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San Onofre Shutdown, One Year Later

KPBS Special Coverage: Tune In To KPBS Midday Edition At 12 Noon For An In-depth Discussion On The San Onofre Shutdown.

Evening Edition

Aired 1/31/13 on KPBS Midday Edition.


John Geesman, attorney for the Alliance For Nuclear Responsibility, he also a former California Energy Commissioner

Truman Burns, California Public Utility Commission, Division of Ratepayer Advocates

Don Kelly, executive director of the Utility Consumer Action Network

Arnie Gundersen, former nuclear power energy executive and nuclear activist. He wrote a report for the environmental group, Friends of the Earth.

Murray Jennex, is a San Diego State University professor, he's an expert on nuclear containment, who once worked at San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station.

Gary Headrick, San Clemente Green

Steven Greenlee, is the public information officer for California's Independent System Operator, which manages the state's power grid.

Teresa Barth, Mayor of Encinitas

Kevin Beiser, San Diego Unified Board Member


The San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station has been offline since a small radiation leak in January last year led to the discovery of excessive wear on hundreds of steam generator tubes that carry radioactive water. Southern California Edison predicts running the plant at low power will stop tube damage. Environmentalists argue the plant cannot run safely.

A Look Back At Key Events

  • When San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station was shutdown a year ago, we knew that a leak in a steam generator tube in unit 3 of the nuclear power plant released a small, non-hazardous amount of radioactive gas. Because of that, unit 3 was shut down.
  • Unit 2 was already offline for maintenance. Southern California Edison, which operates the plant, said once the problem was resolved it would take several days for the reactor to be restarted.
  • The first indication that this was more than a routine shutdown came in February when the Nuclear Regulatory commission recommended a follow-up inspection -- because the failing tubes were almost brand new.
  • Edition had installed Unit 2 steam generators in 2010 and unit 3 steam generators in 2011.
  • Meanwhile, ratepayers continue to pay for running the disabled San Onofre nuclear plant. Customers in the San Diego, Riverside and Orange County regions pay about $64 million dollars a month to run San Onofre.
  • In October, the California Public Utility Commission opened an investigation into whether customers should pay to operate the plant while it remains offline, and whether ratepayers should be reimbursed for what they've spent so far.
  • Earlier this week, the state regulator released a memo outlining the timeline of the investigation and what will be considered.
Evening Edition

Southern California Edison says its plan to run the San Onofre Nuclear Plant at reduced power will stop tube damage. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission won't make a decision on Edison's proposal to restart the plant until April or May. But critics say the plant can't run safely. What are some of the top safety concerns over restarting San Onofre?


CPUC Scoping Memo

CPUC Scoping Memo

California Public Utilities Commission "scoping memo" outlines the schedule, issues and procedural requirements for Phase 1 of the Order Instituting Investigation.

Download document

Download Acrobat Reader


KPBS invited representatives from Southern California Edison, San Diego Gas and Electric, the City of Riverside and the California Public Utilities Commission to be on the program, all declined.

Statement From Southern California Edison:

Southern California Edison is confident that exhaustive research by global experts demonstrates the safety of SCE’s conservative plan to restart San Onofore Nuclear Generating Station. SCE welcomes the opportunity to review this independent analysis at public meetings next month, including a Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) meeting on Feb. 12 in Capistrano Beach, CA. The NRC scheduled the meeting to review SCE”s plan to address steam generator tube degradation at San Onofre. In addition, SCE will share its tube wear insights at an NRC meeting and webcast Feb. 7 in Rockville, MD regarding nuclear industry steam generator tube wear experience.

In addition to participation in public meetings, SCE has demonstrated its transparency by giving the public easy access to more than 170,000 inspections and analysis that confirm the safety of the Unit 2 restart plan. SCE’s restart plant and supporting documents, including ongoing replies to the NRC, are available at

SCE has continued to emphasizes that a critical review by the NRC of the company’s plan to restart Unit 2 is important to both the public and SCE. Safety remains SCE’s top priority and we are confident that when implemented, the Unit 2 restart plan will get San Onofre Unit 2 back to providing reliable and clean energy to Southern Californians.

To view PDF documents, Download Acrobat Reader.


Avatar for user 'Wattson'

Wattson | January 31, 2013 at 12:27 p.m. ― 4 years ago

I live in San Clemente and am wondering why the main relay/terminal station that connects directly to the power station lines is still "buzzing" loudly as though the station is still on-line? It's the first relay station coming off of the San Onofe power lines located at the end of Pico Avenue in San Clemente.

Thank you and love the show!

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Avatar for user 'Bolt'

Bolt | January 31, 2013 at 12:39 p.m. ― 4 years ago

Has anyone considered converting the facility/property into "safe nuclear" power generation that the military has embraced for their bases? These are called LFTR reactors and the site already exists and it's all wired up to the grid? They could retire the solid reactors and get to something sustainable and safe?

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Avatar for user 'CaptD'

CaptD | January 31, 2013 at 12:44 p.m. ― 4 years ago

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, if a main steam line break or something similar occurred, we now know that it would have probably resulted in the complete venting of the core coolant within minutes, and we all know what that means…

SanO is now a 1.5 Billion Dollar RED FLAG that illustrates how easy NRC regulations can be gamed (without ANY enforcement penalties) which allow Utilities/Operators to make changes that have enormous implications to safety and the Public Health, with little to N☢ actual oversight, until it is to late!

The two basic problems at Fukushima, Japan were that:
(1) TEPCO’s regulator pushed too much paper instead of being “hands on”.
(2) TEPCO had total control over what data the public had access to, which prevented any real oversight by the public.

The USA cannot afford a Trillion Dollar Eco-Disaster like Fukushima, that is why the NRC needs to “overhaul” how it enforces its current regulations and develop new regulations ASAP to patch all the regulatory holes that now exist!

The first step is to really open up the entire NRC process to the public, so that true public oversight can take place, instead of the flawed system we now have, as SanO illustrates all too well! As it is now, the public does not have enough access to NRC documents, reports and/or data which prevents all knowledgable people from providing true input into the decision making process.

Or said another way, we cannot afford to have a Trillion Dollar Eco-Disaster in the USA for any reason and that includes GREED…

What we don’t know can indeed hurt US, especially if it is radioactive!

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Avatar for user 'dgcaste'

dgcaste | January 31, 2013 at 12:47 p.m. ― 4 years ago

Wattson, the plant still needs power. The nuclear fuel still needs slight cooling, and the people that still work there need office lights. :-)

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Avatar for user 'CaptD'

CaptD | January 31, 2013 at 12:48 p.m. ― 4 years ago

Murray's comment about SanO being safer at 70% is not factual!

Allegation – NRC Region IV Violating Presidential Directive and the Public Trust

Allegation – NRC AIT Report Incomplete, Inconclusive, Inconsistent and Unacceptable

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Avatar for user 'CaptD'

CaptD | January 31, 2013 at 12:51 p.m. ― 4 years ago

Official NRC Blog:
Getting far more qualified people involved and especially professionals from outside of the NRC and most importantly from outside of Region IV, is the first step toward answering basic reactor fatigue safety questions that we now know, affect the entire US Nuclear Fleet. If we learned nothing else from the Fukushima tragedy, we now know that when it come to reactor safety, the widest possible public review can only help insure against future nuclear accidents.

Since you are a QA professional I urge you to read :

“Press Release 13-01-22 ATHOS Validity Questioned, Qualifying Investigation Required”

Validity of ATHOS computer model requires NRR Qualifying Investigation. (3 Pages)

or this one for much more in-depth technical information:

“Response to NRR RAI #32 – Technical”

The SCE cannot provide an ACCEPTABLE operational assessment to the NRR, therefore NO RESTART IS POSSIBLE and here ARE THE TECHNICAL REASONS WHY (50 Pages)

and/or the even the longer paper:

“SCE NRC Presentation analysis + 14 Questions 12-12-17″

Technical document includes 14 questions affecting US Reactor SAFETY, that the NRC, NRR and RES Regulators need to ask SCE at their 12/18/12 NRR/RES Meeting. (78 Pages)

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Avatar for user 'CaptD'

CaptD | January 31, 2013 at 12:52 p.m. ― 4 years ago

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

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Avatar for user 'CaptD'

CaptD | January 31, 2013 at 12:57 p.m. ― 4 years ago

Facts N☢T *Nuclear Baloney (NB)*

Edison's in-house designers increased the total number of steam generator tubes by 377 and also increased the length of each of the 9727 tubes by more than 7.2 inches, making it equivalent addition of ~ 11% tubes to make up for the newer Alloy that did not conduct heat as well and ALSO bypassed a 50.90 License Amendment with the agreement of NRC Region IV. Now The entire Nuclear Industry has a poster boy for what not to due when you design a replacement steam generator! Civil engineers all know about Galloping Gertie the Takoma Narrows Bridge that used to wiggle and sway until it collapsed in the 40's because it was designed improperly , now the Nuclear Industry has SanO aka SONGS (San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station) or SONWGS (San Onofre Nuclear Waste Generating Station).


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Avatar for user 'CaptD'

CaptD | January 31, 2013 at 1:01 p.m. ― 4 years ago

I'd grade the radio show as a C- because it was composed of a number of sound bites (no pun intended) instead of a DISCUSSION that included rebuttal to previous comments.

Is Edison that powerful that they don't even have to have a spokesperson on the show? The answer is YE$....

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Avatar for user 'CaptD'

CaptD | January 31, 2013 at 1:06 p.m. ― 4 years ago

Now that the California Attorney General has told the CPUC that their Office will be a Party to the CPUC investigation, expect to see much more in the news and much less of the CPUC deciding what is best for Edison instead of CA ratepayers!

Remember this is now a $1.4 BIllion Dollar Debacle and ratepayers are still paying $54 Million per month for NOTHING except making the joy of making Edison's shareholders richer...

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Avatar for user 'CaptD'

CaptD | January 31, 2013 at 1:09 p.m. ― 4 years ago

The latest from Friends of the Earth US:
Here is the latest from FOE:

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Avatar for user 'CaptD'

CaptD | January 31, 2013 at 1:18 p.m. ― 4 years ago

Regarding the ISO commentator, we sailed through last Summer without even a tiny brownout and each day that goes by, ever more Solar (of all flavors) is being installed which makes the NEEED for SanO LE$$.

Realize this for what it really is, Edison does not want to lose it's "cash cow" and they are doing everything they can including trying to restart a heavily damaged steam generator with tubes that they have not even inspected visually 100% with state of the art instruments, choosing instead to use older instrumentation because if they "find" anything else the steam generator will have its plugging limit reached and then they cannot use it!

The NRC AIT report states, “Mitsubishi’s preliminary explanation of the failure mechanism started with the combination of two factors: (1) a relatively small tube pitch to tube diameter ratio (P/D), and (2) high void fraction in the tube bundle area where the tube-to-tube wear was identified. The small pitch to diameter ratio was a fixed parameter in the replacement steam generators established by the nominal center-to-center distance between adjacent tubes (P) and the nominal outside diameter of the tubes (D). The high void fraction was identified from the results of Mitsubishi’s thermal-hydraulic model for the secondary side of the replacement steam generators. Mitsubishi considered that the combination of these two factors may have resulted in favorable conditions for in-plane tube vibration based, in part, on the results of recent studies in fluid-elastic instability.” Mitsubishi also states, “Low secondary pressures are severe for vibration.”

In summation, Mitsubishi says to plug ALL DAMAGED TUBES, so they are covering themselves BUT WHO IS COVERING US?

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Avatar for user 'CaptD'

CaptD | January 31, 2013 at 1:39 p.m. ― 4 years ago

If the CPUC stopped dragging it's Bureaucratic feet by raising the qualification "bar" a huge number of additional ratepayers would qualify for energy upgrades which would help US all use less energy!

We all have paid into an Upgrade Account that has a huge number of Millions in it which is just collecting interest because the CPUC is limiting its use, which is also great for Edison because they make more profits on everyone that is not energy efficient!...

And speaking about Energy waste, last year the CPUC paid out as much to administer their energy Upgrade Program as they spent for Energy Upgrades, which is shameful!

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Avatar for user 'Marissa Cabrera'

Marissa Cabrera, KPBS Staff | January 31, 2013 at 1:48 p.m. ― 4 years ago

Here's what SCE is saying about it's restart plan

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Avatar for user 'marasmom'

marasmom | January 31, 2013 at 2:14 p.m. ― 4 years ago

To follow-up on the caller's question/comment about the CA PUC having made a Finding of Fact that operating one of the San Onofre Reactor Units while shutting down the other would not be cost-effective ... the Coalition to Decommission San Onofre filed the following in our comments to the CPUC when it opened its Investigation into the San Onofre outage late last year: "3) In this Investigation, the Commission must consider the cost-effectiveness of Edison’s proposal to restart only the Unit 2 reactor in light of Commission Decision (D.) 05-12-040’s Finding of Fact 153 that 'the split shutdown scenario is more costly than shutting both units down'. Under Edison’s proposal to restart the design-flawed Unit 2 at 70% power, a maximum of 35% of San Onofre’s capacity could be generated – most certainly NOT worth the experiment with an admittedly design-flawed reactor. "

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Avatar for user 'marasmom'

marasmom | January 31, 2013 at 2:30 p.m. ― 4 years ago

Meet Hollywood Star and Anti-Nuke activist Ed Begley Jr. at First Anniversary of the San Onofre Shutdown

This coming Saturday, February 2, the No Nuke Express will once again rolll, this time to to the First Anniversary of the Shut Down of San Onofre Nuclear Power Plant.

Location: San Clemente Community Center- 100 N. Calle Seville
Time: 6:00 – 9:00 p.m. (Ed Begley Jr. Speech at 6:30 p.m.)
Transportation: No Nuke Express from Balboa Park – arrive 4:00 p.m. sharp corner Park Blvd. & President’s Way
Cost and Ticket Info: $10 bus ticket r.t. + $10 prepaid Admission ($15 at the door) Pizza and Beverage included

Pre-purchase tickets at

And what Hollywood celebrity will be there to greet you and lead the cheer for shutting down San Onofre forever?
ED BEGLEY, JR. !!! Ed has been a proponent of No More Nuclear Energy Power Plants for many years, appearing at national conferences, starring on his own TV show about the greening of his own home “Living on Planet Green”, and most famously, for his role as Dr.Victor Ehrlich on the TV series “Saint Elsewhere” for which he received six consecutive Emmy nominations. Ed is a Board Member of Beyond Nuclear.

All of us who have been involved in the Shut San Onofre effort that started here in Southern California and has caught fire across the state and in local and national news – will not want to miss this ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF THE SHUT DOWN OF SAN ONOFRE.

Questions: email: />Telephone: Martha – 858-945-6273; Marcia – 619-501-1031

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Avatar for user 'CathyIwane'

CathyIwane | January 31, 2013 at 4:07 p.m. ― 4 years ago

As an evacuee of Japan after living, working there and raising my daughters for 25 years (my husband is a Japanese national and remains there), I cannot stress enough that the 3 nuclear reactors in Fukushima CONTINUE to melt down, releasing tons and tons of radioactive run off water into the Pacific Ocean EVERY day....for the last year and nine months. Contrary to popular belief, this disaster is nowhere near being over. While the Japanese government and TEPCO (owners of the reactors and the same entities responsible for the meltdowns) feign decontamination, it is fact that these reactors are still too hot to cap because doing so would cause explosions of unbelievable scale. It is so hot and highly contaminated, in fact, that human workers cannot go inside to commence "repairs". Robots cannot even withstand the high radiation; they only cease to operate. Ask any expert and you will find conservative estimates of it taking 10 years or more for these reactors to cool down enough to cap and commence decommissioning. Meanwhile, timed pressure releases of steam are released each week into the environment...into our environment. Get it?

I lived 380 miles away from Fukushima in southwest Japan with a geiger counter testing radioactive contamination in our food and environment for a year before making the decision to leave. I can attest to the fact that contamination in NO WAY stays within the evacuation zone of 20 km in Fukushima. 26 out of 47 prefectures in Japan are found to have trace levels of radioactive Cesium in the their municipal water supplies. We are talking about a country that, if we put all of the islands together, is the size of California.

Do you believe that risking restart of the defective (it is still busted, no repairs have been made by Southern Cal. Edison) reactor #2 at San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station is wise? Consider that San Diego is located within a 50 mile radius of SONGS. I live 35 miles downwind of SanO, in Solana beach. Is it not our job as parents and citizens of San Diego to protect our most valuable resource, our children? Southern California Edison wants to restart this busted reactor and run it at 70% "because their experts say it will work", essentially rendering our kids laboratory guinea pigs in this nuclear experiment.

The most insane part of all of this is that we, the rate payers, have been footing the bill for SanO since the radioactive releases of Jan. 13, 2012.....54 MILLION DOLLARS EACH MONTH while it sits idling, producing no energy. It doesn't anger you that San Onofre shareholders are making a mint of our financial sacrifice....for THEIR engineering mistakes and successful attempts to evade regulatory inspections of the very steam generators which failed and caused the accident on Jan. 31st? Doesn't it seem ridiculous that we've gotten by without ANY energy from SanO for a year? (to be continued)

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Avatar for user 'CathyIwane'

CathyIwane | January 31, 2013 at 4:07 p.m. ― 4 years ago

We are not asking for decommission of SanO NOW. Rather, we simply call for a full, transparent Adjudicatory Hearing and License Amendment process, including evidentiary hearings with sworn testimony and cross-examination which include experts independent of the NRC, Edison and nuclear power industry.

It is OUR RIGHT, as the 8 million parents and citizens living within a 50 mile radius of San Onofre to a transparent and open trial of Edison, whose lack of technical competence and professional worker environment....has produced countless whistle blowers from inside SanO as well as the worst safety record of ALL nuclear power plants in the US. Edison's lawyers refuse to submit "proprietary information" to the public. If they are confident of safe restart of SanO in March, what do they have to hide? We demand transparency and nothing less!

I will leave you with 2 very powerful videos (in English and Japanese) of testimony to both the Japanese House of Parliament and the UN. These clips are of Mayor Idogawa, Mayor of Futaba-a town in Fukushima, heavily affected by radioactive contamination as I write this. Please listen to his appeals to the world regarding the negligence and complicity of the Japanese government vis a vis the ongoing Fukushima nuclear disaster.

In English and Japanese. Mayor Idogawa speaks to Japanese Prime Minister Noda and Parliament at 7:22:

In English and Japanese. Mayor Idogawa addresses the UN:

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Avatar for user 'CaptD'

CaptD | February 1, 2013 at 8:43 a.m. ― 4 years ago

RE: "In addition to participation in public meetings, SCE has demonstrated its transparency by giving the public easy access to more than 170,000 inspections and analysis that confirm the safety of the Unit 2 restart plan. SCE’s restart plant and supporting documents, including ongoing replies to the NRC, are available at"

SCE has not released operational data that would allow knowledgeable experts to determine just how bad all the tubes inside replacement steam generators are now, plus SCE has not used the best state of the art technology to visually examine both the inside and outside of all tubes for fatigue cracks...

SCE has placed profit before safety and their defective in-housed designed replacement steam generators prove it.

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Avatar for user 'CaptD'

CaptD | February 1, 2013 at 9:25 a.m. ― 4 years ago

Latest story on the CA Atty. General getting involved:

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Avatar for user 'CaptD'

CaptD | February 1, 2013 at 10:26 a.m. ― 4 years ago

I think that California does not NEED any nuclear power plants since they have plenty of spare capacity without relying on nuclear generation! Add in the RISK of an Earthquake and/or a Tsunami and the fact that California has plenty of sunshine, not to mention the possibility of off shore (out of sight of those on land) wind generation and you realize that California could become an Energy exporter, all without any nuclear generation or the massive amount of waste they create! The only thing keeping California from going Non-Nuclear is the "Public Utilities" which now have a strangle-hold on the states Political Leadership, the Media and their Utility Regulators...

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