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NRC Forms Special San Onofre Review Panel

Victor Dricks
Senior Public Affairs Officer
Region IV

NRC Chairman Allison Macfarlane (second from right) listens as Southern California Edison executive Richard St. Onge (third from right) discusses issues with one of the damaged steam generators at SONGS. The steam generator is in the right foreground.

NRC Chairman Allison Macfarlane (second from right) listens as Southern California Edison executive Richard St. Onge (third from right) discusses issues with one of the damaged steam generators at SONGS. The steam generator is in the right foreground.

The NRC has established a special panel to coordinate the agency’s evaluation of Southern California Edison Co.’s proposed plan for restarting its Unit 2 reactor and ensuring that the root causes of problems with the plant’s steam generators are identified and addressed.

Art Howell, the NRC’s Region IV deputy regional administrator, will serve as co-chairman of the panel along with Dan Dorman, deputy director for engineering and corporate support in the Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation (NRR). Jim Andersen, chief of NRR’s Electrical Engineering Branch, will serve as deputy team manager of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) Oversight Panel.

The panel will ensure that NRC communicates a unified and consistent position in a clear and predictable manner to the licensee, public and other stakeholders, and establishes a record of major regulatory and licensee actions taken and technical issues reviewed, including adequacy of Southern California Edison’s corrective actions.

The panel also will be responsible for conducting periodic public meetings with the utility and providing a recommendation to senior NRC management regarding restart of SONGS Unit 2. In comments to reporters Monday following a tour of the plant, Chairman Allison Macfarlane said Unit 2 will not be permitted to restart unless the NRC has reasonable assurance it can be operated safely.

Other panel members include: 

  • Ed Roach, chief, Mechanical Vendor Inspection Branch, NRO
  • Ryan Lantz, chief, SONGS Project Branch, Region IV
  • Greg Werner, inspection & assessment lead, SONGS Project Branch, Region IV
  • Nick Taylor, senior project engineer, SONGS Project Branch, Region IV
  • Greg Warnick, senior resident inspector, San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station
  • Doug Broaddus, chief, SONGS Special Project Branch, NRR
  • Randy Hall, project manager, SONGS Special Project Branch, NRR
  • Ken Karwoski, senior level advisor, Division of Engineering, NRR
  • Michele Evans, director, Division of Operating Reactor Licensing (alternate is Pat Hiland, director, Division of Engineering)

134 responses to “NRC Forms Special San Onofre Review Panel

  1. Royale Brodeur April 5, 2014 at 6:36 am

    Edwin Hackett, Executive Director ACRS
    Thanks for your reply, and staying aware of what is happening at SONGS aka SanO.
    Royale Brodeur

  2. Anonymous November 11, 2013 at 7:46 am

    Well I guess AZ will have to supply the power and deal with the added polution.

  3. Anonymous June 17, 2013 at 9:06 pm

    Role and Responsibilities of Agencies in Nuclear Power Generation, Decommissioning and Lessons Learnt From San Onofre – NRC Continuing Education Series

    America is a Democratic Country and NRC Commission Solemn Duty is Public Safety/Licensing, Protection of Workers from Retaliation/Discrimination and Safe Decommissioning of power plants and not vacating ASLB SONGS Ruling under NEI/Industry Pressure for Profits/Production from Unsafe Nuclear Energy. Nuclear Energy Institute Job is Interpretation of NRC Rules For Safe and Reliable Production of Nuclear Energy. Institute of Nuclear Power Operations Job is measuring Operational Excellence of Nuclear Plants.

    SONGS Original Combustion Steam Generators (OSGs) lasted for 28 years at a void fraction of 96%, fluid velocities of 22 feet/sec and 900 psi and did not suffer fluid elastic instability. In 2001, SONGS up-rated the power (steam Flows) of these OSGS from 1705 MWt to 1729 MWt for profits, reduced steam pressures, which increased the flow-induced vibrations. The increased steam flows and reduced steam pressures increased flow-induced vibrations, increased fluid velocities > 22 feet/sec, and increased tube wear and plugging rates in OSGs. Low steam pressures and increased steam flows produce high void fractions for more power, but are detrimental for tube vibrations, tube wear and structural integrity. The high steam flows and high fluid velocities decreased the life of OSGs, which could have lasted for a few years. When increasing the power, SCE Engineers should have foreseen the adverse affects of the power up-rate . But looks like they were focused on profits and getting new replacement steam generators, therefore, they did not care and were not able to foresee the safety consequences of these changes on steam generator tube leaks. No leaks happened, so everything turned out to be ok. Not really. SONGS got new generators in 2010 & 2011 at the cost of $670 Million and Edison Management claimed to be the 21st Century Safest and Most Innovative Steam machine.

    According to SONGS Insider Documents (Useless Now, Since SONGS is being Decommissioned), Edison Specified, “Edison intends to replace the steam generators under the 10 CFR 50.59 rule. Consequently, Edison requests that the RSGs be as close as possible to the existing steam generators in form, fit, and function, subject to additional requirements and limitations stated elsewhere in this [Redacted]. The Supplier shall prepare and submit for Edison’s approval a Licensing Topical Report demonstrating compliance of the RSG design with all SONGS licensing requirements. The report shall include an engineering evaluation, including all necessary analyses and evaluations, justifying that the RSGs can be replaced under the provisions of 10 CFR 50.59 (without prior NRC approval). The report format shall follow the guidelines of in order to facilitate preparation of the 10 CFR 50.59 evaluation. The 10 CFR 50.59 evaluation shall be performed by Edison. Steam Generator Thermal Rating @100% Reactor Power – OSGs -1705 MWt – RSGs – 1729 MWt, Heat Transfer Area, sq. ft (0% tubes plugged) – OSGs 105,000 – RSGs – 116,100, Steam Pressure@100% Power – OSGs -900 psi – RSGs – 833 psi, Circulation ratio – OSGs – 3.2 -RSGs 3.3, RCS Design Flow, gpm (0%Tubes Plugged) OSGs -198, 000 – RSGs – 209,880, Feedwater Flows, gpm, OSGs – 7,414,000 – RSGs – 7,588,000. The service life of the RSGs shall be 40 calendar years from the date of startup following their installation and this duration is to be used as the basis for fatigue analyses and for determining the effects of corrosion, erosion, fretting, wear, and the number of chemical cleanings. Edison desires that from the perspective of performance, the RSGs be designed as large as possible within the dimensional and other limitations imposed.” Edison picked the cheapest contractor to build their impossible dream machines in the shortest time and lowest cost. The steam generator design specification certifying Professional Engineer has to know that whatever he is specifying can be built by using a process known as Technical Bid Evaluation. Complex Steam Generators are not built on a handshake, a faulty design specification or subverting the regulatory process.
    SCE/MHI ignored the Dr. Pettigrews, the world’s most renowned tube vibration expert warning on the effectiveness of MHI flat bar AVBs for prevention of fluid elastic instability, San Onofre Chief Nuclear Office Dwight Nunn\’s warning on high void fractions and SCE/MHI AVB Joint Team recommendations to reduce void fractions. It is the personal opinion of the author since Edison did not comply with the recommendations of Dwight Nunn and SCE/MHI AVB Joint Team to reduce high void fractions, the performance warranties and Liquidated Damages of RSGs will be contested in California Courts for years until resolved mutually and peacefully by SCE/MHI by Arbitration and NRC Assistance.
    The NRC AIT Report is incomplete and erroneous, based on SCE Supplied Faulty Information and needs to be redone to clear the Public Record and Establish NRC Independence. NRC Commission independently needs to interview under oath SONGS Root Cause Team Members and assign a qualified thermal-hydraulic expert to review the complete SG, FW, RCS and other operational records for Units 2 & 3 for Cycle 16 to determine the true causes for Units 2 & 3 FEI, and the role of Mitsubishi Flowering Effect and RSG Manufacturing Differences. Based on interpretation of data published in NRC AIT Reported and SONGS SGM Procedure in 2012, Unit 2 had a steam pressure of 942 PSI and RCS Flows of 74 million Ibs./Hr. and Unit 3 had a steam pressure of 833 PSI and RCS Flows of 76 million Ibs./Hr. All the other Unit 2 Return to service reports had identical operating condition for both Units. Based on Hand calculations, only 5 MWt more in Unit 3 was required to change the flow from nucleate boiling to film boiling (Void fractions 99.0% ~ 99.6%) in 4% area of the Hot-Leg region of high wear. Mr. Ryan Lantz of San Onofre Special SONGS Panel was made aware of these discrepancies, but no action by the AIT Team Leader has been taken to date resolve these discrepancies. Mitsubishi Testing data indicates a tube-to AVB contact force between 10-30N is required to prevent FEI in Unit 2, whereas Unit 2 tube-to AVB contact force was only 2N. This force of 2 N was not sufficient to prevent occurrence of FEI given the benefit of doubt that operational condition were identical in both Units. The tube-to AVB contact force reported in Unit 3 was only 99.6% and fluid velocities 35-50 feet/sec)
    Lessons Learnt for NRC Commission/ from from Defective San Onofre RSG 10CFR 50.59
    Even though SCE, MHI and AREVA claim that operating and thermal-hydraulic conditions were the same in both units, Unit 2 did not experience tube-to-tube wear because of lower reactor thermal power and higher steam generator pressure operation and NOT double tube-to-AVB contact forces and better supports because of inadvertent accidental Unit 2 AVB design as explained by SCE and MHI. FEI did not occur in Unit 2, which is consistent with Westinghouse report. The Unit 2 Return to Service Engineering Reports, Computer Calculations, Testing Data and Tube Inspections prepared by SCE and its World Class Independent Consultants are full of errors, inconclusive and based on invalidated assumptions. The reports are Confusing, Conflicting and full of Smoking Mirrors. SONGS Inside Steam Generator Investigator, DAB Safety Team, Arnie Gundersen, John Large and Dr. Joram Hopenfeld showed ASLB and in other numerous public forums that these reports are incomplete, full of errors and Unit 2 Restart at 70% power is an Unsafe Experiment to keep Edison in Business.

    Edison was afraid of public scrutiny and sworn testimony by its Senior Team Leader Ship Directors certifying the safety and accuracy of these reports. So, afraid of these long legal investigations, Edison Senior Team Leader Ship Directors chose to safely shutdown San Onofre Units 2 & 3 blaming on ASLB ruling, Regulatory Hurdles, MHI delay in building the repaired/replacement generators, opposition from Super Intelligent & Nuclear Trained Safety Specialists, Burden on EIX/SCE Shareholders and Investors, SONGS Anonymous Steam Generator expert, Friends of the Earth and Concerned Rate Payers.

    Despite all foul-crying (No grid and voltage stabilization and summer power outages without San Onofre) EIX/SCE continues to make handsome profits by marking up cheap power bought from other undisclosed vendors and supplying power to customers at its own exorbitant price on its own Transmission and Distribution System. Plus EIX/SCE gets 11% additional rate of return on its Transmission and Distribution System. But the question is, who is going to pay and hire Edison Discriminating, Inept and Retaliating Senior Leader Ship Team Directors with no operating funds coming from Ratepayers. Certainly Not, the EIX/SCE Shareholders and Investors. That is why Senior Leader Ship Team Directors shut down San Onofre to use it as a Safe Haven from Prosecution and now want to enjoy and secure their positions by mismanaging the Huge Decommissioning Funds and Reap Profits, Paychecks, Perks and Bonuses for a Long Time in their Luxury Beach Homes. NRC and CPUC (Both Companies Cozy to Edison) need to break the SCE Brotherhood Tradition and award the San Onofre Decommission contract to a specialized and well-established company like Energy Solutions, so Rate Payers are NOT stuck once again paying for San Onofre Decommissioning Delays and Mistakes. Southern Californians want their beautiful beaches back ASAP in the Safe and Pristine Conditions.

  4. Bill Hawkins June 15, 2013 at 1:56 pm

    In 2009 songs 2 & 3 decomissioning budget was 3.5 billion in 2013 it exceeds 4. Billion how can nrc and public trust sce to manage decommissioing after rsg catastrotphy give the contact to another vendor sce is only interested how much money they can squeeze out of the decommissioning funds to make profits for themselves shareholders and return to ratrpayers for rsg fiasco sce has no trust left with nrc and public

  5. Bill Hawkins June 14, 2013 at 5:58 pm

    Sce shutdown songs because of its greed negligence and fear of criminal investigations and not because of aslb nrc arnie gundersen or the anonymous steam generator in the last 36 years sce has shutdown 3 units destroyed eight generators because they do not understand the relationship between high steam flows high void fractions and tube vibrations caused by fei and firv. 18 feet/sec is the limit of fluid velocity and 96% void fraction with a circulation ratio GREATER THAN 4 is the secret to avoid fei & firv but for the last I 6 yrars songs has missed the boat on these operational parameters. The point is sce does not kno what how to operate a power plant. After all this experience how can ratrpayers trust sce with $2B in Decommissioning Funds?

  6. 1948billhawkins June 10, 2013 at 7:05 pm

    Decontamination, Demolition, Dismantling and Decommissioning San Onofre is a very serious business, which requires the right management, procedures, contractors and strict NRC Oversight. Based on the last 10 years of observations at SONGS for SGRP, all these factors are missing at San Onofre now. Therefore, a 3rd neutral party with competent oversight organization reporting directly to NRC Resident Inspector and with Decontamination, Demolition, Dismantling and Decommissioning experience of a NPP is needed to do the job right first time following the INPO Principles of Excellence. Ratepayers cannot afford by Edison another Multi-Billion Dollar Mess.

  7. Billlee123456@gmail.com June 10, 2013 at 11:21 am

    By The Times editorial board
    June 8, 2013

    Southern California Edison on Friday made its smartest decision yet about the troubled San Onofre nuclear power plant: It announced it was closing the facility once and for all. A year after the plant was taken off-line as a result of several problem-ridden steam generators, one of which had leaked a small amount of radioactive steam, the company finally decided to cut its losses and move on.

    It didn’t have to be this way. If Edison had gone through full regulatory oversight in 2010 and 2011, when its then-new $670-million steam generators were being designed and built, rather than choosing the cheaper and more expedient route of claiming that the new machinery was virtually the same as the old, there’s a good chance the design errors would have been caught in time. Edison might have a thriving nuclear plant today, well-positioned for license renewal in several years, which would have kept the two reactors operating for decades to come.

  8. Anonymous June 10, 2013 at 10:47 am

    REAL REASONS FOR SAN ONOFRE SHUTDOWN, INVESTIGATIONS NOT ASLB OR ECONOMICS

    [Information removed by the moderator]

    There may be lots of questions yet to be answered about Southern California Edison’s permanent shutdown of its San Onofre nuclear plant, but here are a couple about which there’s no doubt.

    Who’s responsible? Edison, 100%. Accept no argument that it did the best it could in overseeing a $700-million generator replacement project, but accidents happen. This wasn’t an accident: It was the failure of what Edison claims was its rigorous and negligent oversight of contractors. MHI was unable to build a steam generator specified by the inexperienced Edison Steam Generator Designers. On top of that Edison Engineers prepared defective 10CFR 50.59, subverted NRC regulatory process, ignored recommendations of SCE/MHI AVB Joint team established by Dwight Nunn, and misdirected MHI, Westinghouse, AREVA and Intertek in preparation of Unit 2 Return to Service Reports. SCE used and abused any body they could find to achieve their end goal, but failed and abandoned the San Onofre Sinking Ship in Panic.

    How much should Edison’s customers pay for the miss-engineering and inept mismanagement that led to mothballing a hugely important generating station? That’s easy. The answer is nothing. Not a dime.

    SONGS Management has been misleading the public since the inception of Steam Generator Replacement Project. Their focus has always been on profits/production and preaching false sermons of their overriding obligation to safety and achieving excellence in operations. They have indulged in systematic retaliation of workers reporting nuclear safety concerns regarding steam generators, cyber security program, fire/safety, discrimination and harassment. SONGS Unit 3 Root cause was rejected in early June 2012 by SONGS Insiders and they were warned about MHI. SONGS Management were warned by many insiders that the Unit 3 Root Cause was a result of design deficiencies and changes as a result of 11% increase in heat transfer area of the tubes due to change of Alloy 600 from to Alloy 690 and evolutionary untested AVB design. Dwight Nunn’s 2004 and 2005 letters warned about high void fractions and the capabilities of MHI to build such massive steam generators and evolutionary AVBs capable of handling high void fractions and tube fractions. Good SONGS SNO’s like Dwight Nunn and Ross Ridenoure were kicked out by SCE and resigned abruptly without explanation.

    It is not the Atomic Safety Board, NRC, MHI, Independent Safety Experts, CPUC or Public, which created significant additional uncertainty regarding SCE’s decision to get to an NRC decision to restart Unit 2 this year. It is the inept, inefficient and cunning SONGS Senior Leadership Team, which was focused on making money and bonuses for themselves, and subverting the regulatory process and not worried about plant safety, workers or the public. Justice Department, NRC Office of Inspector General and Investigations should continue their investigations into allegations of wrong doing by SONGS Senior Leadership Team. In the end, SONGS Senior Leadership Team was so afraid of these investigations, that they decided to abandon the ship by announcing Shutdown of SONGS blaming ASLB, NRC and Economics and coming with a new excuse, “This is not good for our customers, our investors and the region.” SCE was never worried or concerned about the customers, safety and the region. These guys did not have the courtesy of informing NRC, MHI, SONGS Workers, CPUC and SDG&E, their supporters through this crisis before announcing the decision.

    Thought of the Day on Dangers of Unit 2 Restart Experiment issued the day before Sanofre Panicky and Sudden Shutdown Announcement

    Continuous monitoring of primary-to-secondary leaks led to three shutdowns at the Cruas
    NPP: unit 1 in February 2004 and unit 4 in November 2005 and February 2006. Analyses
    carried out by EDF, further to the last two events, resulted in them being attributed to high
    cycle fatigue of steam generator tubes due to flow-induced vibration.

    The results of in situ examination initiated by the Cruas NPP operator showed that the flow
    holes of the uppermost Tube Support Plates (TSPs) were partially or completely blocked by
    corrosion products. This phenomenon is referred to in this paper as TSP “clogging-up” and it
    was considered potentially generic for EDF NPP fleet. For the Cruas leakages, it was
    established that the association of TSP clogging-up and the specificity of the Cruas steam
    generator (central area in the tube bundle where no tubes are installed) were responsible for
    a significant increase in the velocity of the secondary fluid in the tube bundle central area.
    The high velocity of the fluid in this region increases the risk of fluidelastic instability for the
    tubes. Based on this preliminary analysis, EDF has implemented preventive measures
    (stabilizing and plugging of tubes in the central area of the tube bundle deemed sensitive to
    high cycle fatigue risk).

    AREVA states, “Out-of-plane fluid-elastic instability has been observed in nuclear steam generators in the past and has led to tube bursts at normal operating conditions. Given identical designs, Unit 2 must be judged, a priori, as susceptible to the same TTW degradation mechanism as Unit 3 where 8 tubes failed structural integrity requirements after 11 months of operation. Based on the extremely comprehensive evaluation of both Units, supplemented by thermal hydraulic and FIV analysis, assuming, a priori, that TTW via in-plane fluid-elastic instability cannot develop in Unit 2 would be inappropriate. The nominal distance between extrados and intrados locations of neighboring U-bends in the same plane ranges from 0.25 inches to 0.325 inches due to the tube indexing. There are 36 U-bends in Unit 2 SG E-088 and 34 in SG E-089 with a separation less than or equal to 0.050 inches. “

    The circulation ratio of the replacement steam generator secondary-side fluid (ratio of riser mass flow-rate to steam outlet mass flow rate) at 70% power is ~ 4.9. A higher circulation ratio limits concerns regarding heat transfer performance, generator sludge management, corrosion product transfer, and tube dry-out.

    Based on recent Mitsubishi Testing conducted in Japan, tube-to-AVB contact force more than 30N is required to counteract the adverse effects of in-plane fluid-elastic instability. Unit 2 AVBs only have 2N contact force, which cannot stop tube-to-tube wear and tube burst at 70% Unit 2 normal power operations, if in-plane and out-of-plane fluid-elastic instability develops due to abnormal operation occurrences, main steam line breaks, inadvertent equipment errors and other plant transients.

    Let us assume, hope and pray for the benefit of 8.4 Million Southern Californians, IPC, State of California, CPUC, MHI, SCE and NRC, the probability of occurrence of these events is very low and nothing happens. But as stated above, there are 36 U-bends in Unit 2 SG E-088 and 34 in SG E-089 with a separation less than or equal to 0.050 inches. The problem lies that in these U-bends, even at 70% power and a circulation ratio of 4.9, localized areas with very poor circulation ratio and no flow zones (Flow areas blocked by SG debris and corrosion products) can develop resulting in very high void fractions. With no tube damping and insufficient contact forces, in-plane fluid-elastic instability and out-of-plane vibrations can develop, as we witnessed in Unit 3. Just like Unit 3, now, the tubes will start moving in the in-plane direction and hit other worn and plugged/stabilized tubes with low clearances and cause tube-to-tube wear. Also, the tubes in other non in-plane FEI areas will also start moving in the out-of-plane direction, hitting already damaged AVBs with sharp corners (Zero Radius) resulting in the existing incubating cracks in the tubes to grow at a undefined rate.
    Now the tubes are wearing and cracks are growing without the knowledge of the operator, because there is no instrumentation installed in the SGs as a part of the NRC Confirmatory Letter to warn/alarm the operator, as to what is going on about this kind of event. This event can occur at any time and propagate during the Unit 2, 5-month experiment window. Now, one, two or more than 5 tubes can potentially leak and/or rupture and the operator gets sudden warning/alarms through existing radiation monitors and proposed temporary N-16 detectors located on the main steam lines.

    Shift Manager has only 15 minutes to diagnose, trouble shoot, declare the event and notify the Offsite Agencies for activation of the SONGS Emergency Plan. Before, Shift Manager can call for additional help, activate TSC, OSC, EOF, JIC or start taking actions to mitigate the consequences of a nuclear accident in progress, the reactor trips, turbine trips, main steam lines over pressurizes due to sudden turbine load rejection. The main steam lines atmospheric valves and/or main steam line relief valves will instantaneously open to prevent the main steam line from over pressurization and start dumping the un-partitioned radioactive coolant containing iodine with steam into the environment. In less than 15 minutes, 60 tons of radioactive coolant contained in the faulty and un-isolatable steam generator, will leak to the environment, melt the fuel in the reactor and release offsite doses in excess of Control Room limit of 5 Rem TEDE, and the Exclusion Area Boundary and Low Population Zone limit of 2.5 Rem TEDE.

    Based on the NRC Studies, Independent Safety Experts Observations and observation of SONGS Emergency Plan Drills, San Onofre Emergency Plan is not proven to notify, shelter (Plus KI Tablets) and evacuate the transients, disabled residents, affected families and children within the 10 mile zone during rush traffic hours in the event of above described a sudden large early frequency release radiological accident. A nuclear fallout from San Onofre can shutdown completely the business at Los Angeles and Long Beach Harbors and chock the already fragile economy of Southern California.

  9. HelpAllHurtNeverBaba June 7, 2013 at 9:30 pm

    NRC Job is not done. Now they should start investigating SCE SG cover up, discrimination, intimidation, and retaliation concerns. SCE officers were afraid of testifying under oath and being investigated by US Justice Department, NRC Office of Inspector General and Investigations.

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