Costs at ailing Calif. nuke plant top $300 million

AP News
Posted: Nov 01, 2012 5:44 PM

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Costs tied to the long-running shutdown at the San Onofre nuclear power plant in California have hit $317 million, and it's not clear if the ailing plant will return to full power, according to documents released Thursday.

The bill for repairs and inspections through Sept. 30 has climbed to $96 million, Edison International, the parent of plant operator Southern California Edison, said in records filed with federal regulators.

With the plant out of service, replacement power costs have jumped to $221 million during that period.

The plant located between Los Angeles and San Diego hasn't produced electricity since January.

The problems center on four steam generators that were installed during a $670 million overhaul in 2009 and 2010.

The Unit 3 reactor was shut down Jan. 31 as a precaution after a tube break. Traces of radiation escaped at the time, but officials said there was no danger to workers or neighbors.

Unit 2 had been taken offline earlier that month for maintenance, but investigators later found unexpected wear on hundreds of tubes inside steam generators in both units. Later tests found some tubes were so badly corroded that they could fail and possibly release radiation.

The company has asked federal regulators for permission to repair and restart the Unit 2 reactor and run it at reduced power. A decision is not expected for months.

In a conference call with Wall Street analysts, Edison Chairman Ted Craver left open the possibility that the generators might eventually be scrapped.

Craver said it's not clear if the plant will ever return to full power. He added, "It appears complete replacement of the steam generators would take some years."