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San Onofre nuclear plant operators propose new seismic study


The operators of the San Onofre nuclear power plant are proposing a multimillion-dollar study that would use new technology to better assess seismic conditions near the complex.

The announcement by Southern California Edison follows calls by state and federal officials in the wake of Japan’s nuclear crisis for comprehensive reviews of the state’s two commercial nuclear power plants.

Edison officials said the study was planned long before the crisis, but officials were now reevaluating the scope of the project in light of recent events.

The study must first be approved by the California Public Utilities Commission, because its cost would be covered by higher rates, said spokesman Gil Alexander.

In recent weeks several elected officials have questioned whether operators of San Onofre, near San Clemente, and the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant, on the Central Coast, had underestimated the potential severity of earthquakes near the facilities.

Edison officials said the proposed study would tap into new technology that could lead to a more accurate threat assessment. San Onofre was made to withstand a magnitude 7 quake from a fault five miles away and is protected by a 30-foot seawall, Alexander said.

A study submitted by the utility to the utility commission in February reinforced those specifications, and officials said the plant could continue to operate reliably through its current license period, which expires in 2022.

“All of the best current available data still point in the direction of how the plant was designed,” Alexander said. “San Onofre can protect the public. That’s obviously the bottom line.”


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-- Paloma Esquivel

Photo: San Onofre nuclear power plant. Credit: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times

Comments () | Archives (5)

Please, skip the seismic study and put the money into shutting the plant down.

How about just skipping the millions for the study and closing the damn thing down! There is no 100% safe nuclear reactors. When will you guys get it?

The onus is on SCE to insure a safe operating power plant, and any costs involved should come out of shareholder dividends, not the pockets of the public. You want a monopoly? Then take the responsibility.

I love fishing there. The fish come out of the water already cooked.

There is also no 100% safe coal mine, nor a 100% clean gas plant. Find a 100% safe, reliable, source of energy that is in nobody's backyard, and we'd all go for it. Still waiting....

Do you want a profit driven utility? The CPUC controls (i.e. limits) the profit of utilities, thereby keeping the utilities from making critical decisions based solely on profits. The utilities go before the CPUC every few years to lay out their future expenses, and the CPUC decides what gets funded, and the profit allowed based on those expenses. Any additional expenses must go before the CPUC for approval. If the CPUC deems the expense to be in the best interest of the ratepayer, then they allow it. Sure, it's not perfect, but I'd much rather have the CPUC watching over utilities rather than let the utilities strive for maximum profit.

Remember deregulation? How'd that lack of a monopoly work for you?


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