FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE August 3, 2011
Today, the consumer law firm of Aguirre & Severson LLP announced that it is suing FERC, the Federal Regulatory Energy Commission on the grounds that it has intentionally suppressed evidence relative to the failure of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating System on September 8, 2011, during the largest blackout in California history.
On the afternoon of September 8, 2011, the nuclear generators at San Onofre were at the epicenter of the biggest blackout in California history, affecting an area larger than Northern Europe of electricity (see map of affected areas). The power outage, which plunged much of Southern California and Northern Mexico into darkness, has been dubbed the "Homer Simpson Blackout" because it was initially blamed on a single bumbling utility worker in Arizona, according to official investigations.
But new evidence shows that the Federal Regulatory Energy Commission, or "FERC," the agency responsible for ensuring the reliability of energy supplies across state lines, conducted what appears to be a Keystone Cops style investigation into the outage by allowing Southern California Edison - the biggest utility involved in the blackout - to destroy evidence critical to FERC's investigation into what went wrong.
Documents uncovered by Aguirre & Severson, which are being published on the law firm's web site at www.amslawyers.com later today, show that Southern California Edison actively destroyed vital evidence before FERC could review Southern California Edison's role in the blackout.
According to ratepayer attorney Maria Severson:
"Edison destroyed evidence about its complicity
within days after the blackout with the full knowledge
of FERC's oversight. Today's evidence shows that
FERC did nothing to stop them."
Documents show a persistent pattern of regulatory collusion with big utilities.
The allegations that FERC may have enabled a cover up at San Onofre are troubling because it shows a persistent pattern of evidence destruction and suppression of evidence by Southern California Edison with the tacit cooperation of State and Federal regulators.
The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) is currently under criminal investigation for its alleged collusion with Edison in rate-setting cases. In an especially damning example of what appears to be unlawful activity involving San Onofre, CPUC judge Melanie Darling secretly called a top Edison executive on the phone to negotiate terms prior to public hearings on Edison's failed nuclear generators.
During the secret meeting, Darling appears to have colluded with Edison to split the public hearings into three separate hearings. Darling's three-hearing schedule successfully prevented a legally-required investigation into whether Southern California Edison was financially responsible for the failed nuclear generators, and paved the way for a massive ratepayer-funded bailout of Edison.
In another example of potential collusion with regulators, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) ruled that an investigation into whether or not Edison was at fault when it installed nuclear generators was not necessary. The ruling was made despite the fact the generators installed by Edison were not approved or licensed by the NRC in violation of NRC rules (see "Regulators Close Case Questioning San Onofre Nuclear Repairs").
"What today's emails show," says Attorney
Mike Aguirre "is that FERC played pattycake
with Southern California Edison. It wasn't an investigation, it was a tea-party."
"FERC allowed Southern California Edison to destroy all the evidence before it conducted its investigation," says Severson, "We may never know the true cause of the 2011 blackout or what role San Onofre played in the worst blackout in California history."
According to Mike Aguirre, "What's truly alarming about this is that the same people responsible for San Onofre are also responsible for safely managing the nuclear waste at San Onofre."
For more information visit www.amslawyers.com or contact Charles Langley at (858) 752-4600 to arrange an interview.