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San Onofre nuclear power plant still shut down a week after leak

February 7, 2012 |  5:41 pm

San Onofre nuclear plant remained shut down a week after a leak in a steam generator tube was detected

This post has been changed. See the note below.

The San Onofre nuclear power plant remained shut down Tuesday, a week after a leak in a steam generator tube was detected by a warning sensor.

The leak, which was detected Jan. 31 in one of the plant's units, appears to have released a small amount of radioactive gas, but the amount was so slight that it did not pose a threat to workers at the facility or the public, Southern California Edison said.

There was a "very slight uptick in radiation levels" where the leak occurred, utility spokesman Gil Alexander said. He said no similar measurement was found elsewhere on the plant property, which meant that the leak was confined to the area where it was initially detected.

Alexander said the leak stopped several hours after workers shut down the unit, one of two at the coastal facility.

The unit where the leak occurred remained offline Tuesday while crews continued with their inspection process. Alexander said it was unclear how long the unit would remain shut down.

The plant's other unit was also shut down Jan. 9 for scheduled maintenance, refueling and a technology upgrade.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission said tubes in that unit showed excessive wear. But Southern California Edison has said those findings are preliminary and that a thorough analysis of the tubes has to be conducted before a determination can be made on their condition.

For the record, Feb. 7, 8:04 p.m.: A previous version of this said the plant's other unit was shut down last week.

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Photo: A beachcomber walks his dog next to the San Onofre nuclear power plant. Credit: Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times

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