Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A Reader's Guide to the San Onofre Steam Generator Situation

For a number of weeks, we've been paying close attention to our colleagues at Southern California Edison (SCE) as they work to resolve a problem with the steam generators at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station or SONGS. Unit #2 and #3 at SONGS have been out of service for several weeks ever since leaks were detected in the steam generators of both units.

In a press briefing earlier this week, SCE's CNO delivered some good news, and said that there's a 50% chance that one or both of the plant's reactors will be back in operation by the Summer. The thing to remember here is that SCE and the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission won't allow the plant's two reactors to restart until both parties are convinced that it is safe to do so.

For real time updates from SCE, please visit

A number of outside observers, most notably Arnie Gundersen of Fairewinds Associates, have been commenting on the situation as well, with Gundersen publishing a pair of reports in conjunction with Friends of the Earth concerning the steam generators.

As the staff at SONGS continue to work on a solution, I thought it would be a good idea to collect a number of blog posts that taken together could serve as a rejoinder of sorts to Gundersen.

First, we should probably point to a post by Will Power at Atomic Power Review (APR) from last month that lays out the issue in very clear terms. Next, here's a post at NEI Nuclear Notes that Victoria Barq wrote after a conversation with Alex Marion, NEI's Vice President for Nuclear Operations. It covers the content of Gundersen's initial report.

More recently, Meredith Angwin, who normally blogs at Yes Vermont Yankee, provided a guest post at APR that dives a little deeper into the issue. To wrap things up, we should point to a blog post by Dan Yurman over at Idaho Samizdat that pulls on a couple of loose threads in Gundersen's reports.

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