The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is likely to put out its report this week about what went wrong at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station. Both reactors at San Onofre have been shut since January 2012 due to premature wear found on tubes in steam generators installed in 2010 and 2011.
Southern California Edison (SCE) said in a statement that the company plans by the end of July to submit a plan to federal regulators to restart the Unit 2 reactor, where damage to tubes in its steam generators has been less severe than in its twin, Unit 3.
Once the cause of the problems is established, the next big question is how much it would cost to fix it. A steam generator replacement is a very expensive and time-consuming task. Each day one of those units is off-line can cost the utility approximately $2 million to purchase or generate power from other sources.
So far, a fix has remained elusive.
A proposal to restart either reactor must be approved by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and that review could take weeks or longer. SCE spokeswoman Jennifer Manfre said it’s likely the reactors will remain shuttered at least through August.
An investigation by a committee chaired by California Senator Barbara Boxer is also ongoing.
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In 2010, the plant had about 10 times the number of safety and health complaints as similar plants in other parts of the country. Employees contend that they were fired because they dared to come forward with safety concerns, and they were left without recourse because San Onofre sits on federal ground.
In an effort to boost public participation in San Onofre operations, the environmental group Friends of the Earth last month asked the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to hold license hearings and approve the group’s participation in them
In a 2009 report, the California Energy Commission recommended that state utility regulators determine whether San Onofre would benefit from that kind of oversight.
The California Public Utilities Commission never followed up on that recommendation, according to CPUC spokeswoman Terrie Prosper.
Source: AZ Central
Source: Capital Public Radio
Source: Inside Climate News
Source: San Diego Source
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