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Edison to File Restart Plan for San Onofre Unit in October

Edison International, owner of the second-largest electric utility in California, will file a plan with federal nuclear regulators in October to seek permission to restart its San Onofre Unit 2 reactor.

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission will take months to evaluate Southern California Edison’s plan to repair frayed steam generator tubes at the reactor that have kept the 2,200-megawatt San Onofre plant shut since the end of January, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Allison Macfarlane said today at a hearing of the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.

The NRC will need to review Edison’s analysis of the cause of the generator damage and approve its plan to repair and bring the unit back online, Macfarlane said. Edison will file its proposal by the end of the first week of October, she said.

“We will not let this plant start up unless we are absolutely convinced it is safe to operate,” Macfarlane said. San Onofre’s Unit 3 reactor, which has more tube damage, may be shut for some time, she said.

Edison is targeting a response to the NRC for early October pending reviews from its engineers, senior management and independent experts, Jennifer Manfre, a spokeswoman for Southern California Edison, said in a telephone interview.

Faulty Manufacturing

In July, NRC inspectors said faulty computer modeling and manufacturing issues contributed to the unusual tube wear. The reactor shutdown has cost $165 million in inspection, repair and replacement power costs as of June 30, Edison said in a July 31 presentation to investors.

Deterioration in steam generator tubes “could pose health and safety risks” if they leak or rupture and the NRC shouldn’t allow the reactors to restart unless the agency is certain the facility is safe, U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer, a California Democrat, said today at the hearing.

Edison is unloading fuel from Unit 3, where leaks and tube damage were first discovered, and said last month it was laying off 730 employees, one-third of the plant’s workforce.

The nuclear plant is located about 60 miles (97 kilometers) south of Los Angeles and can produce power for 1.4 million homes, according to Edison’s website.

Edison rose 0.1 percent to $44.47 at the close in New York.

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