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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.

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Comments

Founder March 27, 2012 @ 12:25 p.m.

BIG NEWS, which many predicted: Edison kept San Onofre steam generator replacement details secret from NRC http://is.gd/aEsgxQ snip The study by Arnie Gundersen and Fairewinds Associates, and commissioned by nuclear watchdog Friends of the Earth, is the first public technical analysis since problems were discovered at the two now-closed reactors at San Onofre: Reactor Unit 2 was undergoing a regularly scheduled shutdown in January when severe damage was found in tubes in the steam generator system.Reactor Unit 3 was shut down by Edison on January 31 after radioactive water leaked from a damaged pipe in the steam generators. The steam generators at both reactors are only months old and were installed at a cost to ratepayers of some $671 million. In his analysis of available public information, Gundersen has concluded that "both units 2 and 3 have experienced extraordinarily rapid degradation of their steam generator tubes." He has concluded that the "severe short-term steam generator degradation" could lead to a "large risk of tube failure" and result in "an uncontrolled release of radiation into the environment." While the NRC has said that the "root cause of the tube leak has not yet been determined," Gundersen concludes that four significant changes were made to the design of the new steam generators, all of which may be contributing to their dramatic degradation: the tube alloy used is different, the reactor flow rate was changed, more steam generator tubes were added, and key modifications were made to the "egg crate" architecture that holds the tubing in the steam generator. Yet when Edison notified the NRC that it would be replacing the steam generators, it argued that it was making a "like for like" replacement. By misleading the NRC on the true nature of the replacement, Edison fooled the NRC into giving a rubber stamp and not conducting a thorough NRC review and approval process.

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Founder March 27, 2012 @ 3:49 p.m.

CA cannot afford a Trillion Dollar Eco-Disaster here or anywhere else, ... We already have Fallout from Fukushima here... + With radioactive Fallout from a meltdown, ... And ZERO for our radioactively HOT property, ...Where would we ALL be forced to relocate to, YUMA?

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Founder March 27, 2012 @ 3:49 p.m.

Forget ever using the name SONGS; call San Onofre what it is SORE, San Onofre Reactor Emergency, a pair of nuclear reactors that have the WORST safety record of any US reactors; why should we allow the nuclear industry to "sweeten" image that by using a fluffy name?

The truth is that everyone in SoCal has just been very LUCKY that Nature has not "yet" shaken San Onofre hard enough to cause a major meltdown or worse! Consider Japan as a test case; they now have a Trillion Dollar Eco-Disaster that is affecting their entire Country; how would California (and or the USA) pay for a similar event?

Where would people relocate to and what would they do for housing, since their home owners insurance has a nuclear exclusion?

If this happened at San Onofre, the "coastal" real estate loses alone would be more than a trillion dollars and remember the rest of the "HEARTLAND" of the USA is downwind.

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