Failed Nukes At San Onofre – San Diego Tribune | Aug 2016

San Onofre Nuke Fiasco – It’s Not just the Steam Generators that Failed –  Jan 2016

UT San Diego

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“When alloy tubing in one of the new steam generators at San Onofre leaked a small amount of radiation four years ago this week, engineers at Southern California Edison immediately instituted emergency protocols and shut down the nuclear plant.

 

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Neither of the twin domed reactors on the north San Diego County coast have produced a spark of electricity since.

No one disputes what caused the failure — excessive wear in hundreds of tubes designed to drive hot steam through massive turbines is the confirmed culprit, numerous investigators and analysts found.

But what has become increasingly disputed since the plant went dark is the question of who is responsible for flawed replacement steam generators being installed and who should pay for the failure.

Edison, the San Onofre operator and majority owner, said it had no knowledge of design flaws that led to the Jan. 31, 2012, breakdown. Edison places the blame with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, the Japanese firm hired to design and build the replacement steam generators.

“SCE was unaware of the steam generator defects until they were discovered after the tube leak in 2012,” spokeswoman Maureen Brown said in a statement. “It was up to MHI, as the designer and manufacturer, to decide what design features to include that would result in safe RSGs” or replacement steam generators.

Billions of dollars are at stake in the plant’s failure, and so far, the lion’s share of the tab is being covered by the ratepaying public.

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Following a November 2014 vote by the California Public Utilities Commission, customers of Edison and minority owner San Diego Gas & Electric have been paying $3.3 billion of the $4.7 billion in identified closure costs, or 70 percent.

That balance remains controversial, as numerous lawsuits wind their way through various courts and the commission itself is the subject of state and federal criminal investigations over its ties to utility companies, which own the plant.

Edison, the San Onofre operator and majority owner, said it had no knowledge of design flaws that led to the Jan. 31, 2012, breakdown. Edison places the blame with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, the Japanese firm hired to design and build the replacement steam generators.

“SCE was unaware of the steam generator defects until they were discovered after the tube leak in 2012,” spokeswoman Maureen Brown said in a statement. “It was up to MHI, as the designer and manufacturer, to decide what design features to include that would result in safe RSGs” or replacement steam generators.

Billions of dollars are at stake in the plant’s failure, and so far, the lion’s share of the tab is being covered by the ratepaying public.

 

Disastrous Outcome

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Some of the first documents made public that raised questions about Edison’s oversight of the San Onofre project were written by Dwight Nunn, a now-retired company vice president. They surfaced in 2013, right before Edison decided to close the plant for good.

More than 10 years ago, Nunn wrote to the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries general manager.

“I am concerned that there is the potential that design flaws could be inadvertently introduced into the steam generator design that will lead to unacceptable consequences (e.g. tube wear and eventually tube plugging),” Nunn wrote. “This would be a disastrous outcome for both of us and a result each of our companies desire to avoid.”

Ray Lutz of Citizens Oversight, a San Diego nonprofit group fighting to reverse the San Onofre settlement, said the letter shows Edison could have prevented the failure.

“The Nunn letter really showed us that the utility knew they had a big problem,” Lutz said. “It’s clear when you read it that SCE was taking a very close look at everything going on with the design, so for them to say they didn’t know it could fail just isn’t true.”

For Edison’s part, it says Nunn’s letter shows how thorough the company was in making its concerns known to Mitsubishi, and gaining assurances from the manufacturer that the steam generators would be safe.

While Edison and Mitsubishi executives traded correspondence in the early days of the project, engineers from the two companies convened in Japan to tackle the more technical issues. Notes from some of those meetings have been posted on the Edison website as part of the company’s effort to keep ratepayers informed about the shutdown.

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According to the public meeting notes, Edison was aware that Mitsubishi was venturing into new ground when it won the $680 million bid to design and manufacture the San Onofre replacement steam generators.

“MHI has experience with small (steam generators) and the SONGS RSGs have large U-bends, therefore the prior MHl experience is invalid,” notes from the first day of those meetings state.

On another page, one attendee makes this notation: “The SONGS OSGs (original steam generators) had tube wear problems so they don’t see why the RSGs will be any different. They suggest a comparative analysis of the OSG and RSG.”

Brown said Mitsubishi was responsible for designing the replacement steam generators, and that Edison challenged the process along the way. SCE pointed out, for example, that Mitsubishi was experienced building smaller steam generators and “MHI should not assume that a scaled up design would work,” she said.

“MHI agreed with SCE’s comment and repeatedly assured SCE that it was engaged in a rigorous evaluation of the safety of its design for the SONGS RSGs,” she wrote. “Unfortunately, unbeknownst to SCE at the time, MHI did not in fact live up to its promises, due largely to flaws deeply embedded in its proprietary computer codes.

Hirsch, the UC Santa Cruz nuclear policy expert, said Edison “absolutely” should have reported its design concerns to federal regulators.

It took NRC one day — one day! — to discover the computer error that was at the heart of the steam generator failure,” Hirsch said. “But because Edison tried to avoid a license amendment that would have required NRC review and a potential public license amendment hearing, and didn’t disclose to NRC problems like the void coefficient concern, NRC only did that review after the steam generator failed.”

…Continue reading from the Jan 2016 article @ San Diego Union Tribune

– Yes, it is a fiasco on every level, for ratepayers, for the utilities, for the stockholders, for the environment. We deserve better than this type of monumental failure. Now we see Governor Jerry Brown is caught up in this maelstorm along with Senate candidate and current California Attorney General Kamala Harris./CJ

 

 

Kamala Harris Questioned about Conflict of Interest in San Onofre Edison Closure Deal during Senate Debate

– KPBS

Senate candidate and current California Attorney General Kamala Harris was asked her opinion on a recent Public Utilities Commission plan to keep the San Onofre nuclear waste on site for the foreseeable future. Harris declined to answer stating as AG she was representing the CPUC as well as conducting a criminal investigation into the CPUC and the plant closure deal.

The moderator correctly pointed out that the two issues were not related when Harris let out the bombshell that she was conducting a criminal investigation into the nuclear plant and ‘the conduct that took place there.’

This appears to the tip of a very large iceberg here. In the middle of her Senate campaign, Kamala Harris faces a huge conflict of interest in a major scandal. The deal ironed out between the CPUC and Edison was clearly illegal, Harris has evidence as the result of a search, and now we find that Gov Jerry Brown is refusing to release emails related to the matter./CJ

– The San Diego Union-Tribune published an article on the issue the moderator is raising here.