The California Public Utilities Commission, meeting at Irvine City Hall this morning, voted unanimously to investigate problems at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS). The results of that probe may effect the five-member panel's decision on whether Southern California Edison ratepayers should pick up the tab for losses suffered from the plant's nearly yearlong closure.
Edison was seeking the state PUC's blessing on a plan to restart one of two closed reactors and see how it runs not at full power, so it can be determined if problems associated with unusual tube wear in steam generators have been resolved. Non-lethal amounts of radiation entered the atmosphere along with the steam, according to authorities.
The federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission must also sign off on the Edison strategy, although the NRC is being heavily lobbied by local residents, city officials and environmental groups to keep the plant closed permanently. The NRC recently announced it has launched an investigation into cancer risks near SONGS.
In other recent related news, a hydrogen leak was detected there, although Edison says nothing radioactive entered the atmosphere–perhaps the first time in history people close by felt relieved by a hydrogen leak.