RPT-Nuclear panel rules San Onofre restart requires public hearing

Mon May 13, 2013 6:11pm EDT

HOUSTON May 13 (Reuters) - An independent nuclear regulatory panel on Monday called for a full public hearing on the proposed restart of one of the two damaged San Onofre nuclear reactors, a move that could delay Southern California Edison's effort to operate the plant this summer.

The Atomic Safety and Licensing Board ruling favored petitioner Friends of the Earth, a group that sought a hearing on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's (NRC) restart process regarding steam generator issues at the San Onofre nuclear power plant.

Both reactors at the 2,150-megawatt San Onofre nuclear station, halfway between Los Angeles and San Diego, have been shut since January 2012 following discovery of a serious problem with accelerated degradation of tubes in the units' new steam generators.

SCE, a unit of Edison International, is seeking approval from the NRC to restart San Onofre 2 this summer and to run the unit at a reduced rate for five months.

The three-member board of administrative judges, independent of the NRC staff, conducts adjudicatory hearings on major agency licensing actions.

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