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Ammonia leak at San Onofre nuclear plant prompts emergency alert

November 1, 2011 |  4:37 pm

San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station

An ammonia leak prompted officials to declare a Level-Two emergency at the San Onofre nuclear power plant and evacuate some workers, officials said.

The leak posed no danger to the public, and no radiation was released during the emergency, said Lauren Bartlett, a spokeswoman for Southern California Edison.

Under federal regulations, there are four emergency levels, depending on the severity of the situation. Level Two involves any  "potential substandard degradation in the level of safety of the plant."

The leak was detected about 3 p.m in the No. 3 make-up water treatment system in the non-nuclear section of the plant, Bartlett told The Times. The leak was confined to Unit Three.

Employees in the area of the leak were evacuated. Other plant employees remained at their workstations. Units One and Two were operating normally, Bartlett said.


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Photo: The San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station in 2010. Credit: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times