APR: your source for nuclear news and analysis since April 16, 2010

Thursday, April 12, 2012

San Onofre update 4/12

There is very little actual news to report yet; the NRC Chairman has toured the plant, and a brief report of this trip is available on the NRC's blog. Click here to read that report.

Far more interesting is the fact that apparently SoCal Ed has awakened to the need for direct approach to the public and the website I've just found which is attached to the SoCal Ed site for SONGS (San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station) is proof. The website is actually pretty impressive; it's located at "songscommunity dot com" and the entry page is found by clicking here.

Of great interest is this page, which is called "Just the Facts." This tells why this new website has appeared, gives some answers to questions and really drives home some of the real answers to questions commonly asked by those who don't know much about nuclear energy.. and as a result, it also squashes mistruths told by anti-nuclear opponents. This page is a good playbook, if you ask me. It's accurate, fair, not too heavily loaded and probably exactly what SONGS and SoCal Ed need right now.

Not only is there a great deal of information available about plant work in progress (specifically pdf files describing steam generators) there's also a plant status box which will show status in real time. There's even a link to a version of the site in Spanish, which is a great touch.

This site, when combined with the original site (see link here) about SONGS makes the web presence for SONGS move up toward the top ranks. I am fairly well impressed by the new site and am glad to see how well it's done. I suggest everyone interested in pro-nuclear outreach give the new site a look.


San Onofre 2 and 3 - the plants shut down now with steam generator problems - are Combustion Engineering PWR plants. San Onofre 1 was a Westinghouse PWR which operated for many years beginning in 1968. This plant is now totally gone, at least to the naked eye; see here. This link has an interesting photo showing San Onofre 1 in process of demolition. Here are two early photos of San Onofre 1 from APR's files.

The photo above is from WASH-1082, published in March 1968 and shows San Onofre 1 in the final stages of construction and testing - at least, it would appear so by the completeness of the plant but presence of many work vehicles around.

Above is an impressive night photo of San Onofre 1 from the cover (fully open, showing front and back) from the AtomFair '68 Exhibitor Program in the APR collection. Both photos enlarge when clicked.

(APR also as of this time has new photo editing software - readers should notice an increase in photo quality even over previous versions.)

9:40 PM Eastern Thursday April 12, 2012

UPDATE: Af of Friday morning, there are reports from SoCal Ed that both plants are exhibiting the same kind of wear in their steam generator U-tubes, and that more damage has been found in tubes at No. 2 plant. A number of articles are out this morning; click here to read one. More details later as they're found.


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  2. I agree that is a good site with information in understandable terms that doesn't try to duck from stuff. I will peruse it in more detail later.

  3. One thing I am curious about was why was Songs1 decommissioned? Was it just too old/too small/uneconomical/giving too much trouble? Now that the NRC approves reactors for 60 years it seems a waste to decommission one not that old. Also I think it helps if a utility has different brands of reactor so that trouble with 1 brand will not affect others. Even if it were like 400 megawatts California could use even that much energy.
    Another question I have: The nonnuclear parts of SONGS are exposed to the outside not in a building. Wouldn't all that sand be bad for the generators/turbines?

  4. @Robert: SONGS 1 was one of a whole early generation of plants that were decommissioned when they couldn't keep up with regulatory requirements, from what I can recall - Indian Point 1 was another. (This shoots down the anti-nuclear credo that says that the NRC just permits anything and everything.) As for outdoor turbine generators, that was popular for a brief time - in fact, the first large commercial plant, Shippingport, in Pennsylvania, had an outdoor turbine generator! Also note that the turbine generators at SONGS 2 and 3 are essentially outdoor units the same as used to be at SONGS 1 as well.