Ailing San Onofre Power Plant Eyes Summer Restart

Friday, March 22, 2013
By Alison St Johnand Associated Press

The operator of the troubled San Onofre nuclear power plant in California is considering a new pathway to get one of the shuttered reactors back in service by summer.

Southern California Edison says it might seek a license amendment - a rewrite of the plant's operating rules - that, if approved, would allow the Unit 2 reactor to run at reduced power.

Edison said in a statement Friday that if it seeks that change, it will also argue that running the reactor at 70 percent power would pose no significant safety risk.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has asked Edison if it could restart the plant safely at 100 per cent power, which is what the current license specifies.

Edison replied with a report that said it would be safe to start Unit 2 at 100 per cent power, but NOT for more than eleven months. After that, the risk increases of the faulty steam generators rupturing, and leaking radiation, like the generators in Unit 3 did last year.

Today’s request for a license amendment would allow Edison to operate Unit 2 at 70 per cent rather than 100 per cent power under a new license agreement.

The NRC said it will consider the company’s request and may schedule a public meeting to discuss it.

The company needs the approval of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to restart the plant.

San Onofre has been shut down since January 2012, after a small radiation leak led to the discovery of unusual damage to hundreds of tubes that carry radioactive water.