2013年3月18日月曜日

San Onofre Nuke Plant MHI VS SCE

MHIとSCEの説明が対立。
 米カリフォルニア州のサンオノフレ原発について、原因となった蒸気
発生器の設計上の問題点を製造元の三菱重工業や電力会社の米サザン・
カリフォルニア・エジソン社が事前に把握していたことが分かった。
米原子力規制委員会(NRC)が三菱重工作成の報告書を公表した。

報告書
・細管の振動に伴う摩耗を抑える設計変更を2005年にエジソン社と検討し
 ながら、最終的に見送り、当初設計のまま交換。

MHI
・十分に検討し、当初設計のままで安全性が保てると評価したが、実際
 には予想外の振動現象が起きた
・設計の有効性についてSCEに繰り返し説明。

SCE
・2号機の蒸気発生器を修理し、振動を抑えるために出力を落として再稼
 働する計画をNRCに提出。
・MHIが想定した問題が蒸気発生器の配管の破損につながる可能性がある
 ことをまったく伝えられていなかった。

Senetor Barbara Boxer
・NRCは、SCEがサンオノフレ原発の設備管理上の法的責務を完全に果た
 しているかどうかについて、包括的な調査を完了することが重要だ。
・2・3号機の再稼働が安全かどうかの決定において、本格的な調査が不
 可欠。

米加州では、利用できない(稼動していない)時間により、原子炉を廃炉に
する州法を作ったようだ。もちろん、稼動し、利用できる間は、州民が
地方税として使用料を支払う。
事故が発生し、利用していない原子炉にも使用料を支払っているため、
稼働率に応じて、払い戻しがあるとのこと。
実際には、条件が色々あるようで、簡単には払い戻しにはならないとの
こと。

米NRCは、サンオノフレ原発事故で、技術的問題を除き、事故原因が対立
する業者への判断を秘密会議とせず、業者毎に住民に説明する公開討論で
解決しようとするようだ。
手間も時間もかかるが、納得する住民も増える。
タウンミーティングや原発比率意見聴取会等のような「やらせ」や福島県
政の「反原発命の方の主張」のような偏見もあり、不当な結果として、
承認される可能性もある。
米NRCは行政の見方か。

やらせメールで辞任要求
中部電力課長 公聴会で内部告発か
原発依存度 15%強要へ
反原発命の方の主張
MHI San Onofre Nuke Stopped


---三菱重工、米原発で破損した蒸気発生器の問題を事前に認識---
2013年 03月 11日 13:51 JST
http://jp.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idJPTYE92A03220130311

 [ヒューストン 8日 ロイター] 米カリフォルニア州サンオノフレ原発で三菱重工が製造した蒸気発生器の配管に破損が見つかり、昨年1月から運転を停止している問題で、同原発を所有する米電力会社サザン・カリフォルニア・エジソン(SCE)は8日、両社ともに蒸気発生器の設計上の問題を事前に認識していたとする三菱重工の指摘に異議を唱えた。
 サンオノフレ原発2号機と3号機の蒸気発生器は2010年と11年に交換された。
 米原子力規制委員会(NRC)は8日、三菱重工が提出した原因分析報告書を公表。報告書は、SCEと三菱重工の設計チームが、交換用の蒸気発生器の配管の設計が従来の設計では想定されなかった問題を引き起こすと認識していたと指摘。また、この問題に対処するためのさらなる設計変更がなされなかった一因に、設計変更により、NRCなどによる追加審査を伴う「認可修正手続き」が必要になる可能性があったことを挙げた。
 これとは別に、三菱重工は、同社とSCEが「振動による配管の摩耗を最小化することを最優先していた」ことを報告書は示していると述べた。
 一方、SCEの原子力部門最高責任者ピート・ディートリヒ氏は、三菱重工は「設計の有効性についてSCEに繰り返し説明した」と主張。三菱重工が想定した問題が蒸気発生器の配管の破損につながる可能性があることはSCEにはまったく伝えられていなかった、と述べた。
 SCEはまた、NRCによる追加審査が必要になることを理由に問題解消のための設計変更を拒否していないと主張した。
 民主党のバーバラ・ボクサー上院議員(カリフォルニア州)とエドワード・マーキー下院議員(マサチューセッツ州)は、三菱重工の報告を受け、サンオノフレ原発の2・3号機の再稼働が認められる前にNRCによる本格的な調査が必要との認識を示した。
 ボクサー議員は声明で「NRCが、SCEがサンオノフレ原発の設備管理上の法的責務を完全に果たしているかどうかについて、包括的な調査を完了することが重要だ」とし、「2・3号機の再稼働が安全かどうかの決定において、本格的な調査が不可欠だ」と述べた。
 SCEはカリフォルニア州の電力会社エジソン・インターナショナルの傘下にある。サンオノフレ原発はカリフォルニア州最大の原発。


---設計ミス 事前に把握 米原発停止で三菱重工業---
2013年3月9日 夕刊
http://www.tokyo-np.co.jp/article/world/news/CK2013030902000238.html

 【ワシントン=共同】昨年一月に放射性物質を含む水漏れ事故を起こした米カリフォルニア州のサンオノフレ原発について、原因となった蒸気発生器の設計上の問題点を製造元の三菱重工業や電力会社の米サザン・カリフォルニア・エジソン社が事前に把握していたことが分かった。米原子力規制委員会(NRC)が三菱重工作成の報告書を八日までに公表した。
 事故は交換したばかりの蒸気発生器の細管に多数の異常な摩耗が生じて起きた。報告書には、細管の振動に伴う摩耗を抑える設計変更を二〇〇五年にエジソン社と検討しながら、最終的に見送り、当初設計のまま交換したことが記されていた。
 三菱重工は「十分に検討し、当初設計のままで安全性が保てると評価したが、実際には予想外の振動現象が起きた」とコメント。環境保護団体は「設計変更で運転が遅れるのを避ける意図があったのではないか」と指摘している。
 同原発は一二年一月に3号機で水漏れが起きて緊急停止。停止中だった2号機も調べると、四つある同じタイプの蒸気発生器に計約一万五千カ所の摩耗が見つかった。蒸気発生器は〇九~一一年にかけて細管を増やした新しいものに交換したばかり。その後のNRCの調査で、内部を通る蒸気の影響で細管が振動し、細管を支える部分との接触などで摩耗し穴が開いたことが判明した。
 同原発は事故後一年以上も運転を停止した状態。エジソン社はまず2号機の蒸気発生器を修理し、振動を抑えるために出力を落として再稼働する計画をNRCに提出している。
 同原発の安全上の問題を指摘している環境保護団体「地球の友」は「さらに深刻な事故につながっていた可能性もあり、周辺住民を危険にさらした責任は大きい」と三菱重工やエジソン社の対応を批判している。


---Ratepayers get the shaft in San Onofre fiasco---
By Michael Hiltzik
March 12, 2013, 5:08 p.m.
http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-hiltzik-20130312,0,1097805.column

Nearly $1 billion was charged to ratepayers of Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric Co. over the last year, and the charges continue to mount as the nuclear plant sits idle.

There are train wrecks, and there are train wrecks. Then there's San Onofre.

You probably know San Onofre as the full-figured fiasco overlooking the Pacific Ocean near the Orange/San Diego county line. Beginning in 2004, Southern California Edison, the nuclear power plant's principal owner, oversaw a $770-million project to replace its two aging steam generators with new models. The new units, which were supposed to last 20 years, lasted scarcely 20 months before showing alarmingly severe wear and tear.

The plant was shut down. Neither of its two units, which are designated units 2 and 3, has generated a practical watt since the end of January 2012. They may never operate again. (The troubled Unit 1 was permanently shuttered in 1992.)

But while San Onofre's electrons are but a memory, the billing lingers on - nearly $1 billion charged to ratepayers of Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric Co., the plant's minority owner, over the last year, according to the Public Utility Commission's Division of Ratepayer Advocates. The money is still flowing out of the pockets of the two utilities' 6.4 million billed customers at the rate of more than $68 million a month. Some of that may be refunded to customers, but possibly not for years.

With so much money at stake, it's unsurprising that in recent months the question of who pays for San Onofre, how much, and when has dominated the discussions about the plant before the PUC. It's a fair bet that, in time, the volume of legal briefs on those issues will far exceed those relating to the more basic questions of what happened and whose fault it is.

That's because the latter questions have mostly been answered: The replacement steam generators were poorly designed, and the responsible party is Southern California Edison. Even if it turns out that the generators' builder, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, screwed up the job, that happened on Edison's watch. As far as ratepayers are concerned, the utility is "it."

That points to the basic philosophical issue of why Edison's customers, and not its shareholders, should continue to pay for a nuclear plant that shows as much life right now as a raccoon flattened by a semi-truck on the 5 Freeway. Edison is hoping to restart Unit 2 sometime this year, depending on approval from the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission, but even then it would be run at 70% of its rated power and only for a five-month test. As for Unit 3, no plans have yet been released for getting it operational.

The longer the utilities keep collecting money for this road kill, the more the inequities pile up: Even if the utilities are eventually ordered to refund some or all of the costs of San Onofre, who will get the money? It's unlikely that Edison would be ordered to track down every ratepayer who has moved away. So the "refund" might take the form of lower rates in the future - but how confident can you be that the complex accounting required would be perfectly accurate, dollar for dollar?

Accordingly, the only fair way to deal with the cost of San Onofre is to stop letting the utilities collect it, by taking the plant out of their rate base instantly.

It's useful to keep the following timeline in mind. State law required the utilities to formally notify the PUC of the San Onofre shutdown once it had been on the fritz for nine months (that is, around Oct. 31.) At that point, the PUC had up to six weeks to institute a formal order of investigation, and at that point it could designate the money still being charged ratepayers for the plant as refundable - depending on how much of the fiasco it ultimately decided was the utilities' responsibility. The PUC issued the order of investigation on Nov. 1.

The debate over billing centers on two issues. One is whether the PUC can take San Onofre out of the utilities' rate base any time it chooses. The other is whether the PUC can order refunds of already-charged San Onofre costs going back to Jan. 31, 2012, when the plant effectively went down.

Edison says the answers are no, and no. The firm contends that state law allows refunds to be dated only from the point of the formal order of investigation, and that the order can't be dated earlier than nine months after the outage. It adds that the PUC can't change its rates, even if San Onofre is judged to be a total loss, until it considers its next general rate case. That's a huge proceeding designed to set the utility's overall rates for three years. Edison's last rate case ended last year. Its next one won't start until 2015.

In other words, Edison says the PUC can't keep it from charging ratepayers for San Onofre for many years to come, and that the money billed and received for at least 10 months the plant was dark during 2012 can't be refunded.

Edison's position is that it's just following the law. "We have statutes and a regulatory process we abide by," says its spokeswoman Jennifer Manfre. Retroactively changing the rules just for San Onofre, she says, would saddle the utility industry with an unfair "regulatory uncertainty."

Ratepayer advocates say that's all hooey designed to allow the utilities to hold on to money they've squeezed from ratepayers for services not rendered, and to defer a final accounting. They say the PUC has the legal right to take a useless power plant out of the rate base whenever it wants, and that halting collections for San Onofre is long overdue.

They're especially galled over Edison's contention that any refunds must be delayed until it knows how much the utilities recover for the shutdown from Mitsubishi and their insurance companies, or in lawsuits.

"We're not sure why ratepayers should be responsible for Edison's success or failure to collect from insurers," says Matthew Freedman of The Utility Reform Network, or TURN. If matters end up in court, he adds, "we don't want ratepayers to be on the hook for the Edison lawyers' ability to make good or bad arguments." The right solution, he says, is for the PUC to hold Edison responsible to the ratepayers, period.

Be prepared for Edison to play the poverty card in its efforts to hang on to ratepayers' money as long as it can. In a brief it filed with the PUC last month, it said that cutting off its San Onofre-related customer billings would "hamper" its efforts to ensure that the plant is "available and operational." Keeping San Onofre operational, obviously, is a train that left the station long ago, and long ago ran off the rails.

If Edison had to stop collecting $54 million a month (its share of the total ratepayer billings), would it be unable to keep working to fix San Onofre? Hardly. That would add up to about 5.5% of the nearly $12 billion in revenue its parent, Edison International, collected last year. The change would mean a gain for the average ratepayer, though it might require a reduction in the $1.35 annual dividend per share paid out to stockholders.

But isn't it about time that they feel a little bit of the pain their customers have been suffering?


---Conflicting Accounts Given over Defects at California Nuclear Plant---
Ken Silverstein | Mar 11, 2013
http://www.energybiz.com/article/13/03/conflicting-accounts-given-over-defects-california-nuclear-plant

SoCal Edison and Mitsubishi Getting Scrutinized

That troubled nuclear plant in Southern California may have some more problems. A key member of the U.S. Congress is asking security regulators to look further into whether Edison International knew of defects before they became public but chose instead to sit on the information.

Deep breath first. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has been investigating the shut down of San Onofre nuclear plant (SONGS) located between Los Angles and San Diego since January 2012. Nuclear regulators have elected to keep the two domed-units off line until officials can assure the public that the root cause of the small radiation leaks at unit 3 only has been properly addressed.

A new report released by the NRC provides details: The designer of the plant’s steam generators reiterated that excessive vibrations caused the seepage. After the steam generators were installed, the problems surfaced. Mitsubishi said it evaluated its options and chose to address the vibration, not to install new parts or craft a new design. That’s because such changes might have caused public hearings and prompted a lengthy regulatory review.

Southern California Edison had hired Mitsubishi in 2009 to install four new steam generators at SONGS’ units 2 and 3 for $671 million. Unit 2 shut down in January 2012 for routine maintenance. Unit 3 closed later that month because of a leak.

Upon inspection, the utility discovered several tubes at unit 3 failed pressure tests while other tubes at both facilities had eroded. The closure of the two units for the last 14 months has cost $470 million, which has been borne by ratepayers and shareholders. Prior to its discovering the problems, the utility said that Mitsubishi had made repeated assurances that its design was solid.

Now, Senator Barbara Boxer, D-Calif. and Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., have accused both Southern California Edison and Mitsubishi of “rejecting safety modifications” to keep the plants running. Markey is going further and has asked the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to review whether the non-disclosure of relevant facts had duped its current or would-be investors.

“Investors presumably would want to know whether a company is choosing not to implement additional safety protocols because such actions might require a nuclear reactor to go through a more strenuous licensing process,” says Rep. Markey, who is the ranking member of the House Natural Resources Committee, in a letter to the SEC. “Such choices could be evidence of poor management or even possible future civil liability.”

Probing Regulators

To be clear, the NRC had earlier said that the excessive vibration never endangered the public. Contextually, the SONGS plant has been operating safely for more than quarter century. SoCal Edison has said that it would like to start up unit 2 in April. It would do so at 70 percent for five months.

The NRC is reviewing that proposal. To that end, it has asked that the utility provide details about its plan. This open exchange is an important part of safety protocol, says SoCal Edison’s Pete Dietrich, chief nuclear officer there. The utility will get key data to the NRC this week in an effort to prove its case.

“SCE would never, and did not, install steam generators that it believed would not perform safely.” says Dietrich. “We are committed to being open and transparent as we move toward safe restart of unit 2,” says Dietrich. The restart plans includes expert and independent evaluations to address the vibration that caused wear and tear of the tubes.

The utility’s side of the story appears to contradict that of Mitsubishi, which is that both companies knew of the defect after the initial installation and both sought to mitigate the vibration that ultimately caused wear and tear, and a small leak at unit 3. As for Mitsubishi, “We are convinced that the we know what happened and why, and how the problem can be avoided in the future.”

SoCal Edison must now face not just an angry environmental community that questions its version of events but also a probing SEC that may open an investigation. The allegations won’t help nuclear’s cause. But should this be confined to SONGS or is this a matter that has broader implications?

The NRC will do its job, discovering who knew what and at what times. Issues surrounding safety will get addressed. Transparency, on the other hand, still suffers. It is the real defect here, which has long plagued an industry that is now trying to get a second wind.

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