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San Onofre nuclear plant backs away from reopening date

May 9, 2012 |  8:56 am

 

Southern California Edison backed off from comments made last week by one of its executives, who said the company hopes to have the San Onofre nuclear plant -- shuttered due to equipment issues -- back online and operating at a reduced capacity in June.

In a written statement, the company said, "SCE and the [California Independent System Operator] have maintained throughout the SONGS outage that nuclear safety has no timeline and the units will only be returned to service when SCE and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) are satisfied it is safe to do so.  SCE has not filed a request with the NRC seeking to restart the plant."

Edison said in its statement it provided the June planning dates to the ISO in March only for administrative purposes.

Stephen Pickett, the company’s executive vice president of external relations, said last week Edison was preparing to submit a plan to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission that could have the plant back online running at 50% to 80% capacity in June.

NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko released a statement Monday, saying the agency has yet to receive a written statement from Edison to say the required steps have been taken to investigate and make a plan to fix the issues at the plant and "any discussion of a date for the restart of Unit 2 or Unit 3 is clearly premature."

The plant has been shuttered for more than three months because of problems with excessive wear in steam generator tubes.

On Tuesday, Edison reported it has taken about 1,300 tubes out of service because of wear -- 510 in Unit 2 and 807 in Unit 3 -- representing a little more than 3% of the total number of tubes in the plant, and a higher number than the company had previously reported.

Edison and ISO officials appeared at the Irvine City Council meeting Tuesday night to reassure the public that contingency plans are in place to ensure the plant's outage will not result in blackouts over the summer. The plans include speeding up transmission upgrades, bringing retired generating units at a natural gas plant in Huntington Beach back into service, and giving incentives for customers to conserve energy.

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-- Abby Sewell

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