The San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station continues to rank No. 1 in the nation for both substantiated and unsubstantiated safety complaints at nuclear plants, according to new figures from federal regulators.
The number of substantiated safety allegations at San Onofre was more than six times the national average in 2011, a significant drop from its peak in 2010 when it was 15 times the average. But even with the decline, San Onofre was -- for the third year in a row -- the national leader in safety allegations substantiated by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
And in the first two months of this year, the plant -- which has been shut down since the end of January when a broken tube caused a small radiation leak -- again generated more safety complaints from workers than any of the country’s other 64 nuclear plants.
Despite the plant's poor record, its operator, Southern California Edison, continues to issue assurances that safety is their top concern.
“Our No. 1 priority is, and always has been, the health and safety of the public and our employees,” said Edison's president, Ron Litzinger, in a recent video message about San Onofre.
Nonetheless, in the past four years San Onofre has far exceeded all other American nuclear plants in every category of safety complaint to federal regulators, with nearly 300 allegations of safety problems, 33 complaints of discrimination for reporting safety issues and 63 substantiated safety allegations, according to a report at the voiceofoc.org.
Federal regulators determined two years ago that some nuclear safety issues at San Onofre don’t receive the attention they deserve, with many workers fearing retaliation for reporting safety issues to the government.
Edison did not return calls from the Voice of OC seeking comment on the plant's recent safety record.
Last year, workers and others lodged 48 safety complaints against San Onofre, with eight substantiated by federal regulators. Read the details on the safety violations at the San Onofre nuclear power plant here.