It's Officially a Bummer Summer for San Onofre Nuclear Plant

Categories: Environment
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Southern California Edison has officially confirmed what has been assumed for weeks: its San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station will not come back online this summer.

The power giant is now looking at an August restart.

Dating back to January, there have been well-documented reports of unusual wear on relatively new tubes for steam generators in both reactors and, most recently, shaky sensors.

Things are Tough All Over for San Onofre Nuclear Plant

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is expected to present special inspection findings concerning the steam generator tube leak to plant operator Edison on June 18.

San Onofre Nuclear Plant Reopening Pushed Back as 1,300 More Damaged Tubes Found

Edison says it will present the NRC a plan for restarting Unit 2 in July but that it will take longer to return Unit 3 to service. The latter reactor is where the tube wear was first observed.

San Onofre Nuclear Plant Adds Shaky Sensor Problem to Other Recent Woes

On that note, there will be tests at the plant over the summer. Edison is warning nearby residents not to be freaked out by visible steam rising from an offline facility.

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Running at full capacity, SONGS meets about 19 percent of Southern California's energy needs. Heading into the power-sucking summer forced Edison and the California Independent Systems Operator to complete transmission lines, come up with conservation plans and put the AES natural gas plant in Huntington Beach back into service.

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The recent announcement by Ted Craver, CEO of Edison, that they will keep the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station shutdown for the summer without any expectations for blackouts should give the public some sense of relief, at least for now. However, according to Gary Headrick, Founder of San Clemente Green, “the short term plan to restart the plant at reduced power to see what happens should send shivers through every person living within 50 miles of San Onofre, if they only knew what was at stake”. Arnie Gundersen, an independent nuclear expert hired by the environmental group Friends of the Earth, has gone on record stating that the tube leak in the newly replaced steam generator on Unit 3 could actually have led to a very serious radioactive release and potential meltdown if the leak had not been immediately detected. Plugging damaged tubes which normally carry radioactive water at 2200 psi would only exacerbate the problem brought on by excessive vibration. It would be a reckless experiment exposing the public to unimaginable risk. The most reliable solution according to Gundersen would be to replace the steam generators with new ones, possibly going back the original design which lasted over 28 years. It is the intention of San Clemente Green to insist that inspection reports from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) are released to Mr. Gundersen immediately so that the people living in harm’s way will be provided with an independent third party review by the time of the first public hearing on the steam generator issue. Those requests have been largely ignored since a private meeting with NRC’s Chairman Jaczko last April, in stark contrast to their commitment to increase transparency at the NRC. The stated goal of rebuilding public confidence in a regulatory agency whose credibility has been tarnished will be further questioned if this request continues to be ignored. The prospect of ratepayers paying twice for some or all of the $671 million spent on the first replacement steam generators, or putting the public at risk while Edison experiments with faulty equipment will be met with strong opposition.  San Clemente Green along with other citizens groups intend to voice their concerns about Edison’s propositions at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s  first public meeting to be held in the San Juan Capistrano Community Center from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. on June 18. A large turnout is expected.  

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