Things are Tough All Over for San Onofre Nuclear Plant

Perhaps you've heard the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) ordered the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) to remain shut down until plant operator Southern California Edison (SCE) can satisfy the feds that it knows why tubes wore out in two steam generators recently and that it has a handle on how to prevent that from happening again.

The Friends of the Earth claim they already know why, however.

According to a San Clemente Patch report, the environmental group hired a nuclear energy consultant to analyze the plant's most-recent failure, in January. Arnie Gundersen of Fairewinds Associates concluded that SCE installed the $671-million steam generators in 2010 without informing federal regulators about a key design switch, avoiding an NRC inspection. Gundersen's report, which was sent on to the NRC, claims the switch causes the tubes to vibrate, and friction from the vibration spurs the unusual wear to relatively new tubes.

In the same Patch piece, an Edison spokeswoman denies the energy giant tried to pull a fast one on the NRC and maintains all upgrades to Units 2 and 3, which received the new steam generators, have been done with public safety in mind.

But SCE is getting it from all sides lately when it comes to the plant that generates power for 14 million Californians. The Irvine City Council voted Tuesday night to have city staff draft a letter calling for the decommissioning of SONGS. The councils of Laguna Beach and San Clemente previously passed resolutions demanding safer and more secure waste storage. San Clemente also recently voted to request public updates about radiation levels near the plant.

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