Environment & Science

Groups claim federal coverup of problems at San Onofre nuclear plant

A runner passes by the San Onofre Nuclear Power Plant on April 6, 2012.
A runner passes by the San Onofre Nuclear Power Plant on April 6, 2012.
Grant Slater/KPCC

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Anti-nuclear groups are blasting a recent federal report on problems with the steam generator tubes at San Onofre nuclear power plant. They claim federal regulators are protecting the utility that operates the plant, instead of the people who live near it.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) released their report from a special investigative team after the plant’s operator shut it down in January, when radioactive steam leaked from one of the tubes.

The report said plant operator Southern California Edison (SCE) provided the federal agency with all the information it required under existing regulations about changes at the nuclear facility.

But Orange and San Diego County anti-nuclear groups contend that the federal agency is covering up for Southern California Edison.

Gene Stone of Residents Organized for a Safe Environment said federal regulators are “looking the other way" and that any admission by the NRC that Edison didn’t follow regulations would mean the “NRC was asleep at the wheel.”

Stone and other anti-nuclear activists say ratepayers shouldn’t have to cover major costs associated with repairing the damaged nuclear plant.

The NRC said it won’t allow Edison to restart the plant until it’s solved all the issues with steam generator tubes and the facility is safe to operate.