• News Ticker alerts

San Diego attorney Mike Aguirre yesterday (Feb. 1) filed a paper with the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), asking that Southern California Edison's (SCE's) original plan to replace four steam generators at the San Onofre nuclear plant be reexamined. Aguirre filed on behalf of the Coalition to Decommission San Onofre, one of several groups concerned about safety and the fleecing of San Diego Gas & Electric and Southern California Edison ratepayers. In 2005, the CPUC began a plan to replace four old steam generators with four new ones at San Onofre, with SCE and SDGE ratepayers footing the bill, which has come to $700 million. Edison said its steam generator replacement program was cost-effective, but one pair of generators lasted less than a year and the other pair lasted less than two years. There was an emergency shutdown of San Onofre in January of last year. But there have been no hearings on whether ratepayers should recover that $700 million.

"Instead of determining whether the [steam generator replacement program] was reasonable and cost effective as promised in the decision authorizing [the program], the CPUC ordered an 18.57% increase in rates charged SCE's customers to take effect in January, 2013," says the filing. Michael Peevey, president of the CPUC, is a former president of Southern California Edison, and CPUC pro-utility, anti-consumer actions during his incumbency -- such as in the San Bruno explosion, SDGE's attempt to get ratepayers to pick up part of the tab for the utility's dereliction in the 2007 fires, and the San Onofre controversy -- have generated complaints throughout the state.

  • News Ticker alerts


ecobicyclist Feb. 2, 2013 @ 11:43 a.m.

pro-nuclear energy folks like to mention how cheap and clean nuclear energy is. The problem is no body has come up with a plan for dealing with the dismantling of nuclear plants and disposal of waste. That is where the true cost of nuclear energy fails to pay off. Future generations who will have to solve very big expensive problems.


Don Bauder Feb. 2, 2013 @ 12:54 p.m.

ecobicyclist: Then there are the dangers. We don't want Orange and San Diego Counties to be the guinea pigs in case of a mass evacuation. Best, Don Bauder


Fred Williams Feb. 2, 2013 @ 10:18 p.m.

Mike Aguirre got into big trouble from merely pointing out that San Diego has very limited evacuation options. In the case of a leak at San Onofre, I'm guessing that with the prevailing winds, the only ways out are along I-8 to the desert or South into Mexico.


Don Bauder Feb. 3, 2013 @ 9:26 a.m.

Fred: Escaping a leak would be difficult, just as escaping the fires could have been. (Aguirre was ridiculed for pointing that out.) In the case of a leak, San Diegans would be evacuated well into the northern part of the county. Best, Don Bauder


Anon92107 Feb. 2, 2013 @ 12:47 p.m.

This scenario presents a hellacioius dilemma for humanity. We desperately need to save humanity from unacceptable consequences of global warming by eliminating all CO2 producing power plants around the world in this decade.

America must have huge power plants for power (and seawater desalination), and nuclear is the only way to make this happen in the time necessary to prevent out of control climate changes we are already experiencing from creating unacceptable quality of life before the end of the century, especially since we already have 7 Billion people and out of control poverty around the world.

The disaster at Fukushima is a tragedy that makes nuclear power look even worse because it showed that even in Japan, where people understandably should have been totally against nuclear because of WWII, the consequences of government and power company corruption and incompetence exceeded our worst fears.

Relative to this post, we have every good reason to be concerned because Peevey's CPUC and his former SCE have also demonstrated outrageous corruption and incompetence.

The best long-term solution is hybrid fusion generating plants, but unfortunately President Eisenhower was most correct when he said "The prospect of domination of the nation's scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present – and is gravely to be regarded" in his 1961 Farewell Address and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory scholars/scientists have been proving Ike's grave warning correct ever since.

So greed, corruption and incompetence are putting humanity at the gravest risk in the history of civilization, giving "between the devil and the deep blue sea" a whole new meaning the hard way today.

We must demand leadership that will create a fast track project to begin building hybrid fusion power plants in this decade, with the same kind of fast track leadership and people who won WWII and put men on the moon.


Don Bauder Feb. 2, 2013 @ 12:59 p.m.

Anon: Hybrid fusion power plants may well be the answer, but utilities won't push forward on them unless they can make a bundle of money in the process. The same is true of rooftop solar: the California utilities, particularly SDGE, are holding up these advances because they want to make all the money off of them, and CPUC goes along. Thanks to the current CPUC, California utilities are run solely for the shareholders; ratepayers be damned. Best, Don Bauder


Anon92107 Feb. 4, 2013 @ 12:44 p.m.

Prof. Bauder, this creates a worst case scenario:

If we do not begin replacing CO2 producing power plants in this decade, then global warming tipping points shall get out of our control, a fact which 2012 climate disasters should have taught us.

We can no longer afford business as usual corruption and incompetence like Fukushima and San Onofre.

We desperately need a respectable leader/spokesperson to motivate the public to demand that the right things be done today, before our ability to control our future quality of life is lost.


Founder Feb. 2, 2013 @ 4:57 p.m.

San Onofre is rated by the Institute of Nuclear Operations (INPO) as an INPO 4 Plant (The Worst Nuclear Plant Rating) and it should also should be rated in NRC Region IV Response Column V (Worst rating) and not in the NRC Response Column I (Best Nuclear Plant Rating).

San Onofre is the worst nuclear plant in the country with the worst safety record, worst retaliation record, an INPO 4 rating and it is a mockery to place it in NRC Response Column I. NRC Region IV by listing San Onofre in NRC Response Column I, is putting its credibility on line and is displaying clear trends of collusion with SCE. It would be informative to learn who made the decision on San Onofre’s current ranking and why…

If the NRC San Onofre Special Review Panel wants to be welcomed by Southern Californians at their upcoming February 12 Public Meeting with SCE , the NRC needs to change San Onofre’s rating to NRC Response Column V, which will reflect current reality instead of just wishful thinking.

Definitions of NRC Response Columns: Column I – All performance indicators and NRC inspection findings are GREEN Column II – No more than two WHITE inputs in different cornerstones. Cornerstone objectives fully met. Column III – One degraded cornerstone (two WHITE inputs or one YELLOW input or three WHITE inputs in any strategic area). Cornerstone objectives met with minimal reduction in safety margin. Column IV – Repetitive degraded cornerstone, multiple degraded cornerstones, or multiple YELLOW inputs, or one RED input. Cornerstone objectives met with long-standing issues or significant reduction in safety margin. Response at NRC Agency level • Executive Director for Operations to hold public meeting with senior utility management • Utility develops performance improvement plan with NRC oversight • NRC team inspection focused on cause of degraded performance • Demand for Information, Confirmatory Action Letter Column V. Unacceptable Performance, Unacceptable reduction in safety margin Response at NRC Agency level •Plant not permitted to operate


Don Bauder Feb. 2, 2013 @ 9:37 p.m.

Founder: San Onofre is certainly one of the worst located nuclear plants. Best, Don Bauder


Founder Feb. 2, 2013 @ 4:59 p.m.

NRC Forms Special San Onofre Review Panel http://public-blog.nrc-gateway.gov/2013/01/17/nrc-forms-special-san-onofre-review-panel/comment-page-3/ snip In reply to Mr. Silberberg: You sir are correct, we need MORE not LESS information made public in order that knowledgeable people can fact check exactly what is happening at SanO. To hide most of the data behind a veil of secrecy, is no longer acceptable especially since that practice is what has resulted in the current 1 to 1.5 billion dollar debacle at SanO.

This is the first time in the US Nuclear Fleet that what Dr. Joram Hopenfeld, (who also retired from the NRC staff) first described (what we now call the Hopenfeld Effect) as a cascade of SG tube failures, has actually been observed in a Steam Generator (See Response to NRR RAI -32 – Technical ==> Attachment 3 https://docs.google.com/folder/d/0BweZ3c0aFXcFZGpvRlo4aXJCT2s/edit?docId=0BweZ3c0aFXcFX05DMWxKNmZXUTA).

snip “The concerns raised by Dr. Hopenfeld are extremely important safety issues. As the ACRS stated:

• Steam generators constitute more than 50% of the surface area of the primary pressure boundary in a pressurized water reactor. • Unlike other parts of the reactor pressure boundary, the barrier to fission product release provided by the steam generator tubes is not reinforced by the reactor containment as an additional barrier.” • Leakage of primary coolant through openings in the steam generator tubes could deplete the inventory of water available for the long-term cooling of the core in the event of an accident.

In the decade since Dr. Hopenfeld first raised his safety concerns, the NRC has allowed many nuclear plants to continue operating nuclear power plants with literally thousands of steam generator tubes that are known to be fatigue cracked! The ACRS concluded that the NRC staff made these regulatory decisions using incomplete and inaccurate information. After receiving the ACRS’s report, the NRC staff considered Hopenfeld’s concerns “resolved” even though it had taken no action to address the numerous recommendations in the ACRS report. The NRC must now formally address Dr. Hopenfeld’s concerns as soon as possible. In the interim, the NRC must stop making decisions affecting the lives of millions of Americans when it lacks “defensible technical basis” because the US cannot afford a Trillion Dollar Eco-Disaster like Fukushima, due to RSG tube failures caused by poor design, fatigue or any other combination of reasons.”


Founder Feb. 2, 2013 @ 5 p.m.

Cont: Because the Hopenfeld Effect has now been proven as factual, the NRC must re-evaluated it’s “dated” thinking and its computer modeling about SG failures which now only allows for a single SG tube failure ASAP… In fact, I predict that time will show that a nuclear accident (not a nuclear incident) was narrowly avoided at SanO on January 31, 2012 only because of shear luck, due to the timing of the discovery of Edison’s poorly in-house designed replacement steam generators (RSG). Had that Unit 3 tube been just a tiny bit stronger and not leaked when it did; then with both Unit 2 & 3 back online when a MSLB occurred, we now know that it would have resulted in the complete venting of the core coolant within minutes…

This is why what happened at SanO (as the locals like to say) is so important and why the NRC has to “get it right” this time; the safety of the entire US nuclear fleet depends upon it! Just as many basic design problems were discovered after the Fukushima tragedy, Sano has become the model of what NOT to do for all future RSG design engineers globally and demonstrates beyond a shadow of a doubt why having a qualified public review process is so important, especially where the risk of a radioactive “Trillion Dollar Eco-Disaster” is involved.


Don Bauder Feb. 2, 2013 @ 9:40 p.m.

Founder: Agreed. San Onofre is example number one of how NOT to do things. Best, Don Bauder


Don Bauder Feb. 2, 2013 @ 9:39 p.m.

Founder: Government agencies are supposed to be open and honest. Best, Don Bauder


Sign in to comment

Let’s Be Friends

Subscribe for local event alerts, concerts tickets, promotions and more from the San Diego Reader