San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS


San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station Design and Emergency Response Capability
THE JAPAN NUCLEAR CRISIS – A major earthquake and subsequent tsunami damaged the reactor cooling and back-up power systems at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station in Japan. With these systems out of operation, the fuel became overheatedand the interaction between the hot fuel rods and the water resulted in the generation of hydrogen gas. The operators vented thegas from the reactor system to the surrounding secondary reactor building. The buildup of hydrogen gas from the venting led to explosions in two of the reactor buildings, damaging their structures and allowing radioactive materials to escape. It also appears likely that structural failures in some of the spent fuel storage pools on the site resulted in reduction of the water level needed to keep the fuel rods cool. The spent fuel became exposed to air, then caught fire, releasing more radiation. DESIGN DIFFERENCES BETWEEN SAN ONOFRE AND FUKUSHIMA DAIICHI Pressurized Water vs. Boiling Water: Fukushima Daiichi uses a boiling water design, while San Onofre has pressurized water reactors. One of the key advantages of a pressurized water reactor is that it has two cooling loops, a primary and secondary, separated by steam generators. The significance of the steam generators is that water and steam from the secondary system can be vented into the atmosphere to remove heat from the nuclear fuel without releasing radioactive steam/gases because the water being vented has not been in contact with the nuclear fuel rods. Robust Containment and Tsunami Wall: San Onofre has a four- to eight-foot thick, post-tensioned, steel rebar-reinforced concrete containment that includes an internal steel liner. In addition, the San Onofre facility is protected by a 30-foot high tsunami wall. Using the most recent tsunami inundation map from the State of California in 2009, the maximum credible tsunami here is between 19.9 and 22.9 ft. In this scenario, the seawall would provide at least seven feet of margin. Spent Fuel Storage: At San Onofre, the spent fuel storage pools are located in a separate building adjacent to the containment structure that encloses the reactor or primary system. The used fuel rods are stored much closer to ground level than they are at Fukushima Daiichi, making it easier to add water if necessary. San Onofre’s spent fuel pools are structurally robust, with hardened, concrete reinforced enclosures. COMPARISON OF SEISMIC RISKS Fault Types: The earthquake fault system that generated the devastating earthquake near Honshu, Japan, originated in a subduction zone. Tsunamis that can be produced by an earthquake in a subduction zone are projected to be larger than those resulting from earthquakes in a strike-slip fault system, such as the Newport-Inglewood/Rose Canyon faults near San Onofre. Richter Scale vs. Ground Movement: Much attention has been focused on the Richter scale measurements of the Japan earthquake – a 9.0 – and the implications of such a quake in California. While the Richter scale is one common way to measure the magnitude of earthquakes at its epicenter, when assessing the seismic safety at nuclear facilities, “peak ground acceleration” at the facility’s location is a more meaningful way to measure an earthquake’s potential impact, especially when the epicenter is miles away. As approved by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, San Onofre was built to withstand a peak ground acceleration of 0.67g (g refers to the force of gravity).

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last updated on 04/01/2011

San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS)

(continued from page 1) SAN ONOFRE BACK-UP AND SAFETY FEATURES Back-up Generators: If a power outage occurred at San Onofre, a total of four emergency diesel generators on site, two per unit, each can provide approximately 5,000-kilowatts of power. Each generator can cross-tie to provide back-up power to the other unit. The generators are located in a reinforced concrete building, separate from the power plant and designed to withstand earthquakes and flooding. Underground Fuel Tanks: Each generator has its own fuel oil tank located in an underground vault, and each tank provides a seven-day supply of fuel oil, which allows adequate time to obtain more fuel oil if needed. Earthquake-resistant structures protect the generators and their fuel supply from ground flooding. Battery Back-up: Emergency batteries and dedicated switchgear are also part of San Onofre’s design to achieve safe shutdown of the plant. They are located at higher levels inside buildings that can withstand seismic events and flooding. Redundant Cooling: To provide redundant cooling for each unit, two separate lines of safety systems are available. In addition, a steam-driven cooling pump is available to operate without electrical power, using the steam generated by the reactor to circulate cooling water. Firefighting: San Onofre has its own on-site, professional firefighting crew, with mutual aid agreements with nearby fire departments. EMERGENCY RESPONSE Coordinated Response: SCE and nearby communities have worked together since 1982 to develop and continuously update a joint emergency response plan that is tested regularly for reliability and practicality. This working group includes emergency response professionals from SCE, Orange County and San Diego County, the cities of San Clemente, Dana Point, San Juan Capistrano, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton and California State Parks. Members of this group meet monthly to ensure that coordinated plans are in place to protect public health and safety in the region surrounding the plant. The organizations routinely plan, train and perform multiple practice drills on all aspects KEY FACTS • Earthquake fault structures offshore of San Onofre are not of the type that would produce significant tsunamis. San Onofre’s critical equipment is located behind a tsunami wall that is above the height of the maximum credible wave height. • San Onofre has robust and redundant emergency backup power capabilities, and stores approximately 4.5 million gallons of water on site that can be used for replacement cooling, even in the event of a loss of power. • Southern California Edison is committed to learning from the Fukushima accident, and is re-evaluating the capability of its equipment, procedures and training to respond to “beyond design” events. We will incorporate the operating experience from the events in Japan, enhancing and further hardening the facility as needed. of the emergency program, including earthquakes, terrorist attacks, loss of offsite power and core damage. Every two years the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Federal Emergency Management Agency evaluate the emergency program’s preparedness through an integrated exercise. Informing the Public: In the event of an emergency, a Joint Information Center is activated to provide updates to the public to keep them informed of the plant’s status. SCE also maintains a community alert siren system, and residents within the Emergency Planning Zone – a 10-mile radius surrounding San Onofre – are regularly reminded to turn on their radios or televisions for additional information in the event that an emergency siren is activated. “Beyond Design” Response: If an event beyond the design of safety systems were to occur, Severe Accident Management Guidelines (SAMGs) would be implemented in cooperation with emergency responders. The SAMGs work in concert with actions taken by both on-site and off-site resources to protect the reactor core, containment and spent fuel pools, and to prevent radioactivity release. In addition to the SAMGs, additional procedures, operator training and equipment are in place to ensure the reactor remains cooled and covered.

last updated on 04/01/2011