Federal regulators issued a preliminary finding Wednesday that a license amendment requested by Southern California Edison in support of the company's plan to fire up the San Onofre nuclear plant would not create significant new safety hazards, potentially paving the way for an expedited restart of the plant.
Edison wants to restart one unit at the coastal plant — closed now for more than a year because of unusual wear on its steam generator tubes — and run it at 70% power for five months in hopes that the lower power will halt the equipment degradation.
The plant was closed after one of the tubes leaked and released a small amount of radioactive steam.
After staff at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission signaled that they might require a license amendment to allow the plant to run at less than its full licensed power, Edison submitted a request for a license amendment under an expedited process in hopes of having the plant running by June 1.
The public will have 30 days to comment on the proposal and 60 days to request a public hearing, but the NRC could make a final decision on the request before then.