Energy Officials Mull Partial Restart of the San Onofre Nuclear Plant

Officials are considering partially restarting the power plant which has been down for most of the year due to leak and other problems

Friday, Nov 30, 2012  |  Updated 11:04 AM PDT
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San Onofre Power

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The San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station is seen from the beach along San Onofre State Beach on March 15, 2012 south of San Clemente, California. Three steam generator tubes in Unit 3 of the nuclear reaction facility failed pressure stress tests by Southern California Edison (SCE), prompting the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to begin assembling a team of nuclear energy inspection experts who will try to determine why the level of wear on the tubes is unusually high. The unit has been shut down since the detection of a leak in one of the steam generator tubes on January 31. Unit 2 is also off line, for routine inspections, and Unit 1 has been decommissioned. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

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Nuclear Regulatory Commission officials will meet with Southern California Edison representatives in Laguna Hills on Friday night to discuss the utility's proposal for the limited restarting of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station near San Clemente.

NRC and Edison officials will discuss the plans to remedy undue wear on Unit 3 steam generator tubes installed in 2010 and 2011.

The plant, which is operated by Southern California Edison, has been shut for almost all of this year due to problems with steam tubes and other parts.

Edison wants to restart Unit 2 and run it at 70 percent of capacity for five months to collect data, Edison spokeswoman Jennifer Manfre said.

“It ran for 21 months at 100 percent and there was only one instance of tube-to-tube wear,” Manfre said. “The damage was much more significant in Unit 3.”

The meeting in Laguna Hills, which is open to the public, will include the discussion of technical issues leading to the failure of the steam generator tubes and how solve the problem, NRC spokeswoman Lara Uselding said.

Manfre said the next major step would be on-site inspections by NRC officials, she added. It's unclear how long it will take to reopen the power plant, she said.

“It's up to the NRC,” Manfre said.

The California Public Utilities Commission is looking at whether ratepayers should get refunds for the period the plant has not been producing electricity.

The meeting is set for 6 p.m. at the Hills Hotel, 25205 La Paz Road, Laguna Hills.

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