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Nuclear regulators send inspection team to San Onofre

March 15, 2012 |  8:18 am

San Onofre

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission will send an augmented inspection team to the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station to review the circumstances that led three tubes to fail a pressure test this week.

Southern California Edison officials Wednesday said three steam generator tubes in Unit 3 at the plant just south of San Clemente failed the stress tests. The utility was required to notify the commission of the failures, Edison officials said in a statement.

The failures indicate the tubes are more likely to rupture during “certain plant events that affect the pressure inside the steam generator,” commission officials said in a statement. The tubes provide an added barrier inside the containment building to prevent a radioactive steam release.

While some wear on the tubes is normal, the level of wear on the tubes in Unit 3 is “unusual,” officials said. 

The unit has been shut down since Jan. 31 when station operators detected a leak in one of the steam generator tubes. Unit 2 is also currently off line for inspections, officials said.

The federal team will travel to San Onofre in the coming days, officials said.

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-- Paloma Esquivel

Photo: The San Onofre nuclear plant. Credit: Allen J. Schaben  / Los Angeles Times

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