As the Nuclear Regulatory Commission continues to review plans to partially restart the shuttered San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, one nuclear scientist renews his assertions that the recent upgrades there were botched from the beginning.
Arnie Gundersen of Fairewinds Associates, contracted by national environmental group Friends of the Earth, told regulators at a hearing in Maryland this week that they were asleep at the wheel when they approved upgrades to the plants steam generators, installed in 2009 and 2010.
One of those generators, because of manufacturing and design defects, sprang a leak of radioactive steam in January of 2012. The leak revealed that the generators were riddled with more than a thousand bum components.
Now, plant operator Southern California Edison is trying to convince the NRC that it can safely restart the less-damaged half of the plant at partial power.
The group Friends of Earth presented about 40 different slides – mostly technical data – at a Nuclear Regulatory Commission hearing Wednesday outside Washington, D.C. But the crux of their case can be summed up by just one slide: a drawing of a cart before the horse.
The group argues San Onofre’s operator, Southern California Edison, should have been required to go through the NRC's license amendment process before it installed new steam generators in 2009 and 2010.
“What happened is Edison made their mind up before they went out for bids they were not going to tell the NRC all the changes they were making,” said nuclear engineer Arnie Gundersen, who testified on behalf of Friends of the Earth. “This steam generator is so much changed from everything before it, it’s no wonder they had problems.”