Edison Submits Restart Plan for San Onofre Reactor

Southern California Edison made the case to federal regulators Thursday that it can safely operate San Onofre unit 2 at reduced power after addressing premature steam generator tube wear that has kept the nuclear plant offline since the beginning of the year.

Its restart plan would involve enhanced monitoring while operating the reactor at 70 percent power for five months before another period of inspections. Unit 3, where tube wear was more extensive, will remain offline during continued analysis.

"Safety is our top priority, and after conducting more than 170,000 inspections to understand and prevent the problem, and confirming the corrective actions we have taken to solve the problem with the top experts from around the world, we have concluded that unit 2 at San Onofre can be operated safely and within industry norms," SCE President Ron Litzinger said in a release. "When implemented, this plan will get San Onofre unit 2 back to providing reliable and clean energy to Southern Californians."

In the restart plan and SCE's response to a Nuclear Regulatory Commission confirmatory action letter, the utility identified fluid elastic instability as the source of tube-to-tube wear. The phenomenon is believed to be the result of a combination of high steam velocity and low-moisture conditions in certain locations with ineffective tube supports.

For its part, the NRC was quick to point out on Thursday that it will have the final word on the conditions and timing of a potential restart.

“Our primary focus now must be on analyzing SCE’s response to the CAL before addressing the restart question. The agency will not permit a restart unless and until we can conclude the reactor can be operated safely,” NRC Chairwoman Allison Macfarlane said in a release. “This could take a number of months. Our inspections and review will be painstaking, thorough and will not be rushed.”

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