Fed regulators to meet with environmental group of 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, 2012. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission plans to meet with Friends of the Earth January 11, 2013 in Maryland to talk about a licensing issue with the plant.

The damaged San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station has been in shut down mode for 11 months. The utility that operates the plant wants to restart one of the damaged reactors. Federal regulators are expected to decide whether to allow it sometime next spring. But in about two weeks, federal regulators are expected to meet with plant opponents.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is meeting January 11 in Maryland with the environmental group Friends of the Earth – the group, which says the San Onofre plant should not be restarted at all. The opponents say Southern California Edison should have applied for a license amendment before replacing four steam generators from 2009 to 2011.

Now, there are two steam generators for each of the plant’s two reactors. Those defective generators, and the unusual wear on steam tubes in them, are the reason the plant has been shut down since January 31st.

As you recall, one of those tubes leaked a small amount of radioactive steam and later inspections found wear on the tubes in both of the two reactor units.

Friends of the Earth wants a formal hearing now in connection with Edison’s restart request to restart one of the plants two reactors for a limited time and at lower power than normal.

The NRC is expected to decide that issue by March. Friends of the Earth claims allowing the San Onofre nuclear plant to operate at less than full power should require a formal license hearing. Meantime, the plant remains shutdown.

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