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February 6, 2013 | By Abby Sewell, Los Angeles Times
Southern California Edison was aware of problems with replacement steam generators at its San Onofre nuclear power plant but chose not to make fixes, U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer charged Wednesday. Boxer cited a leaked report from Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, the manufacturer of the steam generators, obtained by her office. It is the first indication from government officials that Edison and Mitsubishi knew the system had problems before it was even installed. The nuclear plant, a prime supplier of power in Southern California, has been off line for more than a year after a small amount of radioactive steam leaked from the plant's tubing.
January 19, 2013 | By Abby Sewell, Los Angeles Times
Federal regulators have sent Southern California Edison a new set of detailed questions that will help them evaluate the feasibility of a partial restart of the shuttered San Onofre nuclear plant. The plant, which once supplied enough power for about 1.4 million homes, has been out of service for close to a year because of unusual wear on steam generator tubes that carry radioactive water. Edison has requested permission to restart one of two reactor units at the plant and run it at 70% capacity for five months.
January 15, 2013 | By Abby Sewell, Los Angeles Times
The chief of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission made her first visit Monday to the troubled San Onofre nuclear plant, offering assurance that the facility will remain closed until its safety is certain but giving few hints about its ultimate fate. NRC Chairwoman Allison Macfarlane traveled to California for the first time since taking office in July to visit the closed plant and meet with elected officials, environmentalists and plant workers' union representatives. The plant has been shut for nearly a year because of unexpected deterioration of tubes in its four giant steam generators, replaced less than two years earlier.
December 1, 2012 | By Abigail Sewell, Los Angeles Times
Federal regulators grilled Southern California Edison publicly for the first time Friday on its proposal to restart part of the troubled San Onofre nuclear power plant. San Onofre has been out of service for 10 months because of unusual wear on steam generator tubes. A small radiation leak developed as a result and prompted a shutdown in January. The steam generators had been replaced less than two years earlier, costing co-owners Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric a combined $771 million.
October 10, 2012 | By Abby Sewell, Los Angeles Times
The troubles at the San Onofre nuclear power plant brought out hundreds of people Tuesday night for a forum held by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Plant workers and anti-nuclear activists formed warring cheering sections in a ballroom at the St. Regis Monarch Beach hotel in Dana Point as a panel of regulators, ratepayer advocates and residents of nearby communities fielded questions and debated the merits of restarting one of the plant's reactors. San Onofre, which once supplied power to about 1.4 million homes in Southern California, has been out of commission since Jan. 31, when a steam generator tube carrying radioactive water sprang a leak, releasing a minuscule amount of radioactive steam.
August 18, 2012 | By Louis Sahagun, Los Angeles Times
The last time federal officials assessed cancer rates in the communities surrounding nuclear power plants, they concluded that radiation releases were insignificant and health risks, if any, were too small to measure. TheU.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commissionhas been relying on the results of that 1990 National Cancer Institute study ever since to inform the public about cancer risks posed by the 104 licensed reactors it governs nationwide. Now, in response to growing concerns that using uranium in the production of electrical energy may be dangerous even without accidents, the NRC is trying to decide if it should launch one of the largest epidemiological studies ever conducted to determine if it is a health risk to live near a nuclear facility - such as the San Onofre plant in north San Diego County.
July 4, 2012 | By Abby Sewell, Los Angeles Times
An obscure legal doctrine leaves whistle-blowers at the San Onofre nuclear plant with less legal protection than other California workers, including employees at the state's only other nuclear plant. San Onofre is majority owned and operated by Southern California Edison, a private company, but it sits on land leased from the Camp Pendleton Marine Corps base. That puts the plant in a so-called federal enclave, where courts have held that many California laws, including labor laws intended to protect whistle-blowers, do not apply.
June 24, 2012
These are dark days at the San Onofre nuclear plant just south of Orange County. Both of its reactors have been shut down for more than four months, when abnormal "thinning" was discovered in the tubes of recently installed steam generators. Neither reactor will come back on line this summer, and after that, it's still unclear whether one or both will be switched on again and if so, at full power or partial - or whether they'll stay shut for the foreseeable future. On Monday, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission provided a troubling assessment of the situation at San Onofre.
June 19, 2012 | Abby Sewell
Faulty computer modeling caused the equipment problems that are expected to keep the San Onofre nuclear plant dark through the summer, federal regulators said Monday. Officials from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission gave their first public account of the initial findings of their investigation into the plant's problems at a meeting in San Juan Capistrano. What they did not give was any indication of how long the plant is likely to remain out of service, saying there are still questions plant operator Southern California Edison needs to answer and more inspections the NRC must do. The plant has been out of service since Jan. 31, when operators discovered a small leak in one of the thousands of steam generator tubes that carry hot, radioactive water used to create steam to turn turbines that generate electricity.
June 13, 2012 | By Neela Banerjee, This post has been corrected, as indicated below.
WASHINGTON -- The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, led by California Democrat Barbara Boxer, held a confirmation hearing Wednesday for two members of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission that signaled new leadership would soon be coming to the troubled agency. The hearing Wednesday morning was held to review the nomination of Allison M. Macfarlane, a geologist and professor at George Mason University in Virginia, to chair the NRC, succeeding Gregory Jaczko. The hearing also took up the nomination of Kristine Svinicki, an engineer and longtime staffer for several Republican members of Congress, to another term as commissioner at the NRC. Jaczko announced in May that he would be departing the NRC after a tumultuous term when some colleagues and Republican members of Congress criticized his management style as little short of bullying.
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