior to their installation and that they were ignored in order to avoid a comprehensive review of the plant’s operations and license. Atkins’ letter emphasizes that the public has the right to know about problems associated with the troubled and controversial nuclear plant.
“More than 8 million Southern Californians, many of whom are my constituents, live within a fifty mile radius of SONGS and they are entitled to know whether they are safe,” says Atkins. “Southern California residents are understandably concerned by indications that Southern California Edison and Mitsubishi may have circumvented regulatory requirements. The release of the full, uncensored, report on this matter would help clear the air and restore confidence in the NRC’s processes.”
The NRC has indicated that it has requested and plans to release a redacted version of Mitsubishi Heavy Industry’s (MHI) 2012 “Root Cause Analysis Report.” MHI manufactured and installed the hydrogen tubes whose excessive wear led to a year-long shutdown of two of SONGS’ steam generators. A previous letter to the NRC from Senator Barbara Boxer and Congressman Edward Markey, who have seen the report, indicates that it raises troubling questions about whether NRC procedures were properly followed and whether such a circumvention of the process has safety or other regulatory implications.
Media reports indicate that Mitsubishi employees were aware of the design flaw in hydrogen tubes, but that a decision was made to keep that knowledge internal in order to avoid triggering a comprehensive safety and licensing review of the controversial nuclear plant. The NRC has announced that it will be investigating the matter, although no time has been set for that review.