Matters concerning San Onofre plant move to International Chamber of Commerce

SAN DIEGO (CNS) – The dispute between the operator of the idled San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station in northern San Diego County and the maker of equipment blamed for last year's reactor leak moved to the International Chamber of Commerce Wednesday.

Southern California Edison, which owns the majority of the plant, said it filed a request for binding arbitration with the ICC, which among other services helps to resolve disputes between companies in different countries.

Edison contends that Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Mitsubishi Nuclear Energy Systems have not taken responsibility for defects in steam generators that they built and installed at San Onofre.

Authorities say vibrations caused steam pressure tubes to wear out quicker than expected, resulting in a small, non-injury leak in January 2012. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has ruled that inadequate computer modeling during the design process led to the problem.

The reactor where the leak occurred was shut down. The other unit was undergoing maintenance at the time. Neither was restarted and Edison decided in June to retire the plant.

“We are taking this step today to ensure that Mitsubishi takes responsibility for providing defective steam generators and to recover, on behalf of our customers, all damages from Mitsubishi for its failures,” said Ron Litzinger, SCE president.

The utility contends that “Mitsubishi totally and fundamentally breached its contract by failing to deliver what it promised.” SCE also alleges that Mitsubishi failed to submit to a “contractually mandated audit requiring it to disclose documents relevant to the design and other aspects of the replacement steam generator project and its implementation.”

Earlier this month, the utility said it has spent $140 million on San Onofre since the leak, but that Mitsubishi has only offered to take responsibility for $7.6 million.

A spokesman for Mitsubishi Nuclear Energy Systems has said the company has no comment.

Edison said a panel of three ICC arbitrators will oversee the proceedings in San Francisco. The contract with Mitsubishi is governed by California law.

Categories: KUSI