Don Bauder 4:30 p.m., Dec. 9
The Unit 3 reactor at San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, which sprung a radioactive leak that forced a shutdown last January, will remain out of commission indefinitely as a team of federal investigators examines what caused numerous tubes in the relatively new steam generating system to wear prematurely, many to the point that they could potentially rupture and release radioactive water.
The U-T reports that plant operator Southern California Edison found three additional tubes that have failed structural integrity tests. The company conducted tests on 129 of over 800 tubes found to have deteriorated by 10% or more since their installation in 2009.
“This is a significant issue,” Nuclear Regulatory Commission spokeswoman Lara Uselding told the Associate Press. “A tube rupture is really the concern.... That's what we don't want to happen.”
At present, the plant shutdown is considered a voluntary safety precaution, as regulations only mandate a shutdown in the event of more than 150 gallons of radioactive leakage a day.
“We don’t put a deadline on safety,” said Southern California Edison spokeswoman Jennifer Manfre in a statement saying the company welcomes the expanded investigation.
More like this:
- San Onofre restart decision may come in March, repair engineers testing wrong tubes — Dec. 18, 2012
- Fuel to be removed from San Onofre reactor — Aug. 28, 2012
- Electrical Fire at San Onofre — April 20, 2012
- Shutdown at San Onofre no Longer "Precautionary" — March 28, 2012
- Radioactive Leak Shuts San Onofre, Critics Had Voiced Safety Concerns — Feb. 1, 2012