The California Public Utilities Commission granted $64 million to Southern California Edison for seismic studies at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station May 10. The no-comment decision was made after a May 7 private commission meeting. Both assigned commissioner Mike Florio’s office, and regulators’ press office refused to reveal anything about the May 7 deliberations, other than noting the subject was “ratesetting.” The decision allows funding, noting that the cost is likely to exceed $64 million. The Division of Ratepayer Advocates recommended utility shareholders shoulder 10 percent of the studies’ cost. The decision denies the sharing mechanism, deeming the costs “reasonable.” The State Lands Commission is concerned that the using sonic testing for the studies could affect the health of marine mammals and have terrestrial environmental effects. The agency issued an Environmental Impact Report on similar studies planned for the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant earlier this spring noting the concerns. “It’s a very powerful sound,” said Cy Oggins, Lands Commission environmental planning and management chief. Edison plans to start studies in federal waters, according to a utility spokesperson. The Lands Commission has oversight only on state waters. It wouldn’t start an Environmental Impact Report for the project until the utility applies to the commission, said Oggins. The San Onofre facility is currently shut down due to safety concerns (see story page 1). Despite the potential costs of the studies, the Alliance for Nuclear Responsibility wants them to proceed “even if neither unit returns to operation.” The organization notes that despite shutdown, high-level radioactive spent fuel remains on site in pools and in dry cask storage. Also, Unit 1’s reactor is still on site, as Edison was unable to ship it to a radioactive waste repository in the decommissioning process. San Onofre is owned 78 percent by Edison, 20 percent by San Diego Gas & Electric, and 2 percent by Riverside. San Diego attempted to shed its ownership of the plant in the 1990s. The commission refused to allow the change, mandating the utility to remain part owner of the facility.