Southern California breaking news and trends

Over 1,300 tubes at San Onofre being taken out of service

San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station

Grant Slater/KPCC

A cyclist rides past the San Onofre Nuclear Power Plant on April 6, 2012.

The utility that runs the San Onofre nuclear power plant in California says over 1,300 damaged tubes in its ailing steam generators will be taken out of service.

The seaside plant between San Diego and Los Angeles has been offline for more than three months while investigators probe why hundreds of tubes in the virtually new equipment have eroded rapidly.

The figures released Tuesday come just days after a Southern California Edison executive said the company hopes to restart at least one of the twin reactors next month.

Federal regulators say there is no timetable for a restart, while activists charge the plant is unsafe.

Each of the four generators has nearly 10,000 tubes that carry radioactive water. The number retired is well within the limit allowed to continue operation.


Inspection at San Onofre finished, but no findings released yet

San Onofre Nuclear Plant

Grant Slater/KPCC

A runner passes by the San Onofre Nuclear Power Plant on April 6, 2012.

Inspections of faulty tubes that caused the shutdown of two reactors at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station have been completed, but findings are not yet being released, Southern California Edison said Friday.

Investigators are hoping that the inspections will pinpoint the cause of unusual wear in steam-generating tubes in Units 2 and 3, which was detected in January.

Findings from the inspections are being analyzed, SCE spokeswoman Jennifer Manfre said.

The inspections were undertaken at the behest of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which must give the go-ahead before the reactors come back online. It remains unclear when that may happen, Manfre added.

The tubes, which carry radioactive water, are being damaged by friction and vibration by neighboring tubes and bracing, but investigators do not know why that is occurring, especially as the equipment was only installed in 2009 and 2010.