Southern California Edison, owner of the now-defunct San Onofre nuclear plant, has made documents available on a website relating to the ill-fated steam generator replacement that prompted the plant's closure.
The documents, some of which had not been previously released, include correspondence and minutes of meetings between staff from Edison and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries — the Japanese company that was contracted to manufacture the replacement generators — about their design, and documents submitted to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Edison said in a statement that some of the documents had been redacted at Mitsubishi's request, but that it was seeking permission to make unredacted versions public.
Ron Litzinger, president of Southern California Edison, said in the statement that the document library will help the public, elected officials and regulators to better understand what went wrong at the plant.
“It is vitally important that we all achieve a full understanding of the facts so that future decisions by regulators and legislators are based on transparency and the highest quality information,” he said.
Installation of the new generators was completed in 2011, but in January 2012, a tube in one of them sprung a leak, releasing a small stream of radioactive steam and prompting the plant's shutdown.
In June, Edison announced that the plant would be closed permanently, in the face of rising costs and uncertainty as to whether federal regulators would approve a proposal to restart one of the plant's two units at partial power while they tried to find a permanent fix.
Edison has since opened legal proceedings against Mitsubishi, calling the steam generators "a lemon" and seeking damages that could top $2 billion.
Who will ultimately bear the cost of the shutdown — including what portion, if any, will fall on ratepayers — remains to be determined. Mitsubishi maintained that there was no way to foresee the issues that arose at San Onofre, as they had not been seen before in the industry.
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