Problems at a nuclear plant in Southern California caused Edison International (NYSE: EIX) to shut the plant down.
After leaks were found in steam generator tubes at the end of January, the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station has been closed and will soon undergo testing by U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission officials.
This week, four more tubes failed stress tests by operating officials, indicating leaks, so that a total of seven tubes have failed.
Officials are testing 129 of the tubes located in Unit 3 of the plant, where the problem was centralized. They are also performing tests on Unit 2.
What is most surprising to officials is that the tubes weren’t even old. Southern California Edison replaced all of Unit 2 in 2009 and all of Unit 3 in 2010, a project worth $670 million.
The tubes contain pressurized, radioactive water, which heats non-radioactive water surrounding them to convert it to steam.
Officials said the leaks have not released enough radiation to cause harm, but the concern remains that a larger problem could occur, says Lara Uselding of the NRC:
“This is a significant issue. A tube rupture is really the concern.”
As summer approaches, there is fear that the temporary shut down of the plant could lead to power shortages in the region.
The California Independent System Operator is working to make sure this is not a problem. Spokeswoman Stephanie McCorkle told ABC:
“It’s all about balancing supply and demand. You have to have a certain amount of plant [power] generation where the heavily populated areas of California are.”
Inspectors from the NRC are expected to begin testing on the plant on Monday.
That’s all for now,