Calif. Utility to Close Troubled Nuclear Plant

In the beginning of June, the owners of Southern California’s San Onofre nuclear plant surrendered in the costly legal battle over whether the plant was safe or too damaged to continue operation. The San Onofre plant features two twin reactors in a location between San Diego and Los Angeles on the coast, and will be the largest plant in the United States to permanently shut down in the last fifty years.

The dispute over the reactor began in January of 2012 with a small radiation leak. Fixing the leak led to the discovery that hundreds of new tubes that carried radioactive water were damaged in unusual ways. Allison Macfarlane, chairwoman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, has stated that the damage the San Onofre reactors have seems to be unique in that the same type of failure has not been observed in any other reactors at this time. The plant spent the year and a half after the discovery shut down, producing no electricity.

Edison, the company who owns the plant, has spent over $500 million on repairs but regulators and political opposition to the reopening of the plant remained persistent. Edison finally determined that the drama and uncertainty surrounding the plant wasn’t good for their investors or for their customers, and that this time and money would be better spent planning how to meet the electricity demand the loss of the reactors has caused more efficiently. While environmentalists celebrated the shut down, pinning their hopes on cleaner energy such as natural gas, the fact remains that the San Onofre reactor was capable of powering 1.4 million homes on its own, which leaves some big shoes to fill in replacement. California officials have stated that the power situation during the summer will be okay as long as the summer is uneventful, but have warned that any disruption in supply, such as energy directed at combating wildfires, could lead to power shortages for customers in the area.

Read the full article here: Calif. Utility to Close Troubled Nuclear Plant

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