Environment & Science

San Onofre nuclear plant could be offline until 2013

The San Onofre Nuclear Power Plant is seen on April 6, 2012.
The San Onofre Nuclear Power Plant is seen on April 6, 2012.
Grant Slater/KPCC

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The operator of the damaged San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station plans to submit a restart plan to federal regulators in early October for one of two offline reactors.

The plant, on the seaside border of Orange and San Diego counties, has been shut down since January due to a radioactive steam leak.

Subsequent inspections found that tubes carrying radioactive water were wearing out an accelerated rate.

Southern California Edison, which operates the plant, intends to submit a restart plan to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in October for one of the reactor units.

The head of the federal agency said it would take the NRC several months to consider the restart plan, meaning the nuclear plant will likely be offline through the end of 2012 and at least the beginning of 2013.

Southern California Edison has said there’s currently no restart plan for the other reactor.

In November, when the plant will have been out of service for nine months, California state law triggers an investigation in which the Public Utilities Commission must consider lowering rates.

The investigation could eventually result in refunding money to customers so they would not pay the costs of a nuclear plant that is producing no power.

Anti-nuclear activists say ratepayers shouldn’t have to foot the bill for repairs to the plant and they want the nuclear plant permanently shut down.