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San Onofre nuclear plant reports more testing failures

March 16, 2012 |  7:03 am

More failed tests at San Onofre
Four additional steam generator tubes failed pressure tests this week at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, utility officials said.

Southern California Edison officials said Wednesday that three steam generator tubes in Unit 3 at the plant just south of San Clemente had failed the stress tests. The failures prompted the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to send an augmented inspection team to the plant. The four additional failures were reported Thursday.

The failures indicate the tubes are more likely to rupture during certain events affecting pressure inside them. 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. There are nearly 20,000 steam generator tubes in the unit and utility officials are conducting tests on 129 of them, according to Southern California Edison.

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 offline for inspections, officials said.

The federal team is expected to begin inspections Monday.  

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-- Paloma Esquivel

Photo: Four additional steam generator tubes failed pressure tests this week at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station. Credit: Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times

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