Edison pushes for summer restart of San Onofre

SAN ONOFRE, Calif. — Southern California Edison wants a public meeting with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to push for the partial restart of the troubled San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station by summer to meet peak customers demands, the plant operator announced Friday.

“We want to do every responsible thing we can do to get Unit 2 up and running safely before the summer heat hits our region,” Edison President Ron Litzinger said. “While the NRC continues to review the technical materials we’ve submitted, we’re considering a request for a license amendment so that we can pursue the best path to safe restart while avoiding unnecessary delays.”

Edison is requesting a meeting with the commission to discuss the possible amendment. The meeting would be open to the public, and would provide an opportunity for Edison officials to discuss with the commission the scope and content of a potential amendment to ensure it meets regulatory requirements.

San Onofre’s two reactors have been shuttered since January 2012. One was down for planned maintenance when a the second was shut down due to a small leak. A subsequent investigation found that steam generator tubes in the reactors degrade faster than expected.

On Monday, Edison announced that a consultant had determined that Unit 2 could be safely restarted and operated at full power.

However, anti-nuclear activists are against the restart plan, arguing that the steam generators should have had an extensive license amendment process.

A London-based nuclear engineer for the group called Friends of the Earth said the same consultant report touted by Edison actually indicates that the plant will progressively destroy itself.

Edison is proposing to restart one of the units at 70 percent power for five months, followed by it being shut down again and inspected for leaks. So far, there is no proposed restart date for the other unit.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is expected to make a decision on the restart plan in late April or May.

Edison owns just over 78 percent of the plant. San Diego Gas & Electric owns 20 percent and the city of Riverside owns just under 2 percent.