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Common Dreams: "Problems with the steam generators and miles of tubing at the San Onofre nuclear plant are the most severe found in comparable generators in the US and much more severe than previously reported, according to a new report."

Surfers with children a few hundred yards from San Onofre Nuclear plant. (photo: Mark Ralston/AFP)
Surfers with children a few hundred yards from San Onofre Nuclear plant. (photo: Mark Ralston/AFP)

Leaked Docs Reveal 'Off the Charts' Damage at US Nuke Plant

By Common Dreams

14 July 12


roblems with the steam generators and miles of tubing at the San Onofre nuclear plant are the most severe found in comparable generators in the US and much more severe than previously reported, according to a new report.The report by Fairewinds Associates (and commissioned by Friends of the Earth) also provides an analysis of leaked documents (pdf) by plant owner Southern California Edison that shows, despite assertions by the company and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, thousands of tubes inside both San Onofre reactors are severely damaged.

Friends of the Earth, along with other nuclear experts and many concerned local residents, say the reactors at San Onofre should remain shut down.

San Onofre, on the Pacific Coast between Los Angeles and San Diego, has been shut down since January, after a leak of radiation from one of the almost 20,000 thin, tightly-packed tubes that lead from the plant’s four steam generators to its turbines. In an attempt to stop further leaks, Edison has plugged 1,317 of the tubes that show wear. According to NRC data on 31 reactors with comparable replacement steam generators, San Onofre has more than three and a half times the number of steam tubes plugged as a safety measure than at all the other reactors combined.

In addition to the unprecedented scale of plugging at San Onofre, Fairewinds’ analysis of the leaked data from Edison shows that more than 4,000 tubes are showing significant wear, while only 1,317 have been plugged. Fairewinds concludes that plugging the tubes will not eliminate the cause of damage. In fact, operating the reactors with the remaining unplugged but worn tubes could create cascading tube failures, leading to domino-like catastrophic failure that would release significant radiation to a large area of Southern California.

“Edison and the NRC have admitted that the problems with San Onofre’s steam tubes are an anomaly, but they haven’t been forthcoming about just how historically off-the-charts the damage is in comparison to the rest of the nuclear industry,” said Arnie Gundersen, a nuclear engineer at Fairewinds and co-author of the report.

"This reveals a far greater problem than has been previously disclosed, and raises serious questions about whether it is safe to restart either unit," said Daniel Hirsch, a nuclear expert at UC-Santa Cruz, to Agence France-Presse.

Meanwhile, local anti-nuclear activists are pressing government authorities to set up a watchdog group to oversee the San Onofre plant.

The groups, including Residents Organized for a Safe Environment (ROSE), have launched a letter-writing campaign to the California attorney general, demanding that their voices have a seat at the table when it comes to nuclear safety.

“We are aware of what happened when a committee like this was formed at Diablo Canyon,” said Gene Stone, an organizer with ROSE. “It has taken a very long time for a very small amount of good to come out it. We will not tolerate a San Onofre safety committee filled with people from Southern California Edison or Pacific Gas and Electric and the nuclear industry. We demand true public participation.” your social media marketing partner


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+6 # dick 2012-07-14 10:20
With the military next door & LOTS of $$$$$$$ living nearby, one would expect appropriate actions, no?
+11 # Vardoz 2012-07-14 10:54
The NRC is totally corrupt and irresponsible! They cover up, don't make sure most of our aging plants are updated and the thing is Radiation kills for genterations. It goes into our food chain and gives people cancer for generations. They literally get away with murder knowing how dangerous it is and insane it is to boil water using some of the most lethal substances in the world. They don't know what to do with the waste and after mining Uranium millions of tons of low level radioactive waste are left on the Earth next to schools and shopping centers. Being exposed to this waste is like receiving a continual X-ray. I know I produced a documentary that aired nationally on PBS about this. Also radiation from Fulushima is also hitting the California coast hard and this added to the already potentially catastrophic situation at San Onofre is a long term assault on our health and the health of generations across our nation as Fukushima is still melting down. You can look up the medical implications of radiation by Dr. Helen Caldicott.
+7 # jwb110 2012-07-14 12:12
Maybe when the tight ass Republicans in Orange and San Diego Counties have the mess on their doorstep they will change their tune about "clean Nuclear Energy".
+5 # Joe Bob 2012-07-14 12:56
Yeah, Maybe when their Cancer rates go thru the roof.... but then that will be too late, sorta like the Non Existent Global Warming. Oh, I suspect the Nuke industry can't be sued either. Don't forget Obama(still better than any Repub) is still greenlighting new nuke plants.
Sorry, I'm just being a member of On On and On...
+5 # Phlippinout 2012-07-14 15:05
God bless the brave leakers. YOu are truly the heros!
+1 # ABen 2012-07-15 10:44
Perhaps the most important question to ask is why we, as a society, are so blind to the staggering and inevitable dangers presented by aging and often ill-designed nuclear power plants. Are we still laboring under the mistaken idea of free and clean energy? One of the defining characteristics of this society has always been finding new and innovative solutions to problems. We have ample evidence of the catastrophic nature of any major failure in a nuclear plant. We know that coal fired plants are a major source of serious pollutants. This society should dedicate itself to going as green as possible as soon as possible--we owe it to ourselves, our children, and the planet. BTW, green/nonpollut ing energy sources and systems are the wave of the future.

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