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NRC forbids San Onofre nuclear power plant to restart

San Onofre nuclear power plant prohibited from restarting The Nuclear Regulatory Commission lays out steps that Southern California Edison must take before the troubled San Onofre plant will be allowed to come back on line. By Abby Sewell, Los Angeles Times March 28, 2012 The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, citing serious concerns about
equipment failures at the San Onofre nuclear power plant, has prohibited Southern California Edison from restarting the plant until the problems are thoroughly understood and fixed.

The plant has been shut down for two months, the longest in San
Onofre’s history, after a tube leak in one of the plant’s steam
generators released a small amount of radioactive steam. Since then,
unusual wear has been found on hundreds of tubes that carry
radioactive water.

Neither regulators nor Edison have said when they believe the plant
will reopen. …..
State officials are already working on contingency plans to avoid
power outages during the summer months if the plant remains out of
commission. They are considering transmission upgrades, bringing back
retired generating units at a natural gas plant in Huntington Beach
and launching new conservation efforts, including flex-alerts to
encourage customers to use less energy.

Until now, the cause of the tube problems had been a mystery. But in a
letter federal regulators sent to Edison on Tuesday, officials said
tubes were vibrating and rubbing against support structures and
adjacent tubes.

According to the NRC, the tubes in Unit 3 were rubbing against each
other and against the support structures, while those in Unit 2 were
rubbing against the support structure but not against each other.
Commission spokeswoman Lara Uselding said the root cause of the issue
is still unclear…….
Also Tuesday, an advocacy group released a report alleging that design
flaws in the newly installed steam generators contributed to the

The report was commissioned by Friends of the Earth and prepared by
consultant Arnie Gundersen of Fairewinds Associates, a former nuclear
industry executive who is now a critic of the industry. The report
alleges that design changes — including a different alloy used to make
the tubes, a change in the flow rate, addition of more tubes and
changes in the support structures that hold the tubes in place —
probably caused the unexpected wear.

The generators were manufactured by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries…..,0,1692312.story


March 28, 2012 - Posted by | safety, USA

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