LOS ANGELES (AP) — Environmentalists accused federal regulators of conducting a bogus review of a proposal to restart the damaged San Onofre nuclear power plant on the California coast, and nearby residents demanded the abandonment of the plan and the shutdown of the plant.
Just days after Southern California Edison asked the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for permission to repair and start the Unit 2 reactor, then run it at reduced power, the agency is facing pressure from groups critical of the nuclear power industry to initiate a review that could take months or even years to complete.
The NRC is "denying the public any meaningful voice" in the review to restart the plant, which has been shuttered since January, Friends of the Earth, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Committee to Bridge the Gap said in a joint statement Tuesday.
Their sentiments were echoed at a public meeting of the NRC that drew a crowd of more than 800 people later Tuesday.
"We cannot be used as an experiment to see if there will be more radiation leaks or release," said Grace Van Thillo, a resident of nearby San Clemente and a panelist at the meeting, according to the Orange County Register.
Another San Clemente resident and activist, Gene Stone, opened the public comments with his opposition to the restoration.
"We stand for decommissioning this old nuclear plant as soon as possible, before ratepayers or taxpayers spend any more money to repair it," Stone said.
Some residents spoke in support of getting the plant operational again, including Ken Schultz of Laguna Niguel, a retired nuclear engineer who said he lived 20 miles downwind of San Onofre.
"I don't see these as serious safety issues, and I urge the NRC to get on with their review," Schultz said.
The NRC has promised a transparent, thorough review of the proposal, which focuses on how the utility will fix faulty steam generators installed during a $670 million overhaul.