US agency bans San Onofre nuke plant from restarting

29 March 2012 (Last Updated March 29th, 2012 18:30)

The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has prohibited electric utility, Southern California Edison (SCE) from restarting the San Onofre nuclear power plant located in the state California, citing serious concerns about equipment failures.

San Onofre

The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has prohibited electric utility, Southern California Edison (SCE) from restarting the San Onofre nuclear power plant located in the state California, citing serious concerns about equipment failures.

In an action letter, the agency documented actions that SCE officials have agreed to determine the cause of unusual wear that has been found on steam generator tubes following the plant's closure two months ago.

NRC Region IV Administrator Elmo E. Collins said. "Until we are satisfied that has been done, the plant will not be permitted to restart."

Operators performed a rapid shutdown of the Unit 3 reactor after indications of a steam generator tube leak on January 31. Unit 2 has been shut down since Janurary 9 for a planned refueling and maintenance outage.

Subsequent inspections at both units have identified unusual wear in hundreds of tubes which, if ignored, could cause a rupture.

During operations, San Onofre nuclear power plant produces about 2,200MW of electricity, enough to serve 1.4 million households in Southern California.

State officials are working on contingency plans to avoid power outages if the plant remains closed, including transmission upgrades, restarting retired generating plants in Huntington Beach and launching new conservation efforts.

Image: The San Onofre nuclear power plant located in the state California produces about 2,200MW of electricity. Photo:awnisALAN.