Edison International told Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Allison Macfarlane that they would send the agency a letter by the end of the first week of October outlining the root causes of the problems at San Onofre Unit 2 as well as a restart plan.
Reviewing the letter will take “longer than days and weeks. It will be on the order of months to understand whether they have understood well enough the root causes of the problem,” she said, adding, “We will not let this plant start up unless we are absolutely convinced that it is safe to operate.”
Ms. Macfarlane said the utility would remove fuel from Unit 3 this month and that Unit 2 was the only reactor “in play” to be restarted. She said Unit 3 had “more problems, more significant damage” than Unit 2 and “will likely be shut down for some time, unspecified.”
In a separate report released today, the Committee to Bridge the Gap analyzed data from nuclear power plants nationwide and showed that San Onofre’s Unit 2 reactor has about 400 times as many damaged steam generator tubes as the median number at comparable plants over the same operational period, and Unit 3 has more than 450 times as many.
Each San Onofre reactor has greater than a thousand times as many indications of wear on the tubes than the typical reactor in its first cycle of operation. And each San Onofre unit has had to plug more tubes than all replacement steam generators nationwide combined.
“San Onofre Unit 2 and 3 are both very ill nuclear plants. They are far, far outside the norm of national experience,” writes Daniel Hirsch, President of the Committee to Bridge the Gap and the reports co-author. “Restarting either San Onofre reactor with crippled steam generators that have not been repaired or replaced would be a questionable undertaking at best.”