Workers install monitoring equipment in San Onofre Reactor 3

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Southern California Edison (SCE) installed monitoring instruments at Unit 3 at the 2,200 MW San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station in California to find a leak.  It will take until the middle of next week before inspectors get a close look at a tube leak that prompted operators to shut down a nuclear plant on the California coast, officials said Friday.

Southern California Edison spokesman Gil Alexander said there is no estimate when the repairs will begin on Unit 3, which was taken offline January 31 as a precaution.

He said “To make sure we know for sure, absolutely what happened inside these 9,727 tubes of this steam generator that would have caused this leak,” said Alexander. “We want to be sure we have a clear picture of what repairs are necessary and then we’ll proceed on with those repairs.”

At the same time, Alexander said the tube inspection process continues at Unit 2, or the northern dome, to verify preliminary findings made public last week by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

The temperature inside Unit 3 was 105 degrees on Friday, and company spokeswoman Jennifer Manfre said more time was needed for the plant to cool to make it safe for workers and equipment.

“We won’t be going in for full assessment of the leak until the middle of next week,” she said.

With the extent of the problem unknown, it’s too soon to estimate the cost of repairs or predict when Unit 3 will resume generating power, she added.

The new generators were installed because the originals, designed to last the full life of the reactors they cooled, were failing after only 20 years. Majority plant owner Southern California Edison successfully argued at that time that replacing the steam generators would be cheaper than monitoring and inspecting the old ones for damage. Utility customers bore the full cost of replacement through increased rates.

The California Public Utilities Commission, in granting Edison the right to charge ratepayers for the original retrofit, capped costs associated with the project at $782 million. The Public Utilities Commission’s decision means that further costs, including repairs to the new system, should be charged against the profits of shareholders in the company, rather than once again billed to utility customers.

Source: UT San Diego

Source: San Diego Reader

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