The blackout at the San Onofre nuclear power plant in California has cost close to $317 million, according to the operator of the plant, Southern California Edison. Edison International is the parent company and it said in court records that as of September 30, the bill for inspections and repairs has cost the company $96 million, according to the Associated Press. The plant has not been in service since January, causing power costs to hit $221 million. That is an increase from $117 million from the end of June.
Ted Craver, the Chairman of Edison International, conducted a conference call with Wall Street analysts recently. He said, “It’s not clear at this time if the units can be repaired, and it appears complete replacement of the steam generators would take some years.”
When four steam generators were overhauled in 2009 and 2010 for a cost of $670 million, damage to alloy tubing occurred. On January 31, the Unit 3 reactor was shut down following a tube break as a safety precaution. Officials at the plant said no danger was imminent for neighbors or workers even though traces of radiation were leaked. Earlier in the month, Unit 2 was taken offline for routine maintenance but investigators wound up finding wear on hundreds of tubes.
Investigators then found that tubes in some of the units we so badly corroded that they could fail and ultimately release radiation after tests were performed. In October, the company asked federal regulators if they could reactivate Unit 2 reactor and operate it at reduced power. A decision on this request by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is not due for a couple of months. Engineers for the company think that the vibration causing the wear on the tubes could be prevented if they operating the unit at reduced power. A decision regarding Unit 3, which is heavily damaged, is not due until the summer months.
An investigation by the California Public Utilities Commission was launched recently to determine if ratepayers should shoulder the cost for a plant that has been offline for the better part of a year.