San Onofre Nuclear Power Plant defects disputed

Note: See update below…

There are some constants in life, beyond death and taxes. For example, every time a claim of defective manufacturing/construction is made, that claim will be disputed by those responsible. That is especially true when the claimant is a a U.S. Senator and the alleged defects involve a nuclear power plant:

On Wednesday, Sen. Barbara Boxer pressed federal regulators to open an investigation at the plant after uncovering documents that she said suggest that Southern California Edison took engineering shortcuts and compromised safety.

The Democratic senator said in a letter to Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chair Allison Macfarlane that a confidential report obtained by her office shows Edison and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, the Japan-based company that built the plant’s steam generators, were aware of design problems before the equipment was installed in 2009 and 2010.

But Edison said in a statement “it is simply not accurate” to suggest the company was aware of design problems, and pointed out the equipment carried a 20-year warranty against defects.

Via CBS 8

The nature of the claim appears to be that substantial modifications were made to components without proper approval/review by the relevant authorities. The nuclear power plant’s operations were halted in January 2012 after discovery of a radiation leak. The subsequent investigation revealed premature corrosion at 15,000 locations in the reactor. Operators of the plant would like to resume operations, but various concerned citizens object to that plan based on perceived safety violations. According to Kendra Ulrich, an activist with Friends of the Earth:

“This amounts to the willful endangerment of the lives and livelihoods of millions of people in Southern California,” Ulrich said. “Given the massive safety and corporate malfeasance implications, we are calling for the immediate release of this document in its entirety.”

Via San Diego 6 News

Update: The Nuclear Regulatory Commission responded to Boxer’s inquiry with the following statement:

“On September 28, 2012, the NRC’s Office of Investigations initiated an expansive investigation of the completeness and accuracy of information that Southern California Edison provided to the NRC regarding the steam generators at SONGS,” MacFarlane wrote. “This NRC investigation is ongoing, and includes examination of the MHI report along with other evidence.”

Via San Diego 6