Update: San Onofre Nuclear Reactor Shut Down After Leak

Radioactive water spills into containment dome, yet there is no danger to the public, officials say.

The San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station shut down its Unit 3 Tuesday afternoon because sensors detected a leak in the unit's steam generator tubes.

"The potential leak poses no imminent danger to the public or plant workers," according to a Southern California Edison statement. "There has been no release to the atmosphere."

San Onofre spokesman Gil Alexander said sensors tripped this afternoon, showing mildly radioactive water was leaking from one of two water systems in the steam generator apparatus of Unit 3.

The water that touches the radioactive fuel rods--the water that is now leaking--is sealed in a series of tubes that, in turn, transfer heat to boil water in the second course. That non-radioactive water becomes the steam that turns the massive turbine blades.

A third course of seawater condenses the steam in another part of the plant.

Alexander said it is the system with the contaminated water that shows evidence of leaking. All leakage is contained within the thick concrete containment dome, he said.

The plant is set to shut itself down at the first sign of problems, that plunged Southern California into darkness in September.

But this leak was minor enough that it did not trigger the automatic shutdown of the unit; plant workers initiated it manually as a precaution at 5:31 p.m. Tuesday, Alexander said.

Alexander said Tuesday night that the dome is closed off and technicians are cooling down the reactor, a process that takes about 12 hours. After the cool-down, a crew will enter the dome, assess the leak and take steps to begin repairing it.

Visit Patch tomorrow for updates on this process.

Unit 2 is currently offline for a planned maintenance, refueling and technology upgrade outage.



SCE has ample reserve power to meet customer needs while Unit 3 is offline, according to a company spokesman, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission was immediately informed of the shutdown.

New 640-ton steam generators were installed in 2010 in the north dome and the ones in the south dome were replaced in 2009 as part of a .

—City News Service contributed to this report

george gregory February 01, 2012 at 11:08 PM
i wonder how many songs employies are in town or did they car pool with the council to safety KI pills any one
Gene Stone February 01, 2012 at 11:19 PM
If you have not read the ATOMIC ENERGY ACT OF 1954 (http://www.nuclearfiles.org/menu/library/treaties/atomic-energy-act/trty_atomic-energy-act_1954-08-30.htm), I would not only encourage you to do so I would ask you and your colleagues to reconsider the whole concept of giving the federal government all control and say so as to the use of nuclear energy as relates to the safety and power needs of California. In the 1950s, nuclear was very new and not even understood correctly or completely by the experts. This is why the federal government took complete control of the entire industry. To control & produce materials needed to make weapons, to that end they sold the American public on nuclear energy as a future source of power. “Too cheap to meter “was the slogan. This has proven to be totally untrue. Now over 60 years later after much has been learned not only by the federal government but by the states who had to endure the constant radiation problems that persists at nuclear power plants that endanger the public welfare, producing on average 250 pounds per day per reactor. In America we have 5,000,000 pounds of highly toxic nuclear waste setting at our power plants. Which are licensed as “Power Plants not highly Toxic Nuclear Waste Dumps”. For more info go to: http://residentsorganizedforasafeenvironment.wordpress.com/
ms.sc. February 02, 2012 at 02:34 AM
Big surprise. The greed makes me sick.
Jack February 13, 2012 at 04:38 PM
No it isn't. You can buy radiation meters for less than $100 if you really beleive your kids are in danger.
Jack February 13, 2012 at 04:39 PM
What desecration? What dangerous disaster? The local coal plant leaked more radiation than this today doing what it was supposed to do.


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