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Tue Jun 19, 2012, 03:40 AM

Faulty tests blamed for California nuclear plant leak

By Rory Carroll
Posted 2012/06/19 at 1:56 am EDT

SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO, California, June 19, 2012 (Reuters) Tubes that leaked radioactive steam at a California nuclear power plant, leading to an indefinite shutdown, were not properly tested by the manufacturer prior to installation, nuclear regulators told an overflowing public hearing on Monday.

The San Onofre Nuclear Power plant, located in Orange County, has been shut down since January 31, when plant operators discovered a small radiation leak in one of the plants' two units. The 2,150-megawatt plant is operated by Edison International's Southern California Edison utility.

The nuclear station is located halfway between Los Angeles and San Diego and is critical to the grid to import electricity into southern California. Its extended shutdown raises the possibility of rolling power outages as warmer temperatures boost demand for power over the summer.

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission on Monday pinned the blame for the leak on Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, which it said underestimated the velocity of water and steam surging through the generator by a factor of three or four times in its computerized test of the equipment.

(The rest) http://www.newsdaily.com/stories/bre85i096-us-usa-power-california/

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Arrow 7 replies Author Time Post
Reply Faulty tests blamed for California nuclear plant leak (Original post)
madokie Jun 2012 OP
kristopher Jun 2012 #1
FBaggins Jun 2012 #2
madokie Jun 2012 #3
kristopher Jun 2012 #4
madokie Jun 2012 #5
PamW Jun 2012 #6
RobertEarl Jun 2012 #7

Response to madokie (Original post)

Tue Jun 19, 2012, 10:33 AM

1. Was Mitsubishi responsible for designing the system?

I didn't know that; I thought that the plant owners had given Mitsubishi the design to fabricate. Thanks.

AP Exclusive: Feds: Design led to nuke plant
By MICHAEL R. BLOOD, Associated Press
5:06 a.m., June 18, 2012

CAPISTRANO BEACH, Calif. After months of investigation, federal regulators have determined that design flaws appear to be the cause of excessive wear in tubing that carries radioactive water through California's troubled San Onofre nuclear power plant, a top federal regulator said.

The twin-reactor plant between Los Angeles and San Diego has been idle since January, after a tube break in one of four, massive steam generators released traces of radiation. A team of federal investigators was dispatched to the plant in March after the discovery that some tubes were so badly corroded that they could fail and possibly release radiation, a stunning finding inside the virtually new equipment.

Missteps in fabrication or installation were considered as possible sources of the rapid tube decay but "it looks primarily we are pointed toward the design" of the heavily modified generators, Nuclear Regulatory Commission Regional Administrator Elmo Collins told The Associated Press in an interview Sunday.

Collins didn't rule out that one or more of the generators, installed in a $670 million overhaul in 2009 and 2010, might have to be replaced...


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Response to kristopher (Reply #1)

Tue Jun 19, 2012, 11:12 AM

2. Apparently yes.

At least so the WaPost reports the NRC official and power company as saying.

When the generators were designed, the crucial tool Mitsubishi used, a computer model, failed to predict conditions inside the machines and resulted in the tube shaking, Collins said

Edison agreed with the findings.


Of course, it wouldn't be unreasonable to question whether a US agency might take the side of a US company over a Japanese company in assigning blame that could cost hundreds of millions.

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Response to kristopher (Reply #1)

Tue Jun 19, 2012, 11:51 AM

3. Sounds to me like changes were made that weren't authorized by the NRC


Damon Moglen, climate and energy director for green group Friends of the Earth, said that Southern California Edison made significant design changes to the plant without seeking an amendment to its existing license, as is required by the regulatory commission.

His group submitted petition to nuclear regulators on Monday to require the company to obtain a new license, complaining that in his view the commission was "asleep at the regulatory wheel."

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission said its investigation into what went wrong at the plant was ongoing and promised to keep the public apprised of any new developments. A written report on the findings will be released next month, regulators said.

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Response to madokie (Reply #3)

Wed Jun 20, 2012, 12:02 PM

4. This forces the question of what other design flaws are lurking in nuclear plants.

The amount of renovation over the past decade involved in uprating and relicensing the plants is huge. If this is representative of the degree of oversight that has been applied during this process (and I see no reason to think it isn't) then the claim that our nuclear fleet is "safe" simply cannot be made.

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Response to kristopher (Reply #4)

Wed Jun 20, 2012, 04:12 PM

5. By design a nuclear power plant

can never be truly safe, ever. Under no circumstances can nuclear energy honestly be considered a safe or sane way to boil water to make steam to spin turbines to power generators to make our electricity.
It was an insane idea to begin with and its an insane idea now.
Just from this one incident alone, and there has been many other incidences where we narrowly dodged the bullet, we can deduce that there is a lot more potential catastrophes lurking in our other nuclear power plants. Its simply a matter of when not if. IMHO
All our plants are old with many already past their designed lifetime.

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Response to madokie (Reply #5)

Fri Jun 22, 2012, 12:10 AM

6. What about airliners..

The exact same statement could be made about airliners. YES - the regulatory agency doesn't have someone looking over the shoulders of every airline mechanic to make sure the mechanic doesn't make a mistake. Yes - we have lost airliners because of mechanic's mistakes. Does that mean we toss airliner travel on the junkheap?

NO - we do our best to be sure it doesn't happen again. But you can never be 100% sure.

The NRC doesn't have people looking over every computer program and dissecting them to be sure there aren't any bugs. Every so often a mistake is made.

However, that doesn't mean that one becomes a "binary thinker" and draw FALSE conclusions. It is a FALSE conclusion to say that because the safety rate is not 100% that we can then conclude that the safety rate is 0% or 10% or some other low number.

The actual success rate could be 99.99999% but that is not 100%

Many of the design details of a large engineering project are left to the company that actually makes the hardware. A reactor operator like Southern California Edison may elect the option to have a larger number of tubes than the original generators to enhance reliability. The fabricator then designs how that specification is actually realized in hardware.

You are repeating the old LIE that nuclear power plants were designed to last only 40 years. That is WRONG. They were actually designed to last 80 to 100 years. The lawmakers are the ones that gave us a 40 year license with option to renew. The plants are NOT beyond some design lifetime.

Additionally, a reactor consists of the vessel and the internal core. The core parts are continually being replaced; so they don't really wear out. The vessel is subject to embrittlement by neutrons; but we discussed here in another thread how the vessel can be annealed. Electric energy is used to heat the steel until the dislocated atoms naturally fall back to their normal lattice positions ( metals are crystals ) and the damage is "healed".

Look how many old airplanes are still flying. At the recent Memorial Day holiday, the Collins Foundation came to our local airport with some of their World War II warbirds, that are still flying, and ALL of them are older than ANY nuclear power plant.


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Response to PamW (Reply #6)

Fri Jun 22, 2012, 12:29 AM

7. Thank God


They shutdown that fucking SONGS bomb before it blew sky high.

Heard the backup generators weren't even ready to go to work. Man we got lucky.

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