By Abby Sewell, Los Angeles Times
March 18, 2013, 9:02 p.m.
One of the two reactors at the darkened San Onofre nuclear plant could be restarted at full power and operate safely for almost a year, Southern California Edison officials said Monday.
The utility said its analysis confirms that it would be safe to fire up one of the reactors, but that out of an abundance of caution, Edison is proposing running the unit at only 70%.
The plant has been shut down since a steam generator tube in the plant’s Unit 3 sprung a small leak on Jan. 31, 2012, releasing a small amount of radioactive steam.
The incident led to the discovery that thousands of tubes in the recently replaced steam generators in both units of the plant were showing signs of unusual wear. Eight tubes in Unit 3 failed pressure tests, meaning they could have ruptured under some circumstances.
Unit 2 showed less wear overall and less of a particularly unusual type of wear caused by tubes banging against adjacent tubes. Officials attributed the difference between the two units to slight manufacturing differences in the support structures.
Edison has proposed to restart that unit at 70% power for five months, saying that running at reduced power would alleviate the conditions that led to the tube wear. The generator would then be powered down and inspected.
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