Southern California breaking news and trends

Edison prepares to pull radioactive fuel from San Onofre

Grant Slater/KPCC

The San Onofre Nuclear Power Plant is seen on April 6, 2012.

After months of mushrooming safety concerns and no timetable for a possible restart, plant operator Southern California Edison is preparing to pull radioactive fuel from one of the San Onofre Nuclear Plant reactors.

The Associated Press reports that the radioactive fuel in San Onfre's Unit 3 reactor will be moved into storage in mid-September, according to Nuclear Regulatory Commission senior inspector Gregory Warnick.

Edison says it will focus on repairing the less-damaged Unit 2 reactor.

The plant, located between Los Angeles and San Diego has been shut down since January, after a tube carrying radioactive water broke, causing a leak of radioactive steam. Widespread damage to tubing in both reactors was discovered during the course of the investigation.

Last week, Edison announced plans to cut 730 employees at the facility. The layoffs come after two years of analyzing staffing at similar nuclear power plants. The staff reductions are expected to start in the next month, leaving 1,500 employees at the plant.

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Power rangers: 'Flex Alert' declared to plug energy drain in California

power cord

Photo by Gavin Bell via Flickr Creative Commons

With the San Onofre nuclear plant on a government mandated time out, a "Flex Alert" has been issued by the managers of California's power grid in an attempt to keep state energy reserves from falling to the point of a Stage 1 Emergency.

On Thursday, California Independent System Operator declared the call for conservation to go into effect Friday through Sunday as the revenge of summer continues. The National Weather Service has warned valley and inland areas to prepare for unwelcomed humidity as the muggy insult to triple-digit-temp injury. 

Around Southern California, cooling centers can be found in Los Angeles CountyVentura CountyRiverside CountySan Bernardino County and by using the Southern California Edison cooling center locator map.

LADWP/EDISON ENERGY CONSERVATION TIPS

  • set thermostats no cooler than 78 degrees
  • limit large appliance use during peak hours (washing machines, dishwashers)
  • keep drapes and blinds closed to cool off rooms
  • ventilate homes at night and in the early a.m. to allow cool air to circulate
  • limit opening the refrigerator
  • turn off unnecessary lights
  • use ceiling fans or smaller fans instead of air conditioners

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San Onofre problems prompt possibility of policy change

San Onofre Nuclear Plant

Grant Slater/KPCC

The San Onofre Nuclear Power Plant is seen on April 6, 2012.

A rule allowing nuclear plant operators to replace certain equipment without prior approval from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is being reconsidered.

Speaking in North Carolina on Wednesday, NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko said the tubing trouble at San Onofre suggests the rules under which the generators were installed may need to be modified, the Associated Press reported.

The twin reactors, offline for months, will need federal approval to restart.  Plant operator Southern California Edison hoped to reopen in time for summer's peak energy use, however no projected timeline has been released.

Earlier this week, NRC Chairman Jaczko announced he will be stepping down from his post.

After nearly eight years on the Commission, I am announcing my resignation as Chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, effective upon the confirmation of my successor. My responsibility and commitment to safety will continue to be my paramount priority after I leave the Commission and until my successor is confirmed. 

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Blow the man down: Wednesday winds to bully LA mountains, desert, I-5 corridor

WINDY WINDS WEATHER VANE

Photo by Garry Knight via Flickr Creative Commons

Furious winds got the best of 50 power poles overnight in the Antelope Valley. Southern California Edison says it could take days to replace them, however only four Lancaster residents experienced a service interruption, said spokesman Daniel Brady.

The Antelope Valley and Santa Clarita Valley remain in high-wind-warning mode, and the mountains of Los Angeles, Ventura and Santa Barbara counties are on alert through early Thursday morning, says the National Weather Service.

Gusts reached 65 mph on Tuesday in some areas. Forecasters warn that the next round of Wednesday winds may bring even beefier blasts. The strongest blows are expected to bully L.A. mountains and the I-5 corridor. 

NWS urges driver caution in mountain regions, and in desert areas where blowing sand could be an additional issue.

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Fairewinds report blasts safety claims at San Onofre nuclear plant

Grant Slater/KPCC

The San Onofre Nuclear Power Plant is seen on April 6, 2012.

San Onofre is twisting in the breeze of the new Fairewinds safety report released by activist group Friends of the Earth.

The study raises serious doubts about safety at the Southern California nuclear facility, and says running at reduced power will not solve the tubing trouble that has plagued the plant.

Southern California Edison recently disclosed a tentative plan to run the twin reactors at an unspecified lower power, at least for several months. 

Engineers believed reduced power would ease the vibration causing the unusual deterioration of tubes inside the steam generators.

The Fairewinds report, however, says running at reduced power may actually make the damage worse and increase the possibility of cascading safety failures. 

The report also expands a previous allegation that Edison misled federal regulators about modifications to the generators. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) disputes that claim.

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