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There’s a long way to go on San Onofre restart review

sanoGiven the interest in the NRC’s San Onofre-related meeting in Maryland next week, it’s a good time to step back and see where things stand in reviewing the plant’s restart request.

Of course, the San Onofre nuclear power plant has been safely shut down for almost a year now, after the plant discovered unexpectedly advanced wear in its steam generators. In March of this year the NRC told Southern California Edison the plant will remain safely shut down until the utility does several things to show an appropriate response to what’s caused the wear.

A vital part of SCE’s response is a detailed plan on safely restarting the plant in light of the steam generator wear. SCE delivered that restart plan about two months ago, and the NRC’s experts have begun reviewing the plan and have repeatedly discussed the situation publicly in meetings near the plant.

It’s important to remember the NRC’s review will take many months to complete — we’re still in the early stages of that process. That brings us to next week’s meeting.

The staff, as part of their usual process, isn’t accepting SCE’s plan at face value. The staff has provided additional technical questions on Nov. 30 and Dec. 10 for the utility to answer; the meeting allows a public, open discussion of both the staff’s understanding of the plan and their new questions. While SCE might need to discuss some information in a non-public part of the meeting, all the staff’s questions will be part of the public session.

The NRC wants to be perfectly clear here – this is only one step in a long process, and a final decision on whether San Onofre can restart is months away.

Each year, the NRC’s well-established review process includes having hundreds of this sort of public meeting on a variety of highly technical matters at agency headquarters. It’s not possible to bring all these meetings to the communities near the plants in question, but the staff is making sure a webcast and phone line are available for this meeting so that people near San Onofre can observe the review process in action and ask the NRC staff questions.

The NRC expects to hold at least one more meeting near the plant and there will be additional opportunities for input prior to any final restart decision.

Scott Burnell
Public Affairs Officer

42 responses to “There’s a long way to go on San Onofre restart review

  1. CAMILA RAINER September 6, 2015 at 11:45 am

    Fantastic commentary . I was enlightened by the points , Does someone know where I might locate a fillable CA Edison Company Claim Form version to use ?

  2. 1948billhawkins May 23, 2013 at 12:48 pm

    The key qestions are
    MHI fatigue stress calculations are significantly flawed tube to AVB contact forces calculations test data computer simulations quarter model statistical calculations ECT and VIsual Inspection results Dings and Dent Analysis are significantly flawed SCE Tube Inspections are significantly flawed SCE FSAR 50.59 50.92 are significantly flawed Unit 2 operation

    @70% power can cause a nuclear meltdown due to cracked tubes during AOO and MSLB SCE Root Cause Stinks Wake up NRC Listen to ASLB JH AG JL HAHN Baby

  3. CaptD December 17, 2012 at 6:04 pm

    The 78 page technical document includes 14 questions that affect US Reactor SAFETY, that the NRC, NRR and RES Regulators need to ask SCE to answer at their Dec 18, 2012 NRR/RES Meeting.


  4. Ray Lutz December 13, 2012 at 11:40 am

    nuclear guy says:
    “Also can you please link where San Onofre did not have “properly connected” ECCS systems???”

    First hit on google search. You can do your own research next time.


    “San Onofre’s safety problems began drawing attention in 2007. A fire prevention specialist responsible for hourly patrols around the plant had deliberately falsified inspection records for years. In 2008, a safety battery was discovered to have been disconnected for four years.”

    I understand those batteries are required for proper start of backup generators, required for plant cooling in a disaster.

    The proof that 50.59 was not respected is in the pudding. The new generators failed with only 5% of their advertised life. Therefore, they were different. QED.

    • nuclear guy December 13, 2012 at 5:48 pm

      Fire watch rounds != ECCS. Fire watch is a compensatory action which involves verifying a fire does not exist and does not mean your ECCS is inoperable.

      Also “a safety battery”, what are we talking about here? The entire DC power system, which has dozens of massive batteries? A single emergency power light? A UPS for a device? There’s no context, and it also does not mean ECCS is inoperable, on the contrary it would imply that ECCS was still OPERABLE, because all ECCS systems (with the exception of BWR HPCI systems) function on AC electrical power. A battery is DC power, therefore not related.

      As for 50.59, that is used for DESIGN CHANGES. The fact that the actual delivered product is not conforming to plant design does not mean the DESIGN is wrong, it means the part is a non-conforming part. The DESIGN for the station is still correct, but the installed part is not right, and as such it needs to be evaluated for use as is. Use-as-is evaluations DO require 50.59, but JUST BECAUSE SOMETHING IS DIFFERENT DOES NOT MEAN YOU NEED A LICENSE AMENDMENT. If you can show that the non-conforming part does not result in more than a minimal increase of the risk of an accident, and does not require a tech.spec. change (which the use-as-is likely would not), then you do not need a 50.59. Changing parts does not immediately mean you need to do a license amendment. In fact, you can even change parts of your safety analysis report, your plant procedures, major programs, and sometimes even major equipment, without a license amendment or in most cases without even a full 50.59 evaluation.

      I’d be happy to talk more about how 50.59 actually works. I’ve written a number of 50.59 evaluations and have had extensive training in this area.

  5. CaptD December 12, 2012 at 8:50 pm

    Revised Notice of 12/18/12 Meeting with Southern California Edison to Discuss its Response to NRC’s Confirmatory Action Letter and Return to Service Report for San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, Unit 2 (TAC No. ME9727).
    Meeting Date & Time
    01:00PM –


    SCE is going to get grilled by the NRR and the NES, I can’t wait…

    • Anonymous December 19, 2012 at 9:23 am

      Some parts of the commission have gone out of the way to include the public lately. Good for them. But it was clear from the Dec. 18 meeting on the potential restart that others are comfortable with industry only and see the public–many of whom have spent an enormous amount of time in self-education–as unworthy. Make an attempt to mingle a little more, hey.

      • Myla Reson December 19, 2012 at 11:54 am

        I watched the Dec 18th meeting and was troubled that Ray Lutz seemed to be cut off during the public comment period. I called afterwards and he confirmed that he did not leave the NRC public meeting call voluntarily and was not allowed to ask his final question. Shame on who ever made the decision to cut him off. Was it the facillatator who made that decision?

      • Moderator December 20, 2012 at 9:47 am

        In response to the question about the meeting: The meeting facilitator repeatedly noted the meeting discussion, as well as the comments, were limited to the staff’s requests for additional information. The facilitator gave callers an opportunity to speak to the meeting’s topic, and if they were unable to do so the next caller was given an opportunity to ask a question. At that point the Verizon operator would queue up the next caller, and previous callers were always able to rejoin the queue. At the end of the meeting the facilitator asked for additional callers and neither Mr. Lutz nor anyone else had rejoined the queue. As the facilitator pointed out during the meeting, the staff will entertain any additional questions submitted using the NRC meeting feedback form.

        Scott Burnell

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