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What's That on the Freeway? Oh, Just Some Radioactive San Onofre Metal

A Southern California Edison crew will truck a large chunk of generator from the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station Sunday night. The piece will eventually wind up in Utah.

Southern California Edison crews will haul a gigantic piece of slightly-radioactive spent nuclear equipment down Southern California freeways starting Sunday night, Nov. 4, the utility said Saturday.

The piece of metal served as part of a lower assembly inside the boilers of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station for years, until the containment domes were cut open and the boilers replaced over the past few years.

"The steam generator contains extremely low levels of radiation," the Edison company said in a statement. "The exposure that a person could receive standing five-to-ten feet away from the transport for an hour would be equivalent to a dental x-ray."

A 400-foot-long vehicle will haul the 700,000-pound piece of steel onto Interstate 5 at San Onofre Sunday night. Although the exact route or schedule has not been revealed, SCE said it would pass through San Diego, Riverside and San Bernardino counties before passing through Las Vegas and Salt Lake City.

The transport will be on freeways only at night, and will take three weeks to reach a disposal site at Clive, Utah, about 35 miles west of Salt Lake City.

Two new gigantic steam generators were manufactured in Japan and barged to Oceanside when the project started. They were hauled up the beaches of Camp Pendleton to San Onofre.

Edison engineers cut holes in the containment domes at San Onofre, brought the old boilers and heat exchangers out, and placed the massive new generators inside. The old generators are in four pieces, and this would be the third shipment of huge components to Utah, SCE said.

Last week, state regulators began an investigation into why the massive project essentially failed. The replacement steam generators had been redesigned by SCE and the manufacturer, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, to generate additional power in a controversial move that was not approved in advance by federal regulators.

The explosive force of steam inside the exchangers' tubes began to tear them apart, and the station was shut off on Jan. 8. The nuclear station had generated about 20 percent of the electricity delivered to 14 million residents in the SCE service area for two decades.

The California Public Utilities Commission estimates that ratepayers have spent $1.1 billion so far on fixing the problem, and buying expensive replacement power.

—City News Service

Donna Gilmore November 04, 2012 at 03:48 PM
They might as well take the new replacement steam generators, too. The new generators are so defective San Onofre has been down since January. Now Edison wants to restart San Onofre without fixing them first! Is this what they call putting safety first? San Onofre has the worst safety record, and the highest rate of retaliation against employees and contractors reporting safety problems to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. And now they have set a new record of having the most defective replacement steam generators in the nation. Steam generators are critical to keep the reactors from melting down. When will our luck run out? See government details at http://sanonofresafety.org/ The California Public Utilities Commission can keep these defective nuclear reactors shut down by deciding this unreliable and expensive equipment is not worth it to California ratepayers. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission can shut them down by saying these parts are too defective to restart. Contact the Governor and your federal, state and local representatives and tell them we don't want or need San Onofre. We have a 40% surplus of power in California and our electric grid operator has plans to get us through next summer without blackouts. Why take the risk for energy we don't need? For contact information for your elected officials and more ways you can help, go to http://sanonofresafety.org/what-you-can-do/
Charles November 04, 2012 at 04:18 PM
""The exposure that a person could receive standing five-to-ten feet away from the transport for an hour would be equivalent to a dental x-ray."" I'm sure this is addressed but it would have been nice to read about how the truck driver(s) will be protected from this as they would be fairly close to the material for a long time. Some sort of shielding? Frequent driver switching?
george gregory November 04, 2012 at 04:59 PM
WITH OUR COUNTRY AWASH IN NATURAL GAS THERE IS NO NEED FOR NUKE POWER OR THE POTENTIAL POISON IT MAY RELEASE. DECOMMISSION THIS HAZARD NOW BEFORE IT’S TO LATE THE CLEAN UP, STORAGE AND DECOMMISSION JOBS, for songs, WILL SUPPLY EMPLOYMENT TO THE SONGS EMPLOYEES AND MORE FOR YEARS TO COME AND WILL BOLSTER OUR LOCAL ECONOMY IN SAN CLEMENT FOR the YEARS TO COME. PLUS THE BUILDING OF A NEW NATURAL GAS POWER PLANT, IS A TRUE jobs ECONOMIC PLAN, NEED and replacement WE CAN ALWAYS GO BACK TO NUKE POWER SOMEDAY WHEN WE DISCOVER HOW TO RENDER IT instantly INERT AND FULLY CLEAN IT UP GEORGE GREGORY
ms.sc. November 05, 2012 at 06:07 AM
There is a reason any energy producing entities travel at night or exhaust there toxic waste. It is because it is at night when no one can see what is polluted into the air. Sad thing also, the State of Utah must be really hard up finacially to accept anyones toxic waste. And why is that? Also, if California's SONGS wants to produce this toxic energy, why is it that they pay another State to dump their defective or wasted fuel rods, defective turbines, ect.? I believe there are many people that are trying to "wipe-their-hands". All I can say is "what-comes-around-goes-around. Sadly, I think many people will get sick or die or future generations will ultimately pay for some people's greed.
Jcrocket November 05, 2012 at 05:57 PM
I have a friend in Oklahoma who has a proven natural gas well. No one wants to even look at buying the natural gas. So let us not fool the public natural gas is very available. We do not need nuclear now or in the future.

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