Today, Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, sent a letter to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to ensure the NRC is committed to completing its investigation into safety concerns at the San Onofre nuclear power plant before considering Southern California Edison's request to restart the facility. The plant operator submitted a restart plan for one of San Onofre's troubled reactors.
Text of the letter that was sent to Dr. Allison Macfarlane, NRC Chairman, is below:
October 4, 2012
The Honorable Allison Macfarlane
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Washington, DC 20555-0001
Dear Chairman Macfarlane:
I am writing to ask for reassurance from you that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) will complete its investigation into the causes of unusual tube wear at the San Onofre nuclear power plant before evaluating Southern California Edison's request to restart the facility. The NRC's focus must be on fulfilling its safety mission and providing the millions of people who live near San Onofre with the peace of mind that the reactors are safe.
In July, the NRC issued a report that identified "unresolved items" requiring additional review, including the manufacturing of the tubes and the modeling of the steam generators' operation. The NRC has not yet completed its investigation at San Onofre, which is a crucial step to understanding whether the plant can be operated safely.
When you testified before the Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW) in September, you committed to me that the NRC would conduct a thorough investigation to ensure that the plant is safe to operate. You also said: "We will not let them start up unless we are absolutely convinced that it is safe to operate...," and your colleagues agreed.
I want to make certain that the NRC fully understands the causes of the unusual tube deterioration, is confident that the plant can be safely restarted given the current condition of the tubes, and has determined that the facility can be safely operated in the future.
I request that you respond to me in writing by October 12, 2012, that you will live up to the commitment you and your fellow Commissioners made to not restart the San Onofre reactors until the NRC completes its investigation and the public has been assured of the plant's safety. Please contact Grant Cope or Terrance Horner on the EPW Committee with any other questions.
Senator Barbara Boxer