Radioactive Leak at California Nuclear Power Plant

Leak at San Onofre Nuclear Plant

The Los Angeles Times reported yesterday:

Officials at the San Onofre nuclear power plant shut down one of the facility’s two units Tuesday evening after a sensor detected a possible leak in a steam generator tube.

The Orange County Register pointed out:

After an unplanned, precautionary shutdown of a reactor at the San Onofre nuclear plant Tuesday, a plant spokesman said Wednesday that a possible leak in one of the reactor’s steam generator tubes could have resulted in a tiny release of radioactive material into the atmosphere.

AP notes today:

A tiny amount of radiation could have escaped into the atmosphere from a Southern California nuclear power plant after a water leak prompted operators to shut down the reactor as a precaution, officials said Wednesday.

Nuclear Regulatory Commission spokesman Victor Dricks said radioactive gas “could have” escaped the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station on the northern San Diego coast.


The leak occurred in equipment that was installed in the plant in the fall of 2010. The leak occurred in one of thousands of tubes that carry radioactive water from the Unit 3 reactor.

However, the company has found damage to other tubes, Dricks said.

“The damage that they have found to many other tubes is unusual, and they are attempting to identify the reason,” Dricks said.

While the nuclear operator – Southern California Edison – says that only a tiny amount was released, and would pose no health problems, that’s what operators always say after a nuclear accident.

EneNews points to the following videos of the Three Mile Island accident:

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  • skizzums

    pretty lame they don’t know if it did or didn’t leak radiation, a real confidence inspirer!
    I thought they had monitors for this sort of thing…?

    • jo6pac

      They know but the people living near by will never know.

    • Ramona

      I’m sure they do and as usual they don’t want to “Alarm” the public. I’m sure they do know exactly how much of a radioactive plum penetrated into the atmosphere. What morons to think people are sheepish and empty headed! That’s all we need is more radiation to make more people sick with cancers!

  • Ardee

    California voters have a rare opportunity to shut down their nuclear power plants!

    Signatures of registered California voters needed a.s.a.p.

    Read more about why you should support this:

  • evolion

    Actually, I’ve done some research in the past and coal fired plants are much more harmful to humans and the environment than nuclear plants have ever been. I know there have been accidents but comparing the damage (deaths, health issues, pollution, environmental destruction, resource depletion, cost, opportunity cost) done between them even to the degree that if we only used nuclear exclusively, coal is a couple of orders of magnitude greater in almost every category. Even with radioactive pollution, coal actually discharges many times more than nuclear for the same amount of energy. It’s amazing we can still breath with the tonnage of material that is released into the atmosphere everyday from coal.

    • JustTheFacts

      Actually, your research must have been very limited, because nuclear radiation from atomic testing, nuclear fallout, nuclear effluent, and nuclear contamination from nuclear-energy plants have sickened, killed, and affected the environment far more than coal.

      Our food is contaminated with nuclear radiation; our water is contaminated with it; our air is contaminated with it.

      You can begin to understand the health effects of low-level radiation here:

      We should all support the research and development of truly clean, renewable energy sources like solar, wind, wave power, geothermal…

  • Jill

    “…that’s what operators always say after a nuclear accident.”

    This wasn’t an accident like TMI. It occured in Fall 2010. We would know if there was core melt like TMI. I’m no expert but I’m pretty sure the fuel has to melt for there to be radiation like TMI or in Japan.

    • Cal

      Also, TMI resulted in zero deaths and zero cases of radiation-induced illness. And that’s by far the worst event ever to happen at an American nuclear plant.

      • JustTheFacts

        Studies were quashed on the actual radioactive plume from TMI, how much radiation it contained and where it went.

        So studies will be difficult to find showing that TMI caused increases in cancers, but if you visit that area in Pennsylvania and talk to people, you’ll learn how many residents were effected from the radioactive contamination.

  • slozo

    Some of these comments are funny.

    Too many people assume that all these nuclear power plant accidents are throoughly examined by the powers that be, with the aim of reporting the truth to the public. People MUST be assuming that, judging by any comment using official figures or repeating damage control rhetoric.

    When the Three Mile Island accident is examined, btw – by these experts – do they produce or state what pieces of evidence they use to be able to state that there were no deaths? Do they state the amount of time range they looked at (we are dealing with long term effects of radiation exposure after all)? Do they crunch the numbers for spikes in illnesses in the immediate and outlying areas for radiation related illnesses and deaths?

    The answer to each of these questions is an emphatic NO, actually. All the statement is, is a complete fabricated reality propaganda message for mass consumption. Advertisement.

    The statements released by supposed authorities are over the top ridiculous here, IMHO.

    “a plant spokesman said Wednesday that a possible leak in one of the reactor’s steam generator tubes could have resulted in a tiny release of radioactive material into the atmosphere.”

    So a nuclear power plant public relations person (damage control) – unnamed by the crack reporter from this fluff piece – states something about a POSSIBLE leak. Possible? Like, it may have happened? Is this plausible deniability, or are you really not sure it happened? It can only be one of two things – it means “we don’t know” (hasn’t been looked into thoroughly enough to substantively know), or it means “there was a definite leak, we are not saying how much, and we will state it this way to soften the blow for damage control purposes”.

    If it was the first one . . . how could they know how much leaked out, at what rate, in what dose, if they aren’t even sure of a leak at all? How could a closely monitored thing such as radiation leakage from a power plant be unknown? (hint: it’s not that closely monitored, actually) How could a crack in a steam generator tube release radiation?

    All viable questions, none asked. No diagram of what a steam generator tube is, where it is located in the plant. No questions on how many sieverts being measured outside the plant, etc etc etc etc.

    The amount of complete ignorance and rationalisation for individuals to try to placate themselves into thinking they are being safely taken care of in the US by kind hearted officials in the nuclear power industry is mind-boggling.