Del Mar wants full public hearing before SONGS restart

DEL MAR — City Council adopted a resolution urging the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to require a public license amendment hearing before SONGS (San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station) is allowed to restart. 

The unanimous vote followed presentations from experts on both sides of the issue regarding the troubled generators at San Onofre plant.

Before making the decision at the Sept. 24 meeting, Mayor Carl Hilliard asked Mark Nelson, director of generation, planning and strategy for primary plant owner Southern California Edison, if his company would oppose such a resolution by Del Mar and other cities for a more complete and transparent hearing related to safety issues.

“I certainly don’t think it’s necessary,” Nelson said. “The NRC has laid out a path and we think that that path, along with our regulator, is appropriate.”

Hilliard said any governmental agency should take as much public input as is available to it and embrace the concept of public hearings.

“I’m not sure I understand the reluctance of Edison to endorse that suggestion,” he said.

“I think it’s really an issue of the NRC’s experience and what the regulator sees as reasonable,” Nelson said. “At this point we’ll follow the path of our regulator.”

Unit 2 at SONGS was taken offline Jan. 9 for a scheduled inspection. Unit 3 was shut down Jan. 31 after a small leak was discovered in one of its 19,454 steam generator tubes. The plant has yet to be restarted but Edison may soon submit a request to bring Unit 2 back online.

Daniel Hirsch, a lecturer on nuclear policy at the University of California Santa Cruz, explained that steam generator tubes are important to nuclear power plants because they provide the cooling necessary to avoid a meltdown, which can result in radioactivity being released into the environment.

To transfer heat efficiently, the tubes must be thin. To prevent radioactivity from being released they also need to be strong, Hirsch said.

The original steam generators at SONGS began to fail after about 20 years, he said. Edison bought new ones from Mitsubishi Heavy Industries that had substantial design changes compared to the originals, Hirsch said.

Because of the differences, Edison should have been required to submit a license amendment request to the NRC, Hirsch said. But that would trigger a higher level of review and a possible request from the public for an evidentiary hearing.

So Edison told the NRC this was like a replacement, Hirsch said.

The SONGS tubes have anti-vibration bars and a series of support plates. Each provides a place where there can be rubbing, which can result in thinning, which can cause the tube to burst, Hirsch said.

Hirsch said there are four possible types of rubbing and all occurred at SONGS.

According to an Edison press release read by Hirsch, “The nature of wear is not unusual in new steam generators and is part of equipment settling in.”

Because the NRC didn’t have data to confirm that, Hirsch said he and his students went through every in-service inspection report for every new steam generator in the country that had run for two years, roughly the same period the new SONGS generators were in service.

“The amount of damage is orders of magnitude above the typical reactor,” Hirsch said.

Each has had more tubes plugged, or taken out of service, during this period than the entire country combined, he said. In fact, 14 plants reviewed had no tubes plugged.

The median number of plugged tubes after one cycle of operation nationally is zero. At SONGS there were 510 and 807 in Units 2 and 3, respectively.

He described the number of places where wear had occurred as “staggeringly higher.”

The median number of wear indications after one cycle of operation nationally is four. At SONGS there were 4,721 in Unit 2 and 10,284 in Unit 3.

“So to say that this is standard for similar reactors just isn’t the case,” Hirsch said. “They’re very troubled reactors.”

Once a facility is down for nine months, the Public Utility Commission must initiate an investigation that includes what the costs are, who should pay for them and if the plant is still useful.

“This is a big deal,” Hirsch said. “Eight and a half million people live nearby and we should protect them and we should, at the same time, protect the economy.”

Nelson said Edison compiled a team of international experts from universities and governments, some with 30 or 40 years of experience in the industry, who conducted more than 60,000 inspections “to get to the bottom of what’s going on.”

“There’s a number of places where each tube can be touched so if a tube is vibrating, it’s not unusual for that tube to pick up multiple … indications,” Nelson said. “It’s really just the system saying this tube is hitting in several places.”

He did acknowledge that two of the 19,454 tubes in Unit 2 that were rubbing together in tube-to-tube vibration is unusual.

“Yes, it had a lot of indications and a larger amount of tubes that had been contacted than what’s typically seen in a first in-service inspection,” Nelson said. “But the actual areas that the wear was occurring are areas that are in fact well understood.”

He said the computer modeling underpredicted the steam velocities in some areas where there was tube-to-tube rubbing.

He said the NRC has ruled Edison took appropriate measures to design the steam generators and that it did not need a license amendment.

He said Edison won’t restart the plant until it and the NRC are satisfied it is safe to do so.

“Our next step is to get back to the NRC with a plan for restart (of Unit 2),” he said. “The NRC explicitly is not going to allow us to restart until they’ve approved the plan.”

The NRC has a public meeting schedule for Oct. 9.

Del Mar council members were asked to take a stand on the restart at their June 18 meeting but deferred action until “well-researched” and “very balanced” data could be presented.

As part of the resolution they also support a CUP investigation of the costs and reliability of the plant as well as a comparison of the reliability and costs of SONGS to a future based on alternatives, including efficiency, load management, demand response, renewable energy and energy storage.

 

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  1. Guest says:

    Kudos to the Del Mar City Council

    There is no way SONGS should be re-started. It’s just not worth the risk.

    Ask Japan.

    In addition, any ratepayer $$ going to SONGS should be immediately diverted toward building Renewable Energy sources.

    The costs of Renewable Energy are lower than ever, while the cost of nuclear is higher than ever.

    Ask Japan.

    (And if you haven’t been keeping up on how Japan has been devastated by their nuclear crisis:

    www dot enenews dot com

    www dot nuclearhotseat dot com

    RadChick on Facebook

  2. CaptD says:

    SCE’s RESTART PR campaign is now in full swing, please tell your friends to find out what SanO insiders are saying about all the technical issues AGAINST RESTARTING SanO, before they attend the NRC Dana Pt. meeting on 10-09-12.

    The complete 6 page PR memo can be viewed online http://is.gd/3XgDdX along with many other of the DAB Safety Team’s “Papers”, like “DAB Safety’s Initial Response to SCE’s Restart Plan”, so please bookmark it as MORE information will be posted to keep you in the know.

    Remember:
    Any SCE restart is nothing but a $1.2 Billion Get out of Jail Free Card for them!

    Just SAY N☢ To Any Restart TESTING, SoCal cannot afford a Trillion Dollar Eco-Disaster like Fukushima!

    CaptD
    p.s. Kudos to Joe for the SCE PR Restart Pitch Info!

  3. CaptD says:

    The Number 1 US Nuclear Safety Concern:
    San Onofre’s Replacement Steam Generators

    The DAB Safety Team is thankful to numerous anonymous concerned SONGS Workers, who have provided factual information in the interest of the Public Safety to us so that we could arrive at these “Reasonable Conclusions” regarding SONGS Replacement Steam Generators Degradation. We acknowledge Fairewinds Energy Association, Professor Daniel Hirsch, Friends of the Earth, San Clemente Green, Media, News Papers and the SD Reader, whose material has contributed to the successful completion of this document.
    NOTE: These Preliminary Conclusions are subject to change upon receipt of Southern California Edison’s (SCE) SONGS Unit 2 Restart Plan and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) Root Cause Evaluation.

    If SONGS Unit 2 is allowed to operate at reduced power, an Un-isolable main steam line break accident can occur at any time, due to a postulated design basis earthquake and/or any other associated failure. Due to this event, the depressurization of the steam generator caused by the steam line break coupled with the excessive vibrations due high differential pressure (> 2250 psi), high reactor coolant water temperature inside the tubes, the compact space between the SONGS U-Tube Bundle and the moisture separators (compared with other Mitsubishi Steam Generators) and the steam over-pressurization would cause the elastic deformation (NRC AIT Report, Mitsubishi Preliminary Cause Evaluation) of the taller U-tube bundle due to increased U-tube bundle height, high localized steam-voids or dry-outs (two-phase mist region, almost devoid of water in undefined central portion of the U-tube bundle above the 7th support plate) and narrow-pitch/tube diameter ratio. This unanalyzed and rare phenomena not experienced in the Steam Generators operating history, in turn, would cause the onset of fluid elastic instability conditions due to the 100% localized steam voids in the central portion of U-Tube bundle above the 7th Support Plate. The fluid elastic instability conditions would result in further lowering the already low in-plane tube clearances (Attributed to unanalyzed effects because of addition of more tubes to achieve more thermal MWt out of the SGs). The combination of these factors along with a poorly designed anti-vibration support structure [low damping capability of the support structure (i.e., the tube support plates, the tube-sheet, and the anti-vibration bars)] would result in excessive and violent vibrations, cause tubes to hit each other in the in-plane direction, result in leaking tubes, which would cause high-pressure primary sub-cooled water jets. These high-pressure jets would cut holes into other already worn tubes and create undetermined number of cascading tube ruptures.

    The cumulative effects of the above conditions along with the unanalyzed effects of plugged and staked tubes would rupture other damaged, plugged, staked and worn tubes. The amount of leaking reactor coolant through these ruptured tube cuts is beyond the analyzed limits of a SONGS UFSAR Analysis [Three combined independent events loads (DBE + MSLB + LOCA)] that would be released via the blowing radioactive steam carrying Un-partitioned reactor coolant from the Un-isolated steam generator into the environment. This uncontrolled radiological accident would release significant amounts of radiation, which could adversely affect the health and safety of all Southern Californian residents plus the transient population within the 10-mile Emergency Planning Zone. We believe that this scenario can also progress into a nuclear meltdown of the reactor due to potential errors by plant operators unable to diagnose and control rapidly changing plant conditions due to the confusion caused by the non-user friendly and complex, abnormal, emergency operating and emergency plan implementing procedures.

    This scenario is a departure from a method of evaluation described in the UFSAR used in establishing the SONGS design bases or in the safety analyses and requires a NRC 50.90 License Amendment before SONGS Unit 2 or 3 can be allowed to restart. A permission by NRC for SONGS restart of either Unit 2 or 3 without the 50.90 License Amendment would be construed as: (1) Repeat violation of NRC 50.90 License Amendment Process by SCE, (2) Violation of SCE’s Overriding Obligation to protect the health and safety of Southern Californians from radiological accidents, and (3) Inconsistent with the NRC’s long history of commitment, transparency, participation, and collaboration with the public’s oversight of Nuclear Reactor regulatory activities.

    – The DAB Safety Team

  4. CaptD says:

    Excellent article (with comments) in San Diego’s KPBS.org
    Proposed Changes To San Onofre’s Decommissioning Fund
    http://is.gd/a3kWXq
    snip
    Southern California Edison and SDG&E have collected money for the fund from ratepayers over the life of the plant, to pay decommissioning costs when it ultimately shuts down.

    Electricity ratepayers have already paid more than $3 billion into the fund for San Onofre. It’s estimated that decommissioning Units 2 and 3 will cost $3.7 billion.

    PREDICTION: SORE (San Onofre Reactor Emergency) will prove to be the most expensive nuclear Debacle in the World not counting the Trillion Dollar Eco-Disaster triple meltdown in Fukushima Japan; so the question now is who will pay for it, SoCal rate payers or the shareholders of SCE and SDG&E who have had record profits every year for the past few years!

    Unless the NRC refuses to allow SCE to restart SanO, the NRC will become an accomplice to the biggest nuclear rip off the World has ever known thanks in part to the CA CPUC not doing their job by asking for a full investigation and CA Gov. Brown for “Looking the other way” while the CA CPUC fails the public’s trust…

    I hope both CA Senators Feinstein and Boxer will become VERY vocal before it is too late!

  5. CaptD says:

    Open Letter to Southern California Ratepayers

    The 1.2 Billion Dollar Question: Do we want to RISK Southern California Edison (SCE) restarting their heavily damaged San Onofre Nuclear #2 Reactor?

    Background:

    The International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA) ranks nuclear accidents by Levels between 1 and 7, with the number increasing with the scale of the accident. For example, a level one is a minor nuclear event, while a level seven is the highest rating and signifies a major nuclear accident.)

    On February 9th, 1991, a leak of 55 tons of radioactive primary coolant occurred due to the failure of just one tube in a steam generator (SG) built by Mitsubishi Heavy Industry (MHI) in the No. 2 pressurized water reactor at the Mihama nuclear power station in Japan, caused wide spread public alarm due to that unsafe nuclear reactor.

    Mihama was ranked a level three nuclear disaster, the first ever in Japan.
    Three Mile Island was ranked a level five nuclear disaster (loss of coolant).
    Chernobyl was ranked a level seven nuclear disaster (loss of coolant).
    Fukushima Daiichi was ranked a level seven nuclear disaster (loss of coolant).

    Current situation of SORE (San Onofre Reactor Emergency):

    On January 31, 2012, one tube leak was discovered at San Onofre SONGS Unit 3 that resulted in some radioactivity being released into the atmosphere. Upon further testing, eight more tubes in the steam generators (SG) failed pressure testing. What this means is that the SONGS accident could have been many times worse than Mihama Nuclear Disaster, especially if both reactors were online and we had a big quake, so all of us in Southern California were just plain lucky that day!

    These almost new steam generators (SG) were just built by Mitsubishi Heavy Industry (MHI) to specific design specifications supplied and approved by Southern California Edison (SCE) engineers, without any additional Nuclear Regulatory Commission Design review because they were told that the replacement SG’s were just like the ones they were replacing, which was not the case! In reality, they were significant changes made to the design by SCE, which has caused the tubes to start to fail.

    The total tube damage at SORE (San Onofre Reactor Emergency) to date:

    1. On Unit 3 steam generators (SG):
    8.5% of the tubes (1657 out of 19454 tubes on both SGs) showed wear of greater than 10% through-wall indications.
    8 tubes failed in-situ pressure testing
    SCE completed extensive plugging and selective staking of 807 tubes and found 10,284 wear indications on 1806 tubes.

    2. On Unit 2 steam generators (SG):
    5.2 % of the tubes (1009 out of 19454 tubes on both SGs) showed wear greater than 10% through-wall indication.
    The total plugging for Unit 2 was 510 (205 tubes in 2E088 and 305 in
    2E089) plus they found 4721 wear indications on 1,595 tubes.

    Decision time:

    If we allow SONGS Unit 2 to be restarted without our approval, any problems with or without an earthquake or main steam line break could cause an unknown number of already damaged and or stressed/weakened tubes in their poorly designed Replacement Steam Generators to rupture like just ONE tube did in Mihama, Japan and cause a Level 3 nuclear accident! San Onofre already has more tubes that have failed testing than any other reactor facility in the USA! These failures could even cause a potential reactor meltdown of SONGS Unit 2 resulting in a Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear or Chernobyl level seven disaster here in Southern California.

    Are you willing to live with that threat?

    If not, write to all your Congressman and or City Councilman, then join the protest against the Restart of SONGS Unit 2. After all, we are the ones paying for Southern California Edison (SCE), the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) Officials and all the other Elected Politicians in the Country to protect us.

    If a Nuclear Disaster were to happen, if your property became radioactive (and basically worthless) where would you and your family be relocated to; and for how long would you have to stay there? As an example in Japan, a year and a half after Fukushima, there are still many hundreds of thousands of nuclear refugees still living in camps, unable to return to their homes because of radiation!

    California now has a 40% power surplus without San Onofre (or even Diablo Canyon) nuclear power plants (per the CPUC), with more risk-free solar capacity being added daily, so it just does not make any sense to gamble our future restarting Unit 2, just to save SCE shareholders some big bucks!

    Now is time to decommission San Onofre.

  6. CaptD says:

    Big money Utilities do not want to lose their market share and they are making it almost impossible for Solar to be installed! Until the people of California DEMAND freedom from their Energy Taskmasters, they will continue to be “energy slaves” to them…

    It is amazing to think that the people of California who pride themselves on being so independent allow this Energy SHAM to continue, especially since they like many other Countries are totally dependent on Middle Eastern oil or RISKY Nuclear!

    Until our Governor decides to shake up the CPUC, California will continue to drag its feet instead of race toward Energy independence; just imagine, we could be Solar (of all flavors) Energy EXPORTERS and jump start our economy providing we had true energy Leadership instead of Leaders used to getting their Nuclear Fix*.

    * http://is.gd/DzSrY1

    The nuclear industries policy of donating massive amounts of money to insure that all levels of Government support Nuclear Energy to protect their market share despite it’s enormous environmental RISK of yet another Fukushima, instead of supporting less expensive, NON RISKY Eco Friendly Solar energy.

  7. CaptD says:

    Here are some questions (Others posted on other sites) about these Replacement Generators that were ordered:

    1. According to some News Paper Comments and Industry Reports in 2004, the going price for each 620 Ton CE Replacement Steam Generator was estimated between 200-250 Million Dollars (Per Piece). How did SCE CNO/President in 2004 convince MHI to build such large complicated and premium generators for 569 million dollars, which is almost 230 million dollars short of the market price and funds approved by CPCU?

    2. Since MHI had experience building only Fort Calhoun Generator of less than 300 tons, how did the SCE Engineers Technically Qualify MHI?

    3. Which other utilities’ QA Program, SCE took credit to approve Mitsubishi’s quality assurance program. Fort Calhoun?, French? Belgium? Japan?

    4. How come SCE did not apply to NRC for increasing the plugging limit for Old CE Generators, so this they would have had more time to think, research and not rush according to Michael Peevey?

    5. Which CE Replacement Generator US Utilities SCE benchmark to develop such detailed design and performance specifications or they just modified the Old Generator Specifications with New Industry Information? Were the engineers, who wrote, checked and approved the specifications were steam generator experts or was it another steam generator expert in the background, who directed all the work?

    6. Where did all the claims of challenges, reward, innovations and teamwork between SCE and MHI go wrong?

    7. Were the SCE Engineers sent to Japan to check MHI work and approve documents/test results were qualified in that field, or they were just in the training/sight-seeing process?

    8. Who made the decision to make all these numerous design changes and determined the changes were “Like for Like” and did not need a Licensing Amendment Process?

    9. Which SCE Engineer furnished all these changes, information/documents to which NRC Engineer, who decided it was OK to proceed without a Licensing Amendment Process?

    10. Which SCE engineer approved/validated the MHI Thermal-Hydraulic FIT-IIIFIVATS code Inputs and Calculations?

    11. To get 10% heat transfer equivalent by switching from Alloy 600 To alloy 690, SCE needed to add 935 tubes, but they only added 377 tubes. What happened to the balance of 568 tubes? Were the length of 9727 tubes increased and by how much to make up for the 533 tubes?

    12. How come the SCE Engineers did not question the MHI benchmarking, verification and validation of the FIT-III thermal-hydraulic model?

    13. How come the SCE engineers did not contact their counter parts at PVNGS for information/advice, since PVNGS has the Largest CE Replacement Generators (800 Tons) in the world, were built in early 2001-2005 time frames and are running successfully?

    14. Were the OLD CE Steam Generators and new replacement generators exact in Thermal Output (MWe) or were there minor differences?

    ======

    Why are all these questions important?

    The answers will help determine if the SoCal rate payers or SCE + SDG&E shareholders have to foot the bill for SORE (San Onofre Reactor Emergency) which will be over a BILLION DOLLARS…

    Remember, SoCal rate payers are now also paying about 65 Million dollars a month for the SORE (San Onofre Reactor Emergency) yet they are receiving nothing in return except more Nuclear Baloney* (NB)…

    This money would be much better spent adding additional Solar (of all flavors) capacity and jump starting the SoCal economy with the multibillion dollar decommissioning of SORE (San Onofre Reactor Emergency).

    * http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Nuclear+Baloney

  8. Carol Jahnkow says:

    The Encinitas City Council also passed a similar letter to the NRC and also to Senator Boxer on September 26th.

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