Big Wear for New Nuke Generators

Tuesday, February 7, 2012 @ 05:02 PM gHale


Just two years after replacement, there is significant wear in a steam generator at California’s San Onofre Nuclear Plant, Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) officials said.

Earlier in the week, San Onofre unit 3 went out of service because of a leaking steam generator tube that resulted in a small release of radioactive steam into an auxiliary building.

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On Thursday initial reports from NRC inspectors also outlined wear in similar equipment at neighboring unit 2. During a scheduled outage for maintenance and inspections, the NRC found the thickness of two tubes in one of unit 2’s two steam generators worn away by a third. Of 9,700 tubes in the steam generator, 69 were at least 20 percent worn, and 800 tubes were at least 10 percent worn.

Accelerated wear in the early years of a steam generator’s life is not unprecedented, and inspectors will conduct further tests, an NRC spokesman said.

Southern California Edison replaced all four steam generators at SONGS for $671 million, with installation at unit 2 in 2009 followed by installation at unit 3 last year. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries supplied the generators.

Both units are 1,100 megawatt Combustion Engineering pressurized water reactors first licensed in 1982, according to the NRC.



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