LOS ANGELES – The tab for the long-running crisis at the San Onofre nuclear power plant in California has hit at least $165 million, and it would cost $25 million more to get one of the damaged reactors running at reduced power, officials said Tuesday.
Financial records released by Edison International — the parent company of Southern California Edison — provided a sober assessment of the troubles at the seaside plant, where malfunctioning steam generators caused damage to scores of tubes that carry radioactive water.
The plant has not produced power since January.
SCE has piled up $48 million in inspection and repair costs through June 30 — a bill that grows steadily. And $117 million has been needed to buy power to replace the electricity that the plant, located between San Diego and Los Angeles, would otherwise be producing.
The company has estimated that it would cost $25 million to begin a restart at the Unit 2 reactor, which would run at reduced power in hopes of slowing damage from tube vibration and friction.
Edison has told state regulators the reactor might return to service by Nov. 18, but Craver called such projections "rough estimates." The tentative dates are required for planning by the agency that operates the state's wholesale power system, the California Independent System Operator.
The company has not announced a formal plan to restart either reactor, which must be submitted to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
"There is not timeline for safety," Craver said.
He painted a grimmer picture for Unit 3, saying that reducing its power level would not alleviate the problems with tube damage. He left open the possibility that it could be scrapped. "All options are on the table," Craver said.
The financial figures were included in a report on Edison's operations between April and June.
The trouble began to unfold in January, when the Unit 3 reactor was shut down as a precaution after a tube break. Traces of radiation escaped at the time, but officials said there was no danger to workers or neighbors. Unit 2 had been taken offline earlier that month for maintenance, but investigators later found unexpected wear on scores of tubes inside both units.
A three-month federal probe blamed a botched computer analysis for generator design flaws that ultimately resulted in excessive wear to scores of alloy tubes. Edison has been trying to determine how to correct the problem, while environmental activists have depicted the plant as a disaster in the making.
About 7.4 million Californians live within 50 miles of San Onofre, which can power 1.4 million homes.