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Anti-Nuke Group Expert: SCE Put Cart Before Horse

At a hearing this week in Maryland, a nuclear consultant hired by environmental group Friends of the Earth criticized Edison's upgrade process.

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.

Los Angeles Public Radio reports:

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.”

Read the rest of the story from KPCC here.

Read hundreds of Patch stories in chronological order about the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station over the past three years here.

ms.sc. January 18, 2013 at 12:38 AM
Even if "upgrades" were "botched" from the beginning, it still does not merit building a nuclear plant on a coast line close to the San Andreas Fault and within the "Ring-of-Fire". Why does SONGS ship their nuclear waste out of State? Do they not even trust their own toxic waste in their own "backyard"? Someone is making big bucks off of the safety and well being of people in Southern California. I am almost certain they do not live anywhere near SONGS.
Richard January 18, 2013 at 04:45 PM
ms.sc: Where would you rather have the power plant? Keep in mind, it requires a virtually endless supply of water for cooling purposes. If you would rather get your electricity from a different source, please explain which source you prefer, where you would recommend the plant be located, and how that source is superior to nuclear.
James Hill January 18, 2013 at 04:51 PM
Just for laughs, I suggest checking out the diagram of the "evacuation plan" that was sent to San Clemente residents in the Emergency Preparedness brochure. There are 56 arrows that all eventually get to the San Diego Freeway. Good Luck.
JustUs January 18, 2013 at 05:09 PM
I understand the concern about nuclear power plants, especially by those who live in San Clemente. San Onofre has been there for many, many years. I assume that most people who purchased property in San Clemente and the outlining area knew that they were buying next door to a nuclear power plant. If they didn't, shame on them. Although there have been a few quirks in the operation of San Onofre nuclear lately, overall nuclear power has a very safe record. Some western european nations have the majority of their power supplied by nuclear power with no accident. The Russians were very careless with Chernoybl and made some HUGE mistakes that should never happen under regulations we have in America. And the fault lines and geological structure that supports San Onofre is quite different than what Japan faced. The Japanese were nuts for building their plants where they were located. They were asking for a disaster to happen. Very few similaries between their plants and San Onofre. We simply need nuclear power unless you want to fill our atomosphere with coal dust and pay $10/gallon for gasoline. There are tradeoff to everything in life. Nuclear power is relatively cheap and in non-exhaustible. We need to look at the positives and negatives of everything. And IMO the positives of nuclear power outweigh the negatives, socially and economically. This is a very controversial topic. We must put everything into perspective.
Smokey Bear January 19, 2013 at 05:28 PM
Thank you Friends of the Earth, for going up against SCE, I hope you can shut it down forever. I hate SONGS & I live only 12 miles from it, scares the crap out of me. Why cant they use solar or hydro? Nuke is so unsafe & leaves behind waste that does even more harm & never goez away! How can I join Friends of the Earth?!
Smokey Bear January 19, 2013 at 05:30 PM
Oh, & JustUs, you are really ignorant!
LN Mark January 19, 2013 at 10:40 PM
How 'bout this for an analogy: My car has developed a vibration at 80 mph. Below that, everything is fine. I can park it until the parts come in and miss many days of work, and perhaps be fired. Or, I can drive at 65 mph max, where there is no vibration and no real risk of the vibration causing an accident that puts other drivers at risk. If Friends of the Earth is in charge of my car, they want me to scrap it, when all I need is a new tie rod. They want me to ride my bike to work even though that would take four hours. I should be quiet. Cars have killed many many multiples more innocent people than nuclear power ever has or ever will. FoE will try to scrap my cars next!
LN Mark January 19, 2013 at 10:44 PM
Leah - when did you move here? If you hate it so much, the rest of us will help you pack when you leave. And Hydro? Am I missing some water flow through San Juan Creek? Where are you going to get your hydro? And how do you silence the anti-hydro/pro delta smelt types? And solar? I like power at night and there is no commercial scale power storage system in existence.
LN Mark January 19, 2013 at 10:46 PM
I'm very interested in what JustUs wrote that you thought was ignorant. You're the one that proposed hydro for SCE.
LN Mark January 19, 2013 at 11:29 PM
Do you have a clue how far San Onofre is from the San Andreas? Just because they both start with "San"...
Smokey Bear January 20, 2013 at 12:36 AM
The Metro Link & bus or bike is a great way to get around, plus no tense traffic to deal with. I wish more people would take the train & only drive when its absolutely necessary. Plus you save alot of $ by not driving! I care about the planet & do everything I can do to be conscious about not leaving a footprint on this earth, only the ones on hiking trails. Reduce Reuse & Recycle! Give a Hoot, Don't Pollute!
JustUs January 20, 2013 at 01:19 AM
"Oh, & JustUs, you are really ignorant!" Only ignorant people call something else ignorant without challenging it with facts. If I'm ignorant you're a moron, Leah! :^)
Matt January 20, 2013 at 04:36 PM
What it boils down to is Edison asking to produce a product with failed equipment. Edison is a manufacturer of a product, energy, that is supplied to the public. They or any manufacturer has an obligation to look out for that product to a level beyond that of what a user or consumer has information about, and they have failed to live up to that obligation. The NRC should shut SONGS down permanently for the overwhelming safety concerns of the public!
Frieda Wales January 20, 2013 at 05:08 PM
Only in San Clemente, there is a magic buffer zone that keeps Dana Point, Mission Viejo, Laguna Niguel, and Oceanside, etc. safe? And yes, we bought property here because we believed that it was safe and that rules would not be circumvented and that at the end of the life cycle it would not be "upgraded" under suspicious circumstances and with an eye for the almighty $$ and not for safety of the citizens of the area and one of the most beautiful areas of the U.S. Shame on Edison is what you probably meant.
Frieda Wales January 20, 2013 at 05:11 PM
LN Matt, it sounds like you are probably losing your job because old, inferior, unsafe, disaster-ridden technology, is being slowly terminated. Why the staunch support of this dangerous facility? Perhaps you should look into retraining.
LN Mark January 23, 2013 at 09:43 PM
Um, no. I'm just a well trained engineer that understands probability, risk, the unrestrained uneducated hype from the no-nuke sector, and above all else, my electric bill. What are your credentials?

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