Minor Hydrogen Leak at San Onofre Plant

The operators of the shuttered San Onofre nuclear power plant say a hydrogen leak is the latest problem to plague the troubled plant, but it was small and presented no risk to workers or the public.

Plant operator Southern California Edison said in a statement Monday that the leak was discovered in a non-nuclear part of the facility Sunday and has been reported to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Units 2 and 3 at the plant have been offline since January, when Unit 2 was taken off-line for planned maintenance. Unit 3 was shut down after a leak was detected in one of its steam generator tubes.

Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas and Electric jointly own the plant with the City of Riverside. Prior to the outages, the two units provided 2,200 megawatts of power to customers.

Both state and federal commissions have expressed interest in the problematic plant. The federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission looked into the excessive tube wear that caused the Unit 3 steam generator to leak.

Also, the California Public Utilities Commission is considering investigating SONGS to determine whether the companies that own and operate the plant should immediately remove all costs related to SONGS from the backs of southern California ratepayers.

Environmental activists have come out strongly against the plant and the risks involved in operating the reactors. Citizens Oversight and Friends of the Earth urged regulators to permanently decommission the plant over safety and environmental concerns.

The groups attended a meeting with the NRC, which addressed a proposal to start generating electricity again. The possibility of doing so, the NRC officials determined, would take at least until next year to determine.


Copyright AP - Associated Press
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