The restart date for the San Onofre nuclear generating station remains uncertain, despite the plant operator suggesting that it could be back online as early as June.

Southern California Edison (SCE) and the California Independent System Operator Corporation (ISO) issued a statement, 8 May, seeking to clarify media statements regarding the restart of the plant.

It said that the June date for the restart of SONGS units 2 and 3 reported in the media was ‘purely an administrative matter…for planning purposes only and subject to change.’

The move comes a day after the head of the US nuclear regulator Gregory Jaczko issues an abrupt statement saying that any talk of a date for the reactors in ‘clearly premature.’

“There is no NRC timetable for restart of the San Onofre nuclear reactors, which have been shut down over safety issues affecting the steam generators,” Jaczko said.

“We have yet to receive the utility’s written response documenting their completion of actions described in the March 27 Confirmatory Action Letter, so any discussion of a date for the restart of Unit 2 or Unit 3 is clearly premature. Once we receive their response, we will take whatever time is necessary to conduct a thorough safety review.”

SCE maintains that the units will only be returned to service when SCE and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) are satisfied it is safe to do so. SCE admits that it has not filed a request with the NRC seeking to restart the plant.

“We want to clarify the use of planning dates and make sure it is clear that there is no timeline on nuclear safety,” said SCE President Ron Litzinger.