Motion to have San Onofre hearing denied

SAN ONOFRE, Calif. - Environmentalists who tried to get the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to issue a stay to prevent a restart of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station said Thursday their motion was denied.

However, the Friends of the Earth's request for a stay, and to have plant operator Southern California Edison go through a licensing amendment process for new steam generators, will be reviewed by NRC staff and the agency's Atomic Safety and Licensing Board. The five-member, presidentially appointed panel made the decision in Rockville, Md.

The FOE contends the license granted to Edison should have been amended when new steam generators were installed two years ago since they were of a different design than what was in the original permit.

A leak in one of the reactors at the end of January led to the shutdown of the nuclear plant on the northern San Diego County coastline. The other reactor was already offline for maintenance.

An investigation found an unusual amount of wear in many of the thousands of steam tubes in the plant's generating systems. SCE has been conducting tests on the two units at San Onofre.

The environmental group has been fighting for months to keep the reactors from being restarted. The utility and NRC have both said there will be no restart until the plant is deemed to be safe.

The California Public Utilities Commission is also investigating the nuclear plant, including the issue of whether ratepayers should receive refunds for the time it has been out of service. San Diego Gas & Electric owns one-fifth of the facility and receives 20 percent of its power.

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