Long after shutdown, heavy tube wear remains a mystery at California nuclear reactor
By Associated Press, Published: March 16, 2012
No date has been set to restart the reactors.
The testing “is designed to help us understand the potential safety implications and significance of this situation,” Ron Litzinger, president of plant operator Southern California Edison, said in a statement.
The company has finished surveying the wall thickness of the tubes but has yet to determine the cause of the unusual wear, which could range from debris circulating within the generators to a manufacturing or design defect.
The steam generators were manufactured by Japan-based Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, according to company officials.
Inside a steam generator, hot, pressurized water flowing through bundles of tubes heats a bath of non-radioactive water surrounding them. The resulting steam is used to turn turbines to make electricity.
The tubes are one of the vital barriers between the radioactive and non-radioactive sides of the plant, according to the NRC. If a tube breaks, there is the potential that radioactivity from the system that pumps water through the reactor could escape into the atmosphere.
Serious leaks also can drain cooling water from a reactor, said David Lochbaum, director of the nuclear safety project for Union of Concerned Scientists.
“If there is a tube leak, the water that is leaking out is more likely to reach the environment. If there is any radioactivity in that water, it’s more likely to get places it shouldn’t be,” he said.
Nineteen percent of all power used by SCE customers comes from nuclear generation.
A spokeswoman for the agency that operates the state’s wholesale power system, the California Independent System Operator, said the San Diego and Los Angeles areas could see rotating power outages this summer if both reactors remain off line. The agency is taking steps to prevent those shortages.
“It’s all about balancing supply and demand,” said ISO spokeswoman Stephanie McCorkle. “You have to have a certain amount of plant (power) generation where the heavily populated areas of California are.”
An Edison statement said the utility welcomes the NRC inspection team, which is expected to begin work Monday.
The plant is owned by Edison, San Diego Gas & Electric and the city of Riverside. Southern California Edison serves nearly 14 million residents with electricity in Central and Southern California.
UK nuclear sites at risk of flooding, report shows 07 Mar 2012 As many as 12 of Britain’s 19 civil nuclear sites are at risk of flooding and coastal erosion because of climate change global warming, according to an unpublished government analysis obtained by the Guardian. Nine of the sites have been assessed by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) as being vulnerable now, while others are in danger from rising sea levels and storms in the future. The sites include all of the eight proposed for new nuclear power stations around the coast, as well as numerous radioactive waste stores, operating reactors and defunct nuclear facilities.
HAZMAT situation: ‘Non-emergency significant event’ declared at Los Alamos —DP Road open after HAZMAT situation on Los Alamos property 14 Mar 2012 With sirens blaring, emergency management vehicles raced down DP Road Wednesday, responding to a Hazmat situation at Enclosure 12 in TA-21. For two hours, DP Road was closed as the LANL Hazmat team, Los Alamos Fire and Police Department and FEMA assessed the situation. Most of DP Road was reopened around 1:45 p.m. as LAPD decreased its perimeter. Capt. Randy Foster said the initial call came into dispatch at 11:53 a.m. The road was closed east of 272 DP Road until the all-clear from the LANL Hazmat teams came in Wednesday evening. The situation has been categorized as a “non-emergency significant event” by the laboratory… Police said a voluntary evacuation was taking place on DP Road. Police said for those who are working on DP Road to remain inside if they chose to stay. Businesses along DP Road still were waiting for an all-clear signal as of 7:30 p.m. An automated 911 call was received at the Los Alamos Monitor at 1:05 p.m. advising all people on DP Road to shelter in place until the all-clear signal is sounded.