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Safety issues are being fully examined

Dear Editor:

In his March 2 letter to the editor, Professor Emeritus Roger Johnson, of San Clemente, Calif., wrote that “Sen. Barbara Boxer found out that (Southern California) Edison and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission knew about design flaws before Edison installed the (steam) generators (at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station) but kept this information secret from the public” (“The nuclear-meltdown threat in the States,” The Aspen Times).

To clarify the record, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission obtained a report prepared by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries last fall as part of its review of the circumstances surrounding the replacement of San Onofre’s steam generators. Mitsubishi supplied the steam generators to Edison and prepared the report as part of its effort to identify the root cause of the problems that led to unexpected wear of the components.

The report was not made public by Mitsubishi or Edison because it contains information that Mitsubishi identified as proprietary. On Feb. 6, Boxer and Congressman Ed Markey sent a letter to Regulatory Commission Chairman Allison MacFarlane indicating that they had obtained a copy of this report, which they said indicated that Edison and Mitsubishi were aware of serious problems with the design of San Onofre’s steam generators before they were installed and requesting the Regulatory Commission promptly initiate an investigation of the matter. Neither Boxer nor Markey accused the Regulatory Commission of any wrongdoing.

MacFarlane responded to Boxer two days later, informing her that the Regulatory Commission staff “is using a variety of regulatory actions, such as inspections and investigations, to ensure that it is comprehensively addressing the issues that have arisen” at San Onofre. She noted that on Sept. 28, the Regulatory Commission’s office of investigations initiated an expansive investigation of the completeness and accuracy of information that Southern California Edison provided to the Regulatory Commission regarding the steam generators at San Onofre.

This investigation is ongoing and includes examination of the Mitsubishi report. The public should have confidence that the Regulatory Commission is fully and fairly examining all the safety issues that have arisen at San Onofre and that the plant will not be permitted to restart unless the Regulatory Commission has confidence it can be operated safely.

In light of the public interest in this matter and as part of its commitment to regulatory transparency, the Regulatory Commission requested and has obtained from Mitsubishi a redacted version of its steam generator report. We are reviewing the redactions and plan to make the report public as soon as possible.

Victor Dricks

Senior public affairs officer

U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission/Region IV

Arlington, Texas


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