In 2012 an inspection of the San Onofre revealed significant damage to pipes that carried radioactive water in order to cool the reactor. It was then discovered that a failure of the plant’s steam generators led to the leak of a small amount of radioactive waste. Following these unsettling discoveries the plant was closed and the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) commissioned a report lead by Robert Budnitz of Berkeley Lawrence National Laboratory to investigate what led to the the failure. The report also compared the upgrade to San Onofre’s generator which occured from 2008-2011 along side upgrades to the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant in San Luis Obispo County which were done a the same time. The report estimated the total cost of the eventual deactivation of San Onofre at $4 billion
According to yahoo news the reported showed that the plant’s generators were made by different companies, were installed by different teams and that San Onofre’s two generators provided more power than those at Diablo Canyon.
However, the parameters of the CPUC’s report mean further questions could not be answered.
In the report Budnitz wrote: “‘What error(s) led to the tube failure(s)?’ or ‘At what stage were those errors made?’ or ‘Who made those errors?’ or ‘What might have been done, and by whom, and at what stage, to have averted those errors?'”
According to CPUC spokesperson Andrew Kotch, answering these questions has been ruled out because Budnitz’s report “identified no basis to think similar problems existed at the Diablo Canyon facility steam generators.”
According to a report by U-T San Diego dismantling San Onofre could be the most expensive process ever undertaken by the nuclear power industry, since it began 70 years ago.
Southern California Edison announced that the dismantling work will begin in 2016. The company’s chief executive, Ted Craver, said there was enough money to pay for the work. Edison plans to store the twin-reactor plant’s spent nuclear fuel on site, until the US government can provide a permanent storage for the radioactive waste.