Nuclear Catastrophe Imminent at San Onofre if Guidelines Continue to be Ignored

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Common Dreams

Nuclear Catastrophe Imminent at San Onofre if Guidelines Continue to be Ignored

Negligence led to release of radiation from defective equipment at San Onofre in January

by
Common Dreams staff

Beach-goers walk on the sand near the San Onofre nuclear power plant in San Clemente, Calif. (AP Photo, Lenny Ignelzi, File)

According to a new report released by Fairewinds and Friends of the Earth, Southern California Nuclear energy company Edison avoided federal regulatory guidelines when replacing defective steam generators at the San Onofre nuclear power plant, leading to major malfunctions and a release of radiation from defective equipment at San Onofre in January.

The company's solutions include plugging the tubes that carry radioactive steam and operating the plant at reduced power; however, the report reveals that these solutions are greatly insufficient and indicative of a consistently negligent and under-regulated industry.

Author of the report, nuclear engineer Arnie Gundersen, reports that the industry proposed solutions will lead to catastrophe: “If a steam-line accident were to occur, vibrationally induced tube damage at San Onofre could cause an inordinate amount of radioactivity to be released outside of the containment system, compromising public health and safety in one of the most heavily populated areas in the United States.”

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Fairewinds: San Onofre: Bad Vibrations

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Friends of the Earth: New Report Reveals Scale of Edison Steam Generator Failures at San Onofre Nuclear Plant

Southern California Edison avoided federal regulatory guidelines when replacing defective steam generators at the San Onofre nuclear power plant -- a costly mistake that can’t be fixed by plugging the tubes that carry radioactive steam or by operating the plant at reduced power, according to a new report released today by Friends of the Earth.

The content of the report by nuclear engineer Arnie Gundersen details the significant design changes that should have triggered a license review which would have uncovered problems that subsequently led to serious damage and the release of radiation from the defective equipment at San Onofre in January.

Gundersen also criticizes Edison's plans to rapidly restart the damaged reactors at lower power after having done minimal plugging of damaged tubes carrying radioactive water. He warns that these are “non-solutions” that could lead to even more significant equipment failure and releases of radiation. Edison is expected to propose running the reactors at between 50 and 80 percent power. [...]

“Edison should never have been allowed to install these fundamentally defective steam generators,” said Damon Moglen, climate and energy campaign director at Friends of the Earth. “Now Edison is planning to avoid dealing with the underlying problems and instead restart at lower power. Their claims of nuclear safety first ring completely hollow and must be stopped.”

Read the report here:

http://libcloud.s3.amazonaws.com/93/01/3/1442/SO_Steam_Generator_Analysis_May.pdf

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