Feds & Edison to meet Nov. 30 to consider restart plans for San Onofre nuclear plant

Grant Slater/KPCC

The San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station has been offline since a radioactive leak from a damaged steam generator tube January 31. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Southern California Edison meet November 30 in Laguna Hills to talk about plans to restart one of the plant's two reactor units.

The federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission plans to meet with Southern California Edison on Friday, November 30 in Laguna Hills to talk about Edison’s plans to restart the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station.

The nuclear plant, along the seaside border of San Diego and Orange counties, has been shut down since a radioactive steam leak January 31.

The NRC and Southern California Edison (SCE) will talk about how to fix steam generator tubes so one of the plant’s two units can be restarted, but at a limited capacity.

The nuclear plant has two operating units. Last January, one reactor, Unit 2,  was already in shutdown mode for scheduled maintenance. The unit in operation, Unit 3, had a radioactive steam leak January 31 and SCE shut down the reactor.

Inspections discovered that steam generator tubes, which carry radioactive water, had unusual or accelerated wear in both units.  Now, Edison has submitted a plan to restart one of the two reactor units, Unit 2, and operate it for a limited time – about five months – at 70 percent capacity. The idea is to see how it operates.

Southern California Edison said there are no plans to restart Unit 3, which Edison officials say is more damaged than Unit 2. Now, these steam generator tubes were relatively new, installed in 2010 and 2011.

Anti-nuclear groups, including Friends of the Earth, have said the entire plant should be shut down permanently. The group has voiced concerns about whether the one reactor unit should be restarted at all, even in a limited capacity.

Friends of the Earth and other plant opponents and supporters, are expected to be at the public meeting in Laguna Hills. They will be listening intently as the NRC and SCE officials talk specifics about the technical issues leading to the failure of those steam generator tubes and what the plans are to fix them.

In the meantime, the entire plant has been shutdown for nearly ten months. And the California Public Utilities Commission is investigating whether ratepayers should get refunds for all the months the plant has not been generating electricity.

SCE is expected to respond to the NRC’s Confirmatory Action Letter concerning actions required to be taken to address steam generator tube degradation at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station during the meeting.

The meeting will be held between 6 and 9 p.m. (PST) at the Hills Hotel, 25205 La Paz
Road in Laguna Hills, Calif.

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