By Abby Sewell
June 4, 2013, 4:05 p.m.
The former head of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission said Southern California Edison’s plan to restart the darkened San Onofre nuclear plant at reduced power for safety reasons is “not one that instills tremendous confidence in me.”
Gregory Jaczko, who appeared Tuesday at a nuclear safety conference in San Diego, said Southern California Edison’s proposal to fire up one unit at the plant at reduced power and then shut it down for inspections is “a fairly novel idea.”
It’s not unusual for plants to operate at reduced power for market reasons, but Jaczko said it is unusual to do so for safety reasons as Edison proposed, and suggests that the company still has concerns about running at a higher power.
Jaczko also said he thinks the agency in the future needs to more carefully review major equipment replacements like the steam generators at San Onofre, which caused the plant’s shutdown.
Jaczko was head of the NRC when a tube in one of San Onofre’s newly replaced steam generators sprung a leak and released a small amount of radioactive steam. The leak led to the discovery that the tubes were wearing out at an unusual rate, and the plant has been shut down for more than a year.
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