David McNew/Getty Images
A shot of the San Onofre nuclear power plant.
The federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission has ordered theSan Onofre nuclear power plant to remain offline until problems there have been fully understood and fixed. The plant has been shut down since January, when station operators detected a leak in a steam generator tube that carries radioactive water.
The order follows a recent report commissioned by the environmental group Friends of the Earth, which claims Southern California Edison misled regulators about design changes at the plant and charges that many of the generator tubes have been deteriorating rapidly. Southern California Edison says it has maintained open communication with federal regulators and will not restart reactors until it’s safe to do so. A team of inspectors from the Commission is working with Edison to assess the problems.
On Tuesday, Irvine city leaders called for the plant to be decommissioned safely – as soon as possible. Residents from across the region packed council chambers expressing concerns about nuclear waste stored at the plant, health risks and inadequate evacuation plans. The San Onofre plant, which is located north of San Diego, is the only nuclear power plant in Southern California. It produces more than 2,000 megawatts of power. That’s enough electricity to serve about 1.4 million households.
Will Southern California Edison be able to restart the plant before the summer? If not, how will they avoid power outages? How serious are the issues at San Onofre? Can they be fixed? Or it is time to close the plant down for good and turn to other sources of power?
Ed Joyce, KPCC’s Orange County Reporter
Larry Agran, Irvine City Councilmember