David Dodd 2:53 a.m., May 21
Amid continued debate over the wisdom and appropriate time line for resuming power generating activities at San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, now shuttered for over 6 months, plant operator Southern California Edison has set tentative “return to service” dates late this year for both reactors.
According to information reported by the Associated Press, San Onofre’s Unit 2 reactor could be restarted by November 18, while Unit 3, which was sent into emergency shutdown after radiation began leaking from burst tubes in a steam generator, has a potential restart date of December 31.
Edison spokesperson Jennifer Manfre reiterated an often voiced statement that the newest restart dates are not set in stone, and that no formal request for permission to resume operations has been sent to the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which has ultimate control over whether or not to allow the plant to attempt to generate power. Edison officials have backed off numerous restart dates in the past, and last April an Edison official predicted that there was a “greater than 50 percent chance” that one or both reactors would have been online again by summer.
While the restart date remains up in the air, John Geesman, counsel for the Alliance for Nuclear Responsibility, has petitioned Dr. Robert B. Weisenmiller, chairman of the California Energy Commission, to carefully consider the findings of the official investigation into the causes of generator failure at San Onofre.
“This start-it-up-and-let’s-see approach might be suitable for dealing with a damaged tractor in an empty pasture, but it is inappropriately primitive when applied to critical components of nuclear generation of electricity in one of the world’s most developed population centers,” Geesman writes. “You and Governor Brown should demand that further [Nuclear Regulatory Commission] review of the [San Onofre] steam generators be robustly transparent and empirically driven.”
Meanwhile, Adam Townsend at Poway Patch reports that costs related to the San Onofre shutdown including inspections, repairs, and loss of income from electricity generation have already topped $165 million. Edison has a warranty from Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, manufacturers of the faulty generators, though that is expected to cover only a fraction of the eventual cost of the generators’ failure.
Edison reported earnings yesterday, saying that its second-quarter core earnings totaled 32 cents per share, down from 56 cents a year ago.