NRC dispatches Augmented Inspection Team after California nuclear facility fails test

By End the Lie

The San Onofre nuclear power plant (Image credit: NRC)

After a safety test at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station near San Clemente, California (which we discussed in this episode of End the Lie Radio), resulted in a “significant issue,” the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has moved to send out a so-called Augmented Inspection Team (AIT) to determine the cause of the failure.

The NRC recently announced that they have sent out the AIT to discover what the circumstances were that led to a shocking three tubes failing a pressure test at one of the facility’s nuclear reactors.

The Unit 3 reactor at the San Onofre plant has been shut down since it was first announced that a water leak was discovered in a tube connected to one of the facility’s massive steam generators.

The NRC said that resident inspectors responded to the control room in order to monitor activities at the facility during the incident, adding that Unit 3 has been safely shut down since the issue was discovered.

The NRC also stated that they had an expert on steam generators as well as additional inspectors at the facility who were inspecting the licensee’s activites as well as conducting tests of the steam generator tubes.

However, Government Security News reports that on March 14 three tubes in Unit 3 failed pressure tests.

This indicates that the tubes would be more likely to rupture under certain plant conditions which affect the pressure levels in the steam generator, according to the NRC.

The NRC’s test protocol involves pumping water into the tube and steadily increasing the pressure while monitoring the levels with a pressure gauge in order to determine the integrity of the tube.

These tubes are critical to the safety of nuclear facilities since it is an additional barrier within the containment building which helps prevent the release of radioactive steam, which could result in further contamination of California.

The NRC stated that while it is normal for steam generators to experience some wear and tear during their first year in operation, the level of tube wear at San Onofre’s Unit 3 was abnormal.

According to the NRC, AITs are used to inspect issues deemed to be of greater significant, such as tube failures, at facilities licensed by the NRC.

The AIT took over responsibility from the resident inspectors for gathering information about the current condition of the tubes, and although they are not present at the site, the NRC reports that they will be traveling to the facility in coming days.

The team will reportedly be led by NRC Region IV Branch Chief Greg Werner of the Division of Reactor Safety, along with other inspectors from the NRC’s Region IV office and headquarters in Rockville, MD.

“An AIT is used when the NRC wants to promptly review the circumstances surrounding a significant issue,” said NRC Region IV Administrator Elmo E. Collins. “We want to make sure we understand the cause of the degraded steam generator tubes and take appropriate actions based on our inspection results.”

Unfortunately, many people do not see the NRC and such agencies which have an intimate relationship with the nuclear industry as impartial and reliable.

As was the case with Fukushima, it could very well emerge that government agencies have been working with the nuclear companies in order to downplay the dangers of these incidents, but obviously I hope that is not the case here.

There are many questions surrounding Fukushima which remain unanswered and there have even been some quite mysterious and suspicious deaths as well.

The AIT will reportedly be reviewing information associated with all aspects of the steam generators at Unit 3, including design, construction, transportation, operation and testing.

The AIT’s report will, unfortunately, not contain any inspection findings. Instead, it will identify areas for further inspection follow-up, according to the NRC.

The NRC plans to conduct a public exit meeting with the licensee after the inspection is completed in order to go over their preliminary findings.

This meeting will reportedly be open to the public and the media, although I seriously doubt this will be getting heavy coverage from the establishment media.

Members of the AIT will be available to answer questions after the results are presented and within 30 days after the inspection is completed a written report will be issued as well.

I find it somewhat troubling that their actual findings will not be published in the report, as well as the fact that it took so long to bring out an additional team.

Hopefully they will find that there are no significant problems but with all of the lies surrounding the Fukushima incident, I find the nuclear industry and their supposed regulators to be highly dubious at best.

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2 Responses to NRC dispatches Augmented Inspection Team after California nuclear facility fails test

  1. wakeup! March 18, 2012 at 1:17 AM

    Who in their right mind can get behind nuclear energy after Fukushima and knowing all of the more viable alternatives out there? They just keep the nuke industry going in order to produce fuel for bombs!

    Reply
  2. Aaron Z March 18, 2012 at 11:22 AM

    Wow, this worries me. I’m in San Diego.

    Reply

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