LOS ANGELES (AP) — Federal regulators Thursday disclosed the most detailed information to date on damage at California’s idled San Onofre nuclear power plant, where scores of tubes that carry radioactive water have eroded at an alarming rate.
The detailed data, posted obscurely on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission website, has implications for the future of the seaside plant that has been offline since a tube break in January released traces of radiation.
The records provide the first close portrait of how heavily damaged some tubes have become in a short time, and hint at the challenge faced by operator Southern California Edison to get the reactors running again. Edison officials had no immediate comment.
The steam generators, which resemble massive steel fire hydrants, are one of the central pieces of equipment in a nuclear plant. At San Onofre, each one stands 65 feet high, weighs 1.3 million pounds, with 9,727 U-shaped tubes inside, each three-quarters of an inch in diameter.
The alloy tubes represent a critical safety barrier — if one breaks, there is the potential that radioactivity could escape into the atmosphere. Also, serious leaks can drain protective cooling water from a reactor.
About 7.4 million Californians live within 50 miles of San Onofre, which can power 1.4 million homes.
Continue reading at Nuclear plant details released by regulators