Wednesday, April 25th, 2012
Arnie Gundersen | | firstname.lastname@example.org | 802.238.4452
Shaun Burnie | at San Onofre | email@example.com | 202 957 1247
Joel Finkelstein, Fenton | firstname.lastname@example.org | 202.285.0113
San Onofre Crisis Update:
City Council Acts to Protect Public Safety,
While Nuclear Regulatory Commission Remains Silent
SAN CLEMENTE, CA – The Irvine City Council last night voted unanimously to demand action by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) over the troubled nuclear reactors at San Onofre. The vote came in response to growing concerns that federal regulators are not acting aggressively or transparently.
Three months after radiation was released by a broken tube at the San Onofre nuclear plant, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has not released an assessment of the root cause of the problems, which have kept the reactors offline. In addition, the NRC has yet to instruct plant owner Southern California Edison to treat both reactor units as identical – even after Edison’s statements downplaying the tube wear at reactor 2.
“The only blackout that exists at present is an information blackout,” said Arnie Gundersen, the nuclear engineer who conducted independent analyses about what really happened at San Onofre. “We have heard clear signals from Edison that they are hopeful of a restart this summer, yet they have failed to confirm the causes of the problems at San Onofre and have provided no detailed technical information.”
About Irvine City Council Action
The Irvine City Council agreed to send a letter to the NRC citing their opposition to the relicensing of the San Onofre plant and their concerns over high level nuclear waste and seismic risks at the site. The City of Irvine lies 22 miles from San Onofre, with a population of 220,000.
The City Council secured a commitment from Edison last night that the company will provide a detailed plan of action to the Council on May 8th on the energy efficiency measures that they will introduce this summer should the San Onofre reactors remain shutdown. The California Independent System Operator (ISO) has detailed that there is sufficient electrical power within the state to avoid any risk of blackout, if certain measures are taken by Edison.
“The people living downwind of the troubled San Onofre reactors have spoken out: this risk is not acceptable,” said Shaun Burnie, nuclear specialist with Friends of the Earth.
About Nuclear Regulatory Commission Inaction
One month ago, the NRC issued instructions to Edison calling for different actions at the two stricken reactors. However, even after the utility confirmed identical severe wear at both reactor units 2 and 3, the NRC has still not issued new instructions.
The NRC issued a Confirmatory Action Letter (CAL) to Edison on March 27th. At that time it accepted Edison’s explanation that the problems at reactor unit 2 were not as severe as those found at reactor unit 3. After Gundersen conducted two analyses commissioned by Friends of the Earth that detailed significant and identical changes to the steam generators in both reactors, Edison confirmed to the NRC on April 10th that they had found the same problems in both units. Yet the NRC has not issued a new CAL.
“The NRC can no longer justify its position of treating the problems at the reactors as separate. A root cause analysis of both reactors – not just unit 3 – remains essential,” Gundersen said.
“Edison is clearly aiming to restart at least one of the reactors at San Onofre as soon as they can,” said Burnie. “But they have failed to confirm the root cause of the problems, and have confirmed our analysis that the same severe wear exists at both reactors. The silence from NRC headquarters in Washington is deafening. The NRC must revise its earlier instructions to Edison and confirm that there are serious, identical problems at both reactors.”
Gundersen is a 40-year veteran of the nuclear power industry. A former nuclear industry senior vice president, he earned his Bachelor and Master Degrees in nuclear engineering, holds a nuclear safety patent, and was a licensed reactor operator. During his nuclear industry career, Gundersen managed and coordinated projects at 70 nuclear power plants around the country.