Saturday, April 21, 2012

Fire at California's San Onofre Nuke Plant Extinguished

(There was a fire?)

From Dow Jones Newswire (4/20/2012):

Fire At Troubled California Nuclear Plant Extinguished

By Cassandra Sweet


Edison International'S (EIX) southern California utility said Friday that a fire at the San Onofre nuclear power plant, which has been shut for months over equipment problems, was extinguished.

The fire ignited in an electrical panel in the "non-radiological side" of one of the plant's two units, said Edison, which operates the plant and co-owns it with Sempra Energy's (SRE) San Diego utility. The plant's fire department put out the blaze a few minutes before 1 p.m. local time, less than an hour before it started, the company said.

The plant, located on the coast between Los Angeles and San Diego, has been shut since Jan. 31 when a steam tube ruptured and released radioactive steam. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission said the radiation levels weren't dangerous.

Since the incident, the NRC has ordered Southern California Edison to keep the plant shut until it determines the cause of premature wear found in several steam tubes, or pipes, and has figured a way to fix the problem.

The plant's other unit had been shut down for routine maintenance and refueling before the steam-tube rupture. Edison has kept that unit offline while it examines steam tubes in steam generators at both units.

At each unit, about 19,500 tubes carry hot, radioactive water and steam from pools of water that hold nuclear-fuel rods to two generators, which use the steam to produce electricity. The tubes are critical for keeping the plant's nuclear-fuel rods cool.

The steam tubes are contained in a chamber filled with cool water and must be strong enough to withstand pressure from the hot water inside and the cool water outside to ensure that radiation doesn't escape.

The tubes are components of four steam generators that Edison and Sempra bought from Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. (7011.TO) and installed in 2009 and 2010 at a cost of $800 million.

The NRC said Friday in a status report that Mitsubishi was conducting its own examination of the steam tubes and generators and expected to complete the review by Aug. 31.

SoCal Edison could theoretically resolve the steam tube issue and restart the plant before then, as the schedule for Edison's review is completely separate from Mitsubishi's, said Jennifer Manfre, a spokeswoman for SoCal Edison. She noted that the company doesn't have a timeline for fixing the steam tube issue and restarting the plant.

For more on San Onofre's problem with the steam generators from Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, read my post from February.

(H/T anon reader)


Anonymous said...

The world of nuclear power indeed is full of wonders. Love this little error in the story:
"The plant's fire department put out the blaze a few minutes before 1 p.m. local time, less than an hour BEFORE it [the fire] started, the company said."

Chibaguy said...

Shut them all down and start over with a clinical trial that spans 40 years on a planet with similar conditions of earth. Once they go out of control man cannot do anything.

Until the IAEA, NRC, NISA et al figure out that immediate death to radiation is not a proper way to mitigate risks, these agencies need to shut down as well.

On a weekly/monthly basis I wonder how many close calls there actually are?

Anonymous said...

Compulsory reporting of all events at nuclear facilities directly to independent media is the only way we would find out.

The only reason this is would not be happening is because they are hiding something.

Anonymous said...

There was an article over at a week or so ago about a nuclear plant reporting leaking radioactive materials into nearby rivers, weeks to months after it had actually occurred. It sounded like they would normally not have even said anything.

It's not really that nuclear energy is safe... it's that they don't tell us anything, so everyone assumes it's safe.

Anonymous said...

Here is a small list for you to look at. It is not a complete list by any means, but will give you an idea of the scope of the problems.

Anonymous said...

Last June news report re: tritium leaks

NEIS report on their FOIA for the 1/30/12 Byron release.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the links.

I've only recently become aware that there's a lot more crap being pumped into the environment (from all kinds of sources, not only nuclear plants) than even I had already assumed. It's really easy for them all to get away with poisoning us too, because direct links are difficult to prove.

Atomfritz said...

Maybe the "mistake" anon 1:23 mentions is just a small trick to subtly cover-up that firefighters had to fight the blaze almost a hour to bring it under control?

Anonymous said...

Naaa, Atomfritz, I doubt that. I think it was just worded awkwardly and probably meant it took a little less than an hour to put it out. ... but I still think it's funny. (Maybe I'm just glad I moved away from there a few days ago and my sense of humor is elevated.)

Anonymous said...

"A Brief Chronology of Radiation and Protection" until 1995

Anonymous said...

"Nuclear power plant accidents: listed and ranked since 1952"

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