xHgGrtG-show-poster2x3-aXpIxNN.png

Artbound

Start watching
Tending Nature poster 2021

Tending Nature

Start watching
IYhnPQZ-show-poster2x3-Ytk6YwX.png

Southland Sessions

Start watching
RYQ2PZQ-show-poster2x3-OGargou.jpg

Earth Focus

Start watching
5LQmQJY-show-poster2x3-MRWBpAK.jpg

Reporter Roundup

Start watching
E5VnHdZ-show-poster2x3-PrXshoo.png

City Rising

Start watching
QraE2nW-show-poster2x3-uY3aHve.jpg

Lost LA

Start watching
Member
Your donation supports our high-quality, inspiring and commercial-free programming.
Support Icon
Learn about the many ways to support KCET.
Support Icon
Contact our Leadership, Advancement, Membership and Special Events teams.

Barbara Boxer Blasts San Onofre Nuclear Restart Proposal

 

Senator Barbara Boxer has slammed a preliminary ruling by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission backing a Southern California Edison (SCE) proposal to restart the shuttered San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station along the San Diego County coast. The Senator has called for a full investigation into the structural flaws that led to both remaining units of the ailing plant being shut down last year.

SCE is hoping to reopen the beleaguered plant's Unit 2 at 70 percent power by June 1. The utility maintains that operating at that capacity will forestall further vibrations in tubes carrying radioactive steam that prompted the shutdown of Unit 3 in January 2012. Unit 2 was already offline for maintenance when the leaks were discovered. To do so, the utility will require approval from the NRC for an amendment to the plant's operating license.

"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 a statement this week. "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."

The NRC's preliminary ruling is just that: the agency has said it will hold off on issuing a final ruling on reopening the plant until it's had the chance to hold a public hearing. Still, the tentative approval must have felt like a slap in the face to California's senator, coming just one day after she and Massachusetts representative Ed Markey sent a letter to the agency urging the NRC to complete its investigation into San Onofre's safety before allowing a restart. "Anything short of that," said the letter, "would fall far short of the consideration the 8 million people who live within 50 miles of the San Onofre facility deserve."

In the letter, Boxer and Markey also asked for a direct response from NRC before the agency "takes any actions related to SCE's license amendment or restart plans." We can probably assume the agency offered no such response, given the preliminary ruling's appearance the very next day.

San Onofre has been a source of controversy since its closure. Senator Boxer charged in February that SCE knew about flaws in the plant's hardware that caused releases in radioactive steam before the hardware was even installed. SCE hotly denied Boxer's charges, saying "[We] would never, and did not, install steam generators that it believed would not perform safely."

Regardless of the outcome, Southern California will have to do without the majority of the generating capacity at San Onofre. Running Unit 2 at 70 percent of capacity means the 1,172-megawatt unit will provide around 820 megawatts of power at best. SCE's proposal includes a test period during which Unit 2 will be run at 70 percent of capacity for five months, with a possible extension of that reduced-capacity period for as long as one complete refueling cycle, which at 70 percent power would be in the neighborhood of two years.

Unit 3, which NRC chair Allison Macfarlane described in September 2012 as having sustained "significant damage," will likely be offline for the foreseeable future. Losing 100 percent of Unit 3's 1,178-megawatt generating capacity along with 30 percent of Unit 2 means a 1,530-megawatt shortfall in baseload power generating capacity that SCE, and its partners San Diego Gas and Electric and the City of Riverside, will have to make up somehow.

Fortunately, that's not impossible.

Support Provided By
Support Provided By
Read More
Tax documents on a table

SoCal Taxpayers Warned of New Round of COVID-19 Scams

The Internal Revenue Service today warned Southland taxpayers about a new wave of COVID-19-related scams as the agency delivers the second round of Economic Impact Payments.
A young girl with a red shirt plays with her parents

The U.S. Healthcare System is Broken, Middle-Class Families with Disabled Members Fight with the Power of Their Stories

For middle-class parents of disabled children, good income and great insurance are still not enough to cover the vast holes in U.S. healthcare.
un mazo de juez de madera

Justicia retrasada: tribunales abrumados por el atraso de la pandemia

Desde la manutención de los hijos hasta el fraude de seguros, los casos judiciales se retrasan en todo California. Solo la mitad de los casos civiles y penales se resolvieron el verano pasado en comparación con las cifras anteriores a la pandemia. “La justicia no se ha cerrado. La justicia se ha ralentizado”, según un grupo de abogados.