San Onofre: No restart plan submitted – No root cause identified

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Edison International announced in an e-mail statement, that it hasn’t filed a request with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to restart its San Onofre nuclear plant, adding that any forward-looking statements regarding potential June restart dates in media reports were for “planning purposes only” and “are subject to change”.

Edison expects to submit its restart plan by mid-May to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which must sign off on it, Stephen Pickett, executive vice president at Edison’s Southern California Edison utility, said in a telephone interview.

Regulators may also review the $592 million the utility has spent to install the generators two years ago, Pickett said.

The utility acknowledged that any startup plans must have prior approval from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

“To the extent that the plant is not operating at full power, replacement power will have to be acquired elsewhere, so those costs will continue to rise,” Pickett said.  Mitsubishi’s warranty does not cover replacement power, so some or all of that cost may be passed on to ratepayers.

Ted Craver, chairman of SCE parent Edison International, told investors in a phone call last week that unusual wear was found in roughly 1 percent of nearly 39,000 tubes in the steam generators.

The operators of the troubled San Onofre nuclear plant now say more than 1,300 steam generator tubes have been plugged.

Southern California Edison (SCE), released a document Tuesday, stating that 807 tubes have been taken out of service at Unit 3 reactor, over 4 percent of the total 19,454 tubes in the two steam generators.

The Unit 2 reactor had 510 plugged tubes, over 2.5% as noted in the same document.

This is not the final tally, and the numbers could further increase prior to any restart, depending on how much testing and analysis is performed, and at what specifications. The higher the power, the greater the flow and the more likely the tubes are to vibrate.

Each generator was built with an 8 percent design margin for plugging (Under 1,600), according to a recent regulatory filing by manufacturer Mitsubishi Heavy Industries of Japan.

No comment was made on what exceeding that threshold would mean.

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