Southern California Edison, which operates the 2,200 MW San Onofre nuclear power plant, is proposing a multimillion-dollar study that would use new technology to better assess seismic conditions near the complex.

The announcement by Southern California Edison follows calls by state and federal officials in the wake of Japan’s nuclear crisis for comprehensive reviews of the state’s two commercial nuclear power plants. SONGS Units 2 and 3 are Combustion Engineering pressurized water reactors. Unit 1, a Westinghouse pressurized water reactor, was retired in 1992.

The Los Angeles Times said the seismic study was planned before the crisis. Edison officials reportedly are reevaluating the scope of the project in light of Japan's nuclear crisis.

The study must first be approved by the California Public Utilities Commission, because its cost would be covered by ratepayers, the paper reported. SONGS is owned by SoCalEdison, San Diego Gas & Electric and the City of Riverside Utilities Department.

In recent weeks several elected officials have questioned whether operators of San Onofre and the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant had underestimated the potential severity of earthquakes near the facilities.

Edison officials said the proposed study would tap into new technology that could lead to a more accurate threat assessment. The paper said San Onofre was made to withstand a magnitude 7 quake from a fault five miles away and is protected by a 30-foot seawall. A study submitted by the utility to the utility commission in February reinforced those specifications, and officials said the plant could continue to operate reliably through its current license period, which expires in 2022.

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