Small radiation amount ‘could have’ escaped plant

February 2, 2012 • National News

FILE – In this March 1, 2010 file photo, the San Onofre nuclear power plant, seen here in north San Diego County, Calif. Operators of the nuclear power plant worked to diagnose a problem with a reactor that was shut down because of a possible leak, but officials stressed there was no imminent danger. (AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi,File)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A tiny amount of radiation could have escaped from a Southern California nuclear power plant after a water leak prompted operators to shut down a reactor as a precaution, but plant workers and the public were not endangered, officials said Wednesday.

The leak was detected Tuesday afternoon in Unit 3 at San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, about 45 miles north of San Diego. The seaside plant was taken off line while investigators tried to determine what happened.

While the leak wasn’t large enough to require the plant to declare an emergency, any possible leak of radiation into the atmosphere is rare. Also concerning was that “many” tubes that carry pressurized radioactive water were damaged, according to a spokesman for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

The tubes are part of equipment that is virtually new, having been installed in 2010.

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

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