The NFRC was established in 2002 to promote the construction and operation of nuclear reprocessing facilities. NFRC promotes reprocessing commercial spent nuclear fuel that is generated by commercial nuclear power plants.

Reprocessing dramatically reduces the amount of high-level radioactive waste that would have to be stored in a geologic repository. We also support reprocessing plutonium and highly enriched uranium from nuclear warheads into fuel for use in commercial nuclear power plants.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

San Onofre Steam Tubes Fail Pressure Test

Edison International's Southern California Edison announced Friday that four steam tubes, or metal pipes, that carry radioactive water failed pressure tests. Theres failed pressure tests raised new concerns about safety and possible electricity shortages this summer. Three other tubes ruptured during testing earlier in the week, prompting the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to send a team to investigate. The utility said it would continue testing more than 120 similar tubes before making a decision as to how or when it might restart the plant.

SoCal Edison is working with the state's electric-grid operator on a contingency plan to replace the nearly 2,200 megawatts of electricity the plant produces in the event that it remains shut through the summer.

Edison shut down one of two reactors at the San Onofre plant Jan. 31 after one tube sprang a leak and released a small amount of radioactive steam. The NRC said the amount of radiation released from the reactor posed no harm to workers or the public. The plant's other nuclear unit, Unit 2, had been shut down for routine maintenance and refueling. Edison, which owns the plant with Sempra Energy's San Diego Gas & Electric utility, plans to keep both units offline until it resolves the steam-tube problem.

At each unit, nearly 19,500 tubes carry hot, radioactive water and steam from pools of water that hold nuclear-fuel rods to the generators, which use the steam to produce electricity.

During the test, the tubes ruptured after being placed at three times the normal pressure level. Those tubes are among 129 the company is testing because they showed premature wear. Because the testing itself wears down the tubes, the tubes will be removed from service. The tubes are components of four steam generators that Edison and Sempra bought from Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and installed in 2009 and 2010 at a cost of $800 million. Mitsubishi representatives and independent nuclear experts from around the world were on site helping with the testing and analysis. (WSJ, 3/16/2012)

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