By Michael Steinberg / Black Rain Press
Nuclear Shutdown News chronicles the decline of the nuclear power industry in the US and beyond, and highlights the efforts of those who are working to create a nuclear free future. Here is our July 2016 report.
San Onofre whistleblower: Utility put profits above safety, ruined its own nuke plant.
A radiation leak at San Onofre nuclear plant in southern California caused its two reactors to shut down in 2012, and resulted in its permanent closure the following year.
On July 19 the Times of San Diego reported on a press release by Public Watchdog, a nonprofit policy group, detailing allegations of a former employee at San Onofre. Southern California Edison is the controlling owner, with San Diego Gas & Electric being a minority owner of the wrecked nuclear plant.
The whistleblower, Vinod Arora, is a former Edison fire protection engineer who worked at San Onofre.
The nuke plant’s demise was due to the failure of the plant’s steam generators, key components that were replaced at both reactors in 2010. The steam generators cost $680 million and were supposed to last for decades. Instead, they turned to junk in just a few years.
According to Vinod Arora, the steam generators’ failure was caused by Edison running them “too hot, too long and too fast”.
Arora’s analysis “asserts the utility plant operators “intentionally ‘red-lined’ the system beyond the breaking point until it was overloaded and began to shake itself to pieces,” according to the Public Watchdog report.
“Edison knew they were pushing San Onofre’s steam generators past their original design limit, but they did it anyway foe the sake of short-term profits and to correct other design deficiencies, as a result of the utility’s unverified analytical assumptions.”
“Edison was forced to make those assumptions because of time pressures to deploy the steam generators quickly.”
The Public Watchdog report stated:
“As a result, Edison failed to perform necessary research to ask critical questions required to understand the impact of design changes between the original and replacement steam generators.”
Shaking steam tubes, what Edison called ‘critical in-plane vibrations,’ from tubes filled with superheated radioactive water, caused tubes to bang together violently as a result of dry steam,” Vinod Arora asserted.
Edison’s response: The Public Watchdog report “relies on comments by a former San Onofre employee that are simply misinformed.”
Sources: Times of San Diego, Times of San Diego.com; Public Watchdog, publicwatchdog.org.
Japan court action orders shut down nukes to stay closed
On July 12, Reuters ran its story – “Japan court upholds reactor shutdown in blow to nuclear industry.”
The article reported the court “upheld an order to keep Kansai Electric’s Takahama atomic station west of Tokyo from restarting.”
Last March a lower court “backed a petition from residents living near Takahama”, who were represented by environmental group Japan Green Action, to deny Kansai’s request for restart, Reuters reported.
More than five tears after the still ongoing Fukushima nuclear disaster, “only two of Japans nuclear reactors are running,” according to Reuters.
“The public remains deeply skeptical over industry assurances of safety…”
“…Residents have lodged injunctions against nearby nuclear plants’ restarting,”
Meanwhile, The Guardian UK reported on July 26, “Pokemon Go players urged not to venture into disaster zone.”
Tokyo Electric Power, owner of Fukushima, is tightening security inside the ruined nuke plant site because of fears that Pokeman fanatics could become exposed to lingering radiation on the nuke plant site.
Sources: Reuters, reuters.com; guardian UK, guardian.com