San Onofre Closure: Ratepayers Problem

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For those of you living in Southern California, you are all too aware of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) closure. The plant has not been producing electricity since January of 2012.

Background:

SONGS has been producing power for over 40 years. The two utilities that own the plant are Southern California Edison Co. and its junior partner, San Diego Gas & Electric Co. SONGS has been a vital part of the Southern California electric supply system since 1968 when Unit 1 began operation, followed by Units 2 and 3 in 1983-1984, Unit 1 was retired in 1992 and in January of 2012 Units 2 and 3 were retired.

The reason for the closure:

Due to a radiation leak intothe environment from Unit #3. Along with this leak, hundreds of tubes, responsible for carrying radioactive water in the new generators, were diagnosed as having rapid wear. These tubes showed wear in less than two years after installation. The four replacement steam generators which were designed by Edison and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI). The new design, removed the stay cylinder (support pillar designed to relieve the weight in the middle of the tube sheet) which resulted in additional unnecessary fabrication, changed the reliability in the tube sheet (if it fails, then radiation goes straight to the environment), and adding tubes (400) results in an unsafe core flow. San Onofre changed over to the high burn up nuclear fuel over a decade ago. High burn up fuel is low enriched uranium which is over twice as radioactive as the lower burn up fuel, is hotter, and more unstable in storage and transport. As a result of this High Burn up Fuel, the protective fuel cladding (Cladding prevents radioactive fission fragments from escaping the fuel into the coolant and contaminating it) can become brittle and swell due to release of fission product gases, resulting in the release of radiation into the environment.

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The Problems:

What is to be done with the radioactive waste? The Nuclear Regulatory (NRC) says the wastes which are in place now at nuclear facilities, need to be in place for 60-300 years. The current storage containers for the radioactive waste may fail within 30 years.

The price tag on this is already at $4.7 billion dollars. This price tag, is distributed at $3.3 billion to the rate payers and $1.4 billion to the investors.

The other problem which exists is, what is going to take the place of SONGS for the power that it produces? In 2011 it was said that nuclear power accounted for 15% of the power consumed by Californians.

Conclusion:

As a result of this science project gone wrong by Edison and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, there has been radiation released into the environment, flaws in the current oversight of nuclear facilities being able to modify their setups, no repercussions to those responsible for this fiasco, there are workers who are now without a job as a result, and like always, the taxpayers are to bear the burden for these two companies and complete disregard for safety or the environment or human life. The taxpayer should not have to pay for a modification which was never given an opportunity to be voted upon by the ratepayers. Had the ratepayers been given the opportunity to vote on a modification, the vote may not have passed, which would have resulted in the plant still running as originally designed. The same vote should have been conducted when the decision to bring in the high burn up fuel was decided on to be used. This would have reduced the brittleness in the cladding, which was one of the factors in the radiation leakage to the environment.

Kevin Barnard | News Cult

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