Mitsubishi Affirms Serious Steam Generator Problem at San Onofre Nuclear Reactors

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: CONTACT: Shaun Burnie | 202.957.1247
April 20, 2012
Mitsubishi Affirms Serious Steam Generator Problem at San Onofre Nuclear Reactors
Reactors Cannot Be Operated During 2012 Summer – Says FOE

SAN FRANCISCO – The Japanese firm responsible for fabricating the failing steam generators at Southern California Edison’s San Onofre nuclear reactors announced today that it is undertaking analyses of the causes of the serious, unresolved safety problems.

In papers filed with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the firm, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, revealed that its reviews will extend at least through the end of August—ensuring that the troubled reactors will not be able to operate through the summer.

The severity of the problems at San Onofre first came to light when one of the reactor’s steam generators leaked radiation at the end of January. The subsequent discovery of unusual levels of wear in steel tubing in the steam generators of both units has caused both reactors to remain shut down since.

“The people of southern California need answers to what exactly is happening at San Onofre. It doesn’t exactly instil confidence in Edison or the NRC that we have to learn about the process from the Japanese fabricator of the damaged steam generators,” said Damon Moglen of Friends of the Earth. “At the same time, Edison and the NRC must explain why Mitsubishi is planning on doing separate root cause analyses of the two reactors, and on a staggered schedule, when it is clear that the technical problems are shared at the steam generators of both reactors.”

“It’s clear that any plans Edison has for restarting either of the reactors this summer must be abandoned. It’s essential that Edison immediately disclose what plans it has for initiating efficiency and conservation measures for the coming peak energy demand months of summer. Consumers can have safe and reliable energy without relying on these ageing and dangerous nuclear reactors,” said Moglen.

Mitsubishi’s filing with the NRC reveals for the first time that the firm is responsible for conducting an analysis for San Onofre reactor unit 2, which is to be completed by May 31, 2012, and another analysis for reactor unit 3, which is due by August 31, 2012.The company provided no justification for conducting separate analyses despite the fact that the steam generators at both reactors are experiencing the same rapid and unexplained wear which has already lead to the release of radiation during the failure of a steam generator tube at unit 3 in January.

Last week, a study by nuclear engineer Arnie Gundersen and Fairewinds Associates, commissioned by nuclear watchdog Friends of the Earth, provided the first detailed picture of the extent of design changes made by Southern California Edison at its San Onofre nuclear reactors. These changes likely led to the equipment degradation and failure that has forced the reactors offline, pending a thorough and comprehensive investigation.

Edison confirmed last week that the same type of severe wear in the steam generator tubes in San Onofre unit 3 had been found in unit 2.

The FOE commissioned reports on San Onofre are available at: http://libcloud.s3.amazonaws.com/93/86/5/1285/Fairewinds_FOE_Cascading_Steam_Generator_Failures_San_Onofre_2012_4_12.pdf

The NRC event report can be obtained at: http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/event-status/event/2012/20120420en.html#en47833
Gene Stone

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5 Responses to Mitsubishi Affirms Serious Steam Generator Problem at San Onofre Nuclear Reactors

  1. CaptD says:

    I’m glad the their analysis will take all Summer; that way Californians will learn that other forms of Energy can run the State just fine!

    This Summer, Southern California will be much less at RISK because both of the reactors at San Onofre will be in cold shut down which makes them much less at risk should a BIG Quake strike!

  2. CaptD says:

    Prediction!

    I believe that the CURRENT PROBE into San Onofre will expose many more questionable tubes and also an ongoing coverup of safety related info that was concealed in order to sidestep NRC notifications. San Onofre has the worst safety record of all US reactors and it just makes sense that the Operator will be trying very hard to keep the lid on anything that draw attention to their reactor or it’s operation.

    The NRC gave the Nuclear Industry a “PASS” on the tube wear issue before on San Onofre and many of the other reactors around the Country http://wp.­me/p21p6a-­77L BUT NOW
    They are realizing that they have a much bigger problem than they first “imagined”­; metal erosion/weakness cannot be tolerated when the radioactiv­e leakage is not only high in temperatur­e and pressure but also high in amount of radiation!

    Would you use a dangerous leaking pressure pot day after day,… or would you be smart and replace it with something safer?

    Fragile tubes and a BIG EARTH QUAKE could makes a large number of those tubes all fail AT ONCE; which is what I think happened in Fukushima!

  3. CaptD says:

    Forget ever using the name SONGS; call San Onofre what it is:

    SORE (San Onofre Reactor Emergency) is a pair of nuclear reactors that have the WORST safety record of any US reactors; why should we allow the nuclear industry to “sweeten” their image that by using a fluffy name?

    The truth is that everyone in SoCal has just been very LUCKY that Nature has not “yet” shaken San Onofre hard enough to cause a major meltdown or worse!

    Consider Japan as a test case; they now have a Trillion Dollar Eco-Disaster that is affecting their entire Country; how would California (and or the USA) pay for a similar event?

    Where would people relocate to and what would they do for housing, since their home owners insurance has a nuclear exclusion?

    If this happened at San Onofre, the “coastal” real estate loses alone would be more than a trillion dollars and remember the rest of the “HEARTLAND” of the USA is downwind.

    I believe that if Americans really knew the true cost of Fukushima, WE, the people, would demand CHANGE and that is something that some of those in Government and the entire Nuclear Industry want to avoid at all cost!

    What will determine the total cost of their “Trillion Dollar” Eco-Disast­er?

    Please feel free to add your comments and or estimates to this list:
     Decommissi­oning costs
     Loss to all other radioactiv­e decontamin­ation caused by this Disaster.
     Loss of revenues by Tepco
     Loss to TEPCO’s share holders caused by radioactiv­ity
     Loss of Japanese personal income caused by radioactiv­ity
     Loss to Japanese businesses caused by radioactiv­ity
     Loss of all Japanese health costs related to radioactiv­ity
     Loss due to unusable Japanese Land related to radioactiv­ity
     Loss due to Japanese housing caused by radioactiv­ity
     Loss of Japanese Property Values caused by radioactiv­ity
     Loss of fishing grounds caused by radioactiv­ity
     Loss of manufactur­ing caused by radioactiv­ity
     Loss to the value of the Yen caused by radioactiv­ity
     Loss to other Utilities caused by Fukushima’­s radioactiv­ity
     Loss to Japans credit rating caused by Fukushima’­s radioactiv­ity
     Loss to the Japanese peoples Lives because of radiation
    and lets not forget the
     Loss to the Japanese Nuclear Industry World-Wide…

  4. CaptD says:

    What would happen to property values here in SoCal if SORE, (San Onofre Reactor Emergency) suffered a meltdown like Fukushima for ANY reason?

    Per the NRC: Fact Sheet on Nuclear Insurance and Disaster Relief http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/fact-sheets/funds-fs.html

    In short, if there is more that 12 Billion in damages, we are left holding a empty radioactive bag! This is only a tiny fraction of what it will cost in Fukushima, which is about a Trillion Dollar Eco-Disaster! What is the value of all the homes and Commercial property downwind of SORE?

    Here is a great graphic that will help everyone visualize what is downwind of SORE! NRDC Nuclear Fallout Map

    http://www.nrdc.org/nuclear/fallout/ (Just click on a reactor and zoom in…)

    Where will the US Government get the REST of the money if it happened here next week, Social Security and or Medicare?

    On the other hand If SORE, (San Onofre Reactor Emergency) is De-Commissioned, then the Property values would climb upward because SoCal does not have this radioactive RISK hanging over our heads and that could actually jump start our local and State economy. This would be a Win-Win-Win situation because So-Cal does not need the capacity, (which has been proven), De-Commissioning will generate lots of good paying LONGTERM JOBS and there will be no more RISK of a meltdown; besides SoCal needs a bigger World Famous Surf Park!..

  5. Sabrina says:

    Could someone more knowledgeable than me bring this up at the Irvine City Council meeting tonight, particularly if SoCal Edison is present to give “their side” of the story? I feel unequipped to present the information in a knowledgeable and succinct way, and above all I want the movement to look like it knows what it’s doing, so that the powers that be will take it seriously.

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