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Officials at Southern California Edison, operators of the shuttered San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, say they’re close to completing tests to determine why tubes carrying radioactive steam in the plant’s steam generators are deteriorating at an accelerated rate. Edison then hopes to move forward in developing a plan to bring the nuclear reactors back online.

“We’re closing in on being able to state conclusively what we’ve learned,” says Edison’s chief nuclear officer Pete Dietrich.

Signs point to the damage originating from friction caused by the tubes rubbing against one another or their support structures. Dietrich said this could be due to how the generators are operated or the manner in which they were designed.

Opponents to restarting the plant have accused the engineers who designed the new reactors of skirting review by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

“We feel that there’s a greater than 50 percent chance” that one or both reactors will be back in operation by summer, Dietrich told the Associated Press before quickly backtracking, saying the plan would not be restarted until all safety concerns had been addressed.

The San Diego U-T, however, reports that Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, manufacturer of the generators, does not intend to complete its reports on problems found with the generators until the end of May for Unit 2 and August 31 for Unit 3, the two remaining functional reactors at the San Onofre site.

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