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NRC Chief: San Onofre Won't Restart Until Leak Cause Found; Rolling Blackouts Possible

After touring the plant, official says problems with heat exchanger tubes at nuclear power plant are still under analysis.

After touring San Onofre's troubled nuclear power plant Friday, Nuclear Regulatory Chairman Gregory Jazcko attempted to reassure the public with a news conference that detailed inspections done in the wake of a radioactive steam leak that shut the station down in January.

along with Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Rep. Darryl Issa.

Jazcko said that heat exchanger. The tubes, when working properly, carry superheated radioactive water at several thousand pounds-per-square-inch of pressure. The heat passes through the tube walls to boil pure water, creating steam to turn the turbines that generate electricity.

The tube wear in Unit 2 isn't as bad. That unit was offline for maintenence when the Unit 3 tube leaked. , Jazcko said.

The steam generators are made by Mitsubishi, and their design is unique to the San Onofre plant, Jaczko said.

Neither unit will be allowed to restart until the exact cause or causes of the wear and leak are determined, Jaczko said.

The fact that the NRC is treating the tube wear in both units as separate issues outraged , head of the anti-nuclear group San Clemente Green.

"My biggest concern is that I get the impression that what they are saying is that even though the generators are identical, they're treating them differently," he said. "I can't find it in my logic that they would shut down Unit 3 and allow Unit 2 to operate."

The whole plant has been shut off for more than two months, and the Independent System Operator that allocates electricity throughout the state

.

Jaczko wouldn't speculate further as to the root cause of the damage, but said testing had been done on the tubes and several will be plugged and removed from service--NRC officials have said steam generators can still operate safely with up to 30 percent of their tubes plugged. Now, he said, inspectors are analyzing the data they've collected.

An asserted that Southern California Edison officials used a bureaucratic procedural loophole to improperly hide from the NRC changes in the design of the tube support structures and the alloy from which the tubes themselves were made.

These design changes likely led to the damage, the independent report states.

Jaczko said the NRC hasn't determined whether Edison acted improperly in filing its required inspection documents, but he said analysis of all the paperwork related to the recent installation of the tubes is part of the NRC's investigation.

If the NRC finds Edison acted improperly, the agency will take regulatory action, he said.

Donna Gilmore April 08, 2012 at 09:35 PM
Sign the California Nuclear Initiative petition today. If we get this on the ballot for November, the decision to effectively keep the plant shut down will be up to the people. Sign and mail petitions by Monday 4/9/2012. Download petitions at http://sanonofresafety.org/
ms.sc. April 08, 2012 at 09:53 PM
I actually think it should be a Nationwide petition! Look at what the world is now facing because of Japan's recent nightmare! It's affecting everyone ultimately. And it's not only Japan's disaster...there are other nuclear "experiments" that even 20-30 years later have lasting environmental fumage! What happens at SONGS doesn't just stay at SONGS! SONGS doesn't even want their own garbage in their OWN backyard!! They bribe/pay another neighboring State to bury their toxic waste! Yummy vegtables growing in that State's soil?? Feeding America? SHUT DOWN SONGS!
ms.sc. April 08, 2012 at 09:59 PM
s maiken, Thank You for your informative post. I will be busy doing some homework, but you made mine easier! Easter Blessings.
Jonathan April 09, 2012 at 03:37 PM
Why shut down an entire plant from a single component design or manufacturig flaw? Any release to the public is required to be documented and the health effects are agreed upon by the NRC...this isn't some conspiracy and you are not being lied to regarding the effects of any release. Stop spreading uneducated fears and promoting unclean energy. Stop wasting your own energy and watchdog something you actually understand. Believe me, nuclear power has plenty of independent and public watchdogs with all the expertise necessary to keep us safe. Far more than any industry that exists. You're wasting your time and nobody is listening because we all know you have no clue what you are talking about.
ms.sc. April 09, 2012 at 03:46 PM
Yes, Jonathan and Japan's disaster had ALL the people believing the independent and public "watchdogs" were correct and just with their "expertise".

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