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US: California nuclear plant to be shut down

world Updated: Jun 08, 2013 12:45 IST

IANS
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San Onofre nuclear power plant, based in California in US, which has been offline since April 2012, is to be shut down permanently, Southern California Edison (SCE) - the primary electricity company for southern California - said Friday.


Regulators ordered SCE to suspend operations at the plant after a leak in one of the two reactors led to the discovery of cracks in a new steam generator system installed in 2010.

Subsequent inspections detected additional problems.

Last month, the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission's (NRC) Atomic Safety and Licensing Board turned down SCE's bid to restart one of the San Onofre reactors at 70 percent of its capacity.

The NRC panel concluded that SCE would have to submit to a lengthier process to amend the plant's operating license.

Ted Craver, CEO of SCE parent company Edison International, said Friday that seeking approval to amend the licenses would involve unacceptable delays.

"Looking ahead, we think that our decision to retire the units will eliminate uncertainty and facilitate orderly planning for California's energy future," SCE President Ron Litzinger said in a statement.

San Onofre has a history of problems and environmental groups and residents of the surrounding area have long sought its closure.

The plant is located is an earthquake-prone region and safety concerns have escalated after the earthquake and subsequent tsunami of March 11, 2011, that caused catastrophic damage to the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan.

"I am greatly relieved," California Senator Barbara Boxer, who chairs the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, said on learning of SCE's decision.

"This nuclear plant had a defective redesign," the Senator said in a statement.

"Modifications to the San Onofre nuclear plant were unsafe and posed a danger to the 8 million people living within 50 miles of the plant," he further stated.