Unit 2 shut in early January 2012 for refueling and replacement of the reactor vessel head.
Both reactors at San Onofre have been shut since January 2012 due to premature wear found on tubes in steam generators installed in 2010 and 2011. Plant officials have pledged not to restart the units until the cause of the tube leak and tube degradation are understood, and the units are expected to be offline during the summer. Two natural gas powered power plants in Huntington Beach, previously retired, were brought back into service to fill in for the power no longer being generated by San Onofre.
In March 2012, former nuclear power executive Arnold Gundersen of Fairewinds Associates, prepared a report that argued that “design modifications in the newly installed steam generators, such as different alloy for the tubes, led to problems at the plant”. In April 2012, in a sign of mounting concern over the shutdown, the top U.S. nuclear official, Gregory Jaczko, toured the facility with Senator Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat, and U.S. Representative Darrell Issa, a Republican.
The station had technical problems prior to those of 2012. For instance, as the July 12, 1982 edition of Time states, “The firm Bechtel was … embarrassed in 1977, when it installed a 420-ton nuclear-reactor vessel backwards” at San Onofre.
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