The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission hit Southern California Edison’s San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) with a violation for what it called a lapse in plant security, the agency announced late Thursday.
The NRC noted the violation during a four-day inspection in May. SONGS has been completely offline since January, when a radioactive leak led to the discovery of severely degraded heat exchanger tubes in both of the plant’s (nominally) operating reactors. (In July, the NRC released its report on the tube failures, saying that although plant operators had made major design changes that affected the stability of the tubes, they had not violated any laws.)
Regulators said Edison “failed to develop procedures to monitor electronic devices related to security,” but the NRC has withheld most of the details of the violation.
San Onofre has a long list of safety and security problems dating back long before the latest tube debacle. In January, around the same time as the radioactive leaks, a SONGS worker accidentally fell into one of the facility’s spent fuel storage pools while trying to retrieve a dropped flashlight. And just two weeks ago, an investigation uncovered a staggering number of fire safety violations that continue to go uncorrected, despite previous NRC warnings.
Thursday’s notice of violation comes just days after a high-ranking official on California’s Public Utilities Commission said that SCE and San Diego Gas & Electric should not be allowed to collect revenue on a plant that is not generating any electricity:
Joseph P. Como, head of the PUC’s Division of Ratepayer Advocates, sent a letter to the commissioners this week stating they should “remove [San Onofre] from Southern California Edison’s … and San Diego Gas & Electric’s… rate base now instead of waiting several more months and allowing hundreds of millions of dollars in needless costs to be borne by customers.”
And, as noted in the Orange County Register, that cost is substantial: [cont’d.]