Tag Archives: edison

San Onofre nuclear plant update – one unit to turn on, another to stay off permanently

Yesterday Southern California Edison submitted plans to restart one of its two nuclear generators at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS). The other generator is being shut down permanently. Both units showed radioactive damage and required repairs.

Unit 2, the generator that will be turned on, had six tubes showing extreme decay, and 1,600 overall with some decay. Unit 3, which will remain shut down, had 381 showing extreme decay, and 1,800 with some decay. Edison reports that a team of independent experts inspected these repairs and approved the plan to turn on Unit 2. These plans were submitted to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and are awaiting approval.

If accepted Unit 2 will run for five months at 70% power, and then turn off for “inspection of the steam generator tubes to ensure the continued structural integrity of the tubes, to measure tube wear and to confirm that the solutions are working.” At the same time, Edison plans to defuel Unit 3, which “refers to the carefully executed transfer of fuel from the reactor into the spent fuel pool in a strong, reinforced building where it is secure and constantly monitored.”

This is a “longer term outage mode” and there are no plans to bring it back online “in the near future”.

In a separate release from a review started two years ago, Edison plans to downsize the staff at SONGS by 730 employees, a 33% reduction. The press release said this was for achieving greater efficiencies like other nuclear plants. But there was also a mention of the financial losses at the plant due to the shutdown, and a reference to Unit 3 that “will not be operating for some time.”

There is a public meeting about this information scheduled for October 9 at 6pm in the St. Regis Hotel in Monarch Beach. There will also be a live stream of proceedings available at video.nrc.gov – starting one hour before the meeting. The official pdf notice of the meeting and a blog post with updates and comments.

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More information can be found at SongsCommunity.com and by following the SONGS twitter account.

 

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Getting your home ready for an electric vehicle (EV)

 

Owning a plug-in electric car means a new way to fuel. The convenience of charging at home can reduce or even eliminate your trips to the gas station, but it also comes with choices.

Get a lower rate

We offer 2 rate plans specifically designed for people with electric cars. These plans provide lower rates when you charge at night and during off-peak hours. Your selected rate plan and charging level (or voltage) will determine whether you’ll need to upgrade your home’s electrical wiring.

Do you need a charging station?

If your electric car has a smaller battery, or if you simply drive less, you can charge your electric car within a few hours using a standard household 120-volt outlet. If your electric car has a larger battery or you drive more, you may want a home charging station or dock for faster charging.

Resources

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Edison delays investigation of San Onofre nuclear leak – local newspapers stop covering completely

March 2, 2012 – Southern California Edison (SCE) continues to perform extensive testing and inspections of the steam generators at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station.

“Nuclear safety is our top priority,” said Pete Dietrich, SCE senior vice president and chief nuclear officer. “Everything we do — from normal plant operations and routine refueling…”

Edison PR

I don’t want to be controversial, but this is starting to sound like a delay tactic. The leaking nuclear steam turbine was taken offline over two months ago with an investigation to follow. The initial word was that a report would be issued “the following week.”

After that deadline passed a few newspapers reported the delay. Then, Barbara Boxer, California’s Senator, issued a concerned letter and so did the local city council.

Still no results from the investigation.

Even the local newspapers, with readers in the fallout zone, have stopped reporting on it. The issue seems to be sliding into the rear view mirror, and perhaps that’s the way Edison wants it.

The leak has become much more serious than initially reported. Our local journalists (at the LA Times, OC Register, and San Diego UT) did us a disservice by simply reporting what Edison told them: the leak was tiny, no safety issues were posed, and Edison is doing everything right.

A line they still stick to (when they do cover it).

My own investigations turned up something different. First, the report to the NRC said that the first unit leaked up to 82 gallons/day of radioactive steam. Second, the sister unit had upwards of 1,000 pipes showing radiation damage. Third, there was another incident back in November with an ammonia leak.

Yeah, nothing to worry about here, Edison has it all under control. Two reactors turned off, one leaking, radiation damage, and ammonia problems.

It doesn’t help that Edison is purposely ambiguous in their statements. The only significant piece of information in the latest press release (linked above) is that some of the 1,000 pipes have been “plugged”. Which begs the question, were they leaking?

I understand these things are complicated but the longer the issue drags on the worse it seems to get. Edison isn’t becoming any more honest in their dealings with the public. The newspapers are continuing their anti-journalistic approach.

I have to wonder if the approach is to delay, wait until any public interest dies down, and then handle it their own way.

Stay tuned and remember that the nuclear industry has a very poor track record and may have no regulatory control.

AES power plant in Huntington Beach

If you drive down PCH in Huntington Beach you will pass the only power plant in Orange County. Located at Newland and PCH, across the street from the beach.

The natural gas plant is owned by AES a leading global power company with 132 plants in 32 countries with $17 billion in revenue. It is currently listed at #150 on the Fortune 500 (pdf).

In California, it operates 2 other natural gas plants in Los Alamitos and Redondo Beach. As well as 5 wind stations. Although, the largest section of its portfolio are coal powered plants located elsewhere in the USA.

The plant in Huntington Beach was purchased from Southern California Edison in 1998 and has been in operation since 1958. It uses conventional GM steam turbines among others.

In 2001, the company petitioned to upgrade and then turn on gas burners 3 and 4 (additional source), which would bring the capacity up to 904 MW. They were successful and, in 2002, the city valued the plant at $325 million.

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Our local toxic waste dump…in Huntington Beach

Down the street on Magnolia, just a few blocks form the beach, is the ASCON Landfill Site. This 38-acre parcel of land is a toxic waste dump containing waste from construction and oil drilling.

It is considered a California Superfund site, meaning that it is one of the most toxic in the state. According to the California EPA, the area “operated as a landfill from 1938 through 1984…in its early years came from oil drilling operations, including waste drilling muds, waste water brines, and other drilling wastes.

Orange indicates 25-foot sludge lagoons. Red squares indicate buried pits.

“From 1957 to 1971, chromic acid, sulfuric acid, aluminum slag, fuel oils, styrene (a form of plastic), and other wastes were also disposed on the site. These liquid and semi-liquid wastes were deposited into open lagoons and pits.”

“From 1971 to 1984, some of the lagoons and pits were filled in or covered with solid waste materials (construction debris).”

This news has to be shocking for anyone living in Huntington Beach. Lagoons of sludge 25-feet deep, drilling wastes, pits of slag/acid/oils/sytrene, and then covered over with more waste.

Consider that across the street is Edison High School where thousands of kids, teachers, and parents spend their days, and on the other sides are houses and a popular park, Edison Community Park (another former landfill with methane gas leaks).

Lagoon #3 with sludge and abandoned equipment
Aerial view.
Main entrance off Hamilton St.

The news doesn’t get better.

An investigative report from the OC Weekly in 2004 discusses four children from the area who contracted a rare form of brain cancer.

HB Independent review:

“Something may be seriously amiss in southeast Huntington Beach…four children from that area died between February 2000 and June 2003 of a deadly brain cancer called brainstem glioma…an exceedingly rare cancer.”

“We know that a cluster of cancers in one geographic area doesn’t necessarily mean that there is something in the immediate environment that caused it…We also know that it is impossible to gather meaningful statistics with only four cases. The causes of most childhood brain tumors, including brainstem gliomas, are unknown. But we do know that exposure to certain chemicals can cause cancer.”

“It seems suspicious to us that four children who lived and played near this toxic waste dump contracted an extremely rare cancer. At the Ascon site, an oil worker became ill after contacting water running off the site. Ground squirrels living on the site appear, from the condition of their coats, to be in poor health…CalEPA recently found a 50-year-old tank of improperly stored flammable fuels that they didn’t know was there.”

Ok, finally some good news. A major step in the clean-up was recently completed, called the Interim Removal Measure (IRM) (pdf):

“The objective of IRM is to enable assessment of the materials underneath the tarry waste of Lagoons 1 and 2. These waste materials beneath the tarry liquids are of unknown composition and geotechnical quality and have not been assessed with the tarry liquids present due to worker safety concerns.”

The project was completed in December 2010 after “58,000 tons of tarry materials and firming additive have been removed from Lagoons 1 and 2 at the Site, and transported to and disposed of at the designated disposal facility.”

Since then the city and the contractors have been testing the groundwater, stormwater, air quality, etc, and in March 2011, the project was considered complete.

This is a major milestone for the dump because several past attempts have resulted in complete failure. From the OC Grand Jury investigation (pdf):

“This site is named for two companies that tried, in vain, to clean up the site. Nesi acquired an option on the site and tried to pump it clean. That did not work and Nesi folded. An attempt was made by Ascon, an acronym for the asphalt and concrete that had been dumped on the site. Ascon was not successful, either.”

What happens next is unknown.

The government agency responsible for the clean-up will continue its slow progress. Further tests, including investigating the lower levels of Lagoons 1, 2 will be conducted. Then planning, public hearings, and finally another clean-up.

With so much waste on-site this will take decades.

At some point, the land will be clean enough for a private company to complete the process. The land is in such a valuable location that many developers will gladly take on the last steps of cleaning to reap the profits.

In the meantime, we all are stuck with a remnant of our industrial past.

For updates, visit the community website for the ASCON Landfill.