SoCal Edison Sues Mitsubishi Over San Onofre Plant Closure

Categories: Environment

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Today, Southern California Edison (SCE) announced the inevitable: it's filing a lawsuit against Mitshubishi, the Japanese company that made the faulty replacement steam generators which led to the downfall of SCE's San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS).

The lawsuit argues that Mitsubishi had promised SCE that the generators would last 20 years, but instead failed in less than a decade of use, leading to the plant being taken offline in January 2012 and permanently shuttered last month.

"Our action is about making sure that Mitsubishi takes responsibility for providing the defective steam generators that led to the closing of SONGS,'' argues SCE President Ron Litzinger.

Fair enough. But SCE's attempt to blame Mitsubishi for the SONGS debacle is remarkably self-serving.

First of all, until June 7, when SCE officials suddenly abandoned their quest to restart SONGS while also skirting a lengthy public hearing about the plant's safety, the company had been arguing that the very same generators they now admit are "faulty" would pose no danger to the public. In their press conference announcing SONGS' retirement, they tried to claim they'd done nothing wrong.

Yet documents unearthed by the activist group Friends of the Earth and first reported by the Weekly in March reveal that even before Mitsubishi had finished building the replacement steam generators, SCE already had serious doubts they'd ever work as expected.

The showdown between Mitsubishi and SCE will go a long way to answering the question of how much cost SCE will push on to ratepayers. So far, the company has estimated that it has lost more than half a billion dollars since taking the plant offline. Last month, SCE began laying off workers at the plant, which will help SCE save some cash. More good news, for SCE at least? The company has a no-bid contract to decommission the plant over the next several years.

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