In a move that may not have been surprising, Southern California Edison (SCE) has formally served Mitsubishi Heavy Industries with a Notice of Dispute for designing and manufacturing defective replacement steam generators that led to the recent closing of the San Onofre nuclear plant.
“Our action is about making sure that Mitsubishi takes responsibility for providing the defective steam generators that led to the closing of the San Onofre nuclear plant,” said Ron Litzinger, president of SCE, in a statement released earlier this morning.
The Mitsubishi manufactured steam generators came with a 20-year warranty, but after less than one year of operation, one of the units experienced a small radioactive coolant leak and SCE was forced to take the San Onofre nuclear plant offline in early 2012. According to the contract, for the past 16 months Mitsubishi has been required to repair the defective steam generators “with due diligence and dispatch” but has not done so, as stated in the Notice of Dispute.
This past June, SCE made the difficult decision to close the San Onofre nuclear plant permanently. The company came to the decision after months of uncertainty about whether the nuclear plant could return to operation, and it felt this uncertainty was also not good for its customers, investors or the need to plan for the region’s long-term electricity needs.
“With this decision, SCE is now focused on looking ahead to planning for California’s energy future,” said Litzinger on June 7 when announcing the nuclear plant’s closure.
In the news release issued today, SCE says that when they made the decision to enter into a contract with Mitsubishi to replace the steam generators at San Onofre, it did so with the expectation that it would be to extend the life of the nuclear plant so it could continue to provide safe, reliable and affordable power to its 4.9 million customers.
In the Notice of Dispute filed today, SCE states that Mitsubishi breached this contract and failed to deliver its promise of providing operable replacement steam generators. The company believes the design of the steam generators was based on faulty computer modeling by Mitsubishi and its engineers.
Specifically, the tube-to-tube wear that was a result of excessive vibrations in the defective steam generators caused a small coolant leak that eventually prompted SCE’s decision to take the nuclear plant offline in early 2012.
With the filing of the notice today, Mitsubishi now has 90 days to resolve the issues outlined in the document. If a resolution is not reached during the next three months, SCE plans to enter arbitration against Mitsubishi to recover damages.
SCE believes the liability limitations in the contract with Mitsubishi do not apply under the provisions of California law and they are entitled to recover the full damages they have incurred.