California utility denies accusation over faulty reactor parts

LOS ANGELES Thu Feb 7, 2013 12:44pm EST

LOS ANGELES Feb 7 (Reuters) - The owner of a shuttered California nuclear power plant on Thursday rejected suggestions by two lawmakers that it had been aware of problems with the reactors' steam generators before installation, calling the comments "simply not accurate".

Southern California Edison was responding to a letter sent on Wednesday by Senator Barbara Boxer and Representative Edward Markey to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

The letter asked the watchdog to investigate a confidential 2012 document that the lawmakers said showed that some safety modifications were rejected by SCE and the maker of the steam generators, Japan's Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, before their installation at the San Onofre plant.

San Onofre's nuclear reactors have been shut for more than a year because workers detected a leak in a tube in one of its two new steam generators.

"SCE would never, and did not, install steam generators that it believed would not perform safely," the utility said in a statement.

The document cited by Boxer and Markey was submitted to the NRC by Mitsubishi Heavy "months ago", SCE said, as part of the commission's consideration of the utility's request to restart one of the San Onofre reactors.

San Onofre sits on the California coast halfway between Los Angeles and San Diego. It is the largest power plant in southern California.

Southern California Edison is a unit of Edison International .

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