Update: San Onofre Nuclear Reactor Shut Down After Leak

Radioactive water spills into containment dome, yet there is no danger to the public, officials say.

The San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station shut down its Unit 3 Tuesday afternoon because sensors detected a leak in the unit's steam generator tubes.

"The potential leak poses no imminent danger to the public or plant workers," according to a Southern California Edison statement. "There has been no release to the atmosphere."

San Onofre spokesman Gil Alexander said sensors tripped this afternoon, showing mildly radioactive water was leaking from one of two water systems in the steam generator apparatus of Unit 3.

The water that touches the radioactive fuel rods--the water that is now leaking--is sealed in a series of tubes that, in turn, transfer heat to boil water in the second course. That non-radioactive water becomes the steam that turns the massive turbine blades.

A third course of seawater condenses the steam in another part of the plant.

Alexander said it is the system with the contaminated water that shows evidence of leaking. All leakage is contained within the thick concrete containment dome, he said.

The plant is set to shut itself down at the first sign of problems, that plunged Southern California into darkness in September.

But this leak was minor enough that it did not trigger the automatic shutdown of the unit; plant workers initiated it manually as a precaution at 5:31 p.m. Tuesday, Alexander said.

Alexander said Tuesday night that the dome is closed off and technicians are cooling down the reactor, a process that takes about 12 hours. After the cool-down, a crew will enter the dome, assess the leak and take steps to begin repairing it.

Visit Patch tomorrow for updates on this process.

Unit 2 is currently offline for a planned maintenance, refueling and technology upgrade outage.



SCE has ample reserve power to meet customer needs while Unit 3 is offline, according to a company spokesman, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission was immediately informed of the shutdown.

New 640-ton steam generators were installed in 2010 in the north dome and the ones in the south dome were replaced in 2009 as part of a .

—City News Service contributed to this report

Gene Stone February 01, 2012 at 04:01 AM
When will Songs tell the public the truth about radiation releases & the dangers to us? How long will we have to put up w/this? When will the city have radiation monitors to let know what is really going on at SONGS? This is a clear and present danger to the health of our children.
Syn-Melynda Syndee Murphy February 01, 2012 at 04:20 AM
Possible Leak!!! & No Danger to The Public...YEA PHUKK"IN RIGHT---Why Do "They" Downplay Dangerous disasters & Desecration of the Environment..smh..
Libbe February 01, 2012 at 04:21 AM
Any leak at a nuclear reactor is potentially dangerous. Yet no matter what happens at a reactor, no matter how bad, first word from the NRC, the plant operators, anyone in a position of power or authority is "Hey, no biggie, go back about your business!" The only thing you can count on within the nuclear-industrial complex is that they will never tell the truth if there's a problem. They cannot be trusted. And at San Onofre (whoever labeled it "SONGS" must be laughing as its protestors sound like we don't like music!), where the safety record is many times worse than the next worst nuclear facility in the country, no problem that appears is "no problem." It's all bad. It's playing games with our lives and the genetic future of our great-grandchildren and our planet. And for what? Publicly subsidized electricity that makes a million dollars a day for plant operators? Not worth it. Get rid of them - now! (Or do you really want to wait until you hear the sirens and there's no way to escape?)
Mary Beth Brangan February 01, 2012 at 04:25 AM
Nuclear reactors are seldom shut down unless there is a REAL problem. We probably won't know for awhile, but assurances of no leaks don't ring true. Hopefully, SONGS will be truthful so people can protect themselves, but we shouldn't have to rely on their reports of radiation levels. We need independent radiation monitoring!
Donna Gilmore February 01, 2012 at 04:32 AM
San Onofre is down and yet we have plenty of power here in Southern California. Why are we risking our lives, the environment and the future of California and beyond for something we don't need? Sign the California Nuclear Initiative to shut down these unnecessary nuke plants. Stop this unnecessary risk. http://californianuclearinitiative.com/ Go to http://sanonofresafety.org for more information about San Onofre issues
Diane Hennessy February 01, 2012 at 05:13 AM
I imagine that everyone within 50 miles of the plant doesn't have a clue this is happening. This is disgusting. SHUT THIS PLANT DOWN AND KEEP IT DOWN!
Patti Davis February 01, 2012 at 05:13 AM
Japan realizes - They don't need nuclear power. http://www.simplyinfo.org/?p=4754 Southern California - We have excess energy WITHOUT nuclear power http://sanonofresafety.files.wordpress.com/2011/11/ca_excess_energy_without_nuclear-wemfactsheet.pdf Sign the California Nuclear Initiative http://sanonofresafety.org/california-nuclear-initiative/
Adam Townsend February 01, 2012 at 05:29 AM
Keep an eye on our Patch.com sites in South OC tomorrow for further updates on this event as it continues to unfold.
Marion Pack February 01, 2012 at 06:57 AM
For those who say "we need the energy", listen up. SCE itself says, "it has ample reserve power to meet customer needs while Unit 3 is offline." Both Reactors 2 & 3 are off line. San Onofre produces 6.5% of our energy. Is this dangerous power worth the ever present risks when we don't really need it? Keep in mind, if San Onofre were a solar farm, or a wind farm on land leased from Camp Penddleton, there would be no need for siren drills, evacuation plans, nor areas for sheltering areas. Safe, Clean Energy? Hardly!
stopfukushima.org February 01, 2012 at 07:02 AM
Does SoCal Edison have plans for evacuating all of Los Angeles, San Diego, and the Inland Empire in the event of a Fukushima-style disaster? No? Didn't think so. San Onofre sits at sea level, atop major fault lines, and has the worst safety record of any nuclear reactor in the country: http://sanonofresafety.org/ It is a catastrophe waiting to happen. Sign the California Nuclear Initiative to close San Onofre and Diablo before it's too late. http://californianuclearinitiative.com/
Gary Headrick February 01, 2012 at 07:26 AM
Here we go again. The public relations experts step up to reassure the public that all is well. Meanwhile, I get this message from a whistle-blower, " So much for installing brand new steam generators for 800 million. SCE is really down playing the seriousness of this." go here for full statement...http://www.sanclementegreen.org/?q=node/206
Laura February 01, 2012 at 03:34 PM
So crazy...seems like they hope terms like mildly radioactive and contaminated are comforting. It doesn't make me feel safe. I agree we can do without this risk and be fine with electricity. I thought California was a green leader where's the safe sustainable alternatives? Why do we still have this old out dated dangerous plant? Lets learn from past tragedies and protect what we have & shut this place down & safely get rid of all the toxic waste stored there.
vince February 01, 2012 at 04:38 PM
Yesterday while our local news was reporting on " what substance Demi moore" might be addicted to, there was a nuclear plant that shut down in Illinois. They said the exact same thing " no danger to the public" they specifically said that since their ALARMS hadn't gone off, the radiation levels were not dangerous. Well, the ALARMS DID go off at San O, and their still insisting that there is no public health risks. I wonder if the San O spokesman would take his children or grandchildren for a swim down there ???
george gregory February 01, 2012 at 04:50 PM
AS stated before the public had been told that DDT was safe Asbestos ..pcbs quick silver AND lead paint all used to be safe Now we are told nuclear power is safe even after repeated failures Having real world experience with machinery of all kinds I’ll state this is one genie that will not stay bottled up things break Also with major break downs approximately every 10 years after 10,000 years we'll be looking at 1,000 failures ,,witch one will leave you homeless or sick or worse The time to stop the decadent madness is now,, time to plan and set a date Please remember 10,000 years is the only way to render nuclear products safe .. The governments that permit nuclear power stations and the corporation that profit from them will most likely be gone in much less time. Also 10,000 year is 5xs longer than recorded history and most of that is very vague No one will lose their job ,,,the purpose or classification will just change
julia tully February 01, 2012 at 04:53 PM
Why is this incident not covered in the O.C. Register today? The truth is being covered up AGAIN. The public needs to know, and the public has the right to know the real dangers of living next to a deadly poison factory. Decommission SanO . Let's go green. Julie Tully
Nancy Nolan February 01, 2012 at 05:08 PM
Predictable and lamentable......radiation leak at SanO. Can't see it, can't hear it, can't feel it BUT radiation does cause cancer. This to turn on a light bulb.
Adam Townsend February 01, 2012 at 06:23 PM
Here's the latest update on the leak at San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station. Any radiation is contained within the concrete containment dome, officials say: http://sanclemente.patch.com/articles/nuke-plant-leak-isolated-reactor-cooling
Steve Grasha February 01, 2012 at 09:27 PM
Again, KFI is way out front on this story...I am loading my car and getting out. See you in Palm Springs after the meltdown is announced. 1. No Leak 2. Possible leak 3. no radiation 4. yes a small leak, no radiation. 5. A tiny leak and small amount of radiation in the containment dome. 6. a leak and some radiation in an out building.... NEXT... Just a tiny meltdown...
Gene Stone February 01, 2012 at 09:50 PM
Do think our elected city folks will be taking their kids for a visit to SONGS today, after all they say its safe????
Adam Townsend February 01, 2012 at 10:20 PM
Steve, we've actually been posting new info all day: http://sanclemente.patch.com/articles/nuke-plant-leak-isolated-reactor-cooling
george gregory February 01, 2012 at 11:08 PM
i wonder how many songs employies are in town or did they car pool with the council to safety KI pills any one
Gene Stone February 01, 2012 at 11:19 PM
If you have not read the ATOMIC ENERGY ACT OF 1954 (http://www.nuclearfiles.org/menu/library/treaties/atomic-energy-act/trty_atomic-energy-act_1954-08-30.htm), I would not only encourage you to do so I would ask you and your colleagues to reconsider the whole concept of giving the federal government all control and say so as to the use of nuclear energy as relates to the safety and power needs of California. In the 1950s, nuclear was very new and not even understood correctly or completely by the experts. This is why the federal government took complete control of the entire industry. To control & produce materials needed to make weapons, to that end they sold the American public on nuclear energy as a future source of power. “Too cheap to meter “was the slogan. This has proven to be totally untrue. Now over 60 years later after much has been learned not only by the federal government but by the states who had to endure the constant radiation problems that persists at nuclear power plants that endanger the public welfare, producing on average 250 pounds per day per reactor. In America we have 5,000,000 pounds of highly toxic nuclear waste setting at our power plants. Which are licensed as “Power Plants not highly Toxic Nuclear Waste Dumps”. For more info go to: http://residentsorganizedforasafeenvironment.wordpress.com/
ms.sc. February 02, 2012 at 02:34 AM
Big surprise. The greed makes me sick.
Jack February 13, 2012 at 04:38 PM
No it isn't. You can buy radiation meters for less than $100 if you really beleive your kids are in danger.
Jack February 13, 2012 at 04:39 PM
What desecration? What dangerous disaster? The local coal plant leaked more radiation than this today doing what it was supposed to do.


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