Southern California Edison (SCE) announced today that it has submitted a proposal to federal regulators to restart one of two mothballed reactors at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS). The plan would have Unit 2 run at 70 percent power for five months, shut down again and re-inspected to ensure steam-generator tubes are not showing excessive wear.
That restart, which requires Nuclear Regulatory Commission approval, could be months away.
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It was excessive tube wear discovered in Unit 3 that caused that reactor's closure in January. Unit 2 was already down for maintenance, but an inspection discovered excessive tube reactor in that reactor's relatively new steam generators as well, so it was also shut down. Neither has restarted since.
In seeking the NRC greenlight of the Unit 2 restart plan, SCE submitted a report detailing the causes for the excessive wear and what the utility is doing to correct it. The utility previously blamed the woes on design flaws in the steam generators built by Japan's Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.
No plans to restart Unit 3 have come forward yet, but Friends of the Earth, the environmental group holding Edison's electric feet to the public opinion fire, maintains that neither reactor should restart. Ever. The group reportedly calls the restart plan "a reckless gamble that flies in the face of the utility's claim that it puts safety ahead of profits."