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San Onofre units may see August restart date

Edison officials say rolling blackouts may happen if hot summer forecasts are accurate.

June 21, 2012|By Barbara Diamond

The earliest that Unit 2 and 3 at San Onofre could be restarted is the end of August, according to a June 15 Southern California Edison briefing at the facility attended by city officials.

Mayor Jane Egly, City Manager John Pietig and Police Chief Paul Workman were among the 40 officials at the briefing, which dealt primarily with the recent problems surrounding a small leak in the tubes that carry hot radioactive water used to create steam to turn the turbines that create energy and what caused the leak, Pietig reported at Tuesday's council meeting.

"All options to repair or replace the generators and/or the tubes are being considered, but there is no clear direction at this time," Pietig said. "One option to plug the damaged tubes and restart at a much lower generation capacity is being considered, but would have to be approved by all involved agencies."

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There are 9,727 tubes in each steam generator and less than 2% of them in Unit 3 show wear, according to the briefing. The leakage is only known to be in Unit 3.

"Radiation from the recent leak measured 0.00004 millirem," Pietig said. "A typical chest X-ray is 10.0 millirem to 25.0 millirem."

Egly also attended a meeting held Monday by theU.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commissionin San Juan Capistrano, which did not discuss any restart of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station units.

Agency representatives said at the meeting that San Onofre is not expected to restart this summer, which could mean rolling blackouts if long-range weather forecasts of a hot summer are accurate.

The regulators said Edison must figure out the cause of the unusual wear on the tubes and how to fix the problem before a readiness inspection will be conducted.

"That inspection will not occur until after Southern California Edison has presented to the NRC its plan for safely returning the units to service," Pietig said. "The NRC has not yet received that plan."

Future regulatory commission meetings will be posted on the website, http://www.nrc.gov, under the public meetings index.

coastlinepilot@latimes.com

Twitter: @coastlinepilot

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