Activists Call for Permanent Shutdown At San Onofre As More Tubes Showing Wear

Monday, April 16, 2012
By Claire Trageser, Dwane Brown, Maureen Cavanaugh, Patty Lane

Southern California Edison reports they've found accelerated wear in tubes in a second reactor at San Onofre Nuclear Power Plant, located just north of Oceanside. Unit 3 was shut down January 31 when leaks in tubes that carry radioactive water through the steam generator were detected. Tubes in the steam generator in Unit 2, which was already shutdown for routine maintenance, are also showing accelerated wear.

With both reactors shut down, Southern California Edison has not put out any power, which be costing them as much as $1 million a day in lost energy.

Ace Hoffman, an anti-nuclear activist, told KPBS he lives 15 miles south of the plant. He said his biggest fear is "a meltdown, a spent fuel fire, sabotage, tsunami, earthquake, manmade error, human mistakes, engineering mistakes."

"I'm not sure which one is biggest," he said.

Hoffman said he agrees with the report from the environmental group Friends of the Earth that lays the blame for the problems at San Onofre on design changes made recently when tubes in the steam generators were replaced.

He also said rolling brownouts that could come this summer if the power plant does not return online mean the plant should be permanently shut down.

"It's not really a very reliable energy system," he said. "We don't really want to call it baseline anymore."

Concern over the problem prompted a visit from the head of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and two state legislators. The NRC and Southern California Edison say the plant will remain shutdown until the problem is fixed.