Judge’s panel denies request for hearing on proposed technical changes to So Cal Edison’s license for San Onofre

SAN DIEGO (Wire Service) – A bid by an El Cajon-based citizen’s group to hold an evidentiary hearing on proposed technical changes to Southern California Edison’s license for the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station was denied today by a three-judge panel.

The judges, who make up the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Atomic Safety and Licensing Board, ruled against the request made in October by Citizens Oversight. The group is led by former congressional candidate and activist Ray Lutz.

He argued that the proposed changes would allow Rosemead-based SCE — the operator and majority owner of the troubled nuclear power plant in northern San Diego County — to conceal some technical specifications, and allow the utility to change them without prior public or NRC review.

The judges, however, found that the utility’s proposals were in line with previous NRC rulings. The panel dismissed other Citizens Oversight objections after finding that they weren’t affected by SCE’s proposals.

The nuclear plant has been shut down since a leak was discovered in one of the two reactors at the end of January. The other reactor was undergoing planned maintenance at the time, and neither has been restarted.

Anti-nuclear activists are opposed to any plans to resume operations at the seaside facility.

A group called Friends of the Earth contends that new steam generators installed at San Onofre in 2010 were of such a different design that SCE should have to go through rigorous procedure to amend its license before the plant returns to service.

NRC staff is reviewing the FOE’s demand for a hearing on that issue. The agency said briefs are still being submitted, so a ruling on whether to grant a hearing probably wouldn’t come until after January.

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