San Onofre nuclear plant restart plan faces long Nuclear Regulatory Commission review


Southern California Edison has proposal to restart the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station after two units were deactivated in January when a leak carrying radioactive water was detected in one of the power generators.

At a news conference Monday, Nuclear Regulatory Commission Regional Administrator Elmo Collins said it's not yet clear if the restart plan Southern California Edison submitted last week will require an amendment to the plant's operating license.

"The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has several months of work ahead of it before any decision can be made," said Collins. "The Nuclear Regulatory Commission will not grant approval for the resumption of power operation unless we have confidence that the facility can be operated safely."

The NRC plans to perform an independent inspection and analysis of Southern California Edison's information.

Such reviews can involve a thicket of hearings, appeals and other steps that can take as long as two years to complete. Collins says Edison contends such a review isn't needed. But he says the NRC considers it an "open question."

The controversial plan was submitted by Southern California Edison last week. It calls for one of the two twin reactors at the facility to be powered up at reduced power for a five-month trial period.

As of Monday there was no immediate timetable to restart the units.

The first public meeting was scheduled for Tuesday at 6 p.m. at the St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort in Dana Point. Area residents and community groups sit on the panel, as well as representatives from government agencies involved. Questions will be taken from the public.

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