American Scene: Equipment change at Calif. nuke plant approved

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CALIFORNIA

LOS ANGELES — Federal regulators Thursday concluded that the operator of the San Onofre nuclear power plant in California did not mislead the government about extensive modifications to its troubled steam generators, where damage has been found on scores of tubes that carry radioactive water.

Environmental activists had accused Southern California Edison of duping the Nuclear Regulatory Commission about a series of changes to the massive machines, including boosting the number of tubes and redesigning internal supports.

The seaside plant between San Diego and Los Angeles has been shuttered since January, after a tube break in one of the generators released traces of radiation.

An NRC report concluded that Edison “provided the NRC with all the information required under existing regulations about proposed design changes to its steam generators,” according to an agency statement.

But a key issue remains under study: whether the agency needs to change the process that was used to approve the replacement generators.

Daniel Hirsch, a lecturer on nuclear policy at the University of California, Santa Cruz, who is a critic of the industry, said the agency was attempting to exonerate itself from blame for the plant’s ongoing troubles.

NEW YORK

5 killed in chain-reactioncrash in work zone

ANTWERP — A chain-reaction crash that started when a tractor-trailer rear-ended a vehicle in a work zone in northern New York on Thursday left five people dead and two people critically injured, state police said.

Trooper Jack Keller said all five people killed were riding in an SUV that had stopped or was moving slowly Thursday morning because of road repaving on Route 11 in the Jefferson County town of Antwerp. He said the truck slammed into the back of one vehicle, causing collisions with a state Department of Transportation truck and the SUV, which burst into flames.

A woman and a transportation worker were in critical condition, Trooper Keller said. The tractor-trailer driver was taken to a hospital for treatment and was to be tested for drugs and alcohol, he said.

The SUV that carried five people was registered in New York, Trooper Keller said. Police were attempting to determine if all five victims were from the same family, he said.

The crash happened near Fort Drum, 85 miles northeast of Syracuse. The collision occurred along a straight, flat section of two-lane Route 11, the main east-west road across four rural northern counties along the Canadian border. There were plenty of signs warning motorists approaching the area that crews were working on the road, Trooper Keller said.

Transportation spokesman William Reynolds confirmed that a state crew was repaving the road and that one of the agency’s employees was injured and airlifted to a hospital in Syracuse.

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