San Onofre Nuclear Plant Could Restart Soon
Southern California Edison has submitted a request to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to restart the reactor Unit 2 at 70 percent power to meet consumer electricity needs during the summer months. Both units at the San Onofre nuclear plant are currently off line. Unit 2 and 3 were shut down in January of 2012, after station operators detected a leak in a steam generator tube.
The San Onofre nuclear plant is a critical asset in meeting California’s energy needs, producing a reported average of $2.2 billion per year in electricity.
Ron Litzinger, President of Southern California Edison released a statement saying, “Since last fall, SCE has provided the public and the NRC with detailed analyses from global experts that support safe restart of Unit 2. We are considering the proposed voluntary amendment as the best path to get Unit 2 safely up and running before the hottest months of the year hit our region.”
If finalized and submitted for approval, the voluntary amendment would support the plan to operate Unit 2 at 70 percent power for five months. Operating at 70 percent power prevents conditions that caused the wear in Unit 3 that resulted in the nuclear plant being shut down back in January.
SCE and three independent companies with expertise in nuclear generation have confirmed it is safe to operate the Unit 2 steam generators. The NRC has been evaluating these analyses, which are based on exhaustive testing and inspections, since October 2012.
A decision would need to be made by the Nuclear Regulatory Committee by May to restart Unit 2 in time to meet peak summer electricity demand. Under this plan, Unit 2 would be shut down after the initial 5-month run so the steam generator tubes can be inspected. Based on that inspection, Unit 2 would resume operation at 70 percent power for the remainder of the fuel cycle while SCE updates its analysis to determine an appropriate long-term power level.
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