Southern California breaking news and trends

San Onofre worker falls into reactor pool at nuclear plant

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A veteran worker lost his balance at the San Onofre nuclear plant last week and fell into the Unit 2 reactor pool while trying to retrieve a flashlight. The pool, more than 20 feet deep, contains water that continually circulates through the reactor core.

The worker did not suffer significant radiation exposure in the incident, and was "wearing all of the appropriate safety equipment, including a life preserver vest," said Southern California Edison spokesman Gil Alexander told the L.A. Times.

Highly radioactive uranium fuel normally sits at the bottom of the pool, but it had been removed by workers, according to officials. Stray fuel particles may have been floating in the water and could have been swallowed. They would have been the most likely source of radiation, said Nuclear Regulatory Commission spokesman Victor Dricks.

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Tubes pumping radioactive water are showing 'unusual' wear at San Onofre

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San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station

Tubes inside a new steam generator at San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station are showing unusual and potentially dangerous signs of deterioration, federal regulators announced on Thursday.

"The amount of wear that we are seeing on these tubes is unusual for a new steam generator," said Nuclear Regulatory Commission spokesman Victor Dricks. 

More than 800 tubes of the San Diego County plant showed a 10 percent thinning in the tube wall, officials said. 69 others had at least 20 percent thinning. And two tubes needed to be plugged and taken out of service because a third of the wall was worn away.

"If you have that kind of thinning anywhere along the length of the tube, you have a problem because it degrades the integrity of the tube, which can contribute to leaks," explained Dricks.

Safety implications could be "very severe," warned Joram Hopenfeld, a retired NRC engineer and researcher, as the tubes are one of the primary barriers to radioactivity

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Feds say tiny radiation leak may have occurred at San Onofre

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David McNew/Getty Images

San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station

According to federal regulators, a small amount of radiation could have escaped from San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station after a water leak forced operators to shut down the reactor at the power plant.

Nuclear Regulatory Commission spokesman Victor Dricks says a small amount of radioactive gas "could have" escaped the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station on the northern San Diego Coast.

Gil Alexander, a spokesman for Southern California Edison, told the Associated Press that the amount would have been "extremely small" and possibly not detectable by monitors.

Both the company and federal regulators say the release would not have posed a public safety risk.

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