Crowd size at San Onofre nuclear hearing to be limited

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A meeting between federal regulators and Southern California Edison officials to discuss the fate of the San Onofre nuclear plant has been rescheduled after the hotel originally selected as the venue backed out.

The NRC and Edison are set to discuss a restart plan that Edison submitted last month for one of the plant’s two reactors. Both have been out of service since January because of issues with unexpected wear on steam generator tubes that carry radioactive water.


The meeting is now set for Nov. 30 from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Hills Hotel in Laguna Hills. It had originally been slated to take place two weeks earlier at the DoubleTree Suites by Hilton Hotel Doheny Beach in Dana Point on Nov. 9, but the hotel backed out, citing concerns that the crowd would be too large.

The NRC said in a statement that the seating capacity at the new venue is limited to about 400 people and encouraged people to watch a webcast of the meeting or to call in to a phone bridge.

The announcement rubbed some the wrong way.

Gary Headrick, founder of activist group San Clemente Green, which has been pushing to keep San Onofre shut down, wrote to NRC representatives Tuesday: ‘I am very disappointed that you would pick a venue that will only accommodate 400 people after I explained how that would be a problem. I offered to help find other locations because I know that our numbers are growing.’

In a previous email Headrick told NRC spokesman Victor Dricks that he expected a crowd of 1,500. Dricks replied, ‘Because this is a technical working meeting between the NRC and Southern California Edison the decision was made to hold the meeting in a 400 seat venue with webcasting and a phone bridge.’

The meeting will be webcast live at The phone bridge is available by calling (888) 913-9973 and entering the pass code 9941895 when prompted.

Atomic Safety and Licensing Board panels are also preparing to hear arguments from two groups that have requested NRC hearings on different issues relating to San Onofre. The quasi-judicial panel will hear arguments from Citizens Oversight, which filed an objection to license amendments requested by Edison, on Dec. 5. The requested amendments are unrelated to the steam generator issues.

In a separate hearing, another ASLB panel will deal with a hearing request from the group Friends of the Earth that does relate to the steam generator issues and Edison’s restart plan. A date for that hearing has not been set.

-- Abby Sewell